Blending Ingenuity & Marketing
Willem Ryan, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bosch Security Systems: The market needs to be ready and a supporting infrastructure needs to be in place for an innovative technology to make a real impact. HD and megapixel technologies have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until H.264 compression came along that it was possible for many to adopt it. Price is also an essential factor. In the past, the high cost of thermal imaging made it prohibitive for all but government and other high-risk, critical applications. However, recent innovations in the production of this technology have made thermal cameras more cost-effective and therefore more accessible for everyday surveillance applications where long-distance detection is required or where the field of view is partially-obstructed.
Marketing is very important. You can have an ingenious product, but no one will know about it if there is no marketing behind it. On the reverse side, a not-so-innovative product can have a huge marketing engine and be perceived as innovative simply because of that marketing push. The right balance is important to make the technology stick, as is the education of the market on the benefits of the innovation.
Steve Surfaro, Security Industry Liaison, Axis Communications: Solving a specific need is a major ingredient. Color-at-night producing Lightfinder technology is an example of one such innovation that solved a real need and then integrated marketing savvy. By recording a demonstration video in extremely low light in the middle of the night near a series of train tracks or busy city street, this showed where the product has made the biggest impact — in public safety, transportation and critical infrastructure markets. It also showed that moving objects, such as a train passing by, can be recorded in clear, crisp color video in near darkness without ghosting. Alternatively, a multifunction camera with built-in audio, white LED illuminator, intrusion passive infrared detector and talkback features perfectly fit the needs of small jewelry stores.
Fending Off Commoditization
De Fina: In the technology world, almost all true innovations eventually evolve to commodities. Megapixel cameras are perhaps the most common example in the pro security market as prices continue to drop while performance continues to increase. This has allowed users and installers to implement megapixel imaging for mainstream applications. On the consumer side, smartphones and tablets are another great example, as demand has increased production and competition and continues to drive down prices. In both the megapixel and smartphone/tablet example, quantities sustain profitability that in turn drives additional R&D.
Poulin: This is where marketing comes into play. The job of the marketing department is to communicate the value of the offering through a variety of channels. If they can clearly articulate the benefits of their particular solution and the value it adds to a customer’s business, margins can be maintained. Panasonic products are offered at a premium because our reputation is second to none. We have products in our portfolio that could be considered a “commodity,” but when you look at our total solution, customers recognize Panasonic sets the bar for quality, performance, reliability and products that last.
Engineer & End-User Mindshare
Racz: Both the engineers and the end users play pivotal roles to come up with innovative ideas. But it is not all the engineers, and it’s not all the end users. It is only when a handful of talented engineers work in close contact with an active user population. Most of our users simply use our technology, but some of our users use our technology in ways that we never anticipated. Closing the loop between these users and the engineers creates a positive spiral of innovation. We have seen other large and smaller companies that are unable to close that loop, and are incapable of innovating.
Ryan: The market and the customer are the only people who determine what is needed and what will be successful. The end user or customer is often the source of innovation; it’s their wants and needs that drive innovation. The voice of the customer should serve as the inspiration to the engineering team; engineering can’t be in a silo. Engaging the end user for data and filtering that data back into engineering helps the technical team create truly innovative features that solve the challenges of the user. It’s a partnership. The user is the source of data and the balance is achieved by staying connected with that data source.
Today’s Top Video Innovations
Gruber: There are two game-changers, PSIM [Physical Security Information Management] and VPO [Visual Parameter Optimizer]. PSIM is not about the integration of various systems and sensors as much as it is about the situational awareness this integration brings together with the streamlining of procedures. I believe that with further standardization and market education the majority of security customers will adopt PSIM as the platform that drives their security operations. NICE’s patented VPO technology provides the ability to enlarge the dynamic range of cameras automatically and in a continuous manner so that the best possible video quality is achieved at all times.
Mellos: Not requiring licensing fees for cameras and other equipment is a tremendous innovation that is beginning to catch on in the industry and is a welcome trend. The work being done by the standards-setting organizations, ONVIF and PSIA, is also allowing manufacturers to become more innovative. Getting a common platform that allows products from different manufacturers to work together will open up so many more choices for end users. Finally, video as a service is an innovative concept that will allow customers to meet their security needs while lowering the total cost of system ownership.
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