Our new video series, The Check-in, promises to keep it real with real people and real stories that explore how different industries are being impacted by the "new normal" we're all living in.
In our latest edition, I sat down with Lee Odess, CEO of Inside Access Control and Inside Visitor Management, to get his thoughts on how this pandemic continues to shape our industry.
Tune in to our conversation below.
Thank you for being here, Lee. To start off, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lee Odess: Hi, thanks for having me. I'm Lee Odess. I'm with Inside Access Control and Inside Visitor Management, which include a website, newsletter, and blog. I’ve become an analyst of those two industries that, right now, are overlapping. I do believe that in the long-term, they will be one and the same.
I've been in the business for about 15 years now. I've worked in every part of it, really, from manufacturing, to immigration, start-ups, and big public companies. And I've built relationships all over, really taking a look at the industry.
I look at where the industry can be, versus where it’s been. And I spend a lot of my time analyzing those trends and just trying to create a place where people can have a conversation about the industry - about where it can be, versus where it's been.
Right now, especially, we have a great opportunity with all of these accelerated changes we’re going through. I'm very excited about this transformational time we're in right now.
That's interesting, what you said about access control and visitor management becoming one. Have you seen any big pivots in response to COVID-19, and if so, are they pretty much the same in each industry? Or, how have they played together?
Lee: Absolutely. So, overall, on the macro side, I would say we already were seeing convergence of the two industries on that end.
Now, typically, visitor management was seen as an add-on feature to an access control system. That was historically done when someone took a clipboard and made it digital, and may have wanted to cover NDAs as well. There was already a movement that was happening among a handful of companies focused on workflows and adding a lot more value through these digital interfaces.
It’s also a great example of the digital transformation that's happening in the access control side, where, historically, it's been about black readers and cards. The visitor management side has been really around rich interfaces, or the data that comes from them.
Now, with COVID-19, we’re starting to see visitor management and access control are coming together. It's a resurgence of these companies that start to look a lot alike, just coming in from two different angles. (click to tweet)
So, you’ve got the safety and security side, and you’ve got the compliance and workflows side coming together. That’s one big pivot we’ve seen.
The second big pivot is that our industry as a whole, all of a sudden, is in the health business. We've always been in the safety business, so you can argue that that was part of health, but it was mainly about protection in regards to keeping bad people out. Now, it's about health and wellness, and helping people avoid getting sick.
For example, before, in access control, it was all about being seamless and frictionless. We saw it on the visitor management side, too - seamless workflows when people enter your lobby, for one. Then, all of a sudden, we have to balance a third part, which is health.
The focus is now on security, convenience, and health, and finding that nice balance between all of those with the system that fits your company’s use case best. (click to tweet)
Given what you know, what do you really think the return to work or the re-entry phase will look like in business continuity plans?
Lee: My belief is that it's going to get very awkward. And, that's okay.
Products on the access control side were historically built to last for 30 years. You put them in, you leave them, and then they're gone. On the visitor management side, again, it was a security buy, or facilities management buy. This was typically a very progressive bunch when it came to decision making.
Now, all of a sudden, because of the business continuity need that we have, there's a rush to adopt the technology. (click to tweet)
Then, they are finding out that systems that were purchased 10-20 years ago, that had a life expectancy of 30 years, all of a sudden can’t support the use cases they need to. So companies need to then make quick buying decisions. There’s a rush of new people and new technology.
But where disruption happens, innovation happens. So, I don't want to paint a picture that's all bad. My belief is that it's just going to get a little weird at first, because there's this great desire to get back to work.
Then, I think things will level back down and there will be a new watermark that will be created. We’ll start to see best practices and normalcy come into place. That normalcy may mean that when you walk into a lobby, cameras check to see if you have a fever. It's still a little weird, but I think these types of practices will become habits over time.
On the visitor management side, there’s always been that benefit of the personal touch when someone arrives. Now, some offices have introduced plexiglass that sort of divides people, but as human beings, we still want that personal touch.
In visitor management, we'll need to figure out how to still deliver that important personal touch without putting anyone at risk. (click to tweet)
Do you have any advice for those who are struggling during COVID-19, either from the end-user experience or even for executives running these companies?
Lee: I think this is a good opportunity for increased self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and conversations. I think it's okay, especially if you're running a business, to have that hero syndrome that a lot of us have, where we have to be in charge. That’s especially when there's a bunch of unrest and just awkwardness.
I think it's okay to have conversations with people and let people know exactly what's going on, because there are a lot of people out there that want to help.
However, I don't think we need to rush into a lot of decisions. There's an opportunity to communicate and collaborate in a lot of ways.
One of the big things to come out of this, more than anything else, is this new ecosystem we’re creating. Before, we had siloed solutions. Now, there’s opportunity. Lots of partnerships are being created to help deliver the best solutions. (click to tweet)
So, my suggestion would be just communicate more, be more open and honest about what's going on. I think it would be received very well, because a lot of people are experiencing the same feelings right now.
Thank you again, Lee Odess!
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