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Q&A: Gallagher's Meredith Palmer on innovation in the security industry

Q&A: Gallagher's Meredith Palmer on innovation in the security industry
Meredith Palmer, Chief Product Officer for Security at Gallagher, offers an exclusive look into Gallagher's product management process and their strategy for continuous innovation in the security industry.
Meredith Palmer, Chief Product Officer for Security at Gallagher, offers an exclusive look  into Gallagher's product management process and their strategy for continuous innovation in the security industry.

Where does Gallagher find inspiration for features and future development? 

Customer focus is at the core of what we do at Gallagher and that is especially true in product development. We find inspiration from obtaining a deep understanding of what our customers need to achieve. Critically important is understanding the struggling moments our customers experience in pursuit of their business and growth goals. We discover this through a variety of outreach programs including regular voice of the customer research, customer interviews, and through conversations with our customer advisory Board. We also find inspiration through working in close collaboration with our channel partners who have first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities organizations are facing.

How do you achieve good product-to-market fit on a global scale? What makes Gallagher different in this aspect? 

Product-to-market fit is multi-faceted and a dynamic concept which goes far beyond a set of features and functionality. We look at the holistic user experience including how customers evaluate, test, purchase, onboard, integrate, and gain ongoing support for our solutions. We are also very intentional about success metrics and desired outcomes. We take an iterative and adaptive approach to testing for and adjusting fit based on regular feedback loops with our customers and partners. Our global demand adds an additional layer of complexity, but we handle this through close-knit teamwork and routine connectedness between our product teams, regional sales and support teams, and our channel partners. Our purpose to protect what matters most and our strong set of values is what makes Gallagher different in this respect. We operate as a unified team, tapping into collective knowledge, optimizing for creative problem-solving, and challenging each other to commit to a better tomorrow through continual improvement.

Product-to-market fit is multi-faceted and a dynamic concept which goes far beyond a set of features and functionality. 

Where do you see the most impact Gallagher is bringing to its partners and clients?

Gallagher’s greatest impact comes from our relentless focus on building lasting relationships. That starts inside Gallagher. We spend a lot of time building strong, cohesive, and high performing teams. We do this so that we are always in peak condition and can respond to the varied and complex needs of our partners and clients, as well as being prepared for whatever comes our way in these uncertain and rapidly changing times. Partners and clients benefit from our strong, one team approach because they know this is an enduring value. We aim to be exceedingly easy to do business with and we do this through a variety of ways – from providing comprehensive channel partner training and certification to ensure best in class integrators, to helping our customers unlock further value and benefits from their software maintenance through our care plan program and having a customizations team in place to help organizations tailor solutions for their specific needs.

Which product in your portfolio in your opinion has made the most impact on the market and why?

Our Command Centre security software is truly at the heart of our integrated security solution and provides complete site control from one centralized platform, delivering tangible impact and value to our global customer base. From a high security perspective, our HBUS End-of-Line Module is unique in that it allows us to authenticate and encrypt communications with intruder alarm sensors - removing a vulnerability that is present in most intruder alarm systems. This has a significant impact for high security and critical infrastructure sites, where protecting highly valuable assets, intellectual property, and people is paramount.
In a world where increased security usually trades on convenience and higher costs, our Gallagher Mobile Connect App and Mobile SDK solution allows sites to improve convenience and decrease cost of delivery, while still achieving optimal security. Prior to mobile credentials, we've mainly relied on physical cards to prove identity but Mobile Connect makes it possible to do that with a device you already own. Removing the physical element associated with authentication (a card) also means that one of the core problems many customers face - getting a physical card delivered securely to the right person – no longer exists. Through Mobile SDK, this functionality can also be bundled into a customer’s own mobile application. The amount of data that an individual can now receive through this application has really changed how individuals interact with their security system and this demand continues to grow.

When the access credential is integrated into a building services app, it can make physical security less of an "onerous extra" for our customers and becomes an integral part of a beautifully curated end-user experience. That's the ultimate outcome, when security blends into normal business life and within the apps that our customers already use and love. While physical cards still have their place for some organizations and sites, it’s great to be able to offer an alternative solution that meets the changing needs of our customers.
Gallagher Mobile Connect App

Security companies such as Gallagher manage solutions from the SMB level to the enterprise level. What challenges does this entail and what would be your advice on managing the roadmap for such a broad product mix? 

We are uniquely positioned to manage solutions across industry sectors due to our 30+ year presence in the security industry and our growing footprint in markets around the world. One of our key differentiators is our high security solution which we are renowned for globally. We have a strong reputation for setting the standard of excellence in the ‘Security of Security’ and have an unparalleled, organization-wide competency in this field. We are able to leverage this knowledge and skillset across our entire product portfolio, ensuring our partners and clients have a fit-for-purpose solution that enables them to protect what matters most.
There is an art to determining what fit-for-purpose means for our clients’ individual needs and use cases. It can be a challenge to get this balance right – factoring in the client’s goals, budgets, and internal capabilities. This is where we rely heavily on our strong channel partnership and our customer connectedness. Having a deep understanding, and a comprehensive picture of our customers’ needs and environment, enables us to deliver the solutions they value and enjoy. Managing the roadmap has to do with how we are organized internally. We have a very clear strategy, robust decision-making criteria, and autonomous teams aligned to our chosen customer segments. This structure is purposefully designed to reveal the most important and valuable solutions so that we can delight our customers across the board.

Why do products fail? What can we learn from these failures for future innovation? What is your advice to companies that want to introduce innovation to this (relatively traditional) sector?

There are three critical elements of a successful product. Firstly, the product must solve a worthwhile problem – a problem lots of people care deeply about. Secondly, the product must deliver value to customers and back to the organization. Finally, the product must deliver an exceptional user experience. If any of these elements are missing, there is a high likelihood the product will fail. Including failure feedback loops is a key part of innovation. Ideally, you will test ideas and possible solutions with customers early and often so that when something fails you haven’t wasted a lot of time, resources, and money. Learning from the intended user is the best way to build knowledge that can be brought back into the product design.

Even though this is a relatively traditional sector, and possibly because it is a traditional sector, I believe opportunities to innovate are endless. Innovation in security may be unexpected and may be seen as too risky. These are fantastic conditions for innovations because others are unlikely to attempt a move outside of the status quo. My advice is to think about innovation from the point of view of the user experience. What can we do to make their experience easier, less expensive, and more enjoyable? If everyone is thinking about innovation from this perspective, collectively, we will raise the standard of excellence in our industry.

Learning from the intended user is the best way to build knowledge that can be brought back into the product design.

How do you see the Gallagher product roadmap fitting into the company’s business strategy? Where do you see your products heading in the coming years?

At Gallagher, our roadmap is aligned to our focus on setting high standards of excellence within the security industry, delivering the greatest value to the widest group of customers, and fostering an exceptional channel and partner experience. Looking ahead, you can expect to see our solutions responding to industry needs and opportunities in spaces such as cybersecurity, data-driven insights, frictionless solutions, and cloud computing.
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