SJA Exclusive: Addressing change in access control through partnership

ASSA ABLOY - change in access control

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Angelo Faenza, Head of Digital Access Solutions, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Americas discusses how to develop a culture of partnership to address change in the access control market.

Change is forever

The only consistent thing is change and the last five years have taught us that.

Environmental conditions have influenced change in the built environment.

The pandemic forced change upon populations and their work practices.

Technology continues to drive change for the end user and integrator communities.

Changes in the supply chain are rippling through the customer experience, while macro-economic and geopolitical issues are changing how we hire, whom we partner with and the overall economic welfare of our towns, cities and smaller communities.

However, security professionals in end-user and channel communities are required to deliver the same uniform quality of security so that schools are safe, retail stays viable, cities are livable, infrastructure and utilities are protected and property is respected.

How to accomplish that in an increasingly connected manner, without succumbing to dystopian anxiety, is a challenge the security community is largely rising to.

We’re accomplishing this by establishing and nurturing closer partnerships than ever before possible.

Innovation

Innovation is expensive. Manufacturers need to invest comprehensively in new ideas and new processes to set new performance standards and provide compelling reasons for integrators and end users to adopt their ideas.

The capacity – and will, for that matter – to innovate is heavily contingent on the resources available.

Companies that evolve and grow organically and through acquisitions are able to aggregate the R&D firepower of each of the acquired brands and out-innovate commodity players.

This advantage also helps them cross-pollinate ideas, technologies and best practices across divisions, brands and product groups to come up with unique and compelling security solutions.

Innovation is the essence of embracing change, internalizing it and leveraging a changing macro-environment to benefit channel partners and end users in the Americas’ security community.

That’s why at ASSA ABLOY, we’re partnering with internal and external stakeholders to design, build and deliver innovative security solutions that address change head-on.

Scale

Supply chain resilience became a prevailing global narrative over the past three years to the extent that mainstream business media regularly covered the availability and lack thereof of raw materials, components and finished goods that would previously never have entered the public consciousness.

Smaller businesses without the organizational depth, global reach or professional experience were particularly at a disadvantage when it came to addressing shortages and because of their size, could not respond as nimbly nor had as much leverage for commanding allocation of materials, components or goods compared to larger, better-connected global businesses.

As a result, some systems integrators could not access the security products they needed to finish a project.

Projects that were 90% complete faced commissioning delays that negatively impacted client experiences and triggered significant knock-on cash-flow issues within the integrator community.

Partnerships with larger companies that have the scalability to better weather supply chain storms were in a stronger position to shield systems integrators and end-user partners from unpredictability and uncertainty, even though these larger companies also inevitably experienced supply chain issues.

We have a wide range of excellent channel partners we rely on and we must fully understand and appreciate the pressures they’re under.

Beyond our product offering, they have many other deliverables and a lot of expertise they must provide.

When supply chain issues emerged, at ASSA ABLOY, we learned some partners were buying months in advance to ensure materials were in stock and on hand.

For many, that meant securing extra storage space and incurring extra expense.

We advised going another route and helped them explore alternatives to meet their specifications.

That’s why we maintain a consistent flow of communication with our partners throughout all phases of a project and take a more consultative approach to find solutions that work equally well or better to meet their construction and installation needs and timelines.

A real measure of effective scaling is whether you can address mass change and remain agile. If you’re not agile, you’re not effective.

Agility

Agility comes down to culture. If an organization has the cultural commitment to do whatever it takes to meet a customer’s needs, then that need will be met.

When we speak of partnership, we believe that by working closely with systems integrators and end users, we can be attuned to their emerging needs, organized to design and build for those needs and culturally disposed to meet every challenge with an idea and an actionable program.

Culture

Speaking of our core, it was Michael Porter who said culture eats strategy for breakfast.

As a business leader, I am deeply interested in and committed to strategy, but as a person, I am extremely attached to and proud of the culture here at ASSA ABLOY.

Yes, we have values, a clear vision for our business and a mission that so many of my colleagues and I subscribe to and act on, but we have an innate culture of partnership with internal and external stakeholders and these partnerships or relationships sustain us and them in times of change.

Partnerships with industry organizations like the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) in North America inform us and enable us to share our expertise and experience with broad external communities to advance the simplest, most basic rights of parents and school-going children.

That’s just one example of how partnership can address change in the community.

Sustainability

The market for energy-efficient and responsible building products is changing and growing… for the better.

We spearhead this transformation through our innovative product development and material ingredient transparency, clearly declaring what impact our products have on human health and the environment.

When it comes to sustainability, we’re “all in”. It’s ingrained in our culture, which we are demonstrating every day through our investments and measurable actions.

We’ve also made a long-term commitment to Science Based Targets that include a 28% reduction in the footprint of our value chain by 2030 and net zero emissions across our value chain no later than 2050.

Training

Generational change in sections of the locksmith community, technological change in the migration to electronic access control, socio-economic change in how our industry attracts, develops and retains new talent, as well as change in the educational/vocational value system of the US is affecting how security professionals in systems integration, locksmithing, facilities management and end-user environments operate their businesses, departments and/or institutions.

Not every brand has the resources, expertise or commitment to address these changes with comprehensive training programs that train and certify the current and next generation of access control professionals.

Our company is fortunate to have established an organization that can extend this service to the door security industry.

With in-person sessions available at locations around the country as well as onsite instruction available with our Mobile Installation Training (MIT) Showroom, ASSA ABLOY Academy is able to offer a range of comprehensive courses and hands-on training.

Online instructor-led and on-demand virtual classes are also readily available, including many essential courses regarding the plethora of critical codes.

Support

The complexity and scale of access control systems – especially in campus or enterprise deployments – require a level of commissioning and support that not every manufacturer is prepared or equipped to provide.

Support and commissioning are at the front lines of partnership and they enable a level of knowledge transfer and collaboration that benefits the manufacturer, systems integrator and end user. 

At ASSA ABLOY, we emphasize support and commissioning and have programs in place to be there with our systems integrators and end users on major deployments with design support, technical support and troubleshooting at commissioning.

We consider it a win-win for all parties to the partnership and know that it provides a front-row look at change in the marketplace.

Strategy

Strategy is not something that we typically talk about externally, but if there is a gap in the market – a niche we’re failing to serve or a seismic change that we or our competitors have not identified – then systems integrators and end users will gain confidence from knowing we have a strategy to remedy that.

Case in point is Centrios, the new brand that ASSA ABLOY has created to address the 30 million small businesses that fall between residential and commercial/enterprise solutions.

Our Centrios team leveraged the insights and innovations from teams throughout ASSA ABLOY to come up with a brand-new solution that is software-first and designed to meet the needs of small business and the integrators who serve them while stripping out all the extraneous features and benefits that are overkill for small businesses.

It’s a compelling example of strategy, scale, agility and innovation rolled up to address changing small business requirements.

Change doesn’t stop in 2023 or 2024. Our industry and our world will continue to encounter and embrace change as we continue to address new challenges.

AI is one example of change that presents both opportunity and threat and I believe that organizations of ASSA ABLOY’s scale and cultural disposition will be uniquely positioned to provide security professionals with the depth of partnership to channel change for good.

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