“A game-changing system”: Paxton CEO Adam Stroud on Paxton10

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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
September 25, 2019


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Access control pioneer Paxton is currently promoting what could be its most significant product launch for many years.

Paxton10, which offers ‘out of the box’ access control, IP video management and building automation, is being showcased during a series of roadshows at prestigious venues around the UK. Aimed at Paxton’s extensive installer network, the Paxton10 roadshow features product demos, keynote presentations from its CEO and CSO, a free installer kit worth £60 and a VR motor racing event with prizes including a £2,500 holiday voucher.

At the time of writing there are five roadshows left on the calendar – in Newport, Reading, Weybridge, Sherwood Forest and Edinburgh. Book your place now.

IFSEC Global spoke to Paxton CEO Adam Stroud about where Paxton10 fits within a burgeoning market for solutions that integrate access control with video surveillance.

In the interview below he also explains how Paxton installers helped shape the development process and outlines some of Paxton10’s most compelling features. Other topics include the importance of quality training provision, industry trends he anticipates emerging in the coming years and the benefits of winning so many awards.

IFSEC Global: What customer needs was Paxton10 designed to fulfill?

Adam Stroud: We’ve spent a decade integrating access control into 21 market-leading, third-party video management systems. That’s what people want in their buildings, because the two systems work so well together.

But we’ve also measured how often an access system and video surveillance system are installed in the same premises – the answer is nearly all the time.

We’ve done analysis too on how many times the two systems are actually linked and the answer is, disappointingly, hardly ever.

“We’re trying to make the whole process seamless, without the associated complexity”

The installer can add a lot of value, but the big blockers are complexity, or perceived complexity, and risk: [when there’s a problem] you sometimes get suppliers pointing at each other saying “our system is working well; the other one [isn’t]”.

The customer doesn’t tend to ask for this stuff. It relies on the security installer being motivated to offer it.

We’re trying to make the whole process seamless, without the associated complexity. With Paxton10 there’s obvious economies in installing a video and access system: one set of infrastructure to install, one piece of software etc…

And the end user has just one system to learn and manage, while the sharing of data between the systems makes both of them more useful.

IG: What prompted the Paxton10 roadshows?

AS: We decided to do something a little bit different this year, because we have a bigger story to tell. We need a bit more time and engagement with our customers.

The roadshow will be multifaceted: there’ll be a social element, a presentation and overview, and there’s nothing like getting your hands on the product. We’ll have between 20 and 30 staff manning 36 demonstration points showing various facets of the system.

And we’ll have VR racing. There’s lunch thrown in. It should be an engaging experience for installers.

IG: What Paxton10 features do you expect installers and customers to be most interested in?

AS: Paxton10 embeds access control and video management as a part of the same, straightforward system. The look and feel of the user interface and the flexibility this gives you is a real step forward.

Paxton10 also lets you use your phone or watch as your key. We’re in an interesting time with smart credentials. We’re all walking around with these powerful phones, so it’s a no-brainer to start using those devices to identify who you are rather than a special bit of plastic.

But we’re still very much in the early adopter phase, so we’ve engineered every single Paxton10 reader to work with both smart credentials and various RFID credentials. It’s about giving the customer choice.

“We can achieve genuine multi-site, without onerous IT requirements”

There’s a lot of talk about the cloud, but the cloud can mean so many different things: accessing information from your site remotely, it could be a server-less system, or the ability to manage multiple sites within a single system.

All these things we can achieve with Paxton10. We can achieve genuine multi-site, without onerous IT requirements, using secure, internet of things tools. There are scalable tools available for the cloud that allow us to relay messages in milliseconds between sites.

It allows you to manage a complete suite of different processes, different countries, on a single system, which you can manage from your iPad. So we’re really pleased with how that has gone.

One of the differences with Paxton is the breadth of our range. There’s access control, door entry, video entry, wireless door handles. With Paxton10 we’re now encompassing all those things.

The reception we’ve had – because I’ve met with our distributors and some installers we’re particularly close to – has universally been “wow, you’ve got a game-changing system here”.

Adam Stroud at the Paxton10 Manchester show

IG: You’ve developed your own Paxton10 cameras for the system…

AS: A lot of manufacturers just stick a badge on the camera and say “that’s our camera”.

The software for our cameras has been engineered specifically around Paxton10. Traditional systems have lots of cameras coming back to a NVR, DVR or VMS, where the encoding, analytics or motion detection takes place.

So you have a lot of data flying around the network and these central points of failure and bottlenecks. We’ve embedded an NVR into every single Paxton10 camera.

So you can plug one camera – or a thousand cameras – into the network, it automatically discovers our software and it’s up and running. No other infrastructure required.

It’s complete scalability. To put so much of the processing into the camera itself is fairly elegant.

IG: Edge storage eases the load on the network too…

AS: Absolutely. The cameras have a 128GB memory and no video goes anywhere until you want to see it, whether live or offline.

But we have options if people want more than 128GB or to have their storage centralised. We have a video controller for use with 3rd party cameras that supports hard drives and our own Paxton10 cameras can be set up to record to any network location.

IG: Anything else to add on Paxton10?

AS: Some people jump to the conclusion that when we talk about ‘next-generation’ systems we mean enterprise-level systems or military applications – but we’re just making it simpler for the installer.

We focus on the mid-market – not necessarily residential, but anything bigger than residential up to enterprise products. That’s commercial offices, schools, factories, warehouses…

We’re targeting the same market and the same thousands of installers who use Paxton products today. They’re a huge asset to the company.

IG: You say that installer feedback influences your product development process?

AS: Designing something as ambitious as Paxton 10 takes a lot of time, money and commitment. We’ve been very conscious throughout of the need to engage our installers and make the most of their expertise.

They’ve been a guiding light for our development. There are several examples where we’ve improved our offering as a result of listening to our installers.

Showcasing Paxton10 in Manchester

IG: How do you collect this feedback?

AS: The best feedback comes naturally. We have thousands of customer interactions every week and mechanisms to capture that feedback. But we do ask specific questions too.

But we’re careful, because the way you ask things and the environment in which people respond can influence the feedback you get.

It’s not just what installers say but what they buy. We’ve got 30 years’ experience looking at buying patterns. That’s undiluted, pure customer feedback.

IG: What other trends do you expect to see in the access control market in the coming years?

AS: The merger with video gives rise to opportunities to add security.

You see lots of dual authentication coming into the wider IT field. There are access control equivalents to that, but less annoying than having to type in a code that’s been sent to your phone.

Dual authentication to make sure you’re the correct owner of a device, in an ergonomic way, can add security. And deep learning will facilitate better analytics.

“Integration is a precursor to consolidation”

Access control has a part to play in reducing energy use. We know who is who, where they are and when they’re going there. All these things are linked to behaviours, and making sensible predictions, and acting on them.

I have a feeling that access control as a standalone sector will merge together with every other security field to form a complete security system comprising many facets.

Every system used to be a walled garden, but as it migrated to IP the walls came down and a new type of system came in. That was the precursor to integration. Now you’re on the same platform with different systems talking to one another.

Integration is a precursor to consolidation. Thanks to Moore’s Law, with processors increasingly powerful, [companies will just think] “we’ll just do it all”.

It’s the logical progression I think.

VR motorsport at the Manchester Paxton10 event

IG: You win a lot of awards, recently including one for customer service and another for being a great place to work. There must be a link between happy employees and happy customers?

AS: The two are definitely linked. Creating an environment in which people are happy and motivated is ever-more important for technology companies in this country, because it’s a competitive market for talent.

Over the past few years we’ve done a lot of work with local universities. Hundreds of undergraduates apply for our scholarships every year. Being on the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for list makes us all feel proud and encourages us to improve further.

The awards are a nice external validation and act as a magnet for talent. Being an attractive place to work means we often get our pick of candidates – which feeds into the quality of our products and the level of service we offer our customers.

How you treat customers – both before and after they’ve bought something from you – is really important. You want people to work with you over a long time, not just get a sale and move on.

IG: Training and support is a big focus for Paxton, isn’t it?

AS: Training is very important to us. We make sure it’s  free for installers to attend. We do it here [at Paxton HQ in Brighton], at the installers’ premises and at hosted venues around the UK and many other countries around the world.

Last year we trained around 8,000  individuals from 5,500 installation companies and we’re set to exceed that number this year.

Some companies in the same space make training difficult: you have to book long in advance, you have to take a couple of days off… Our view is: let’s make it as simple and painless as possible. And let’s make it interactive, because nothing engages people more than actually doing it, rather than just being told how to do it.

We think if people are willing to give up a morning or afternoon to come see us, the least we can do is look after them, so we put on a good training course and give them lunch.

The way we generate sales and keep our customers loyal is very simple: we show them how to install and use our equipment and we keep answering the phone if they have an issue.

IG: What about remote learning?

AS: The traditional way would be to have reams of application notes. Now with Paxton10, we’ve made over 30 videos, 2-3 minutes long, each detailing one aspect of the system.

It might be: how do I issue Bluetooth smart credentials? How do I set up a Paxton10 camera? How do I create a dashboard? How do I set up a site plan?

They’re accessible through the software and on our website.

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