Steve’s Thoughts & Takeaways from GSX 2022: Focus Shifts from Access Control & Surveillance to the Business Layer – Visitor Management, Accountability, and Mass Notification on the Forefront
What a great trip out to GSX 2022! The show was crazy busy the first day, and it looked like attendance was about double what it was the year prior. We had the opportunity to present to the head of facilities at Coke; as well as to a team of safety, facilities, and operations at Bank of America, to showcase our solutions – that was a real honor. We noticed a distinct pullback from our access control partners at GSX this year – Prodatakey (PDK), Keri, Galaxy, Dormokaba (Keyscan), LenelS2, and Paxton did not host a booth, while others like Openpath and Avigilon (Motorola), RS2 and Feenics (ACRE) had a much smaller footprint and were buried under their parent company who recently acquired them.
We saw a noticeable shift towards higher layer solutions – those like ours – visitor management, mass notification, mustering, emergency evacuation hardware and software, artificial intelligence built around surveillance, and other workforce management solutions. GSX definitely has more of an end user audience, so it kind of makes sense, but it also shows a shift in the industry towards higher level applications beyond physical access control. People now want their lower layers to deliver automation on the business and life safety side of things.
We had the honor of sharing breakfast with George Grammer, who is the Enterprise God for JCI (Johnson Controls International). He’s been a big advocate for our relationship with JCI, and he recently helped us understand more of the dynamics that are confusing to most. Oddly, JCI sort of owns Kantech and CCure through Tyco. However, since they are a national integrator as well, they not only offer Kantech and Prowatch, but they sell, install, and support many other systems that we partner with, including Genetec, AMAG, and more. It gave us a great opportunity to get to know George even better and learn what’s made him so successful in this industry for so long. It is crystal clear why he is so respected and connected; even at breakfast he saw a few other people at the restaurant that you could tell he knew well and had a great rapport with. We were honored that he spent the time with us and are hopeful that some of his knowledge, experience, and success will brush off on us.
We also stopped by our partner Threshold‘s booth to talk about printers and their new labels. Threshold provides our expiring labels and our custom label backings. They’re a good group of people with a similar philosophy – truly caring about finding the right solution for a customer’s application, even if it’s not yours. A lot of companies are out to recommend what they offer even if it’s not the best fit for the application, and that’s just wrong. It’s refreshing to still have someone who cares who has a conscience, and a high bar for customer satisfaction. They’ve been a great partner of ours. We recapped our printer research with them and shared our common frustrations with Dymo printers. We hashed out the options and lamented on our limited choices that provide value and flexibility. Threshold strongly suggested Zebra printers for high volume applications, so it gives us another unit to evaluate and stack up. It also gave us the idea to create an unbiased review of visitor management printers, and allow people to review them like Yelp, curating opinions of the printers. I’d be happy to hear from people who have put them to production use and leverage their point of view to weigh a track record of usage into the equation. Either way, it motivated us to dig more into that.
We also had an opportunity to connect with some of our partners – Feenics, Identiv, 3xLogic, AMAG, Honeywell (Prowatch and Winpak), DSX, Johnson Controls (Tyco – Kantech and CCure), Brivo, Genetec, Feenics, and Napco (Continental), to name a few. Sometimes it’s exciting to talk to people that recognize us and tell us about opportunities they have on the table or have worked with us on in the past. Sometimes it’s frustrating to talk to people who don’t know much about us, or think we only do one thing (like time and attendance), and weren’t even aware that our flagship solutions were Visitor Management and Emergency Mustering. That’s probably the most frustrating dagger: you work so hard to educate a partner, align your marketing material, follow their protocols, and ensure their strategic partner manager understands the scope of your product offerings – but then you ask one of their RSMs (Regional Sales Managers) who they recommend for visitor management and mustering, and they recommend your competition! (that doesn’t have the expertise, the level of support, nor the model to support the channel that they sell through. The dagger digs even deeper when they tell us that they wish they knew about us sooner; and tell us about a bad experience they had with our competition.
I guess it motivates us to reach out at all levels – not just at the strategic partner level, but down to the people regularly in front of customers – the RSMs, the dealers and integrators, their support team, their training staff, and more. Then we need to think about what’s in it for them. We need to make sure they know we’re just like them – we’re out to support professional and seasoned integrators who can deliver a solution; and we’re out to take something that compliments their product and make it easy for them to really solve a customer’s pain points without having to be the expert. We’re offering recurring revenue versus having to land new business to get any sort of sales numbers for that period of time. Bottom line, the onus is on us to educate them on the opportunities in front of them, the shift in the market towards the application layer above physical access control and surveillance, and the marketshare that’s out there just waiting to be tapped.