The second panel was moderated by Protection 1 CIO Donald Young, who serves as president of PPVAR. His questions to the panelists illuminated some of the internal debate going on within the industry about video verification, as well as its effect on company valuations and legal ramifications. The panelists included:
- Scott Harkins, Honeywell Security Products for the Americas
- John Mack, Imperial Capital
- Chuck Moeling, Interface Security Systems
- Eric Pritchard, partner in law firm Kleinbard Bell & Brecker
- Tony Wilson, Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS)
Harkins said Honeywell is committing “significant R&D investment” to offer the marketplace new video verification products. The company’s efforts include a new partnership with I-View Now to leverage its cloud-based service. Harkins was quick to emphasize some concerns he has about the rush to praise video verification. He stressed a video piece is not the sole technology to facilitate verification of alarm events and others exist as well such as audio. He emphasized that in all the clamor about the benefits of video verification, the industry must not lose focus on its decades-long battle to reduce false alarms. And while it makes solid business sense in commercial markets, video verification in the residential market is not necessarily ready for prime time.
“I worry that adding video verification in the residential space could make security system out of reach for many people,” he said.
Moeling explained the positive impact video verification has had on sales following Interface’s acquisition of Westec in 2012 and its expertise in that arena. Interface had 70 local sales reps at the time who sold only traditional burglary systems. At the end of 2012, less than 10% of those reps had ever sold a video verified alarm. “We saw that as a huge opportunity to deploy a video verification solution, leveraging the Westec experience and processes,” he said. So the company put together an intensive sales training program. The result was more than 75% of the reps by the end of 2013 had consummated video verified alarm sales.
“The stats are compelling because we didn’t’ cut the price. It stayed at a bit of a premium. The reps [who used to sell on price now had to] sell the value of a verified alarm,” Moeling said. “What we found was when you provided that value and you gave the reps confidence to go sell it, it worked. It is a testament for video verified alarms.”
Mack commented on the quantifiable impact that video verification can have on a company’s valuation. Video verification, he said, can result in helping create a customer base that has demonstrated lower attrition rates with higher levels of service and recurring revenue, as well as higher conversion rates. “All of those things will absolutely, unequivocally affect the valuation of a company,” he said. “That is a 10% to 20% increase in valuation in the business.”
Pritchard was asked by Young about the legal implications that installing/monitoring security companies need to be aware of when implementing video verification into their portfolios. Pritchard’s reply was succinct: If you follow the law, if you have a good contract, if you buy plenty of insurance, and implement sensible policies regarding the use of video, you will be just fine legally. He did emphasize security companies will need to review their customer contract and be sure it is up to snuff. For instance, make sure video verification is included in exculpatory and indemnity provisions.
“If you are using a contract from the last century — and there are people in this room who are using contracts from the last century — you need to update them,” Pritchard said. “You need to put in your contract exactly what it is you are going to do to support video verification.”
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Reducing False Alarms