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Q&A with John Dyall, President and CEO of Keyscan

Keyscan has been promoting its K-WEB software — the Software as a Service component of its access control system —  to help dealers boost recurring monthly revenue (RMR). SP&T News talked to company president John Dyall about the move to SaaS and the Whitby, Ont.-based company’s role in the access control market and why he thinks market recovery is still six months out.

November 2, 2010  By Jennifer Brown

SP&T News: During the ASIS show in Dallas you were talking to dealers about how they can boost their recurring revenue by offering a centrally managed system and provide access control as Software As a Service. How does it work?

Dyall: It’s basically a rework of the existing product line. We realized there was a need in the marketplace for recurring revenue and we’ve seen other companies utilizing the RMR model in access control and we felt that our product had all the basic features there. We knew there was demand to have a hosted product that would be very welcome in the marketplace.

The SaaS portion allows end users to have some basic control over their system from virtually anywhere there is an Internet connection. The dealers that are looking to create recurring monthly revenue use the same panels and software that they are already familiar with and with Keyscan’s reverse network licences (K-RN) and the NETCOM6 network communication board, the panel uses the Internet to find the host server itself.

This requires no more IT knowledge than installing a standard system and makes it easier to work with end-user networks, firewalls, etc. Plus, the dealer can then package (and price) their services to the end-user however they like without having to pay a monthly fee to Keyscan as in other models.


SP&T News: What’s the reaction been from dealers about how they will be able to leverage this?

Dyall: In talking to our existing clients and with the rollout at ASIS in Dallas we were surprised with the reception and the reaction from our dealers and even clients just looking for another solution. It was one of the most positive rollouts we’ve had in a number of years.

SP&T News: So what does the model look like?

Dyall: The way we have set up the product is that it provides the dealer with a number of options and solutions. One allows them to set up a server at their facility and be able to manage their customer sites. At the end user level it takes away the necessity to manage software and to manage the day-to-day application.

It allows the end user in environments such as an apartment building application the ability to provide their facilities with access control from a central site.

SP&T News: You recently hired Shawn Gore as Marketing Manager for Network Solutions. Gore has worked with Brivo, Kantech and DSC. Is this a new position you’ve created to handle the move towards more network-managed services?

Dyall: Yes, we brought Shawn on as a market manager for network solutions and the hosted managed sites and he will be responsible for the introduction of the product and day-to-day sales and marketing. We needed a product market champion. It was important to us to have an individual with industry knowledge and experience in access control to champion this market.

SP&T News: What’s your sense of how the industry is doing in terms of the economic recovery? Are we past the worst?

Dyall: We feel from an organization standpoint that the industry will continue to run flat for at least six to eight months. Hopefully by late summer we will see a shift but it’s difficult to tell, especially with the way the U.S. economy is running. The capital markets are still very wary of lending money and again, as a Canadian manufacturer we’re faced with a strong Canadian dollar or a weak U.S. dollar which is also making it difficult. The Canadian economy will generally be affected by that right across the board.

SP&T News: What did you think about attendance at the ASIS International show in Dallas? Do you think there has been a shift in terms of how people have evaluated which shows to attend?

Dyall: What we found is that it definitely felt like the volume was down, but sometimes it is hard to gauge activity at ASIS simply because of the size of it. But on the other hand we felt the quality of people coming to the booth was exceptional. We were able to spend time with good quality, potential customers and we felt very satisfied with what we came away with from the show.

SP&T News: What about the Security Canada Central show in Toronto?

Dyall: It’s important that we were there. We found we had a lot more interaction with our existing dealers and a lot more interaction with end users who came by our booth. It was a good opportunity to meet with government and corporate end users.

SP&T News: You seem to have a close relationship with some of your larger end user customers. That isn’t typical of most manufacturers.

Dyall: We get close to end users but our product is sold exclusively through dealers. The reason we get close to end users is that because they provide us with some of the greatest marketing intelligence on product features. They use it in real life terms. We enjoy working with the end users very closely but not a single penny changes hand between Keyscan and end users — it all goes through dealers. We also work very closely with the dealers at the same time. We also find because our company motto is, “Everyone must have a positive experience” that sometimes these projects get larger than the dealer can handle so it behooves us to support the dealer and the end user with our technical expertise.

SP&T News: What do you have in development for 2011?

Dyall: We have some developments we will be rolling out for 2011. A new family of controllers and new version of the software we’re excited about.

SP&T News: Access control is something everyone wants to integrate with the rest of the security and safety system in an organization. Is the market becoming more competitive?

Dyall: It is, I have always said that eight or nine years ago, had I known that all my privately owned competitors would now be owned by Fortune 500 companies I probably would have thrown in the towel. It’s scary sometimes when you look around and you’re competing with the Tycos and the Honeywells and United Technologies of the world every day. There is a lot of competition out in the marketplace but there are also a lot of opportunities.

SP&T: So when you’re up against big players, what’s one of the ways you try and differentiate Keyscan?

Dyall: Customer service really is a differentiator in the marketplace. We don’t necessarily position it as a differentiator but we position that as Keyscan customers, whether end user or dealer, they must have a positive experience. It’s part of our day-to-day acceptance around here that technical and sales support — the type of individual we hire and how we train them — are all very integral to the success of the organization.

SP&T News: How many employees work for Keyscan now?

Dyall: We have 62 employees.

SP&T News: Have you ever turned down offers from others looking to acquire Keyscan?

Dyall: We have turned down a number of offers but we haven’t really seriously entertained any offers as yet.

SP&T News: Are you still having fun doing this?

Dyall: Yes, it’s always entertaining and it’s a challenge. There’s always a challenge on a day-to-day basis because the industry is a chameleon — it’s always changing its colours. But all in all, who would have thought when we started in 1990— there were three of us working out of 700 sq. ft. — that we would have succeeded like we have.

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