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Hey folks, Phil Zito here and welcome back! In this post, we are going to be discussing selling access control integrations. Now, I'll be pretty honest with you, if I was making a list of integrations I would try to bring to the market and to my customers, access control would probably not be on the high point.  

There are situations in which leading with access control integrations actually makes a lot of sense, and so what we're going to do in this post is talk about really aligning your integrations with business stakeholders, aligning your integrations with the vertical market, and understanding the problem statements and drivers of your stakeholders and your vertical market. Then, we're going to talk about how this all ties into access control integrations.  

As always, everything that is discussed can be found at Smart Buildings Academy Blog 

All right, let's dive in. Okay, so the first thing I want to do is define two terms, and that is Stakeholder and Vertical Market. So, one of the things that I often do with our sales team here at Smart Buildings Academy is say, “Alright, who is the decision maker, and who is the influencer.”  

That's basically a little strategy I learned from a program called targeted account selling, which was used at Johnson Controls. I was never fortunate enough to go through the targeted accounts selling program, but I got to learn some key concepts of it, from just being part of the sales cycle and sales experience. I will tell you, from that experience, I learned the importance of identifying your stakeholders, identifying who's the decision maker, who's the influencer, who's the subject matter expert, who can be a blocker, etc. So, as you go about developing an integration, as we've discussed in previous posts, it should be based on a use case, it should be tied to business value, but you really have to understand and identify the stakeholders that you're going to be selling things to.  

One of the other aspects of selling integrations is vertical market. Now, I've talked about how much I liked the healthcare market and about how much I liked the educational market. I will tell you, depending on the market you're in, you can sell integrations.  

So, for example, in the healthcare market, there is a thing called RTLS, real time location services/system. The RTLS can be passive or active and can be used to track assets. Those are things like monitoring machines, etc, or they can be used to track people, like nurses.  

So, one of these security related integrations that we did when I was with Johnson Controls, was that we would monitor the RTLS and the panic notification on a nurse's badge. If there was an issue with a patient, where you may have some folks who are a little unstable, potentially, they can attack the nurses. Because of that, they attack a nurse, and the nurse panics and hits that panic button.  

The integrations we would do would be to pan the nearest three cameras on that location of the nurse so that the security staff could see and unlock/lock doors so that the security responders could get to the nurse quickly or the nurse could isolate him/herself from the threat. This was an access control and video surveillance integration. This was not a building automation integration. 

So, now you're starting to see how and where we integrate things to building automation, and we'll talk about selling that later in this post. This comes back to a vertical market of healthcare, and specifically, inpatient services and surgery centers. So, we would identify the key stakeholders for that vertical market, perhaps the Chief Nursing Officer, maybe the Chief Medical Officer, the Facilities VP, the Security Director, and we would bring those people in. They would be influencers, they would be decision makers, they would also be potentially blockers. We would have to do what we've done in the previous posts, identify a business use case, identify the ROI, which is nurse safety, response time, to incidents, etc., and then based on that use case, we would then start to build out the technical use case, and we would sell to the key stakeholders.  

The key point here that I want you to understand, and this is where a lot of people get hung up when they first start selling integrations, is selling a lighting integration, selling an AV integration, can be pretty universal across vertical markets. As you start to get into more of the security, as you start to get into non-building systems, like flight tracking, health care systems, healthcare infotainment, or even digital signage that are not truly building facility systems, then you're going to have to start to think through the vertical market you're approaching. At that point, we're out of the field of the typical plan and spec.  

This is DIV 23, or DIV 25 work, and we're moving into stuff that honestly, in a lot of cases, isn't included in the construction budget but rather in the FF & E budget. It is basically a whole other technology group that oversees that in the construction of the building, and then also in the management of the building as well.  

So, another example of how this might look is education. We think of a higher education institute, right? Maybe we'll go with the public safety again and look at gunshot detection technology or with public announcement technology. So, we're talking about stuff on the 900 ISM band. We can talk about video surveillance, access control, and we could talk about pulling all of that together into a PSIM solution.  

That would be an integrated, basic solution for maybe an active shooter scenario. So, you have an active shooter on a campus, utilizing the communication system that communicates both mobile as well as public announcement. We're able to push to the students via SMS text, via public announcement so that they know to shelter in place or to avoid an area. We can lock and unlock specific areas. We can use video surveillance for first responders, and we can actually have a video surveillance system that can create a URL that is sent to the first responders so they can open it, and they can then get threat intelligence as to what is going on on-site. They can figure out how to respond and where best to respond to.  

Now once again, this is not a building automation integration. But as we start to leave this integration series, I want you to start to think about what is possible as a true master systems integrator. How can you identify common threats, common risks, common problems that exists specific to vertical markets, and then pairing technologies together, you can go and actually bring those technologies as a solution to a customer.  

So, let's talk through what this will look like. The integrations I do see, it seems to be people talking about prop tech, or people talking about energy. That's all well and good, but that doesn't seem to be the primary driving factor for a lot of these building occupiers.  

The first thing is to sit down and identify our stakeholders. We're going to draw on a piece of paper in our CRM, draw out our customer map, identify our stakeholders, identify whether they are a buyer/decision maker, influencer or blocker. Once we've identified that, we are going to have our vertical market identified. 

Then, using the methods that I've talked about in many previous posts, we're either going to be attending trade groups, or reading periodicals. We're going to really study our vertical market and understand what our vertical market is looking at, from a needs perspective. From that needs perspective, we're going to bring this back to our customers, perform a needs analysis, and suggest ways to improve the key KPIs, key performance indicators, that our customers are facing.  

So, we can say, “Your average response time for a nurse panic is X, the industry is Y. You're above the industry by Z, and we are going to decrease it by W.” You’ll then associate a value with that nurse response time, and that is a way that you can sell one of the integrations that I described previously.  

Now, how does this look from an access control to building automation perspective? Well, in my experience, there's not a whole lot of uses for access control to building automation integrations. Once again, you may be saying, “Phil, why are you teaching this?” I will tell you, because in my experience, this is one of the more difficult integrations to do for the reasons I mentioned in the last 2 posts.  

I really wanted to cover this because you are going to run into specs that ask you to integrate with security access control systems, or video surveillance systems, and you need to understand once again, how do you solve this? The first thing you need to do whenever you go about selling this, is you need to understand, “What system am I having to integrate with and what system do I have?”  

Once you understand those two things, then you can figure out, “Can I even integrate,” because you need to figure that out before you even respond. If there's no way to integrate, you have no drivers, there are no API's, you have no way to consume the data and pull it into your building automation system, then quite honestly, you should either take exception to that scope, or just choose to not bid.  

Now, if you do have a way to integrate, you have to figure out what is the actual use case. It's one thing to be able to integrate and pull in the data, but if you can't pull in the right data, then it doesn't matter that you can integrate. You may be able to integrate with the access control system, or the video surveillance system, but if you can't pull in the correct data, it won’t be of any benefit to you.  

Let's say you can integrate with the video management system and the way you can integrate is by putting a URL on your graphics in your building automation system. That then allows you to see via single sign-on, allowing you to automatically log in and see the video, or maybe you can put it in an iframe, but if they want it natively embedded in the graphics, you may not be able to do that. The video feed may not be native HTML5, there may be a variety of issues with natively embedding video from video management systems.  

The same goes with access control. You may be required to unlock doors via the building automation system, which I think is a bad idea, but you may be required to do that. If the integration to the access control system is monitoring only, which a lot of them are, saying, “I'm going to monitor the status of the rooms, whether they've been active or inactive,” that's all well and good. If you can't command those, then even though you can integrate and you can pull data from the access control system, you're not able to actually meet the expectation of that use case.  

I really want you all to know this. It's not just enough to be able to integrate, you have to meet the intent of the use case. I'm sure you all have seen this, when you go to integrate a chiller, or an air handler, or some sort of device and you try to perform a sequence, but the points that you need in order to perform that sequence are not exposed with that integration. So, because you bid the job and you got paid, you end up having to submit a change order, having to put a controller on there, having to add IO, and next thing you know, you've got slippage. Slippage is cost overrun or labor overrun.  

So, you have slippage, your executed margin is decreased, compared to your estimated margin, and you are not making as much money on the project as you had forecasted. So, you need to be cognizant of that.  

Okay, that was a lot. I know we went a little bit over the time, but I thought it was very important for us to discuss. If you have any questions about integration, please do not hesitate to ask at Smart Buildings Academy Blog 

If you like our approach to selling, if you like our approach to how we look at the market and the strategies we take as well as all this information I'm sharing, I encourage you to sign up for our BAS Sales Bootcamp. It will not be live because we have completed Cohort #2 and we're not doing another live one in 2021, but you will be able to watch all the recordings and participate in the forums, knowledge checks, as well as get access to all the templates and bonus resources. If you are interested in attending the live Sales Bootcamp course, there will be openings for 2022, with a date still to be determined. So, keep your eyes open for that. 
 I hope you enjoyed this series and found it to be informative. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your week. Take care! 

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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