COVID-19 has had a significant impact on consumer behavior. Manish Dalal, President and Founder of ZKTeco USA, speaks to asmag.com about the five major trends that will impact the security industry in the post-covid world.
COVID-19 has disrupted consumer behavior across industries. The most obvious change is the rise of touchless systems that allow people to maintain social distance and avoid physical contact.
In the access control segment, touchless systems are replacing fingerprint and even RFID cards. Even though the world is past the initial threat of the pandemic and vaccines are helping people deal with the issue, the market preference for contactless systems has not waned.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The pandemic is probably the single-biggest global crisis that most people have seen in their lifetimes, and it has had a profound impact on them. The changes that COVID-19 has brought about go way beyond touchless systems. In a recent conversation with asmag.com, Manish Dalal, President and Founder of ZKTeco USA, listed five major trends for the security industry in the post-covid world.
The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 were unprecedented. The pace at which the virus reached every nook and corner of the world took even the most advanced economies by surprise. The market didn't really have the time or resources to consider different contactless systems and decide which would be the best choice
For instance, facial recognition system was touted to take over fingerprint and card readers because of the security of biometrics and the convenience of being touchless. In many ways, it made sense because facial recognition was a tried and tested technology that many verticals had already adopted.
But more than a year after COVID-19 broke out, the market has had time to reflect on the pros and cons of different modalities. While facial recognition system continue to remain highly sought-after, some customers have wanted to explore mobile solutions as well.
"After the pandemic, mobile credentials using scrambled QR code has picked up interest," Dalal explained. "Since mobile phones are omnipresent and their ease of use by waving the phone or showing the code on the screen makes it a user-friendly technology."
But Dalal added that in access control applications where higher security is required, touchless biometric technologies like facial and palm vein recognition are preferred. Unlike a few years ago, readers can now work indoor and outdoor with these biometric technologies, widening their scope of implementation.
Besides an increasing interest in contactless systems, the pandemic has also fueled growth in remote management. In the physical security industry, this has paved the way for more interest in integrated platforms that allow access to different solutions.
"Customers want to view and control all their systems (access, video, intrusion, etc.) from a single platform," Dalal pointed out. "With web-based cloud technologies and interchange of data between different systems, this can be easily achieved. This gives the customer a 360-degree view from a single dashboard, unlike the older systems where customers had to log in to different systems and co-relate external data."
Customers no longer want to switch between multiple solutions. It's inconvenient and time-consuming. Being able to reach the services from any location is the key. The ZKBioSecurity “all-in-one” web-based security platform provides an efficient solution to customers in this regard, providing the convenience of centralized access and comprehensive control.
Occupancy management solutions and video-based social distance monitoring solutions had become popular in 2020. But not everyone used them because of doubts about their long-term necessity and concerns such as privacy invasion.
A year later, the market appears to have more clarity on the direction it wants to take. As economies look for safe methods of slowly getting back on track, certain video analytics solutions would become inevitable.
"I think the importance of analytics is increasing every day as, with new algorithms and technologies, a lot of information gathered can be presented to the customer intelligently," Dalal said. "Now with everything starting to slowly, but surely, go back to "normal," businesses will want to have reporting & tracking of social behaviors, occupancy, employee efficiency and so on."
A change in end-customer behavior would necessitate a change in systems integration as well. According to Dalal, the main difference now is that users want more customization than ever before. Integrators need to think outside the box to meet customer needs with limited resources and affordable costs. They would need to work with a company like ZKTeco, which offers fully customizable software and hardware to meet customer requirements.
"I believe the importance now, more than ever, is to adapt to the customer's needs," Dalal said. "ZKTeco's software and hardware are integration-friendly. Our software is open, offering an API, MS Active Directory, and database mapping for third-party integration. For the hardware, we provide open SDK. We are happy to deploy our devices as a total solution or along with other solution providers."
Many customers now prefer to do their own research and tell the integrator what device or features they want. Also, post-installation service and maintenance have become a critical component in the decision-making process of the end users.
The increased use of biometric solutions has made access control more secure and convenient than ever before. As customer awareness improves, the market could see higher demand for solutions like facial recognition system. But it is essential that systems integrators and solution providers continue to help customers understand the enhanced results that biometric access control solutions provide.
"The demand for biometrics is definitely on the rise, and it will only continue to increase as customers become more aware of the benefits," Dalal pointed out. "The best part is that consumers are already familiar with modalities like facial recognition to unlock phones, tablets, or computers. So, using the same for opening a door is just an extension of it."
Proper education about the technologies and processes will bring about a change in perspectives. There is already a massive demand for restructuring the lobbies and retrofitting turnstiles with touchless biometric readers. As more customers see the benefits of these solutions, the demand would rise even further.
It would appear that COVID-19 has brought about some dramatic changes to the security market and industry. But if you take a closer look, these are not really changes – just an acceleration of natural industry evolution.
For instance, even without COVID-19, the market would have, at some point, moved to solutions like facial recognition system. What the pandemic has done is speed up its adoption and alter the way we think about security and safety. Touchless access control was an inevitable trend as the market looks for more advanced solutions.