Demand for facial recognition was not the only change in the access control segment after COVID-19. Here's a look at what happened over the last two years.
For the security industry, COVID-19 provided several challenges and a few opportunities. The opportunities were particularly pronounced in the access control segment as customers tried to get rid of touch-based systems.
Much has already been talked about how facial recognition became a sought-after access control modality after COVID-19. Experts would suggest that facial recognition was meant to overtake fingerprints at some point, but the pandemic just accelerated it. Be that as it may, between 2020 and 2021, access control companies worldwide saw changes in demand and worked to capitalize on them.
Some companies, who were not into facial recognition as much as others, explored mobile technology, iris recognition, and other modalities that could still help customers avoid the dreaded physical contact. But these are not the only relevant factors. This article explores some of the measures companies took to deal with the pandemic and how they see the market conditions now.
Detecting the risks early on became key
For many companies, the problem wasn’t COVID-19 itself but its unpredictability. The pandemic defied all previously available data and just refused to fall under any mathematical model to draw a pattern and predict the future. Naturally, companies that could crunch numbers, review trends, and reach the best conclusion based on what little information they had were in a better position to prepare than the rest.
“At AMAG, our operations team foresaw the risk to the supply chain starting back in December 2020,” explains John Becker, Vice President of Global Sales at AMAG. “Our team took the necessary steps to build our raw material inventory early for those products that we manufacture so that the impact would be negligible to our customers. The area where we did see an impact was with 3rd party products that we do not manufacture. We have been working closely with our 3rd party partners to minimize this impact, and we have encouraged our resellers to move away from just-in-time ordering to a more strategic approach.”
Now, most of these partners submit bill-of-materials (BOMs) early so that demand planning operations can ensure the availability of inventory to meet the requirements.
“As the supply-chain issue continues to be a concern, we are encouraging customers to place orders early and to plan for delays,” Becker said. “This issue is not specific to our company or this industry; it is a global problem; therefore, customers are aware of it and are on board with mitigating the issue by taking proactive steps with us.”
More investment as demand rose
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many businesses but also created an opportunity for others to innovate as well as evolve their business to stay relevant. It necessitated the introduction of a new era of technology that is compatible with dynamic market expectations.
According to Prabhuraj Patil, Commercial Director for PACS in South Asia at HID Global, security as a space has grown dramatically over the last one year in response to the increased demand for seamless and secure remote working. As more countries ease restrictions and employees return to work, it will be crucial to adapt to new requirements.
“Investing in the best physical access technology has become critical in creating a safe return-to-work strategy,” Patil pointed out. “The demand for contactless physical access technologies, such as mobile credentials, Bluetooth solutions, and visitor management tools, has been on the rise. Organizations want to provide employees with an experience that promotes a healthy and safe work environment.”
“As predicted in 2021, the contactless access control market thrived across the globe,” Patil continued. “We can definitely expect this upward trend to continue in 2022. Mobile credentials are projected to grow at 70 percent CAGR between 2020-2025. It will be the fastest technology adapted in the access control industry.”
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Return to work accelerating demand further
Becker said that his company witnessed an increase in demand for access control in 2021 compared to 2020. Global customers continued to invest in security throughout the pandemic and into 2021. Large companies that moved up their capital improvement timelines due to office closures during the pandemic are working on completing these projects before they embark on ‘return to work’ efforts. And smaller companies that were holding back on investments in 2020 made security a higher priority due to the new challenges resulting from the pandemic.
“We have seen growth in global companies, the medical and educational verticals, and local government business,” said Becker. “Our fastest-growing vertical this year was in the data center market. Due to acquisitions, data centers were challenged with managing multiple access control systems, which creates more demand for their operations. As a result, data centers turned to our open identity management and control room solutions that link together disparate access control systems.”
They could use one card for all systems, manage all their alarms through a single GUI and save money by not having to rip and replace systems. The after-actions from the pandemic also resulted in higher demand for our mobile credential solution, which makes it easier to provide employees with access remotely, rather than them having to come into a central location to get access control badges
Preparing for a brighter 2022
No one goes into business hoping for a bad year. But in the extraordinary times that we live in, many would be hoping that 2022 wouldn’t be as bad as the previous two years. Security manufacturers would be hoping to get businesses back on track, integrators would be hoping there will not be any more lockdowns, and end customers would hope they can run their operations without hindrances.
Investments in access control would definitely continue as the business landscape expands further post the pandemic. We may not be able to predict its pace at the moment but hope that the worst is behind us.