Around this time last year, I was following 2 master’s programmes simultaneously: technical medicine and public administration. Considering where I am now, these probably sound like completely different paths. But at the time, I knew I hadn’t yet found the right challenge for myself. I’d felt like I was missing something. And then one day, I heard about something called Nedap Masterclass. I was told that it was a 3-day business course that happens once a year at Nedap HQ in the Netherlands.
I thought, why not…
It turns out that The Masterclass was just what I needed: Confirmation that there was more to life than just studying. During those 3 days, my fellow attendees and I were immersed in the world of business and technology. We were introduced to inspiring Nedap “veterans.” As a treat, we got to spend real time with these Nedap’ers to get to know what “a day in the life” looks like for them at the company. And more importantly, our learning ability was tested during challenging cases and games.
I was encouraged to push my own boundaries and really test myself. In the process, I stretched myself more than I had ever done before. And I realise that I could have real impact in fields other than technical medicine and public administration. I had two big learnings last year through The Masterclass:
- That choosing an “industry” wasn’t as important as finding the right group of people to solve problems with, and
- That my “sweet spot” was the intersection between technology and commerce. Switching back and forth between the two was when I felt my best.
Despite the Nedap Masterclass lasting only 3 days, I learned a lot about Nedap. It’s funny because I’d always believed that I had to be the one to figure out what I’m good at on my own, before choosing where I’d work. But with Nedap, it was the other way around. It was as if I’d chosen Nedap through the process of learning more about myself during The Masterclass.
My problem-solving ability, the power to bring people together, and the ability to happily switch between technology and commerce are skills that can be transferred pretty easily. So, after The Masterclass, I made the decision to join the company as the new proud product owner of AEOS Intrusion.
In this role, I got to apply all my strengths, change management, and my drive to innovate from day one. Nowadays, I get to switch daily between the technical and commercial parts of the business. And the best part? Bringing people, both inside and outside Nedap, together on projects.
A unique start at a unique company
There was one clear assignment for me on my first day at Nedap…to “look around and pick a topic you’d enjoy sinking your teeth into.” And so, I did. I made my rounds and talked to a bunch of people. I noticed that whenever the topic of AEOS Intrusion came up, the conversations became uncomfortable. Even difficult, I’d say. It seemed my new colleagues were frustrated with the subject matter, and “where” the offering stood. I can’t say I blamed them because it IS a complex subject with its own history and backstory. I knew then that AEOS Intrusion was where my energies should be focused.
When so many people, internal and external, see the potential of a solution but aren’t happy with the “situation” it’s in, it’s our duty to act. We must put our shoulders to the wheel to improve the product and make it fit the market.
So, after talking to several more colleagues, I reached out to many of our trusted Channel Partners. The conversations I had with them only confirmed my theory about the importance of AEOS Intrusion. One of my big takeaways, and one that I could work with right away was this: The technical and commercial documentation for our intrusion offering falls short. There is little documentation about the product, therefore it’s difficult for both our partners and their customers to have the “a-ha moments” about intrusion. The story of the power of AEOS Intrusion has yet to be told in the same way it is for other AEOS products. The good news is that this is an opportunity to make things right.
AEOS Intrusion brings possibilities
As a rule, I believe that all parts of the product must fit the customer’s context. AEOS Intrusion is almost always used in combination with AEOS Access Control. The Authorisation Model in AEOS makes it interesting to use both products side by side. In an authorisation template, you can link access control authorisations to intrusion authorisations.
The ease with which you manage and organise authorisations for both applications in AEOS makes it a very attractive product. Plus, you get the security you’re already used to from Nedap.
Having two separate systems for access control and intrusion means managing the authorisations on two different systems. In AEOS, you adjust authorisations for both applications in the same place. Is someone leaving an organisation? When the HR system is linked to AEOS, you just enter the “date out of service” and after that date, all authorisations are automatically revoked.
The power of our best-of-breed strategy is also applied to intrusion. Integrating with 3rd-party intrusion systems offers partners and end-users flexibility and ease of installation. Because we operate in many different regions with different preferences for intrusion systems, it isn’t possible to select just one system that serves every region.
Since it’s our own product, we have control over which features are implemented and which aren’t. With AEOS Intrusion, you use the same authorisation model as you do for access control. When an end-user uses a 3rd-party intrusion system next to AEOS, the AEOS authorisation model can’t be used for the 3rd-party intrusion system. Currently, we’re in the midst of transitioning AEOS Intrusion to AEOS Blue hardware – remaining in line with EU grade 3 certification. However, this project requires more time to finalise. In the meantime, integrating AEOS with a 3rd-party intrusion system might offer a solution for end-users and partners.
Shifts in the market
There are real shifts in the market if you look closely. To name a few:
- User-friendliness and user experience are playing an increasing role in intrusion, but also in security in general. I think it’s important to see both the partner and the end customer as users of our solutions.
- Building management is also a recurring theme in discussions with end customers. Many customers want to link the control panel of the intrusion system with the thermostat and lighting. For example: The minute the alarm is activated for a room, the lights go off and the thermostat goes down.
- With partners, you see more desire to support the customer remotely. To make this happen, the product must be user-friendly enough so only a few instructions are needed. With a cloud or SaaS solution, the partner can provide remote service to the customer.
An intrusion system should always work, but you shouldn’t notice it’s there. The system should be in the background, as opposed to access control which is more visible because of the readers. But, for those working “in the background,” such as guards, the status of the intrusion system should always be visible, in real-time, unambiguous, and clear.
In my research, I found it very interesting to speak with guards to see how they work with the system and how they monitor a particular area. For example, do they walk rounds several times a day? Do they have a control room from which they monitor all the camera images?
There are clear differences depending on the sector you’re looking at. In critical infrastructure, for example, you’ll see a very different approach than in an office building. It should also be mentioned that the implications are real when it comes to matters of cybersecurity and physical intrusion detection. At Nedap, we know that organisations are acutely aware of the risks of cyber-physical attacks. It’s why AEOS is secure by design.
Certification is critical for intrusion. To provide a secure solution, the product must be certified based on EU standards. Without certification, there’s no point in investing in intrusion developments.
But what’s interesting here is that certification is often about a stand-alone intrusion system while AEOS Intrusion is not. The strength for us lies in the seamless integration between access control and intrusion. The certification formally falls away when you integrate the two types of systems. Yet, we need the certification to remain competitive. Ultimately, it’s the customer’s choice to use access control and intrusion together within AEOS. If an end customer still requires a certified intrusion system, the partner can of course separate the two AEOS systems during installation and configuration.
My role as Product Owner of AEOS Intrusion
Taking ownership of AEOS Intrusion showed me the social aspect of the project. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting people. So, I believe we must make the right choices together in the development of AEOS.
AEOS can do so much. And we can, and want to, improve in so many areas. Making choices can get complex – in a good way. It means that our team stays vigilant about making the best choice for the AEOS as a whole.
I believe that coming into Nedap with a fresh perspective was an asset for me. You’d think that having no prior knowledge of AEOS would be a disadvantage. But, that’s what my colleagues are for! Their expertise and years of experience with AEOS allows me to step back and always look at our product with a fresh set of eyes.
What I love most about my role is that I get to be a binding factor not only within Nedap, but between partners, customers, and Nedap. By keeping the lines of communication open with our partners and customers, I can better incorporate their ideas into all my work. I also enjoy seeing differences in regions learn something new every day. It keeps me fresh.
The future of AEOS Intrusion
We have a lot to gain in terms of working with our partners and providing the right documents and tools to help organisations in need. It’s why I’m working closely with the documentation team to make sure we make resources available (e.g. instructions for proper installation of the hardware and configuration of the software). We will make this all available in the Tech Webhelp.
As you already know, in February 2022, we announced the eventual phase-out of the AEOS Classic hardware line (by December 31, 2024). This includes the intrusion hardware AP3006 Intrusion I/O unit, Intrusion Extension Panel, and Intrusion Base Panel.
We’re currently working hard to replace the AEOS Classic controller with an AEOS Blue controller in the Intrusion Base Panel (as well as the AP3006). We know you’ve been waiting for this for a long period and we regret that this has taken longer than we initially expected. This AEOS Blue intrusion hardware is expected to be available this year – 2023. We will, of course, inform all our channel partners about this through the usual communication channels.
We’re also working on modifications to the AEOS dashboard and the intrusion software. But we can’t share anything concrete about this yet, sorry! But I hope to have more news about AEOS Intrusion soon and to be able to attach a timeline to this. Onward and upward, together!