Time to Take Advantage

Time to Take Advantage

End users should think about the benefits of intelligent cloud-based visitor management

For every organization, one of the first steps in providing safety and security is knowing at all times who is in the building. This is true for protecting people, property, or assets, and whether the building is a business, school, hospital or any other location. This is precisely why controlling and managing visitor access plays such a vital role in security, and visitor management solutions provide an excellent means for achieving desired controls.There are many of these solutions on the market today, with a variety of technologies and methodologies, but of course all solutions are not created equal. So, it is impossible to overstate the importance of carefully evaluating the available options and choosing the solution that best fits the application.

At minimum, the right choice is one that will provide the most effective and cost-efficient secure visitor management program.

From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, today’s visitor management solutions might include wristbands, labeling machines and/or software, all designed to control visitor access to people, assets, specific locations within a building, networks and more. Visitor management offerings also come in a wide range of combinations of features and functions, further confusing the concept and making choosing the right solution more complicated.

Luckily, choosing a high-value intelligent visitor management solution does not have to be a difficult process. There are some key factors to consider when evaluating the available options that will simplify the selection clarify the relevant points of interest. Enterprise- wide identity management is a hallmark of the most advanced of these solutions, allowing visitors to be linked to specific employees while they are on site to create a system where there is greater accountability around people who are provided with access to a facility or building.

Visitor management solutions designed and built using open architecture enable integration with an organization’s existing core operations systems, such as those used for human resources, compliance, parking and others that are related to physical assets. Organizations can use these advanced visitor and identity management solutions as a policy-based back-end solution that ensures organizations remain in compliance with policies, regulations or laws governing their industry or company. With the ability to set up policies and procedures to track visitor activities in real time, these solutions also deliver complete auditability and accountability. Based on badge and identity type, visitors’ access can be limited to pre-approved areas and timing. Upon exiting the building, their badge privileges are automatically revoked according to organizational policies, ensuring that their access ends when their visit is complete.

These are just a few of the many advanced benefits that end users must consider when evaluating intelligent visitor management solutions. More often than not, this is a task that is too daunting for them to do on their own, so they will look for assistance from a knowledgeable source – and systems integrators and security dealers are perfectly positioned to fill that role. Therefore, it is imperative that these security professionals gain familiarity with all of the options available for intelligent identity management in order to educate their customers and help them navigate the evaluation process to select the solution that will ultimately be the best fit for their specific applications.

On top of the ability to provide the right solution for the right situation, intelligent visitor management solutions can also create recurring monthly revenue (RMR) opportunities that will have a very positive impact on systems integrators’ and security dealers’ profits. One example of these potential RMR sources stems from the relatively new and rapidly emerging cloud-based visitor management solutions market.

Cloud-based solutions offer a number of added benefits, such as eliminating the need for organizations to rely on their over-burdened IT departments and staff for deployment and implementation. In the IT world, time is perhaps the most valuable—and easily consumed—resource. Given the number of mission-critical tasks IT departments must deal with on an almost daily basis, visitor management system deployments may be deemed low-priority projects to be completed when time allows. The resulting delays could have negative ramifications for the overall security of an organization.

Because cloud solutions do not require allocating physical hardware, IT departments can focus on the network settings and the clear understanding of the rules and policies to be implemented. With a cloud-based model, end users often have the flexibility of a “pay as you go” pricing model, which can be an attractive option for organizations to avoid high upfront costs. The ability to offer these cloud-based services on a subscription model is the source of RMR for dealers and integrators, ensuring a steady and predictable revenue stream well into the future.

With cloud-based visitor management solutions, end users also benefit from having an enterprise-level system they can access at any time from virtually any location in the world. This allows new sites to be brought online more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, leading cloud service providers like Amazon or Microsoft allow more widespread access to a visitor management system’s servers, which significantly reduces the time it takes to retrieve information from the cloud. The robust infrastructures and built-in redundancy these leading providers offer ensures minimal downtime, resulting in the highest levels of availability and reliability, combined with the most advanced data encryption levels for superior data security. To provide end users with peace of mind, these providers’ service level agreements guarantee all of these benefits in writing.

A further benefit for organizations that implement a cloud-based visitor management system is streamlined visitor management. Prior to their scheduled arrival, visitors can be provided with a custom link that is easily and securely accessed from outside the organization’s network, allowing them to pre-register for their visit. This allows the organization to prepare visitors’ credentials, complete with the appropriate level of access permissions and information about the person within the organization who is responsible and accountable for a particular visitor.

Any required non-disclosure agreements or other background information can also be embedded into the credential to further strengthen its effectiveness. Upon their arrival, these credentials will be ready and waiting for visitors to pick up using a valid ID, eliminating the potentially significant bottlenecks and other delays that are associated with waiting until visitors arrive to manually input their information into the system.

For dealers and integrators, cloudbased solutions can positively impact revenues in more indirect ways in addition to ongoing subscription fees. With very little equipment to install and maintain, deployment and ongoing maintenance are much simpler and less time-consuming. A global corporation with multiple sites around the world, for example, could quickly and easily ensure integration between all of its locations using the same intelligent visitor management solution and that these systems are also integrated with one another. Having to spend less time on these jobs means technicians are able to complete more jobs in less time, cutting costs and generating additional revenue for dealers and integrators.

It’s no secret that we live in a mobile world, and that the number of Internetand network-connected devices is expanding rapidly. This concept, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), allows cloud-based visitor management, building management and other systems to be integrated, with data from each system populated to the others. For organizations who embrace IoT and mobile, there are a number of additional benefits that can further enhance the power and capabilities of cloud-based visitor management solutions while also providing yet another potential revenue stream for dealers and integrators. During the pre-registration process, mobile solutions allow end users to request access to specific areas of a building or facility. When they arrive at a location, visitors can also take advantage of this capability to check in using tablets or kiosks in the lobby.

Staff can use their smartphones or tablets to review visitor information and check them in and out or to check in a group of visitors together, as opposed to one at a time. Additionally, the reporting process for visitors, visits and host activities, for example, is simplified. And the cloud is a key reason end users can reap all of these benefits.

These are just a few of the many criteria that can be used when choosing visitor management solutions. New cloud-based solutions especially can bring greater efficiency to visitor management, but making the right choice requires a good understanding of the benefits and capabilities of the different options that are available. This understanding is important for dealers and integrators, who become a valuable, trusted resource for customers, and also for the end users trying to identify the solution that offers the greatest cost-efficiency while matching their business needs.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.


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