Access control systems put together two core aspects of company's life: security and flexibility. Every decision that involves one of these two topics has to be taken very carefully, and with a good understanding of the company's future. Every access control solution provides you with a different amount of security and flexibility, and the two are often seen as opposite one to the other. Nevertheless, when you have to find the right access control system for your needs it does not come only to a choice between the two principles. Technology innovation provides solutions that can be shaped according to the use case, instead of forcing a rigid framework upon the working environment. For this reason, what should come first are the specific need of a company and its business.
Focus on business needs and good management
"Technology has to be so good it disappears"
The most common, and also dangerous, mistake when implementing a technological solution into a company, is to force the operational schema of the solution upon the organization working flow. Several bias can take to this pitfall, from a rigid management approach to a short sighted decision making. A good rule of thumb for choosing the right solution is to evaluate whether it is simple and flexible enough to accelerate common process instead of slowing them down. Basically, technology should disappear between operative tasks by fully supporting them. The key here is to understand what the company's team really needs to perform good and safe jobs, and to find a reliable technological solution that is designed for those jobs, not later adapted.
An hard wired, local controlled access control solution can be the right one for a dangerous power plant, but a painful choice for a modern office.
When you reach out to an access control expert for evaluating their solution offering be sure to have focused on the following questions:
- How much security do you need? Do you need to manage dangerous sites?
- How much flexibility do you need? How much harm could cause to your business a slowing down of processes because of a rigid technology?
- Do you plan to control large areas or to grow in the future, also adding other buildings (near or far away)?
- How much your business relies on space management and how much the streamlining of this process can benefit your company?
- Are you planning to do new business and/or embrace the innovative trends?
Don't forget to discuss these topics with the access control experts you are going to contact. They should be very aware of them, and able to illustrate to you how their technology responds to these needs.
Let's now move on to one key aspect of the modern access control market.
On-site access control vs. cloud-based solutions
Cloud solutions have gained a consistent part of the market in the last decade: today it is common for many products to have a performing cloud-based alternative. Let's see what are some of the difference in the case of access control solutions.
For instance, on-site (or on-prem) access control looks like it is truly under the control of company's managers: the servers are placed within the company walls and usually there is someone caring for them. This is true to some extent, but it is also true that the space occupied by the servers and the maintenance work are basically costs. Such costs can be avoided without a loss of security. In short we can say that, a cloud-based access control provides the same safety level and managing capabilities of an on-site one, also enhanced by the advantage of cross-platform remote control. Managers can have a fully secured access to the control panel from any connected device (e.g. smartphone), at any moment and from everywhere (e.g. while at home). Answering to the list of questions of the previous paragraph can help you understand if smart functionality are mandatory for your business. We highlighted an aspect, but it is only one that shall be considered when choosing between cloud-based access control and on-site access control. Here is a list of what else you should consider that makes a huge difference:
- Maintenance costs
- Upgrade and updates costs
- Features and integrability
In case you are interested in an in-dept analysis of these topics, we have a free guide to download. Now we can move on to some of the main features a modern access control solution should provide.
What are the best access control system features?
You should by now have a better idea of your needs, and of what you can expect from the new technological solutions. Features are what can really make the difference for the selection of the right solution. Modern software standards allow access control systems to provide several features that makes them a tool for more than just managing access and security. Here is a list of the most requested features for modern solutions:
- Remote control: mobility is foundation principle of modern work, and smart working has become a standard today. Managers need to have full control over structures and their security wherever they are. Modern solutions support actions like granting or revoking access, or opening a door for a guest, to be performed safely through any PC or smartphone, and from anywhere.
- Smart working models and booking support: flexibility is the core of the new business models, everything is available on-demand and as-a-service. Such principles can be mandatory for the execution of a business model (e.g. co-working), or requested by modern market standards (be competitive thanks to smart and agile working frameworks). Without a solution that natively supports them, such business models won't perform at all.
- Integrations: as a part of a smart ecosystem, the access control solution shall be integrated with other management tools to enable streamlined and intelligent operations, or profitable business. To choose a cloud-native solution can be the right move here, as they are designed natively in the cloud realm, where integration frameworks and APIs exist by default.
- Data analytics and real-time: data are the key for growing every business in the today's market, so it is the ability of reacting in real-time to every event. A modern access control solution shall provide managers with tools of knowledge and control that are always updated and immediately effective. From a quick glance over how users are accessing the building to a year-on-year analysis of space exploitation, data enable business opportunities, allow forecasting, and ultimately support growth.
Only solid software production (and constant update) can provide a set of features a company can rely on to support and scale its business. The solution selection is thus very important for the future of business. Here are some other advanced functionalities you may consider.
Access control hardware, cost and quality
High quality software needs to interact with high quality hardware to provide a valid solution. Hardware may be expensive, more so when you consider the installation costs in terms of set up and trained personnel. Well designed hardware is easy to integrate in every environment, because it has a pleasant and ergonomic design, but also because it does not need to heavily impact on the environment itself (e.g. masonry work). With the digital revolution, just like phones have become smart, so have locks. Smart locks integrate enough intelligence to interact with a cloud-based software and provide secure access, usually without being connected to any cable. Powered by long lasting batteries (over 2 years), such devices are compatible with every kind of door without complex fittings.
With the right hardware is very easy to set up a fully functional access control system in every type of space. Moreover, smart locks can be easily relocated in case of space reorganization, supporting modern businesses' flexibility.
The PropTech revolution, a business that scales
PropTech mixes property and technology in one word, and it indicates the use of digital tools and frameworks in the real-estate industry. The digital revolution had taught us that everything can scale with smart management and web integrations. This is also the case for working spaces, warehouses, buildings, parking lots, neighbourhoods, and so on. Access control is what enables any kind of commercial use of a space. With the right access control solution spaces can be accessed according to flexible business models, such as on-demand services or pay-per-use contracts. For instance, a warehouse can be lent to one or more customers simply by controlling in real-time different users access permissions on their smartphones. Office resources, like meeting rooms or lockers, can be shared by different users, thus maximizing the value of the assets. The access to any space or resource can be easily connected to a CRM or management software to pilot several entities according to any kind of business model. The right access control solution takes business and space to the future.