Rebecca Spayne of Security Buyer, connected with Gerald Grattoni of HID Global to discuss the significant impact of economic sustainability, mobile credentials and IoT on the evolution of the access control industry
At IFSEC International 2023, Managing Editor Rebecca Spayne engaged in a thought-provoking interview with Gerald Grattoni of HID Global, delving into the forthcoming dynamics of access control in our rapidly changing world.
Gerald Grattoni, the Vice President of Mobile Credentials at HID Global, brought with him a robust IT cloud background when he joined the company five years ago. Prior to that, he dedicated two decades to the industry, serving in diverse roles. In our Innovator interview, we delve into pivotal trends within the access control market, emphasising mobile credentials.
In your opinion, what is the biggest theme in the access control industry?
Currently, the most prevalent theme in our industry is sustainability. However, when most companies hear “sustainability”, they often think green. For us, it starts with economic sustainability, especially considering the recent challenges we’ve faced over the last two years.
We’ve had to rethink our supply chains to be more efficient and sustainable. Over the past couple of years, we’ve faced challenges, learned a lot and looked into how we can innovate to serve our markets and partners better. We reviewed our contingency planning and took a comprehensive look at our processes. This helped us identify and address shortfalls. One of our strategies was to diversify our supply line, ensuring we aren’t relying solely on single source components.
In the past, everything was highly optimised, from our supply lines to our manufacturing facilities. However, these optimised systems showed vulnerabilities during shortages. We’ve since adopted a better planning strategy and have partnered more effectively with other players in the supply chain. This has improved our engagement and fostered stronger relationships.
How else can access control incorporate sustainability practices?
Another innovation was redesigning our products so they can be manufactured in multiple ways without compromising on standards. This allows us greater flexibility and avoids being pigeonholed into one production method.
Sustainability is a core part of our business strategy. Our R&D has heavily focused on this for the past two years. On one side of sustainability, we ensure that our end products are future-proof, making them adaptable for new technologies without necessitating a complete system overhaul. HID has been in business for over 30 years, and we’ve always endeavoured to future-proof our products. We constantly provide our partners and end-users with the means to upgrade their technology seamlessly. This involves focusing on interoperability standards, like OSDP, and collaborating with various industry entities.
Beyond the product side, we also have a sustainability agenda pertaining to our environmental footprint. Our products are now designed with this environmental focus without compromising security. This push towards sustainability means a shift towards mobile credentials and digital keys. We’re also introducing eco-friendlier options like bamboo cards for those still preferring physical cards.
Moreover, while digital credentials eliminate transportation and inventory costs associated with physical products, our commitment to sustainability extends beyond just products. We’ve been recognised for the green credentials of our operational sites, like our centre of excellence in Ireland. It would be hypocritical to advocate for green credentials in our products without implementing them in our own operations.
What advantages do mobile access credentials offer?
Mobile access has been a strategic focus for us for many years. We launched our mobile access initiatives in 2012, and while we’ve learnt a lot and made numerous improvements, there’s been a noticeable acceleration in demand, especially post-pandemic. As workplaces adapt to the new normal, we’ve seen a surge in demand for mobile access solutions, and I believe this trend is here to stay.
Today’s workforce consists of a significant percentage of Millennials, Gen Z and even Gen Alpha. These younger generations, having been raised in a digital age, naturally experience technology differently than older generations. In the past, concerns about mobile credentials revolved around potential loss or misplacement of phones. However, in today’s world, such concerns are dwindling. The predominant challenge now is the security of access. For instance, if someone knows the passcode to my phone, there’s nothing stopping them from impersonating me and accessing my office building.
Addressing this, it’s possible that future solutions might incorporate biometrics or enhanced interoperability between access control and video surveillance. This reflects our dedication to delivering mobile credentials that not only offer the best user experience but also heighten security measures.
In what other ways are security systems evolving?
As we’ve evolved in this sector, I’ve noticed a shift in the construction process. Security systems are now being considered much earlier in the process, allowing buildings to be designed around their ‘smart’ capabilities. This change in the built environment is becoming more evident and brings about positive developments. Our aim at HID is to consistently improve the services we offer. Engaging with consultants and architects early on enables us to equip them with the tools they need to incorporate digital product designs, power consumption parameters and the green agenda into their projects.
Two main trends currently dominate our field: sustainability and the acceleration of digital access in smart buildings. Emphasising the importance of partnerships and integration, it’s worth noting our collaboration with companies such as Swift Connect and Smart Spaces. Their involvement in the ecosystem ensures smoother integration of solutions.
This industry thrives on collaboration. Whether it’s in security, construction or any other sector, progress requires the combined efforts of various companies. From the initial sourcing of materials to the final installation and usage, thousands of companies play their part in the chain. What I personally find rewarding, and what I believe HID Global values, is the collective effort that drives our industry forward.
I believe in designing for the long term. It’s vital to have hardware and enable our partners with solutions that are future-proof. It might sound cliché, but achieving this is genuinely challenging.
How can we be certain about the future? We always offer a migration path to the next technology. Once you’ve invested in our products, you need assurance that as technology evolves in the next three, five, or seven years, you’re still ahead of the curve. With new technologies emerging frequently, such as biometrics, if you don’t have a future-proof system, you’re limiting your users’ security options.
How do the changing standards and regulations differ depending on region?
Given the complexity of the security industry, it’s a challenge to address varied regulations and standards across continents. Our goal is to design products that cater to regional needs. Be it serving the European market, addressing the British market’s requirements, or meeting the demands in Asia or the Americas, we have to think globally.
Our unique position and extensive experience give us an edge. With over 30 years in credentials and over 25 years in access control, we have insights across multiple sectors. The challenge is to remain innovative while acknowledging the lessons from our history.
Increasingly, our development approach is becoming collaborative. Over the last five years, I’ve noticed a shift towards co-ideation. We sit down with technology partners and key users across industries to refine our offerings.
Continual investment in research and development is vital. We have over 70 professionals focused purely on R&D in the UK. The people who design our products have an intrinsic understanding of regional requirements, which is invaluable.
New technologies like AI and IoT are emerging, and while new companies are making their mark, the knowledge from history and heritage sets a strong foundation. Businesses are now more global than ever. Ensuring our products are compliant across multiple markets is a challenge, but our legacy and global footprint give us the advantage. If you buy our product in London, you can trust its applicability in Paris, Sydney, Beijing, New York, and Buenos Aires. It’s about looking to the future with confidence.
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