In this Access Control edition of our New World of Work video series, I sat down with Brigitte Daniel, Esq., Executive Vice President at Wilco. It was a long-awaited meeting resulting from just one degree of separation sparked on LinkedIn. One might even call it kismet in the tech world.
Brigitte and I covered many topics, among them the history of Wilco’s 40-year legacy as one of the first African-American low-voltage cabling businesses. We also take a brief look at the history of access control and explored how this industry has evolved and will continue to evolve following the many health, economic, and social crises related to the pandemic.
Stemming from our conversation, here are 5 key insights that underlie the importance of access control in keeping our employees, visitors, and communities safe in 2021 and beyond.
(Check out the video below to watch the full interview).
1. Access control is not just a luxury, but a necessity.
Once perceived as an expensive accessory, or as a quick solution for an accident, access control is now gaining popularity among property and facility managers for its ability to enhance the functionality and safety of a building.
Last year, we all witnessed how important it was to be able to safely access, use, and even close down our workspaces when adversity hits.
Having an access control system in place when that happens is a game-changer, as it allows us to bounce back quicker and focus on next steps.
And its role as an integrator between hardware and software makes it an essential element of any business strategy.
“Management of that space, management of your properties, will now be key for the remainder of the next three years or so. Who goes in, when they go in, what they're coming in with...all those things involve access control.”— B. Daniel, Esq.
2. Integrating visitor management with access control can protect communities in times of crisis.
Recently, during the US elections, all eyes were on Philadelphia, where Wilco is based.
"In the two months gearing up for the 2020 election, we had an incident with a police officer and a Black man. This was the year that really put the disparities and the social injustice that occurs toward African American communities. Right after that incident, there was a lot of riots and unrest. Not because people were just being negligent - a lot of times people think of them as mobs. They weren't. They were concerned citizens."— B. Daniel
Whether it’s the emergence of the pandemic or community unrest, a visitor management system can help businesses keep their premises accessible for their employees and visitors. Brigitte saw this firsthand and relayed this to me with much passion. I admit she got me pretty excited about the chain of events that led her to partner with Team Proxyclick.
Combined with access control, this is the best tool for minimizing uncertainty and keeping employees and visitors safe.
While we're unsure of what the future holds, moving on from this reactive stage to a proactive one allows us to support our communities, especially when navigating difficult times.
"What happened in Philadelphia was just a microcosm of what we're seeing across the country. But when that happens, a lot of times, the neighborhoods surrounding just shut down, so everything built up. There was a curfew. So, a couple of our clients definitely needed to have their building secured.
[...] We had some clients that saw how visitor management did and will play a big role. Not that they were worried about community unrest, it's just that they wanted to make sure that the building was still accessible and still had people in it. Notifications needed to go out to people who were going to visit that building. That they just need to understand when they could come and just give information.”— B. Daniel
3. Moving forward requires more ecosystem cross-collaboration and a user-centered approach.
What we need to keep in mind is that access control is just one piece of the puzzle. The whole experience of engaging with a space may start with a smart lock, but it doesn’t stop at that.
An access control system works in alignment with other technologies such as visitor management, the Internet of Things (IoT), CRE tech, and even HVAC. And the key for every action - be it keeping the space secure, entering, leaving, receiving notifications, or scheduling meetings - will be held in our mobile phones.
With that in mind, we will see the user placed at the heart of the access control industry more than ever before, which will not only impact the way this type of technology evolves, but also how we design a space.
"Putting the user as the center of it will probably create much more engagement of communities to even go into a public health hospital, go into a multi-tenant building, go into a place that they feel that they feel comfortable, accepted, and free. And I think that's going to be a big shift in how we all are delivering and offering services in access control, particularly access control industries."— B. Daniel
4. Leadership acts as a catalyst for a more inclusive and diverse workforce in the technology industry.
When a business is representative of the people they engage with and serve, both that company and the community where it’s embedded thrive. The same applies to an industry.
That's how Mogulette was born. Brigitte’s local initiative to empower more women, especially women of color, that want to pursue a career in technology is her way of giving back while also fighting the lack of diversity and inclusion in this sector.
In addition to working with accelerators and start-ups to foster innovation in new areas such as digital health, Mogulette’s activity in Philadelphia paves the way for other members of this ecosystem to get involved and work towards breaking the glass ceiling.
"The more people you have involved in this industry, the more you'll have markets that are reflected and represented, and you'll have a market share. So again, it's all connected, and helping people to become part of this industry is absolutely a goal and a mantra, just because of who we are." - B. Daniel
Confession: This was one of the most rewarding points of our conversation that day. Because it's easy to forget where you came from and it's hard to remember to send that "elevator" back down to those waiting to climb to the top. We'd all do well to remember to help and mentor those around us for the greater of our respective industries. The organizations we work for and work in should, after all, serve a greater purpose in society.
5. We'll need to get out of our comfort zones and push for broader representation.
As 2020 progressed, the subject of social injustice and racial inequality gained more traction, with protests being organized in different parts of the United States. Once this discussion opened, its effects echoed across all industries, including access control.
The way we acknowledge this lesson and work to do and be better is an essential part of the new future of work, our country’s future, and humanity’s future in general.
If there's one thing that Brigitte recommends we should do now, that's moving outside of our comfort zones and rethinking how we do business and how we forge those relationships.
"The demographics of the world are changing. We just saw an election that was probably historic for so many reasons, but if it didn't show anything about just the demographics moving towards inclusivity and diversity, then definitely there's something going on right now. And I think, in terms of leaning into those markets, leaning into those partnerships, leaning into those just different vendors that you probably maybe have not done so before - now would be a good time to do that."— B. Daniel
Building a more inclusive future of work
To end on a high note after a challenging year, Proxyclick is proud to announce our partnership with Wilco.
We hope that our combined expertise, user-driven approach, and integrated enterprise solutions will create seamless visitor experiences across more diverse and inclusive communities.
Thank you again, Brigitte Daniel!
If you'd like to be a part of the next edition of our New World of Work series contact us directly.
To learn more about how Proxyclick helps companies in safe return to work plans, book a demo with one of our experts.