RULES OF THE GAMES: What endusers want from manufacturers
Apr 1, 2000 12:00 PM
As an enduser, I look for specific traits and characteristics as I establish and nurture relationships with security vendors. These traits indicate to me whether the prospective relationship will ever get off the ground. Endusers have different backgrounds; different approaches that result in unique needs the supplier must fulfill. In this article, I will describe my litmus test for determining whether a manufacturer and I can do business.
* I want the manufacturer - through his representatives - to really listen. Sometimes the customer will not know or understand a larger picture or a specific application, thus giving the manufacturer the opportunity to gently teach. Every once and a while, even customers have ideas worth listening to. One might be the nugget that makes the difference in the suppliers' profitability or success.
* Manufacturers should get to know their customers. They should teach their sales staff how to differentiate among them, focusing on more than just the money. Manufacturers should teach concepts of depth and perspective; cultivate opportunities to be forward-looking and try to think unconventionally. Teach them to evaluate the culture of the prospective company and how their products might fit. They should learn the value of being understated at times.
* Manufacturers should pay attention when customers look to push the envelope of what a system can do. They can only lose by not paying attention to what I think, how I employ their system, what my needs may be and what ideas I might have. If the ideas are good, I want someone to give serious consideration to integrating them into the application or offer workable alternatives. I probably am not the only customer with this situation, idea or possible solution.
* I would like the manufacturer to look at every customer to some degree as a partner - not just as an immediate revenue source. I want the manufacturer to understand that the expenditure of my company's assets on the product makes me an investor in that business. Treat me that way.
* I look for sales representatives who are walking encyclopedias of their product lines and of the industry as a whole - but who are also understated and not pushy. I want sales reps who can occasionally say, "I don't know, but I'll find out." I want sales people who are readily accessible and on whom I can call for advice even if there is no immediate sales prospect. The sales person who has not learned to listen rarely gets a second chance at my business. Some sales people possess the deadly combination of arrogance (always have all the answers) and ignorance (have not listened to or understood my problems, needs or desires). Such a sales person is continually focused on his share of the invoice percentage.
* I patronize manufacturers who recognize that they don't have all the ideas or all of the products relating to their particular expertise. I want to deal with manufacturers who feel secure enough in their own market position and confident enough in their product to partner with others in the industry to stretch the boundaries of the solutions made available to the customers.
* I would like manufacturers who don't put a product or an upgrade on the market before the application beta-testing has been satisfactorily completed by end-users of all sizes - not just by their own in-house staffs. I detest purchasing a new product or an upgrade to find I have actually paid the manufacturer to beta-test their product. It's probably the last time I go near that application.
* I would like to see manufacturers bring customers using similar products together, providing the opportunity for comparison of problems and solutions; the cross-hatching of theories and unique opportunities for the plagiarism of good ideas. The resulting networking among customers can only foster better communication, collective thinking, new ideas, and, in the long run, increased business and greater profits.
* I would like to deal with manufacturers who have abandoned the use of only proprietary software and hardware that locks the customer in after an initial purchase, in favor of open architecture, which can easily integrate related products. It tells me that the manufacturer recognizes that he doesn't have all the answers, and is open to the contributions of others in resolving issues of mutual concern and importance.
* I would urge manufacturers to give proposed user manuals and application help screens to users for in-depth trial, review and comment prior to publication or release. This concept acknowledges the manufacturer's recognition that his programmers and software engineers may not necessarily be the best people to write instruction manuals purported to be "user-friendly" or that a concept or instruction that is "patently obvious" to an engineer or programmer may be absolutely foreign to a new user unfamiliar with the product.
* I would like manufacturers to occasionally visit their (larger) customers and to insist that these customers visit with them. Personal, one-on-one interaction helps to create and solidify the bonds of partnership (not to mention friendship) and puts some "skin in the game" for all concerned on both sides.
Access control system * Everything "networkable."
* Integration of key management as part of access control.
* Integration of asset management.
* Integration of emergency evacuation management and persons with disabilities who need assistance.
* A built-in mathematical counter.
* A "back door" where the security manager can bypass the system to test the staff. Ensure adequate safeguards are programmed into the system.
* An anti-passback capability that can be used selectively in facilities protected by the system.
* Built-in interface and controls for CCTV integration.
* Built-in, robust time-and-attendance capability.
* Built-in, hands-free interface for combining radio, telephone, intercom and the access control system.
* Voice command capability, i.e., "Lock door number two"; "Activate trace on card number 12345678"; "Start program number one on camera 46"'; "Run report number 21."
* Inventive security-related smart card applications.
* Easily programmed or one-button camera call-ups with specified alarms (denied, forced, not in memory, etc.).
* Built-in links and integration to fire and life safety devices/applications.
* Scan and OCR integration.
* Graphics conversion capability or built-in use of more than one graphics package.
* Built-in, networkable visitor management modules with photo ID and business card reader.
* Reports easily designed and run.
* Enough user fields to accommodate specific customer needs - all search able for reporting purposes.
* Easily installed/produced graphics.
* Face recognition software to aid in keeping out unwanted persons.
* Ability to accept cardholder data from other sources; i.e., PeopleSoft, Excel and other (primarily HR) databases and applications.
* Bar code and RFID recognition and integration.
* True long range proximity card readers - with read ranges greater than 5 feet.
* Built-in and easily designed access control reports and graphs run on Microsoft products (Word, Excel, etc.); i.e., How many access denied entries were recorded in facility X or on door Y from time A to time B? How many times was this door, gate arm, etc. activated in this time frame versus the same time frame last month, quarter, etc.? Compare the alarms at facility X to the same alarms at facility Y for the last month.
* Accept queries in English.
* One button facility lock-down capability (or portion of a facility).
CCTV * Everything "networkable."
* Built-in tools for analog-to-digital conversion and video enhancement for those customers using tape storage.
* Enhanced auto-iris and auto-focus capabilities.
* Better heating/cooling housings.
* Windshield wipers or other cleaning devices for domes/housings in expensive-to-reach (high) places.
* Figure out and suggest to your customers the optimum VCR/tape/mux/ camera/tapespeed/change-the-tape formula for CCTV video capture and playback where the playback speed approaches or exceeds 30 frames per second.
* Produce a product mix with an eye toward integrating covert applications into the system.
* Large, cost-effective digital storage capacity with easy recovery.
* Built-in digital video enhancement capability.
* Thermal imaging capability with zoom.
* Built-in video motion sensing and camera follow.
* Programmable tour capability with all PTZ cameras/domes/housings.
* PTZs able to move rapidly and to rotate beyond 360 degrees.