The September 2013 issue of SSI includes an exclusive interview with Bosch Security Systems Americas President of Sales Jeremy Hockham discussing the challenges of supporting legacy devices while continuing to develop advanced solutions, why integrators must differentiate themselves by focusing on return on investment for their customers, transformative technologies and much more.
So expansive were his viewpoints that what follows is only half the story. The first half of the interview can be found here.
What are the main differences doing business in the security industry in the United States as compared to the U.K. or Europe? You’ve had a lot of global experience with that.
Hockham: Interesting question you should ask. I was in the U.K. a few weeks ago and my ex-colleagues over there were asking me the same question in reverse. In many ways the U.K. has quite a lot of similarities to the U.S. But if I reflect on some of the differences, from the sort of U.K./European end, if you will; one of the surprises I found here was how diverse and spread out the influencers were. If you look in this country you have AHJs by state, sometimes by city, that are influencing the industry and shaping what the standards are and what are the acceptable practices. Similarly speaking, you’ve got industry groups like SIA and CSAA, CAA and so forth, and there’s many of them. Whereas if you look in the U.K. and Europe, typically by country you have those groups much more consolidated. In the U.K., for instance, you have a single security industry association that represents the whole industry. You have ACPO, the Association for Chief Police Officers that represents the first responders. As such, those influencer groups are much more consolidated and that leads to some changes happening faster and easier in the U.K. and Europe than it is maybe here.
Let me give you a specific example. A few years ago, there were changes brought about by both the installation practices and equipment specifications in the intrusion business to address false alarms. Basically the industry came together over a very short period of six months or so and introduced new hardware and installation practices that help significantly reduce false alarm incidents. Those sorts of changes are much more difficult to influence here in the U.S. Some of the other things — I used to travel to the U.S. a lot prior to coming to live here. When you travel from Europe to the U.S. you come to a particular location, do a bit of business, travel around a bit, and then fly home. When you live here you suddenly realize how big this country is. By contrast, where a lot of things are done face-to-face within the countries in Europe, you use the phone an awful lot more here in the U.S. and, of course, also travel much more. I’m probably on 140-150 planes a year. That makes the way in which you do business quite different. It’s much more challenging to get people face-to-face and those face-to-face interactions.
Another aspect of the U.S. is the unparalleled scale of many of the customers here. I don’t think there’s any country in the world that yet matches the scale of buying power of many of the customers and some of the travel partners here. Again, that changes the shape, in many ways, of how business is done. Thinking about my interactions with customers here, everybody’s been incredibly open and friendly. They’re pretty straightforward in terms of what they need and want. Time is important, money is important. If you don’t meet what they need or satisfy their requirements, in either the product or service offer, they’re quick to tell you so. If you don’t match their requirements they’re quick to move on.
You probably wouldn’t see that behavior quite as much elsewhere, but I think generally what the U.S. is known for and certainly has been my experience here, is a very positive attitude, irrespective of circumstances people are facing. And always looking forward to the opportunities there rather than looking backwards and reminiscing on the way it was. It’s a country and a nation of people that always look forward, which is great in our industry. There’s plenty of opportunities and challenges, but as a country we’re always looking for those opportunities here.
Continuing with the international angle, with Bosch being a German company, I would think there would be both some advantages and disadvantages to that. Could you speak to how that affects coming into the U.S. and North American markets?
Hockham: I really only see positives. One of the advantages we have being a big German company is that German engineering is generally respected across whatever product you interface with for quality and reliability. We live up to that reputation through our actions and words. Those things are pretty key to success in this business. People want reliable products, want products that meet their needs. The reliability sort of manifests itself in terms of controllable and predictable costs, which is key to success in this business. And also to tie in customer satisfaction, another very important criteria here. Bouncing back to the previous question, if you toured around U.K. and Europe and say I work for Bosch, you’d get virtually 100% who are English and then you’d get virtually always a positive response about the company and its products. Whereas here in the U.S., despite the fact that Bosch has been here in the U.S. for over 100 years, Bosch is well known but clearly not as well known as in Europe. Where it is known, people have a positive reaction to the company and its products. And it’s perceived very much as a trusted brand.
In the past, we used a tagline, “Reliable solutions from the company you can trust.” And that is very much the sentiment that embodies what Bosch is about. Bosch has been here in the U.S. for more than 100 years now and has something like 16,000 associate employees here and more than $10 billion dollars of revenue. Clearly, our heritage is recognized as a strength for many customers here in the U.S.
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