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: Vance Kozik, Director of Product Marketing, IP Surveillance, D-Link Systems.
The word “innovation” gets used and abused a lot; what does it really mean to you?
Kozik: To me, innovation is always tied to improving the user experience. This can come from a new technology, a better mouse trap or even something as simple as more efficient customer support or product delivery.
Innovation does not necessarily equate with success. Is it important to be innovative or can it be just as advantageous to apply business smarts to someone else’s concepts?
Kozik: If you cannot execute on your innovation and grow your organization, little to no success stems from your innovation. Execution is key and quite often success rides on the back of someone else’s concepts.
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?
Kozik: Once again, I believe it goes back to user experience. The user in a surveillance application may be the integrator installing the equipment, and the product has an innovative feature that simplifies or shortens the installation procedure. Or it might be the end user, and the product has an innovative feature that provides ease of use or access to data not available before.
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?
Kozik: I think Apple is a great example here — they provided innovative products we didn’t know we needed. Their solutions were derived from within and they didn’t reach out to their customer base for feedback during the design phase. That’s rare. The majority of companies request feedback from their customers. What worked? What didn’t work? What other functionality would you like to see? Engineers and designers are full of ideas. What works for most of us is a balance between in-house innovation and customer feedback. How that balance is achieved derives from a company’s culture and its past success rate on innovation.
More specifically, which innovations hold the greatest upside for the 1) commercial; 2) industrial; and 3) residential markets and why?
Kozik: Commercial would be in-camera storage and cloud-based management. In SMB and multisite retail deployments, cost is still a big factor, especially when analog is still big in the market and has such a low price point. Being able to remove a core component such as a NVR or a server running VMS from each location significantly saves costs. The industrial market has so many unique and custom camera applications, many of which benefit from video analytics. Unmanned operation of cameras can really only be achieved with some form of video analytics. With residential, affordable “cube”-style IP cameras with cloud access is currently the sweet spot for IP surveillance in the residential market.
Can you identify three particular vertical markets that represent the greatest growth potential for innovative video surveillance solutions and why?
Kozik: School safety continues to be No. 1. As parents, we allow our kids to spend the majority of their day in a campus where we have little control. It is paramount that schools have the latest technology in place to reduce violent incidents. Then retail as video analytics brings surveillance into the world of marketing and customer metrics. Surveillance now becomes part of revenue growth and not just loss prevention. Gaming is another one. The majority of casinos still use analog cameras, many of them still recording to VCRs. If there’s a vertical market that is need of an upgrade, it’s gaming. Much of the reason for the slow move has been gaming regulations, such as the requirement for 30FPS and low latency, not achievable on early IP cameras, and a 24/7 live operating environment not conducive to infrastructure upgrades. However, converters that allow Ethernet to run over existing coax have been helpful in this regard.
What are one or two innovative technologies from other fields you see migrating into the security surveillance space and why?
Kozik: The continuing trend of synchronized data from multiple sources. For example, POS transaction data combined with video. A layer of analytics on top of this creates a great management tool for loss prevention and employee management.
How will the trend toward standards, open platforms and interoperability affect innovating video surveillance solutions?
Kozik: As more cameras and VMS/NVR solutions work together via interoperability standards, like ONVIF, the more important innovation becomes for a manufacturer to differentiate their products. To put it another way, if everyone’s cameras work with everyone’s VMS, the products become more commoditized. Only innovation will prevent IP surveillance from traveling down the same road as CCTV when it comes to commoditization. Luckily a technology platform based on network connectivity offers a lot more room for innovation than CCTV did.
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?
Kozik: First, work with technology partners that give you an edge when it comes to solutions for your customers. Second, continue to stay on top of IP surveillance technology and solutions trends, including hardware, software and cloud services. Lastly, in addition to a walk-in showroom demo, add live remote access to your solutions so you can demo them on the road and share with potential customers via phone calls or Webinars. Live demos that showcase camera quality and integrated surveillance solutions go a long way in making a customer feel comfortable with your solution and service.