In an earlier era, business decisions were often made based on gut instinct, golf games, politics, and very occasionally market research. Since that time, organizations have moved away from this type of marketing and adopted a more research-backed, results-driven approach to business.
Today, businesses of all sizes and types rely on research, obtained through data mining, to help them see the big picture and identify trends and patterns that can help create operational efficiencies. With the concept of “Big Data,” every piece of data (from digital to conventional) is a potential piece of information that can be tracked, collected, sorted and analyzed.
Take for example the use of key management systems in an organization. These systems are designed to store and control access to mechanical and other keys used throughout a facility. Keys can only be accessed by pre-authorized individuals with a proper code, badge and/or biometric identification. All access activity is automatically recorded and from this data, management has a complete history of who removed and returned which key and when. The data gathered from the automatic recording of access activity can be used to analyze trends to generate valuable, actionable intelligence for both physical security and business practices.
For security purposes, keys can be controlled according to requirements (i.e. time/day available, personnel, etc.) and management can quickly query what keys have not been returned and when each key will become overdue. And if a key is not returned to the key cabinet as scheduled an alert can be sent via email or SMS text to appropriate personnel so that immediate action may be taken. To make key management even more convenient, a mobile app lets authorized users to see a wide range of live information and interact remotely with the system.
In the event of an incident, management can query the system for specific details such as a list of all transactions between certain times or a report for the hour preceding the incident. Immediately following an incident such as the discovery of a damaged or missing piece of equipment, a report can be generated showing who last accessed the particular key. Together with the audit data from an access control system, a key control system’s reporting feature provides a strong evidence trail.
Collecting and Sorting
Built-in schedulers can be programmed to automatically download all data to a secure PC as required by the user, including online as transactions occur; periodically; daily at a specified time; weekly with specified day and time; or monthly with specified day and time. Email delivery of customized or standard reports can be scheduled for any frequency or specific time, or they can be accessed using a smart phone app. With this capability, management can better sort and analyze information to maintain maximum control of access and security issues.
Advanced functionality additionally allows enhanced filtering of users and transactions, as well as the ability to create a customized report template that provides the information and insight end users want, when they want it during the day or after hours. Human resources for instance may want a report of all key access beyond regularly scheduled hours. Or, compliance requirements in a casino may require the collection and sorting of information that details illegal door and alarm activity over a 90-day period. Reporting software can be programmed to ensure the information is reportable, retrievable and traceable.
Key usage data provides a wide range of business intelligence that can be analyzed to identify policy and procedure infractions and/or potential improvements. Trends that could take weeks or months to detect manually can be seen almost instantly when relevant queries are programmed into the reporting software. This highly specific intelligence allows root causes of problems to be identified rather than symptoms, and enables management to enact countermeasures that will help prevent incidents before they occur.
Analyzed key usage data can also point out other pain points in an operation. In a fleet situation for instance, the lack of a vehicle rotation policy may be causing undue wear and tear on a vehicle that is being used significantly more than other vehicles. Analysis of key usage data can pinpoint the issue with information such as the number of times the vehicle is checked out compared to other vehicles in the fleet.
Data-driven information provided by state of the art key management access control is a resource that will continue to gain in perceived and actual value as organizations realize the technology can help improve business operations and achieve a wide range of business objectives.