Interview with Jaimin Shah, CEO, ZKTeco, US Headquarter.
fB: Can you please provide our readers with a brief background of your company?
ZK: ZK is the largest manufacturing company of its kind when it comes to manufacturing biometric readers , as we control R&D, manufacturing, product design, assembly, logistics… all under one roof. We have recently divided the ZK global umbrella into 5 business units. One business units is our Time & Attendance division which has been very successful as we control about 60% of the worldwide market in terminals. Another business unit is our Access Control division which we call ZKAccess. Another business unit is called ZKiVision which has IP based video surveillance solutions which incorporates face detection and verification. Our ZKBiolock business unit offers commercial and consumer based biometric door locks in a wide variety of form factors. And our ZK AFIS business unit will be focused on governmental AFIS projects in future. That is how our organization has been recently divided into different business units. We have also in the last two years expanded to 12 global branch offices worldwide in 12 different countries. That is what we have done so far as expansion is concerned.
fB: You recently launched a US subsidiary of which you are the CEO. Can you tell us what the driver was behind that?
ZK: The US subsidiary is now in its 4th year of operation. The business driver for a US subsidiary is for ZK to have a global presence while focusing on the North American market where we wanted to have more visibility and more traction within the Time & Attendance and Access control marketplace. Also, our plan is to have our global headquarters in the U.S. soon. Our U.S. subsidiary has done very well in last 3 years and we have organically grown as the preferred Time attendance reader/terminal provider. Another primary reason for a ZK subsidiary located in the US is to make it easy for our North American customers to do business with us, standardize our products based on local needs and provide local support.
fB: How many countries do you operate in now and where your products are being used? It must be huge.
ZK: ZK globally sells into more than 200 countries. Almost every single country that you can think of in the world, our products are there. We are a very flexible and open company. Our partners, distributors and dealers are the ones who’ve have helped us grow in such a short time. They are the reason why we opened many global offices in last three years. We are now operating in about 12 countries and our goal is to provide local support in each of these countries where there has been a lot adoption for ZK products, specifically in emerging markets. Our goal is to open 10 more global offices in the near future.
fB: Wow that is quite a success story and I think it is based on the fact that your products are obviously being very well received so I wanted to just touch base a little bit on your product lineup. You mentioned the Time & Attendance area which is expanding rapidly right now. Can you describe a little bit more on your products in that particular area?
ZK: I can tell you what we have done so far and where we are going. We have dominated the Time & Attendance industry regarding the huge SMB market and our new focus recently has been to have a new product line that addresses the needs of the large workforce management software/HCM providers like PeopleSoft, SAP and many others. ZK’s new line of modular 7″ & 10″ touch-screen enterprise-class devices will also include the necessary development tools and middleware which will allow these WFM/HCM providers to integrate their software offerings with ZK much faster and more easily..
On the Access Control side of the business we have a new IP based Access control panel solution with features rich software that can match your fingerprint template right on the panel. That has been adopted very well and we are pursuing this market very aggressively. We also have our IP video surveillance solution, which contains IP cameras, Network Video Recorders and iVision software that is capable of detecting and identifying faces. So we want to have our existing dealers and partners to have a single source manufacturing partner for all their Time & Attendance, Access Control, Video Surveillance needs. We also offer an SDK and all the necessary development tools to help them integrate our products into any of their vertical-specific applications.
fB: That is quite an aggressive plan because I usually think of ZK more associated with fingerprint but you now have face and fingerprint recognition for Time & Attendance and Access control.
ZK: We have always been known as a biometric company. But what we are doing now is moving from a product-oriented company to a solution-oriented company. We have expanded our biometric offering by introducing both Face and Vein recognition technology which can be incorporated into our access control and video surveillance solutions. ZK as a global organization has invested a lot of resources and energy in the last couple of years to develop vertical-specific solutions. Our goal in the coming years is to continue helping our partners grow their business, increasing their market share within their respective regions, and at the end of the day help make them all more money.
fB: Where do you see the residential market heading for biometrics over the next several years?
ZK: Residential is always a tricky market and not because we cannot manufacture or create solutions for them. For ANY manufacturer, residential customers need far more technical assistance than commercial customers. However based on some demand from are partners we are testing the market. We recently launched a very user-friendly easy to learn battery operated fingerprint deadbolt which we call BL100. Our Industry has to do a good job in educating residential users on the benefits of biometric security before the technology will be widely adopted.
fB: Can I ask you the same question about the mobile space? Where do you see mobile going and are you actively getting involved in that particular growth area?
ZK: I think mobile is the future and we will see a lot of growth coming in the near future. We already have few products that will focus on mobile space. Our mobile product will be capable of doing fingerprint and/or face detection and recognition. All I can say right now is stay tuned for our mobile product announcement.
FB: Would you see that for particular vertical industries like healthcare or financial or law enforcement?
ZK: Yes our face readers both on Access Control and Time & Attendance have generated a lot of demand in various vertical applications. For example, our multi-bio series can do Face and/or fingerprint and/or RFID recognition/verification all in single unit. ZK is the 1st company to do all three in single device. This is very powerful. Users really like all technology in single device with fast matching speed and ease of use. Furthermore, all of the issues about fingerprint where the fingers are not being read when there is what we call a “problem finger”, the face takes care of it. Our partner has used our face product in lot of healthcare and schools and we feel that face recognition product will have much larger growth than fingerprint.
fB:. Can you describe a recent deployment for us?
ZK: Yes. We are a partner driven company.. Some of the recent deployment by our partners includes a large property management company requiring access control for over 70 doors, a drug cabinet manufacturer that has incorporated our stand alone readers into all their drug cabinets, and a key-locker management system company. We supply our devices to a growing list of over a 150 software partners who provide Time & Attendance, Workforce management and Payroll services.
fB: You have a lot of exciting things going on with your company. What is next for ZK?
ZK: Our focus is having a totally integrated solution within our Time & Attendance, Access Control and IP cameras with face detection and identification. To give you an example, at ISC you will see our fully integrated access control solution where you match your fingerprint on the panel. We will also present our IP based video surveillance solution that is capable of detecting and identifying face which can be integrated with our access control offering. We also have an SDK available so that our partners can integrate our products with any third party solution. We will also display our newly designed modular 7″ touch screen workforce terminal at ISC.
So those are the 4 different areas that we are focused in providing a complete integrated solution. This will do lot of justice to our partners’ channels who have helped us all along during our growth and will help them to make more money and provide more services for their customers.
fB: You mentioned the ISC West conference in Las Vegas in April… you will be exhibiting there? Is that correct?
ZK: That is correct.
FB: Wonderful so companies can come and visit you there and see all of the products we’ve just been talking about?
ZK: Yes I strongly encourage any dealers interested in access control or video surveillance solutions come visit our booth and see all the different integrated solutions working together in a working in a live demo at the show.
FB: Thank you Jaimin for taking the time to provide this overview for us.
ZK: My pleasure Peter…I look forward to seeing you at the ISC next month.