One to watch
13 June 2019
Philip Ingram MBE finds out about Matt Raban's interesting career path, and asks him what's in store for the future.
Matt, tell me a little about yourself and how you got to where you are?
I’m an ex-security integrated installer who later became a security trainer with the European Security Forces, which is probably the best way to put it. I then got into sales with the specialist design experience gained over the years and differing locations and countries. Helping people select the right systems based on the risk and need. So I guess from, from engineer to trainer to salesperson to manager, to distribution manager, an interesting path of progression, helping, working and meeting some very interesting people along the way which I am very proud of.
Who 2N are and what they do?
2N are a Czech based IP manufacturer that started in the telecoms market over 28 years ago specialising in gateways, internet connectivity and other comms. We are now part of the Axis group which has seen us grow from strength to strength, we enjoy working with the team at Axis, true professionals with a specialisation per vertical, each person having a wealth of experience within the vertical they work within. Nice people too with the right working ethic suited to our industry. About ten years ago 2N developed an IP intercom, which was the 2N® IP Vario and this very quickly developed into focused IP intercom systems for different uses and environments. Development is a key element to the business, and we have a large product development team and invest a high level of our revenue back into R&D, listening to what customers want and making our systems simple and easy to use.
We turn over about €43 million annually across Europe and interestingly from a UK perspective, having been planning for BREXIT for the past two years, we don’t see it impacting us greatly now, I guess time will tell on the subject, however we make sure we have a good stock level and spread of product within our distribution network. I do see security levels needing to be increased with our departure from Europe and we do have the right products ready to support this, also the importance of network security which I do see other companies often overlooking.
What are the key offerings that you’ve got in the UK and what is coming in over the next few years?
Okay, recently we have had the introduction of multiple answer units to our range, either an Audio version called the 2N® Indoor Talk or the 2N® Indoor Compact, which is Audio and Visual, both with sleek design and use the same back box for easy upgrade when needed. Both of these products complement the very successful 2N® Indoor Touch that has been on the market for around 5 years now, winning several awards.
We have products like the 2N® IP Force which is the toughest IP intercom in the market being IK10 and IP69K, meaning you can literally jet wash without the risk of leaking, so ideal for some of the weather we enjoy in the UK. It also has adjustable sound levels, for noisy or extreme environments and a HD camera for the perfect picture. We’ve got another key product called 2N® IP Verso, which is a very versatile intercom, in the way that you can add different modules to it, including a display module, where you can have up to 10,000 contacts and it uses advanced touch screen technology, where you can also swipe the screen to enable a keypad or phone function too, interesting the keypad can also be scrambled, other access control modules including, Bluetooth (where we don’t charge for the credentials), 125/13.56 multi-technology readers and even a fingerprint reader option.
The 2N® Access Unit Bluetooth & RFID can be used in many ways, so enabled two factor authentication process for entry, for example you approach a door, you’ve got your phone in your pocket and you’ve got Bluetooth running on it and you step within that Bluetooth footprint and then as you present your RFID card, that’ll give you a second notifier to show that you are somebody who’s verified with that phone to go through that door. If somebody had approached that door and wasn’t picked up within the Bluetooth and they had a stolen RFID card, there’s immediately a very clear flag there that someone is trying to enter the building. I guess to use an old industry term, Dual Tech.
Another key capability we provide is our 2N® Mobile Video service, enabling people to answer their intercoms when they’re not at home. This helps maintain a level of security but also helps with some of life’s challenges like telling the deliveryman where to leave the parcel, the unit also stores missed calls and you would be amazed how many callers do call when you are not at home, it did surprise me installing one at home several years ago now.
From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges that you’re seeing throughout the market?
Offering IP access control solutions, companies should focus on all aspects of security, both hardware and cybersecurity of products. Picking a cost effective very basic product equals opening the door to every threat as those products often come with a backdoor to download user data or are left with no security updates after a month from their launch. It’s always better to double check how the intercom developing companies approach the issue. In 2N we take care of our products with regular updates, using SIP protocol for communication and having all commands encrypted. Besides, as mentioned before, the IK10 and IP69K ensure our products stand up to harsh weather and vandalism.
Another challenge that I perceive is the openness of IP access control systems. I mean, in terms of integrations. In most projects there are already monitoring, facility management or other systems deployed, which gives 2N an advantage as integration is fundamental to the 2N IP access control portfolio.
Do you think that we’re seeing a requirement for a different skillset for our installers now, compared to what you would have needed ten or fifteen years ago?
I think the migration happened ten or fifteen years ago now, certainly on the telecoms side, security about 5 years afterwards in my view. I think engineers eventually had to evolve to IP technology due to the benefits of flexibility, performance and cost savings, also not to be left behind on old technology really. One reason I got into security was because I wasn’t a real fan of computers but now, I have to be. I was very much a “gears and cogs” kind of guy who has had to learn the IP side of things, which was rather daunting all those years ago, however the one constraint in life is change so I embraced it and invested in the new skill set was clearly needed. For me, it has been a real evolution rather than a revolution. The good thing about working with 2N, we do technical and sales training which is free of charge and that is not just for old school engineers like me, multi-level to suit all learning styles and levels. We actively seek challenging projects as they are the best ones to work on, innovation is normally very interesting and away from the norm.
What keeps you at the forefront of the market?
2N has an in-house R&D team, which counts almost third of our 2N family. All products are developed and manufactured at 2N and that makes it easier and a lot faster to customise requests according to our client’s needs, if necessary. Besides, we are constantly adding new product features. These are backward compatible, which means everyone can enjoy the latest features despite having a unit from a couple of years back.
To succeed within the market, we actively go out and train people on the 2N products in whatever way is best for them and their learning style, we’ll also train on a better way of doing something with tech available today or the different ways to approach different methodologies that others employ. We will train people on the best, most efficient, methodologies for their requirements, giving them what they want and need, based on what they say to us, so not just listening to our clients, we actually hear what they are saying to us! We very much look at what’s actually required as a service, what’s the problem, what’s the solution and then say well this is what we can/could do, this is what you are looking for, what else would be of benefit….not selling…..sorry not offering futures that mean nothing or simply don’t add value. We will also look at options and what if’s so the customers get to understand the full capabilities we can bring and how they can enhance their businesses. Our whole approach is to work together to provide the optimal solution by truly working with people.
Matt Raban is distribution account manager for UK and Ireland at 2N. For more information, visit www.2n.cz.