ICT: A great place to be


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International Security Journal speaks exclusively with Hayden Burr, CEO and Co-Founder, Integrated Control Technology (ICT).

October 2023 sees the 20th anniversary of ICT, the company founded by Hayden and Rachael Burr from their garage in Auckland, New Zealand.

To find out about how this company has grown from an idea to a major global player in the access control and security market, International Security Journal sat down with CEO, Hayden Burr, for a chat.

“The key part was to make it simple”

“My vision was a unification of access control, intrusion and automation – and there was a gap in the market for ethernet connected, control-based devices,” said Burr.

“The idea came about purely from looking at the industrial automation market and how it transitioned from that classic, stock standard Pro Logic controller, to something that’s more connected.”

“After releasing the controller with ethernet on board, we gravitated to adding additional modules/devices/integrations et cetera. This unified solution is still relevant today, even more so.”

“The key part was to make it simple. A lot of the products out there were intrinsically complicated and only had one solution.

“We created something that could be just intrusion, just access control or just building automation – and we still have projects like that today.

“But the driving idea was that you create the real power when you combine them all.”

The last two decades have seen industries make monumental advances with technology.

Security is no different, as Burr explained, with connectivity and integration being the most significant.

“20 years ago, ethernet on an access control product was an accessory device or external module, connectivity to software applications was complicated and many defined ‘integration’ as a relay connection between two systems,” he continued.

“From an access control perspective, I believe the changes are more subtle.

“It’s always been about restriction, but it’s evolving towards accessibility – using technology to allow people to move easily while maintaining safety and security.

“Then there’s the spotlight across all industries on cybersecurity and the threats that are ever present.”

For the people

A familiar theme when you talk to people who deal with ICT is that ‘it’s about the people’.

It’s obvious how important family and the outdoors are to Burr.

Co-Founder (and wife) Rachael is head of finance and still comes in with her mother most Fridays to bake morning tea for the staff – a not insignificant task now there’s over 200 people on site.

Burr explained: “Everyone asks me ‘what makes ICT different and why are you so good?’ The answer is because of our people.

Being a family is embedded into the business, from staff to everyone that engages with us. Values are key and I believe the values at ICT extend to how our people act outside of the business.

“I have a connection with kaitiakitanga (a Māori word which translates to guardianship), which relates to the sky, sea and land and how we leave it for future generations.

“Being an avid outdoor person, this is core to me. Importantly, guardianship also relates to how we interact with other people, not just at ICT but everywhere.

“That’s not luck.

“That’s determination and absolute drive.”

Digging deeper, it becomes clear how the extension of this ‘family’ has helped ICT to develop. “Over the years there’s been a core group that I tap into for advice,” Burr said.

“My dad’s a very accomplished businessman. So being able to leverage that skillset has been beneficial.”

“There’s a lot of stuff I’ve learned along the way and it’s not like the road was paved in gold the last 20 years and everything just worked.

“It can be an absolute graft. Having a young child whilst starting a business, having one car so riding the mountain bike home at 4:00 PM.

“Bathing the child, having dinner, putting them to bed, going back to work, finishing at 4:00 AM and starting that all again for two years constantly.

“That’s not luck.

“It’s a case of surrounding yourself with the right people at the right time to leverage their to help take the business to the next level.”

The next 20 years

We asked Burr about the recent deal with Advent Partners and how that’s playing out for ICT.

“Obviously when you bring in external investors, there are many changes,” Burr commented.

“But they’re all positive things for the business. The guidance and governance that they provide is incredibly helpful. It allows us to deliver the right outcomes in our markets.

“We’re very confident about our approach in the UK, EMEA and the US. I’m sure everyone’s seen the transformation and the teams that we’re building there.

This expansion continues and we’ve got great plans for the next 12 to 24 months.

“Our new platform, Protege X, gives customers a cloud-based option with the latest cybersecurity feature and there’s more exciting things on the way including something new in the MDU space which works in nicely with mobile credentials.

“It’s also crucial that we keep building relationships with our technology partners to expand our unified ecosystem.

“So, it’s all going 100 miles an hour and that’s definitely a great place to be. I just really want to thank everyone that’s been involved over the past 20 years – all our customers, partners, staff and their families.

“It’s been a journey and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 20.”

A conversation across the Atlantic with James Ensten, Vice President of Sales, USA and Thomas Napora, Vice President & General Manager EMEA, ICT

JE: Here in the US, everyone’s trying to do more with less. Labour costs are rising, even finding people to work in jobs is more difficult.

Things need to be easier, simpler, more integrated. And, there needs to be a value proposition that makes sense.

What information can they get out of the system or how do they deliver better results with less manual labour through automation?

TN: In Europe, labour costs are high as well. It sometimes costs more to get an engineer back on site than it’s actually worth, so projects can run into the red.

I think the manufacturer approach needs to evolve. It’s not just about selling products – we also need to be security consultants.

We have a responsibility to educate our customers and assist them to get the most out of their systems.

And, as ICT systems facilitates a wider building solution, it’s critical that we continue to collaborate with technology partners. You can’t be part of a solution if you don’t understand all the other parts of the jigsaw puzzle.

JE: Yes, once we understand that specific customer, we can then bring together all of the pieces. Elevators? We can do that.

You need sensors for knowing when people are in the office? We have integrations for that. You need video with access control and intrusion? We do that too.

We’ve been doing this for 20 years. We’ve seen this before.

And as experts on access, intrusion and all the other integrations, we’re a trusted advisor that can go in and help our dealers paint that picture and deliver the solution for their customer that meets timelines, budgets and specifications.

TN: Exactly! To put this in place in EMEA, ICT is putting a vast amount of investment into the region. Along with this growth, we now have a clear structure across 118 countries.

You have Northern, Western, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Each of them will be led by a regional sales director and they will build up the region with technical, operational and logistical support in various countries.

JE: It’s an exciting time, for sure; it’s all about putting these processes into place to keep driving ICT forward for the next two decades.

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