Plastic for Bits

At iomando we have been asked many times about our technology, our distribution channels... but few people ask about the underlying principle that set us a part from our competitors.

And I want to talk about it.

It may not be a marketable feature, nor something our customers can explicitly articulate. Therefore they are not directly buying us because of this, but it is definitely the driver that has enabled our product and makes it attractive.

Despite being in charge of product, I pay close attention to sales calls and how our marketing team makes the case for our product. But as a co-founder I’m also in the room when we close the largest deals. We always talk about security, cost reduction, control, management, ease of use, even how cool it is. But you never hear the cause, the reason why all of this is even possible.

We are replacing plastic for bits.

That’s all. I’ve said it. There's really no more to it. Our business thrives under this premise. Everything else is just a consequence of this underlying principle. It may seem like a subtle detail, but it makes all the difference.

While our competitors are manufacturing and distributing physical keys and remotes, we are just sending ones and zeros through the air.

Atoms cost money per additional unit of capacity, bits don’t

There are always fixed costs when it comes to produce something, being atoms or bits. They might come in different flavors, like physical manufacturing or coding. But building anything always comes with an associated fixed cost.

But when you have to scale the business, and replicate the thing you have built over and over, here’s where bits shine the most. In our case, creating additional units of capacity has no cost, because each new permission an administrator grants is replicated right into the smartphone, it’s not physical, it lives inside the device, it’s inexpensive from a manufacturing standpoint.

In stark contrast, each time an administrator has to spare a physical key to a user, a huge logistic chain has been already deployed in order to make it happen. This means resources, complexity, friction points, problems... and at the end, money.

Being able to replicate additional software keys at no marginal cost means we can operate at a huge scale at almost the same cost. And this has huge implications, because we can serve large organizations with thousands and thousands of users at a fraction of the cost. The bigger the opportunity, the bigger the savings - or the margins.

Delivering atoms cost money, bits don’t

Because we are software based, we are able to automatically deliver all the permissions instantaneously at no cost. Imagine a spot with thousands of users, a public facility for example. Now imagine what happens when the council has to grant keys or remotes to each single person of this crowd.

The first problem, of course, is cost. We’ve already discussed this above. But once you are past cost issues, you face an even worse problem, you face distribution and management. Putting thousands of physical devices in the hands of the people requires a massive and collective effort. Pick up or deliver each key, track who has one, be aware that nobody copies it… the list goes on and on and it is a nightmare for the people who is responsible for this stuff.

That’s because moving atoms around cost money and time. But we can quietly deliver our software keys in a snap while the crowd is asleep. We can set up huge deliveries instantaneously and at no cost at all. And again, that translates into savings and less problems.

Furthermore, software is malleable, so once is freely generated and delivered, we can modify it, tweak it, update it, restrict it, customize it… Things that will never be in the realm of the possible for physical keys. You can't argue against physics.

Every single feature that our customers love is a more or less direct consequence of this: additional creation and delivery for free. That’s what software does by definition. And this is how we are leveraging it in the access control industry.

To keep on with the story you can check out the iomando series, or you can also look for other blog publications about iomando, mostly about product design, business strategy or company culture.