A Conversation with Steve Fisher, President and CEO of Open Options Inc.
We recently sat down with Steve Fisher, president and CEO at Open Options, to ask him about the open architecture movement and where he sees the industry heading in the future.Q: On your website, you are very proud of being independently operated. Practically speaking, how does that make Open Options different from other companies?A:
Today, many of our competitors are part of larger, public companies with expansive corporate structures, which can serve to hinder overall responsiveness to new development, rapid responses, creative solutions and a sense of customer-centric urgency.
We remain nimble to be able to quickly redirect resources, launch initiatives to take advantage of time-sensitive opportunities and provide creative solutions that address requests from our customer base for feature development, non-standard price and billing strategies, customized developments and all manner of technical support – training requirements and overall customer service issues. Q: Why does Open Options embrace open architecture? It’s clear why users would want this, but how does it benefit your company?A:
If the users of our products desire certain attributes, then clearly it is in the best interest of our company to provide them or make them available. Our founding mission was to provide advanced software solutions that worked in concert with hardware products that were not completely proprietary.
It goes further than hardware interfaces and applies to databases, database structure and the ability to incorporate other software components into our products. Operating in the open architecture space and providing Mercury Security hardware as our core hardware product, requires us to focus on providing the best, most comprehensive, feature-rich software products and customer-centric feature development – which ensures strong products. In this open-architecture world, our software can easily be replaced if it fails to meet the customer’s needs, requirements and desires. Q: How has the security industry, and access control in particular, changed since you started in 1988?A:
The three greatest changes can be categorized in technology, customers and price. When I started, the products were completely and entirely proprietary. The customers were security directors, facility managers or corporate executives of a very select set of organizations that needed the products and could afford to pay for them -- and the prices were atmospheric in comparison to today.
Where our products and services used to be selectively applied, the whole world is now a customer or prospective customer for access control products. Additionally, in the last dozen years, we have seen the IT sector become the prominent decision-maker in purchases of our products, and in only very few cases do corporate executives involve themselves directly in security acquisition decisions. Q: Where do you see the industry heading in the near future?A:
Clearly the movement toward IP-connected devices and an open architecture network will play a large role in access control. Likewise, cloud computing and managed services will continue to advance as well in the greater world of access control. Some of the larger concerns that I spend time thinking about is how the industry can complete the evolution from an electrical contractor mentality to that of a high-end technology provider.
The products available and in demand today task the integration organization on any number of fronts. All too often, the end customer does not recognize the level of technology being deployed, and will lump security into a project like bricks and mortar. Overall, to maximize the continued growth within the industry, we must continue to reinforce to our customers that what we have to offer is a high degree of technology and a uniquely high skill set, and continue to assert the appropriate value exchange for that technology and service.
Also, as manufacturers, we all should seriously consider reviewing pricing strategies in the release of new products. In very few industries does the latest model cost less than its predecessor, and the security industry must begin to change in that area to remain economically vibrant, long-term.