No matter what a corporation’s size or business, it almost always has a headquarters or office/administrative building or buildings with security needs that are distinct from its warehouses, labs, plants and other facilities. Focusing on this property management aspect of the corporate market demands that dealers and integrators think both inside — and outside — the box that is an office building.

In this article, part of SDM’s series on the security needs of vertical markets, we examine the problems, solutions and technologies most in demand by corporate security directors for their office buildings.

Two characteristics distinguish this vertical market from others. The first is that, regardless of whether a corporation owns or leases, its office building tends to house only employees and assets of that corporation. Because these are predominantly single-tenant facilities, as opposed to multi-tenant, dealers and integrators usually have only one customer to work with – often a very knowledgeable customer.

A second distinguishing characteristic is that, generally, most people leave these buildings at the end of the day. “These are not facilities, like a lab or hospital, that operate 24/7,” explains Noelle Britton, director of marketing, Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill. “The key security need in this market,” says Britton, “is controlling access.”

Access, Assets & Accountability

Josh Ladick, CFO of integration firm Progressive Technology, Escondido, Calif., says, “Corporations want security systems that keep information and inventory secure from employees and vandals.”

Karen Evans, president of Sielox, a Runnemede, N.J., access control manufacturer, notes that securing buildings in a campus setting is harder than in an urban high rise, and of greater concern to security staffs because of the open nature and multiple access points of a campus. Whether a campus or high-rise building, however, Evans says securing physical assets is an ongoing struggle for companies. “Tracking laptops is their No. 1 request,” she states.

John Fenske, senior marketing manager for Milwaukee-headquartered Johnson Controls, says, “Security directors we’re working with are primarily concerned with compliance and accountability. Whether dealing with HSPD-12, FIPS 201 or Sarbanes-Oxley, they want to be able to respond quickly to the questions, ‘What happened?’, ‘How did we respond?’ and ‘How do we keep it from happening again?’”

Greg Bier, director/CEO, Vitek Industrial Video Products, Valencia, Calif., adds reducing fictitious insurance claims to the list of security goals.

The Big 3

Three technologies in the highest demand for corporate office applications are intrusion detection, video surveillance and access control. These often are purchased in phases. Some customers install video surveillance first because it is a visual deterrent. Others start with a different technology.

“Intrusion systems give us a foot in the door with customers,” explains Progressive Technology’s Josh Ladick. “This reflects the priority security directors give to protecting their facilities from break-ins and vandalism. Once intrusion is in place and we’ve had a chance to show customers what other systems can do, they become interested in access control so they can monitor what doors open when, who comes in the building at night and what codes are used. Surveillance systems then put eyes on building activity and provide evidence in case of crime.”

What else do corporations want in their building security systems? “Integration, integration, integration,” comments Sielox’s Karen Evans. “Corporations want to link security and corporate systems, including physical and data access, CCTV, paging, intercom and visitor management for efficiency and wider use of data throughout the company.”

Convergence, as a desired feature of security systems, is another matter. “We hear less about convergence today,” explains Siemen’s Noelle Britton. “We believe that’s because companies interested in convergence have crystallized what it can mean for them and are piloting systems and implementing plans for achieving it.” Two examples she cites are companies working to set up one database system or trying smart cards for access.

Larger enterprises often have the resources to monitor security and building systems on site, looking to integrators for system recommendation, installation and service alone. Small- to medium-size corporations are more likely to purchase monitoring services, as well as security systems.

The Up & Comers

Corporations have a growing interest in a number of technologies and applications, such as:

Biometrics: Corporations are asking integrators a lot of questions about biometrics; its use, while still small, is growing. As stated in the 2007 Security Industry Annual (Lehman Brothers, November 1, 2007), biometrics is “entering an increasing number of physical security (door, buildings) and logical security (PCs, networks) applications.” The report notes, however, that, “Few commercial enterprises clearly see the immediate need for mass adoption of biometric authentication devices — even though hundreds, perhaps thousands, of firms are testing the technology, particularly at point-of-entry and point-of-sale. This is due to their need to determine both the efficacy on a major scaled-up project and the ROI.”

IP and Megapixel Cameras: “This is the direction in which the video security market is moving and no one wants to purchase last year’s technology,” comments Vitek’s Greg Bier. “It’s important for integrators to keep in mind, however, that megapixel cameras require abundant bandwidth to transmit video over a network and/or the Internet. The exact amount of bandwidth depends on the camera and the settings used, but video files are quite large on average and corporations must have the infrastructure necessary to ensure the practical use of these products. For some customers, this may not be available or be too costly.”

Mass Notification: “We’ve received a tremendous number of requests in recent months for mass notification,” Britton acknowledges. “In case of an event or emergency, customers want to use these systems to notify building occupants about what to do and where to go.” (See related sidebar, “Opportunity in Mass Notification” on page 78.)

Remote Access: Companies that handle their own monitoring are interested in software programs and IP-addressable DVRs that enable them to access and manipulate systems and information throughout the company from that central location. Corporations particularly want to make changes quickly to their access control systems in cases of lost cards and terminated employees to reduce potential problems.

Situation Management Software: According to Johnson Controls’ John Fenske, “As security technology has proliferated, operators have struggled to monitor and effectively manage the wide variety and high quantity of alarms and data being presented. Situation management software makes data available through a single user interface from multiple security systems and technologies, interprets alarms and other data to make them actionable, and triggers workflows to manage incidents. It reduces human error, enables faster and more effective response, lowers costs and improves accountability.”

Video Analytics: Britton says there is some interest in using video analytics for perimeter security, though it depends on the business and location.

Sales Hot Buttons

Backward compatibility and a fully distributed architecture can be important to customers in this market, particularly if they’ve had problems, notes Evans. “Our integrator partners say that when they bring up the long-term costs of installed hardware and backward compatibility to corporate customers, heads nod. Customers today often are forced to replace costly systems they put in a few years ago because the manufacturer no longer supports that system or is no longer in business. Customers want some confidence that, over time, the equipment they purchase can be supported and upgraded as they grow. We tell our integrators that, at Sielox, there’s ‘No controller left behind.’ We use software for upgrades, not hardware, because hardware is a costly capital expense for corporations.

“A fully distributed architecture can reduce two key vulnerabilities that plague customers,” Evans continues. “The first is system degradation. In a fully distributed architecture, which several manufacturers offer, every reader module and controller has all the information needed to make the secure decision. In other architectures, when a controller goes down, so do all the doors associated with it. That number is reduced to a maximum of two doors in fully distributed systems.”

Tips for Success

What can set your business apart in the corporate office building market? Here are some tips from security providers that have achieved success.

Keep promises. “We are held to high expectations when it comes to anticipating functions the customer may require and translating those into cost-effective systems,” Ladick says.

Go deep in developing relationships. “You’re always in competition, no matter how long you’ve known someone in this business,” Ladick continues. “Because there can be such turnover in security directors, we work to expand our relationships deeper into a company so we’ll have more people speaking well of us when a new director arrives.”

Define problems and design solutions. “There are a lot of decisions to make in order to give customers the best system for their needs,” Evans explains. “Make sure you have clarified what customers expect from their system.”

Train technicians. “If there are knowledgeable corporate security staff on site, they’ll ask technicians about ways to push the envelope on their systems,” Evans adds. “Your technicians need to be as smart as those customers are, and probably smarter, to earn their confidence. If the customer has no on site security, they’ll still want smart technicians to ensure their systems are operating as desired. Your technicians must have the training to work proficiently with both types of customers.”

Adds Bier, “In the long run, reliability, availability and technical skills will keep the customer happy.”

Present ROI. “Corporations, increasingly, are demanding that buildings contribute to productivity,” Britton counsels. “That means security must demonstrate an ROI.”

Beyond security. “Customers are asking integrators to break out of their silos,” Fenske asserts.  “Today’s security infrastructure resides on the IT network and interfaces with IT systems, business applications and building systems of all types. Customers want their integrators to possess expertise across departmental boundaries.”

Having this expertise can be particularly important in the sales process. While security directors “still lead the process,” Fenske says, “they are increasingly inviting participation from stakeholders across the corporation.”

Sidebar: Opportunity in Mass Notification

Mass notification systems are of increasing interest to corporate office building owners and security directors. “They have two goals: Protect human life and safeguard building infrastructure and business mission,” says Pete Tately, sales development manager for the Florham, N.J.-based Emergency Notification group of Siemens Building Technologies. “Mass notification systems use software to aggregate and send messages to predetermined groups of people based on the nature of the emergency,” Tately explains. “Messages are sent in as many ways as are reasonable for the business, including voice paging, cell phones, computer pop-ups (visual paging) and e-mail.” Systems can interact with security systems (access control, intrusion, video surveillance) as well as fire, communication and building automation systems.

Mass notification systems also are being applied in a variety of non-emergency situations to provide information, adding to their value as a corporate communications and security tool.

A new fire code, NFPA 72-Chapter 12, is being drafted that would permit use of fire and other systems in a building to provide messaging in non-fire, non-emergency situations,” Tately says.

There is opportunity for new recurring revenue in these systems. Integrators can charge for conducting regular testing on a schedule that depends on the system’s individual components. “Mass notification systems must work the first time and every time and customers must be confident that they will,” Tately emphasizes. He offers these tips for integrators interested in this business:

  • Do research on all forms of corporate communication.

    Learn how systems can gather information about emergencies and transmit it out to the field.

  • Plan the system with the building security director or manager. What are the emergency priorities? Who needs to receive messages based on those priorities, including people in the building and others, such as data centers that need to initiate data backup programs? 

  • Discuss future needs so the system can be scaled appropriately.