Security systems integrators looking ahead may wonder how this year will end. What changes since the start of 2023 will impact our industry in ways that may permanently affect how you run your business, how you design and deploy solutions, who you partner with, and how your contribution is valued? 

The forces of change include macroeconomic and geopolitical shifts, which have a significant influence on trade. There are also more environmental and climate considerations we must carefully address in building systems and for different regions here in the United States. Demographic changes can lead to changes in preferences, societal norms and sometimes laws. Then, there’s the changing threat landscape that’s ubiquitously on our minds. And, of course, there is the lasting change resulting from the pandemic and all that is associated with it.   

Our industry has demonstrated resilience and resourcefulness in how it has addressed these issues previously, and I am confident that we will be able to address future events with equally impressive and deliberate determination. 

Where integrators, end users and some manufacturers need to be most careful is in the change that occurs around commoditization. 

Commoditization of security and access control solutions has the potential to negatively impact our industry as VoIP did to telephony and how IP video became a race to the bottom for some brands, integrators and end users. Systems began to look the same, perform the same, and cost the same. Commoditization benefits brands seeking to establish market share based on price and then upselling locked-in integrators and end-users on add-on features and benefits. 

This strategy has been deployed with limited success by emerging brands in consumer electronics, automotive, grocery retail and a host of other industries. However, it is destined for certain failure in markets where integrators, locksmith security professionals, architects and designers provide unique expertise and consultative value. 

Innovation is an essential safeguard against commoditization. That’s our take at ASSA ABLOY. We recognize that our best ideas differentiate us from commodity players, but that, ultimately, they’ll be imitated and adopted by the commodity player. Subsequently, we continually need to generate new products, new ideas and new innovative solutions. This allows us to provide unique and compelling value and enable you to do the same. 

Innovation is not just limited to the products and solutions that brands offer their integrator partners. Innovation extends to the training programs, commissioning, service and brand promises that manufacturers include with their door locks, exit devices, hardware and other access control devices. It also applies to progressive efforts where product development is guided by practices and values that reduce their environmental footprint and increase their positive impact. 

Along with being a top-down priority for certain manufacturers, sustainably made solutions and products are in higher demand than ever from the design, building, security and end-user communities. They want to know the carbon footprint and health impact of product ingredients, their recyclability and how environmentally responsible items are made, packaged, and delivered. And they expect transparency in the form of documentation, reporting, and third-party certifications to back up claims.  

As you think about the year ahead, consider your unique capabilities, value and how you can project them to set yourself apart from your competitors. Consider how commoditization in your world applies to certain low-voltage disciplines. How pressure from competing influencers might continue to gain more sway in end-user communities and as businesses promise consumer-grade features, benefits and pricing to the commercial and enterprise realms. 

Progressive integrators seeking to stem the tide of commoditization by providing meaningful value in the advanced systems you design, deploy and support will thrive when you partner with manufacturers that also place innovation at the core of their offerings.   

Doing so ladders up to experience and success — the experience of integrators deploying sophisticated, customized solutions and the success of end users being protected by efficacious systems instead of falling victim to cookie-cutter products.