The July issue of SSI includes a far-reaching roundtable on the subject of video surveillance innovation featuring experts from eight industry-leading manufacturers. My discussions with each participant was more indepth than the confines of print would allow so here is another in a series of extended offerings. I encourage you to review each of them and compare and contrast how each subject views security video innovation, its ramifications, and innovation in general. Up this installment: Kostas Mellos, Commercial Leader, Video & Transmission, Interlogix.
The word “innovation” gets used and abused a lot; what does it really mean to you?
Mellos: Innovation means consistently making the changes necessary to help your customers meet their current and future security needs. Technology is constantly changing and pushing forward – but even the most innovative advances have no value if they don’t meet customer requirements for real-world installations.
What other ingredients are required for an innovative technology or product to make a real impact in the marketplace? Where do ingenuity and marketing savvy intersect?
Mellos: For a new product to make an impact on the market, it must solve a problem, and it must be easy for the customer to use. Sometimes the product may not solve a readily identifiable issue. Identifying a need is where savvy marketing can play a role.
How can a supplier avoid innovation giving way to commoditization? How can margins be maintained such that profits can help sustain further R&D?
Mellos: A manufacturer needs to listen carefully to customers. Their feedback is vital to creating a new product, or adding features to an existing offering. By providing solutions to solve critical needs, a manufacturer can avoid immediate commoditization.
Where it comes to innovation, who plays a larger and more critical role the engineers or the end-user customers? How is that balance achieved?
Mellos: When it comes to innovation, engineers need to design and the end user customer needs to be ready to adopt. The engineers will bring innovation, but they have to be on target in meeting end-user needs. Listening to the customer, then challenging engineers to innovate is the best way to achieve balance.
Which innovations hold the greatest upside and why?
Mellos: Video as a service has a tremendous upside in the residential security segment. It will provide end users with smart phones and tablets to access and control their alarm and video systems from virtually anywhere in the world. On the commercial/industrial side, standardization will make a huge difference. Finally, end users will be able to choose leading security equipment based on features and price without having to worry about it working as part of a legacy system.
Can you identify three particular vertical markets that represent the greatest growth potential for innovative video surveillance solutions and why?
Mellos: K-12 education is seeking out the best security solutions. Video is, and will continue to play a larger role, in that space. Municipal government is another growth area. The recent Boston incident clearly showed how important video surveillance can be in the apprehension of terrorists and other criminals. Across the country, cities large and small are turning to video surveillance to protect their critical infrastructure. Additionally, the retail industry has long been a leader in requiring innovative video solutions for their space – some that have ultimately been adopted by other segments. However, the need will only increase as the economy continues to rebound.
How will the trend toward standards, open platforms and interoperability affect innovating video surveillance solutions?
Mellos: We’ve seen what open platforms have done for the IT industry. The same can be true for security. End users can embrace innovation without fear of losing their investment in existing equipment.
What are three to five recommendations or tips you would offer an installing security dealer or integrator looking to become entrenched and grow their video surveillance business?
Mellos: The industry is moving away from analog video equipment. For long-term success, an installing dealer or integrator will have to understand how to help end users migrate to IP-based solutions. The successful dealer will need to learn about networks and how to install and maintain them. And that will require an understanding of how video consumes network bandwidth. Success will come to those willing to prepare for and embrace the future.