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Adapting to the new normal: a connected experience in the office

At home today, your virtual assistant can notify you of today’s weather, top news stories, traffic conditions and the time it will take to get to your first appointment. The assistant opens your blinds, turns on the kitchen lights, sets your thermostat, and plays your morning music playlist throughout the house. You can see the driveway camera on your TV to check if it snowed. When you leave for the day, it sets the daytime temperature of the house, turns off the lights, turns off the TV, disarms the alarm, unlocks the front door, and opens the garage door. As you leave, the front door automatically locks, the alarm is armed and the garage door shuts.

May 9, 2018  By Joe Young

While this sounds like a state-of-the-art, expensive home automation set-up, it’s the complete opposite. This experience can be built with a simple DIY Apple Home Kit setup with devices purchased at the local electronics store for less than $800.00, and best of all, the Apple Home Kit software is free. This seamless experience is controlled by your voice. People are living this life now.

When you arrive at your client’s office, it’s like a step back in time. The front door is propped open because everyone forgets their badges at home. In the reception area, there is no receptionist or intercom. A sign asks you to sign the paper visitor logbook and call your host using the lobby phone. When your host arrives, he hands you a badge that has access to all doors throughout the building 24/7. The conference room he brings you to is 10 degrees colder than the rest of the office. Your host leaves and tries to find the thermostat that controls the room, but can’t figure out which one it is.

The next generation of employees are going to expect that they have the same connected experience in the office as at home. And the next generation of Corporate Security Officers will make that a reality. What does this mean for integrators and manufacturers?

Disruptive Technology


The critical driver of disruption is the speed at which consumers or businesses adopt a new product or service. The perfect storm of emerging technology, new business models to distribute it quickly, and subsequent exponential adoption means that organizations must become more agile and be able to respond and anticipate.

As emerging technologies spread into boardrooms, it is not just the technologies themselves that are disruptive; it’s the scaling and adoption of those technologies that are also vulnerable. Artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, augmented reality, Internet of Things and virtual reality have been around since the early 2000’s. What we see now versus then is that our business model enablers have evolved to drive the technology through a business, making the impact of technology truly disruptive on a large scale.

Business model enablers such as Cloud services, miniaturization of sensors, low cost computing, application programming interfaces, crowdfunding, open source and Freemium mean we now have access to the funding, platforms, processing power, software and data to turn the technology into useful, scalable solutions.

The combination of new technologies, together with these new business model enablers, is resulting in significant change in the adoption rates of new technology enabled companies, products, and services. Technology companies are crossing over into different areas, and getting the right technology at a cheaper price is becoming easier.

The New Normal

People are consuming things differently today. Users want the same content, but in a different way. For example, cable TV users are shifting to streaming. Virtual assistants are the norm at home. How soon until they control security? PC usage is down and app usage has soared. Understanding “user experience” is the secret sauce to success.

The DIY trend tempts the above average user to want to install their own solution. In our “I want it now” culture, integrators and manufacturers need to be nimble and responsive by using the tools end users are accustomed to in their daily lives. In the home automation space, if you have an issue, you can instantly call, find web support, chat, email, voice, etc., and remotely resolve issues. Integrators and manufacturers need to harness the disruptive technology to provide the instant support end users experience in their every day lives.

Internet of Things is one of the biggest disruptors that integrators and manufacturers can use to their advantage. With the ability to self-configure and create automation, end users can self-customize. Adding devices is simple, and everything is connected. Savvy end users do not want to call a technician every time they want to make a change to their system. End users are taking more control. As the commercial security industry evolves, it is imperative to leverage the trends to bring greater value to customers.

To keep up with the user demand and provide a secure data environment for customers, the industry needs to increase cyber capabilities. End users are increasingly looking for technology with open architecture to meet their desire to self-customize quickly. In the security or commercial space, customers frequently worry about security breaches, and end-to-end encryption must be used for everything along with opt-in models.

Tips to Succeed

In two to five years, what we see today in the consumer space will be the norm. Manufacturers need to balance their core offerings and figure out how to be disruptive.

Bringing innovation to your customers will require you to invest in a diverse team to lead your innovation and technology vision. Hiring talented individuals who live technical lives at home will help your culture change when they bring their experience to work. You must understand generational differences and work to provide a common ground. If you are able, budget for a lab and provide technology allowances for a select team to use technology at home to understand the experience. Leverage everyone in the organization for their thoughts, ideas and experiences.

Listen to and embrace feedback. Create channel communities and hold voice of the customer events to learn what your customers need and want. These events will teach you not only what your customers need, but where you need to get smarter as an organization.

Build systems that are native to the mobile operating system. Be sensitive to privacy issues, and apply encryption to secure your solutions. At the end of the day, it’s all about the user experience.

As commercial technology evolves to the consumer level, you will need to find ways to provide value to end users. Make yourself available to your customer, listen to their needs, and sell value. Use knowledge to become your customer’s trusted advisor. Understand the connected experience and know what your customer will want sooner rather than later. Sell value, not widgets, and sell systems that connect to each other. Creating a vision in partnership with your clients will help you both set up a road map to a future-proof security solution, and will create a relationship that will last for years.

Joe Young is the Senior Director, Cloud & Enterprise Solutions, G4S Secure Integration (www.g4s.ca). Young originally presented this information as a webinar for SP&T News. The webinar is archived and available at www.sptnews.ca.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of SP&T News.

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