Historically, security installers and system integrators have battled to keep end users away from the business end of solutions. Some see the point of excluding them as a way of preventing unnecessary call outs, while others view it as a chance to earn additional revenue when changes need to be made. Those days may well be coming to an end as a growing number of businesses and organisations demand access to their own systems.
he security system market has always tried to prevent end users from changing parameters on their systems. The reasons for this are manifold, and some are actually backed up by good intentions. The reason often offered up in public is that security systems can also be life safety systems, and a user error might jeopardise protection of people, assets and premises. In short, the end users are told that they’re being denied access to the inner workings of the system for their own good.
A cynic could (and would) argue this is a convenient excuse for preventing an end user making adjustments they are capable of in order for the installer or integrator to charge a fee for altering configurations. Even where a maintenance contract exists, the end user owns the system and is well within their rights to change elements of it as they see fit.
The issue of users wanting to have freedom to alter configurations is becoming more prominent as additional services such as site management or business intelligence come to the fore. How can an installer sell a customer a solution that allows them to access a depth of flexibility to help run their business, and then deny them the access to make that happen?
However, this isn’t just a problem for value-added solutions that deliver business benefits alongside security. Take intruder alarm systems. How many installers or monitoring operations – or businesses that offer both services to the general public – will allow a customer who has purchased a system access to the engineer code?
Imagine how successful a laptop would be if the user needed to take it back to the shop every time they wanted to add software because the supplier had locked that function. Would a smartphone that required a ‘specialist’ to load Apps ever become a best seller? Today’s users are used to changing system configurations on all manner of smart devices. It’s an expectation that we all have. Some will opt to contract the installation company to manage their systems, but that approach can no longer be mandatory. Installers and integrators must accept that a growing number of users will demand access to every element of their systems. To deny them this will cost the contract!
Let’s consider the worst case scenario. An end user gets into the inner workings of their system and makes a total mess of it. With the system down, they suffer an attack. Their first port of call is the installer or integrator.
Modern solutions include extensive system logs. It will be easy to see what configurations have been changed, when the changes were made and by who. Liability, therefore, isn’t an issue. The installer or integrator then puts the system right, for a fee.
The IT sector includes hundreds of thousands of businesses who specialise in cleaning up the messes that end users have created; the security systems sector may need to be ready to offer similar services! End users are going to take control of their systems whether we like it or not, and some of them are going to mess up. The industry needs to be able to offer recovery services.
Of course, the vast majority of end users who change configurations on their own will adopt a sensible approach to the system they have invested in. They won’t want to affect its performance or credibility.
End users will want control of the systems they have paid for, and rightly so. However, the industry must be ready to sell recovery services if they get it wrong.