While the transition from analog to IP video has put more pep in the step of most systems integrators it has not been without its stumbling blocks. I am speaking of opportunities like system sales, upgrades and maintenance versus challenges like learning new technologies, interfacing with IT departments and contending with an ever-widening range of competitors. Solving the latter to maximize the huge upside of the former took center stage during the recent presentation I moderated, “The New Video Surveillance Business: How to Generate Profit on Servers, Storage & Video Management.”
The session — held at both ISC West in Las Vegas and PSA-TEC in Denver — featured Bob Banerjee, senior director of training & development for NICE Systems; Tim Brooks, regional sales manager for PSA Security Network; and Chris Peckham, senior vice president and CTO for Kratos | HBE. Following is a top 10 summary, in random order, of takeaways I encourage you to incorporate into your business to help you master the security industry’s most prominent sector (20% of revenues by type of business, SSI’s 2011 Installation Business Report).
- Be an advisor — Approach your client’s business as if it were your own by serving as an unbiased consultant and assessing all the needs, resources, limitations and nuances to recommend what is truly in that enterprise’s best interests; become a trusted partner.
- Speak IT — With security solutions now residing on networks, it is imperative to both understand the technology as well as the language and needs of end-user IT managers who are increasingly influencing decisions that had been the domain of security directors or facility personnel.
- Mitigate risk — Find out what threats your client’s management is most concerned about and leverage the power of IP video surveillance to eliminate or reduce those factors; establish a safer environment and deliver peace of mind.
- Stress efficiencies — Win over C-level decision makers by appealing to bottom-line sensibilities and highlighting the many ways networked video can be extended to other areas and operations beyond security; this helps justify total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) metrics, and builds a “sticky,” long-term relationship with the customer.
- Tout technology — Networked video is a gateway that opens the way to advanced capabilities via products and software like megapixel cameras, analytics/forensics, mobile device/remote viewing, edge processing, off-site storage, cloud-based services (VSaaS), and more.
- Extend the platform — Standards such as those from ONVIF, PSIA and SIA and open protocols are facilitating seamless and extensive integration of surveillance with access control, intrusion/fire detection, HVAC/building controls, and more; video management systems (VMS) and physical security information management (PSIM) are tying it together for greater situational awareness.
- Ensure profitability — Sell solutions and recurring revenue services rather than products (smarts, not parts) marked by value-adds wherever you can create them with specialized expertise a leading differentiator, along with the tactic of blended margins in which higher margin goods are coupled with lower margin items to offset commoditization; also deploy maintenance contracts and look out for ancillary offerings.
- Be a facilitator — Help clients easily migrate to networked video incrementally with analog-to-digital encoders, DVRs to NVRs, cameras with both analog and digital outputs, standard IP cameras to megapixel, behind-the-scenes command center changes, etc.
- Be the wiser — Knowledge is power and being educated on leading-edge video technologies is essential, but equally critical is being able to train end users to properly implement these solutions.
- Manage expectations — Despite the amazing results networked video can achieve, end users are not always realistic (thank, Hollywood!), so underpromise and overdeliver is the maxim here; clear and frequent communication is key.