Why smart access control manufacturers need to pick up the pace

Manufacturers need to be more nimble, react faster to changing market conditions, and deliver new features to consumers faster than the organization can.

Whether they are established market leaders or start-ups, manufacturers of smart access control products and systems are under constant pressure to keep innovating.

Pace of innovation

For traditional manufacturers, keeping pace with smart product innovation is a challenge. Smart product lifecycles – which require software updates, new connectivity standards, sensor integration and cyber security patches — are significantly shorter than traditional, untethered or LAN solutions.

Manufacturers need to be more nimble, react faster to changing market conditions, and deliver new features to consumers faster than the organization can.

The constant push to develop the next generation of products leads companies down two paths: acquiring the innovation or building it in-house. Brands that lack capital or want to make major acquisitions invest in internal product development, looking for incremental innovations that improve each product generation.

Ability to evolve

However, the smart lock and the chip access control The market has witnessed substantial growth and transformational change over the past five years, extending well beyond initial capabilities. Over 10 new brands have entered the space in the past two years alone.

This means that each individual brand must develop in-house skills on all aspects of lock performance – mechatronic functions, sensors, authentication, communication, privacy and security controls, and integration with other connected products and platforms. , among others.

While the acquisition route of buying product innovation is quite costly, the alternative approach of independently developing knowledge and investing in R&D in-house has its own inefficiencies and leads to a fragmented market landscape. . It’s possible that these traditional and mainstream approaches to product development for smart door locks – and the smart home market in general – are holding back the industry’s ability to evolve.

Innovation without Fragmentation: Benefits of Tier 1 Suppliers

The exact structure of industry supply chains naturally varies by industry, depending on market needs, the strategies of market leaders, and the legacy of historical development of a market. The smart door lock and smart access control product industries have grown such that established and start-up OEMs do the vast majority of R&D, product iteration, manufacturing themselves. and assembly of separate components.

Other industries have developed a level of supply chain between component suppliers and the OEM that offloads much of this work – commonly referred to as Tier 1 suppliers.

The automotive industry is one of the most recognized Tier 1 supply chain structures. Companies such as Continental, Bosch, Denso, Panasonic Automotive and Magna, among others, design and develop complete systems or modules for a vehicle, while sourcing individual components for the system up the supply chain. .

The automotive supplier focuses on the overall design of its vehicles, the assembly of various vehicle systems, the balance of its product portfolios, product marketing, the development of sales strategies and other essential tasks to the mission.

More mature industries that leverage a Tier 1 supply structure aim to achieve a variety of benefits:

  • More profitable R&D: most companies are limited in the number of projects they can carry out at the same time; they can focus on mission-critical things, and everything else is nice to have or just goes by the wayside. A Tier 1 structure allows companies to outsource research and development time and costs to specialists, which can extend and expand projects/deployments.
  • Rapid pivots: The market for smart door locks and smart access control – like the smart home market in general – is innovating at an extremely rapid rate compared to the traditional manufacturing lifecycle. Tier 1 suppliers help OEMs operate more flexibly and respond more quickly to changing market conditions.
  • Circulate Knowledge – Tier 1s develop skills on cutting-edge technologies and approaches by serving OEMs with varying product specifications and visions. They then serve as a hub of knowledge exchange, advancing the entire industry and saving OEMs from having to individually develop redundant skills in-house.
  • Eliminate the Pain of Interoperability – Devices typically evolve at common stages of IoT development, and as IoT development progresses from a single device/application across multiple ecosystems, enterprises must make business decisions regarding investment in interoperability. In an industry where several leading protocols have attracted and grown a large and sustainable ecosystem, the best hope for broader interoperability lies in bridging technologies that can enable ecosystems of ecosystems. These technologies include voice control and their required API integrations, open platforms that provide a common language, and application layer initiatives.

As the market matures, business models will need to consider these multi-ecosystem integrations and the cost of creating and maintaining them. A Tier 1 structure allows vendors to manage integrations and build on new standards like Matter or directly as needed and take the stress out of these developments for the OEM.

For the smart access industry to reap the same benefits of a Tier 1 supply structure, several critical factors would be required to be successful.

First, a class of Tier 1 vendors must demonstrate the competence necessary to gain the trust of established brands to outsource work previously done in-house. Suppliers must also demonstrate a high level of responsiveness to meet the rapid product lifecycle timelines that smart product development demands.

Finally, OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers must practice close collaboration to ensure critical objectives are met.


Jennifer Kent is Vice President of Research at Parks Associates

SSI has partnered with Parks Associates for the creation of DIY FYIa column designed to help dealers keep up with important smart home market developments, the nature of the competition, and whether they want to get into something they see as a new opportunity.

This is an excerpt from the Parks Associates white paper “Smart Locks and the Access Control Supply Chain: Scaling Innovation», in collaboration with Passivebolt. For more information on market trends in home security, please visit www.ParksAssociate.com.

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