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March 5, 2021

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Whitepaper: Reshaping the future of retail with security technology

Physical security

Embracing IP technology when facing the physical security challenges of today and tomorrow

David Needham, UK & Ireland Sales Manager at Axis communications, considers the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry and looks at how the right support can help businesses succeed.

David Needham, UK & Ireland Sales Manager, Axis Communications

Physical security is a resilient industry, but understanding the full extent to which COVID-19 has affected this sector will be critical to its ability to move forward in the current climate. It’s clear that there is a great deal of uncertainty and many challenges to be overcome while the vaccination programme is fully rolled out and businesses wait to see how the ‘new normal’ unfolds.

In order to gain insight into the current and future market environment, as well as identifying ways that technology can facilitate safer and more sustainable operations, Axis Communications conducted a survey of its partners in the UK and Ireland. Their responses would help ascertain the degree to which the pandemic has impacted their businesses to date, how this might affect future plans, and what can be done to mitigate further recurrences.

Identifying partner issues and challenges

Partners were able to provide clarity on their ability to continue working, and how levels of activity might impact on revenues. 41% of respondents said that they had seen their business decrease, while slightly fewer said that their business remained the same. Given the broad range of industries served by the respondents, this trend is reflective of the static nature of the current economic climate. Interestingly, just over one fifth reported that their business had actually increased during the pandemic.

A central concern was revealed to be economic recovery in general, followed by supply chain management. Some respondents indicated that they had already experienced problems with their supply chain. There is clearly anxiety about the state of the market, and the fact that supply chain issues persist is testament to this. Partners are understandably worried about the state of their business and whether rises in coronavirus infection rates will bring loss of customers and related revenue. Encouragingly, most reported little difficulty in enabling remote work or complying with government and industry regulations.

Customer concerns and how technology can help

Just over half of the partners surveyed stated that their customers were worried about economic recovery too. Other customer concerns, relayed through partner feedback, included their ability to effectively function remotely. This is possibly because it is difficult or not practical, depending on individual job role or type of industry. Nearly half highlighted lowering personal exposure to COVID-19 as being extremely important. The ability to comply with new regulations appears to be a larger worry for customers, according to partners, than for the integrators themselves, and they are understandably concerned with both short-term and long-term ROI. Since long-term investments have an impact on relationships with suppliers, it is unsurprising to see that reflected in their responses.

Making the right solutions available to meet ongoing customer demand is critical to a business’s success, and for maintaining relationships with their client base. Customers cited an increasing demand for contactless entry solutions and tools to lower personal exposure to COVID-19 as being key to continued operation. Queue management solutions were also mentioned, alongside tools to identify and reduce traffic, and the use of IP audio (network speakers) to issue reminders around the need to follow appropriate health and safety protocols.

A third of respondents indicated that their customers will be more open in the current climate to exploring the use of IP based solutions, citing the fact that access control, occupancy tools and even track and trace technology require IP connectivity. Customers appear to be wise to the fact that embracing such technology opens up a wealth of interconnected solutions that can improve and enhance their businesses. Edge-based analytics, for example, can provide advanced detection and processing capabilities, with benefits during the pandemic and beyond in relation to occupancy, crowd management, social distancing enforcement and people counting.

Shaping the future of the industry

There appears to be a general agreement that remote working will persist even after the end of the pandemic, and technology such as contactless access control looks set to be a more permanent fixture in a world that will be more aware about maintaining high levels of hygiene. A strong, trusted supply chain and continued support from both suppliers and manufactures will play a key role in ensuring availability of such technology, inspiring partners and their customers to embrace change and find new ways to drive productivity.

A continuing demand for physical security solutions is the greatest incentive for the industry to forge ahead. Understandably, economic anxiety remains a common thread, yet these concerns have manifested themselves into a renewed drive to focus on keeping businesses active and customers engaged. This in turn strengthens Axis’ resolve to help its partners and their customers succeed and to continue to find new ways of innovating for a smarter, safer world.

Read the whitepaper to find out more: Impact of COVID-19 on the security industry


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