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Cloud-based solutions: Enhancing security and efficiency

cloud-based solutions

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Nobody wants to get that dreaded midnight phone call: ‘The delivery person can’t get in. We need you to drive there and open the loading dock door.’

Never mind that you just fell asleep, have to be up in five hours, it is three degrees Celsius and you have a 30 minute drive in the wind and rain.

That’s just one of the challenges faced by a Netherlands-based distributor of auto parts. It also has to deal with competing demands of supply chain issues, customer convenience and site security.

The company has to source and ship parts from warehouses to 100 different branches in a timely manner so technicians can repair client vehicles as quickly as possible.

Many of these deliveries occur after hours, requiring site managers to provide access to their facilities when no one is in the building.

In the past, doing so compromised key control and potentially endangered both shipping personnel and staff at branch locations.

The parts distributor had no way of knowing for sure who was entering where and at what time – nor whom to contact about false alarms. Such are the challenges of mechanical or other non-integrated access control and security systems.

In this case, the automotive parts provider adopted a cloud-based access control system that assigned electronic credentials to vetted drivers.

The credentials are programmed to let them enter preidentified access points at particular locations during specified time periods. No one has to physically show up late at night to accommodate a delivery when a driver has forgotten a key.

As long as they have internet connectivity, staff members can instantaneously grant a driver access to a specific door from anywhere in the world.

Not only has the new system done away with key insecurity and inconvenience, but it has also provided the company with valuable data on frequency, hours and types of deliveries to each of the branches.

That data can be used to unlock operational efficiency throughout the enterprise, such as by reducing delivery routes and distances, stocking warehouses in a more targeted manner and more precisely timing drop-offs.

In addition, the physical access control credentials of the company’s 3,000 employees have been integrated with its workforce management solutions, such as its enterprise human resource management software platform.

The organisation can now track both physical and virtual access, automatically updating access privileges if an employee is onboarded, promoted, relocated, terminated or otherwise needs a change in access.

The enterprise, which is more secure across the three countries in which it operates, has also reduced costs and streamlined processes.

Forecast: Mostly cloud-based solutions

This is but one example of a phenomenon occurring throughout EMEA and the world.

Mechanical locking systems and on-premises electronic access control systems alike are giving way to cloud-based solutions that allow users to harness and leverage data that makes them more operationally efficient and even creates new revenue opportunities.

In fact, Gartner forecasts that spending on cloud services in EMEA will reach $131b in 2023, an 18.2% increase from the year before.

Enhanced security

Cloud-based solutions offer higher levels of security than on-premises systems. Firstly, access can be controlled and video can be viewed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Cloud-based access control is vastly more scalable than on-prem: Doors, offices, departments, even whole buildings can be added seamlessly at any time.

Data from access control, intrusion detection, video, intercom, video management and other systems can be viewed, collected and analysed in real time on the cloud, allowing security to respond instantaneously.

Organisations are also free of the burden and cost of hosting and maintaining servers – which require expensive cooling services as well as physical and cyber protection.

They can leave security, including upgrades, patches, antimalware and antivirus to designated experts at the cloud provider.

Streamlining processes

Security benefits of the cloud go beyond hardware and software such as physical and logical access control systems, video surveillance, intrusion detection and visitor management platforms.

Analysis of the data generated by these and other Proptech solutions streamline processes, save money, yield better policies and procedures and improve regulatory compliance.

For example, cloud solutions free organisations from investing in costly servers and server maintenance; users can cost-effectively scale storage with their provider as the situation demands.

Cloud-based solutions enable increased flexibility and accessibility – system resources can be made available remotely to users based on role, day or time, facility, access point, network, campus or any other factor.

Security tools can be leveraged as an integrated whole rather than viewed in isolation.

A physical access attempt at a door, video of that attempt and network login attempt by the person matching that credential creates a more powerful and useful picture than these events individually.

Optimising performance beyond security

The benefits of cloud-based solutions also extend beyond security.

Studying access trends over an enterprise, a campus, a facility, a department, a floor or even a single door provides organisations with valuable insights on space usage, occupancy, days and hours of use, types of use and so on.

For example, if most department staff come to the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (a common trend post-COVID-19), it may enhance productivity and lower building maintenance costs to require all staff to work in the office on those days.

Alternatively, if data shows that parts of a facility receive only sparse use, that space may be repurposed or even subleased to generate rental revenue.

Leveraging smart building data at a local level

When security tools are integrated with other Proptech solutions, the range of insights expands to include such areas as expenditure of power and lighting, temperature control and visitor frequency.

With this intelligence, businesses could create efficiencies by adjusting office thermostats, changing reception hours or funnelling deliveries through a certain department, for example.

Leveraging data this way is moving from the periphery to the mainstream.

A recent Brivo survey shows that one third of security professionals named using physical security data to make informed business decisions to be their highest priority.

An even higher number prioritised integrating security systems with other cross-functional areas within the organisation, such as employee/tenant experience, human resources software, property management apps and Proptech applications.

Enabled by the cloud, these integrations provide rich data sources from myriad areas, such as power consumption, employee performance metrics and building maintenance requests.

EMEA businesses are also reaping the benefits of data on space usage.

Measuring space usage helps plan for expansion or space repurposing, reduce overhead and cap expenses such as location staffing.

This data can also be harnessed to schedule maintenance, prioritise cleaning and add, remove or shift resources such as printers/copying machines, refrigerators and vending machines.

Data on property use, amenity demand and tenant satisfaction can be used to optimise the tenant experience, cultivate loyalty and lure new business.

Leveraging smart building data at an enterprise level

On a broader level, smart buildings can help companies benchmark their real estate portfolio.

They can compare data on, say, space use, energy consumption or traffic flows with results from industry peers.

Owners or managers can then make adjustments that render the buildings more attractive, efficient, profitable or competitive.

For example, on a large corporate campus where most staff work onsite on specific days or times of the week, the organisation might contract with owners of food carts, trucks or stands to operate at specific times and at strategic locations.

Unlocking efficiencies and revenue: The $797b promise

Research by McKinsey & Company indicates that cloud adoption across EMEA could generate an astounding $797b in EBITDA value by 2030.

This figure is derived from IT savings, operational cost savings, digital risk reduction and revenue generation arising from advanced analytics, IoT, automation and optimising business operations.

Sectors most likely to benefit include high tech, pharmaceuticals and medical products, telecommunications, banking and media and entertainment.

Data privacy concerns

Especially in Europe, where GDPR reigns, organisations leveraging cloud data that involves personally identifiable or other sensitive information will have to tread carefully.

As McKinsey puts it: “Data sovereignty laws and regulatory pressures (such as GDPR) may inhibit the migration and use of data that often drives significant cloud adoption, but there is significant incremental value to be captured for those who can navigate these forces.”

One critical issue involves where cloud data is geographically stored – called data residency – which determines which jurisdiction’s privacy rules reign.

Data sovereignty rules may also apply, which require that any data collected or processed in a specific country remain within that nation’s borders.

Data on European citizens can be stored outside of the continent per GDPR, as long as the jurisdiction where it is stored has comparable levels of protection to GDPR.

And, since GDPR applies to both controllers and processors of data, organisations are subject to GDPR requirements whether they host the data themselves or turn to a third party provider.

It gets even trickier in multi-cloud environments, where a client may not have any say in storage locations and different data can be stored in different locations.

While cloud-based solutions providers should have comprehensive privacy provisions in place, EMEA companies can’t simply abdicate responsibility to them to safeguard company data.

EMEA companies leveraging the cloud, especially those subject to GDPR, should consider the following issues when assessing cloud providers or developing their own private cloud:

  • Location where data will be stored
  • Requirements of local privacy laws
  • Who qualifies as a data owner, controller or processor
  • Level of security in cloud

Navigating GDPR and other privacy regulations can be complicated.

Whether outsourcing data to a cloud provider or establishing and overseeing a private cloud, organisations should consider the following questions:

  1. From which citizens (European Union, Middle East, etc.) do you collect data?
  2. What data do you collect, store and process?
  3. Have you assigned a compliance officer for oversight?
  4. Have you audited your data – purpose of collection, duration of retention, third party sharing arrangements?
  5. Do you obtain informed consent before collecting or processing data?
  6. If data is sent outside of EMEA, have you complied with applicable data transfer rules?
  7. Have you educated your employees on procedures and processes?
  8. Do you periodically audit your data privacy program?

Despite the governance challenges imposed by data privacy regulations, organisations in the EMEA region are leveraging cloud solutions to enhance security, unlock operational efficiencies, improve the tenant experience and generate additional revenue streams.

With almost $800b worth of untapped value available, organisations would be shrewd to explore the promise of the cloud.

Key takeaways

  • Spending on cloud services in EMEA will reach $131b in 2023, an 18.2% increase from the year before
  • Cloud-based solutions offer higher levels of security and flexibility, are cost-effective and provide valuable insights from security data and by incorporating smart building data
  • Cloud adoption across EMEA could generate $797b in EBITDA value by 2030
  • Be wary of relevant data privacy laws involving data sovereignty and data residency
  • For privacy governance, consider location, requirements of local privacy laws, who qualifies as a data owner, controller or processor and the level of security in cloud

Access control and beyond: Sources of data for operational insights

  • Access control
  • Acoustics
  • Air quality
  • Alarms/intrusion detection
  • Appliances
  • Communications networks
  • Deliveries
  • Electricity use
  • Elevator use/occupancy
  • Fill rates (trash etc.)
  • Humidity
  • HVAC outputs
  • ICT systems
  • Illuminance
  • Intercoms
  • Maintenance requests
  • Motion sensors
  • Occupancy
  • Parking
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Reservation systems
  • Room scheduling/use
  • Structural integrity
  • Vending machines
  • Video surveillance
  • Visitor management
  • Water consumption
  • Water leakage

By Ingo Meijer, VP of Sales, EMEA, Brivo

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