Making office visitor management more efficient
Source: Eifeh Strom, Freelancer
Globally the visitor management software market is expected to reach US$6.3 billion by 2025, up from $1.2 billion in 2015, according to a recent report by Zion Market Research. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 17.3 percent between 2017 and 2025. The report attributes growth to the increasing implementation of paperless administrative operations, with future opportunities for growth as a result of a current lack of awareness regarding the potential benefits of visitor management software and slow rate of adoption in developing countries.
Latest Developments and Trends
While the standard commercial building has a security checkpoint in the lobby for visitors to receive a badge and building access, this process is increasingly becoming outdated. “Not only does this system not allow enough time to collect the most useful information from the visitor, but the time security personnel spend gathering information could be better spent monitoring the facility. Additionally, once the check-in process is over, it is hard to keep track of the visitor’s location within the building,” said Joe Oliveri, VP and GM of Security for Building Technologies and Solutions in North America at Johnson Controls.
Fortunately, new developments in visitor management are helping to create smarter check-in processes that are more efficient and effective. “Organizations are demanding web-based, policy driven and integrated visitor management systems because they need to automate all processes associated with the lifecycle of a visitor,” said Gaoping Xiao, Director of Sales in APAC at AMAG Technology. “In addition to delivering a fluid visitor experience that maintains security, enforcing compliance and reducing operating costs are also main drivers for this trend.”
Xiao added that due to the automation of visitor management systems, and how it can operate on a PC, tablet or smartphone, the systems also work together to provide a deeper level of security.
Martin Brooker, CEO of Condeco-Americas pointed out that more and more companies are turning to innovative technology solutions to optimize their office space and gain efficiencies. As a result, they are choosing offerings that integrate multiple visitor managemen t capabilities into a one-stop solution. “Condeco’s Enterprise suite 3.3 enhancement this past year is one example of such integrated workspace software. Enterprise is used for meeting room and desk bookings. When a visitor arrives for a meeting or to work in a firm’s office space, Enterprise’s visitor management feature gives reception instant access to their details and visitor information can be added or amended to the system at any time.”
Brooker added, “Additionally, the visitor management feature can send invites and notifications to visitors about meetings or any changes to a scheduled meeting. It also enables instant printing of visitor passes with all the relevant information including badge numbers, pictures, color coding and special needs such as disabled access.
Mobility and better flexibility are also trending. Systems that incorporate mobile apps make managing personnel and making changes much easier. Mobile apps allow employees to make changes to meeting room management needs at any time and from anywhere. This extends to adding or deleting visitors for a meeting or sending notifications to them regarding any changes, making it a more valuable tool for on-the-go, part-time and remote employees.
The solution by Johnson Controls allows guests to enter their credentials and check-in at their leisure prior to their visit. “The profile they create is then connected to the cloud where the facility reviews their information and either approves or denies access. Using their registered cellphone as an access point and the information provided, the guest will then only have entry to areas within the building where they are doing business, helping to keep security measures in place. This process reduces downtime, granting security the ability to track visitors long after the checkpoint and ensures certain areas of the facility are restricted if needed,” Oliveri explained.
The latest developments in visitor management systems are a major contributor to adoption; however, many other factors are driving growth. Recent events and regulatory compliance are a few of the reasons adoption is on the rise.
“Regulated industries use visitor management systems to help enforce compliance issues. They need to know exactly who was in their building, for how long and where they were throughout the length of their visit,” Xiao said.
Because visitors present unknown challenges for security in facilities due to the continuous flow of people, facilities must be proactive to address the threat of violent attacks and unwanted visitors, regardless of facility size. “Recent incidents such as active shooter incidents serve as proof points for the importance for security protocols to be in place. Ensuring employees are comfortable and safe while they come and go from their place of business is crucial and a critical component for addressing this need is your visitor management strategy,” Oliveri said.
Creating better efficiencies is another factor driving visitor management growth. “Visitor management capabilities enable staff to self-serve their meeting room or desk space needs for visitors immediately which frees up administrative resources to address other priorities,” Brooker added.
Importance of Integration
Nowadays, it is vital that various systems within an office building can be integrated, cutting down on the number of disparate systems while also increasing efficiency. Integration allows different systems to work together to mitigate risk, enforce compliance, streamline operations and save money, according to Xiao. The most obvious integration is with access control; however, it is only one of many systems that could mutually benefit from visitor management.
In terms of security, integration with intrusion detection technology can help guard commercial buildings against unauthorized visitors. “Incorporating infrared, motion sensors, card access and more, allows security teams to manage the flow of people entering and exiting the building. Regardless of whether security personnel are present in a specific area, intrusion detection systems can ensure the space is secured 24/7 through integration with video surveillance and remote management tools and alerts,” Oliveri explained.
Emergency dispatch services should be another component of visitor management strategies, advised Oliveri. “Panic alarms come in many forms, everything from door, window and exit panic devices to wireless panic devices that can notify authorities instantly and silently so responders can be dispatched quickly and effectively. Some systems also provide a full spectrum of monitoring and reporting tools to oversee facility access at any time,” he added.
From a facilities management aspect, visitor management can also be integrated with meeting room booking, desk booking and even catering systems, all of which could help streamline and maximize space usage.
Part of a Smart Building
With more and more building operators looking to create smarter buildings, systems such as visitor management will see a rapidly increasing number of deployments in the years to come. Furthermore, as awareness of the benefits visitor management systems can offer grows and the need for increased security continues, these systems are sure to eventually replace hand-written log books and badges and become a standard.