Axis: Market Leader for Video Surveillance Takes a Step into the Access Control Market

20.09.2013 - At Asis show in Chicago Axis surprised the security world with the announcement of entering the physical access control market with the new Axis A1001 IP based door controller. The...

At Asis show in Chicago Axis surprised the security world with the announcement of entering the physical access control market with the new Axis A1001 IP based door controller. The market leader for IP video surveillance launches a product that is a platform for two different solutions. Axis Entry Manager (Axis A1001 with built-in web based software) is a ready-made solution for small- to midsized business - such as offices, industries and retail stores - with typically 10 doors and basic access control requirements. Axis A1001 Network Door Controller has an open API (Application Programming Interface) for integration of third-party software to scale the system and allowing the unit to be integrated with solutions provided by Axis partners such as integration of video, intrusion detection and HR systems. For Heiko Baumgartner had the opportunity to talk to Ray Mauritsson, Axis Communications CEO about the news. Ray, the announcement of Axis' entry into the market for physical access control with a self-developed IP-based door controller comes as a real surprise for the majority of the market. Why this step?

Ray Mauritsson: There were two components driving this innovation. From a top strategic level we are always looking for fields to expand our business outside our current offering even if we are very happy with how the market for video products develops. Access control is closely linked to video surveillance and it is a kind of a natural move to step into this market. But of course our talks with system integration partners were also a driving force for developing the new product. Our partners made clear that this is a chance to grow and that there is a strong customer need for more open systems in this market.

At the presentation of the new standard for access control, Baldvin Gislason Bern, Chairman of ONVIF's Profile C Working Group commented: "Integration between IP-based physical access control systems and video surveillance is no longer considered a luxury in today's market, it is becoming a necessary component for many different types of users". Is this something you experience when you talk to system integrators as your customers?

Ray Mauritsson: Absolutely, our integration partners are at home on both sides, video surveillance and access control. They were asking us for a more open solution that helps them to integrate doors into an IP system while avoiding a proprietary solution.

The benefit for system integrators is obvious: Easier integration and installation. What advantage can end-users expect from the new technology?

Ray Mauritsson: There are two areas where end-users benefit from our new product. With the existing systems on the market their only option to get a reliable solution that integrates access control and video surveillance is the go for a proprietary system from one vendor. Our system allows them to specify best-of-breed products for all areas. At the same time we are launching with physically the same product a complete solution for small installations. The Axis door controller is two offerings in one: It can work as a strong IP-enabling component in bigger systems our integrators build and also as a powerful stand-alone system that can be operated without any additional software offering. As a stand-alone system it is ideal for the "5-to-10 door" market.

Why is the launch of the new product limited to the US market?

Ray Mauritsson: First of all, the US is a big market where we have built a strong presence on the video market and where we clearly have achieved our ambition to shift the market towards network video. We have a lot more to do in any of the other markets. The US are the most mature market for us, we have reached a high grade of market penetration there and we already have developed the right internal structure. Entering a new area also means changes in the internal organization.

Is the more homogenous access control market in the US another reason to start in the US?

Ray Mauritsson: We see the access control market as very fragmented in all regions. There is no difference in the US. The preference to start in the US is more linked to the question where we can put more resources in place to start with. We work very closely with our system integrator partners and we want to start in the region where we can guarantee them the best support. To create a new product is only the basis for a success, you need to organize also a support and service structure for the clients to succeed especially when entering a new market.

Do you see the market entry in the US as a blueprint for the "rest of the world" and when can we expect to see this product outside the USA?

Ray Mauritsson: Yes, with all our initiatives for growth we aim to become the market leader on a global scale. It is more a tactical decision to do this step-by-step approach. It is hard to predict how much time it will take to enter into this new market, how long we need to get the experience needed and how long it will take to build up an appropriate structure in the other regions. The product as such does not need to be adapted to a specific region. The timeline will depend on how well the product is received and how fast we can build up internal resources. Hopefully in another year we will be ready to expand.

Axis has been the pioneer for IP video surveillance and has gone a long way until the new technology was accepted in the market. The access control market has the reputation of being even more conservative. Do you expect a sprint run until you succeed in this market segment or will it more likely be a marathon?

Ray Mauritsson: As mentioned before we have chosen the step-by-step approach and we are prepared for a marathon, a long-term implementation. Hopefully we can avoid the pain on the last 10 kilometers and do not have to stop when we reach our goal. A smooth ride all the way would be great.

Proprietary products dominate this market while Axis is known as a vendor who likes to work with open systems. Do you expect a clash of systems?

Ray Mauritsson: We are well aware that there will be obstacles in the market. The market is crowded with products already and even something so unique and beneficial like our door controller will not have an easy entry. That is the reason why we will need to have resources in place to explain and educate partners and customers. Change always takes time but we are very experienced in introducing new technology on the market. As it is not a completely new product category like network video cameras were when we invented them, it should not take too long.

How important are partners like VMS vendors, security management system providers and hardware manufacturers for your market entry?

Ray Mauritsson: It should be an excellent opportunity for them to expand their offering, too. The VMS market for example sees fierce competition, so expanding their offering through access control integration should offer vendors a good chance to differentiate with an advanced offering. They may follow different approaches. Some of them will try to go full speed ahead and develop a complete new solution, others will adjust existing products.

What makes you certain that the new product gets a success?

Ray Mauritsson: You can never be 100% sure that a new technology will be a success but there are a lot of reasons why we believe in the product. We have had several requests for exactly this product from our integrators so we are quite sure that we will have some early adaptors for the technology. There certainly is a pull from the market. We do have the right partners. We have a unique and easy to use product and we had already the first installations. The first reactions were very optimistic. Integrators are happy how the product has been working and how easy it is to use. We have done our homework and now we can't wait to roll it out.



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