Access Control: Dynamically into the New Year
GIT SECURITY in Conversation with Bernhard Sommer, Managing Director of SimonsVoss
GIT SECURITY: Mr. Sommer, before we talk about the new year 2022, can we take a brief look at the outcome of the past year from a commercial perspective. The Corona crisis – sadly still unsolved – is now starting its third year. How has SimonsVoss managed to survive this situation?
Bernhard Sommer: Even under the difficult corona conditions, 2021 went very well for us with the demand for digital security technology remaining high. An important factor in this is that our market partners stayed loyal to us, even if we did have to overcome some obstacles along the way, such as matters of the supply of raw material and our ability to deliver. We used the year to force digitalization – on the one hand of course in the market with our end users, on the other hand with our own internal structures and processes.
What expectations do you have of 2022? Are there some strategic milestones that you would like to reach? And where do you see the most opportunity for SimonsVoss to grow?
Bernhard Sommer: We expect the positive dynamics of 2021 to continue in this year just started; all the signs are pointing this way. Our intentions for the year are unchanged: we want to further develop the market for digital locking technology and, amongst other activities, are planning some targeted marketing events. At the end of the day, we create the potential growth ourselves by generating future-oriented initiatives together with our customers.
The Digital Cylinder AX that you launched in the second half of 2021 will still be important for the coming year. You have improved a whole range of features here. Significantly, these are the practice-relevant modularity of the system, the versatility of its application and the AX security architecture?
Bernhard Sommer: That is correct. Some further significant features that make the difference to competitive systems are its long life, which has been proven externally, the extremely long battery life and the robustness of the system against external influences, particularly attempts to manipulate it. In contrast to many other standard cylinders on the market, the AX cylinder (Euro profile cylinder) meets the requirements for resistance against attacks and can even be built into doors meeting resistance category RC4. The actuator electronics with an integrated Secure Element are mounted behind the drilling protection element at the core of the cylinder. The Secure Element itself stores the encoded system data, is an integrated part of the authentication and cannot be manipulated from outside.
You put the Digital Cylinder AX through a comprehensively tough test program – also in cooperation with large industrial companies. How did it perform in practice? How has the system been received by the market? What has been the feedback from installers and end users?
Bernhard Sommer: The tests ran for over 18 months, both internally in our own premises and also in field trials with large companies and smaller end users. The feedback from these installations was put into further product development. We have received consistently positive comments since the introduction of the AX cylinder – from installers, our trade partners, from architects, and end users. Apart from the technical features we mentioned, the simplicity of the installation and commissioning of the cylinders was praised in particular. This provides the most flexibility when making changes later on site. Many trade partners have spoken of the “quality feel” that they noticed when installing and using the cylinder. We intentionally introduced the Digital Cylinder AX in parallel to our classic 3060 cylinder to give installers and wholesalers a chance to make the transition. And already after just half a year, it seems that this is happening faster than we expected.
How much potential are you expecting from this solution in the coming years – in which vertical, regional, and also international markets?
Bernhard Sommer: We do deliver to all relevant vertical markets, from educational and health institutes to large and small commercial users and industry. We benefit here from the versatility of the system – it almost always meets the requirements of the buyer. Apart from our traditional markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (D/A/CH) we see potential in other european regions such as Benelux, France, Italy and Scandinavia. We are dealing here with multi-layer sales structures whereby the customers look for simplicity of distribution and installation. We will support activities in these countries during 2022 with investment in targeted marketing campaigns.
To what extent will the system be developed further?
Bernhard Sommer: At the moment we are working very successfully with the current product family, but of course we do have ideas for its development, for example to include door monitoring for every conceivable door, for energy management and also the continued expansion of usage scenarios.
What can we look forward to from SimonsVoss with regard to interesting new products and solutions in 2022?
Bernhard Sommer: We showed the first stages of our new AXM software at the SecurityExpo in Munich that will progressively replace the current LSM software. At the core are a more modern system architecture with a new database structure, a very user-friendly graphic user interface, optimized granting of access rights and the whole subject of mobile access management. We will also be pushing the marketing of our new digital cabinet lock, the SmartLocker AX.
You started a cooperation with FSB last fall. What is the current status of this cooperation? Could you explain briefly where you see the benefits and potential – for FSB and SimonsVoss?
Bernhard Sommer: The idea for this cooperation originated during a discussion at the beginning of 2021 under the title of “the best of both worlds”. FSB and SimonsVoss have the same motivation, namely to deliver top quality products, made in Germany. This joint venture combines premium design with high-quality digital locking technology to produce superior solutions as requested by certain planners, architects and house builders. And that is exactly where the benefit lies for both of us – we gain mutual access to the corresponding markets. FSB opens the door for us to the world of discerning design – we take them with us into the area of high-quality digital locking technology. We have close contact between our product managers, in the development department and in sales – however, both of us continue to address the markets independently.
You had to present the Digital Cylinder AX – because of corona – in an Internet show. How was it received?
Bernhard Sommer: This was a totally new way of presenting the products for us. There were one-hour Internet shows over four days, that is, transmissions with our senior management and product management live from our studio. At the same time, our sales force had issued an invitation to brunch and were on site together with our trade partners to watch the program from Unterföhring. This allowed us to directly reach more than 1,000 customers. This ‘hybrid concept’ was very well received because our sales partners could talk about the new system during and after the presentation directly with our sales personnel, place their questions and get to know it ‘hands on’. We think that this new form of communication will catch on because the customers receive authentic information, have face-to-face contact and also save both time and expense.