When speaking to anyone that works in or around the multifamily access control and smart lock vertical, you can always use two adjectives (1) Exciting and (2) Bustling. Access control and smart locks in the multifamily market is having its moment. Although not as bad as some other verticals seeing an uptick in our industry, some in the multifamily market are taking old methods and conventional wisdom as their approach to dealing with it. I get it, but as Albert Einstein is credited with saying, "If You Want Different Results, You Have to Try Different Approaches." The area that stands out most to me is how all of us approach the dealer channel. Whether you are an owner, developer, manufacturer, software service provider, or a dealer yourself, the old methods of what we expect from the dealer channel and what the dealer channel expects from us needs to change.
For instance, the terminology "dealer." Time for that to go. I believe that name worked when you were, as the definition says, "a person or business that buys and sells goods." Sure, the need to "buy and sell goods" is still relevant, but if we were to read the tea leaves and look outside of the industry, one could make a hard argument that the days of "dealing" product are shifting and chances are going to be, if not already, disrupted. So, let's assume our "dealers" will not be buying and selling access control and smart lock products in the long term (short term) future. We can argue it but for this exercise, let's assume the trend will continue. So what do you do?
We move from dealer to System Integrator (SI). As Gartner states, a system integrator is "an enterprise that specializes in implementing, planning, coordinating, scheduling, testing, improving, and sometimes maintaining a computing operation. SIs try to bring order to disparate suppliers." And I am not talking about the traditional SI we see in the access control and smart lock market that integrates access, security, video, and other industry-specific solutions. I am talking about a SI that takes those systems and integrates them into other software solutions built for the multifamily market. I could list the hundreds of statistics showing you the increase in building and home technology in the multifamily market, but I do not need to. It is well documented and evident that technology adoption is on the rise, and so is the complication of those systems. Especially those systems working together seamlessly. Systems such as:
The dealers that morph their business and "skate to the puck" of where technology solutions are going and the customer need for an expert will win. The manufacturers, distributors, sales reps, and end-users who demand and help move dealers to System Integrators will also benefit significantly long term.
So, where do we start? With a new certification programs. It is time now to create the programs that support the System Integrator of the future. As we stated earlier, we cannot continue offering the same certification programs and training of the past and expect different results now and into the future.
Who in the smart lock and access control industry will be the first to take their products, partner with Salesforce, Workday, Cisco or Aruba Networks, Lutron, a PMS, Google, Honeywell, and many other systems, put a certification program together, and offer it to traditional dealers?
If it already exists, please highlight it to help get the word out to the market because it is the way of the future. And the future is now.