The January edition of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION includes our annual industry forecast as a cornerstone of our special 2014 Industry Forecast Issue. For the piece, I interviewed 25 of the industry’s most knowledgeable market analysts, business experts, security dealers, systems integrators, supplier representatives and trade association directors. Some of their perspectives can be found in the magazine article, with the balance of their assessments appearing in separate Under Surveillance blog posts.
Featured in this installment: Dr. Bob Banerjee, Senior Director, Training and Development, NICE Systems Inc.
How do see the vertical markets playing out in 2014?
Bob Banerjee: Historically, the early adopters of PSIM have been airports, seaports and mass transit, utilities, as well as safe city projects. Three new market segments — banking, healthcare and higher education — are now joining the ranks. Banks are looking to improve their ROI by: eliminating rip and replace costs post merger and acquisition activity; the consolidation of command centers; faster response times; reducing training costs; decreasing false alarms; in addition to providing a sound infrastructure on which to consider future initiatives. Health-care and higher education facilities share many of those same needs, along with the challenge of securing sprawling campuses, massive populations, and are in close proximity to residential areas wherein incidents can easily spread between the two. They are also very high profile environments within a community and must do a good job of communicating and collaborating in order to maintain a positive reputation.
What are the top business and operations challenges for the New Year?
Banerjee: Today, more than ever, it has become necessary to for vendors, manufacturers, integrators and everyone else in the security industry supply chain to have an in depth understanding of market needs. That means understanding a market segment’s requirements not only from a security point of view, but also its business and operational requirements. As technology advances, along with its capabilities and the benefits it provides, organizations will seek to fully leverage their security systems and this requires expertise and knowledge. As seen in other industries, if security solution providers do not step up their ability to move from product sellers to solution providers, management consulting firms will step in to fill this void. As a result they will also capture a large portion of the potential revenue.
What are some overall security industry concerns?
Banerjee: For years, customers have struggled with the promise of new product features vs. what they actually deliver. In a highly commoditized market, that is also characterized be lengthy sales cycles, there is a strong urge to present something fresh, new and innovative. The problem is that it might be a year or two away and beta stages don’t always deliver. There are so many ways to misled customers into thinking something is more mature than it really is, the market should demand to see that something works here and now — live. Another trend we see is customer hosted vendor-neutral workshops to gain understanding around concepts such as PSIM in order to assess for themselves whether it would make a difference in their organization. Workshops are a low-pressure way for customers to gather various stakeholders into one room for a visioning session.
What are the political, legislative and standards issues for 2014?
Banerjee: If we step back and look at political, legislative and standards, a common fundamental thread is the presence of external pressure — essentially an outside force that formulates and imposes regulations governing how organizations and their people must act. This in itself is not news, but what is new is the emotional pressure exerted by the ecosystem — an outside force that expects organizations and their people to act in a certain way. No longer silos, organizations are challenged to work closely and communicate with law enforcement, local and state government, interest groups, nearby businesses and the community. Another consideration is the general public. We’ve witnessed how quickly social networks can damage reputations that have taken years to build. Since you can’t stop bad things from happening, the opportunity and goal is to be aware and responsive as an incident unfolds; manage it quickly, fairly and safely, and equally importantly have the ability to prove you did the right thing at the right time. This information may be required as an incident unfolds and rumors are rampant, but will certainly be demanded post-incident when countless theories start to pop up. The information needs to be more than a bit of video footage or a PDF showing an activity log; it needs to be a re-playable reconstruction of everything from everyone and every subsystem that played any role in the incident.
What type of year are you anticipating overall?
Banerjee: Within the context of video, I anticipate that some of the newer IP camera manufacturers who have developed new sales channels will continue to steal market share from the older, one-stop-shop providers. These newer providers tend to be lean, mean and IT-savvy, having recruited people with that mindset and skillset from the outset. In addition, their R&D roadmap is incredibly aggressive and most importantly their products are ‘good enough.’ The ongoing trend of end users buying IT solution components directly from their current providers will continue to impact the gross revenue and net margins of integrators. What remains are cameras and software. Cameras are struggling to meaningfully differentiate themselves, and as a result the price per unit is collapsing. It is easier to innovate software and those innovations are typically agnostic, so while VMS software providers are also under pressure, they can and will innovate by taking steps such as integrating PSIM features into the combined offering.
What are some pressing security industry issues you expect to remain unresolved?
Banerjee: Not long ago the industry was concerned about educating the market about the transition from analog to IP video. This resulted in countless articles, Webinars, and conferences. PSIM currently faces the same problem, but to a much greater extent as it requires a switch from product sales to selling, implementing and supporting solutions. Many salespeople have rarely, if ever, even integrated a VMS and access control system; so you can imagine their apprehension to integrate half-a-dozen systems or more via a PSIM. Many still think in terms of simpler, siloed products as opposed to a complete solution from the customer’s perspective because of the complexity. The remedy for this is straightforward — find a partner you can trust to support you throughout the entire process, one who has a well-established PSIM solution with a track record of integrating best-of-breed video, access control and other security systems. Educate yourself via hands-on vendor-neutral PSIM workshops to better understand the applications and implications. Also start with a small project and gradually grow, either by expanding the first one, or by taking on other larger ones.
What is something that might surprise people in 2014?
Banerjee: When IP video emerged most of the industry lacked the IP networking experience to fully and properly implement it. That’s when IT stepped right in, taking over distribution channels, implementation, support and budgets. They even dominated the storage and server sales based on commercially available standardized off-the-shelf products. People felt like they had lost a little bit of the control they felt they had — things had changed. If you can’t fully understand the customer’s business from an operations perspective, don’t be surprised if management consulting firms suddenly appear to take the lead; just as they have been doing for decades in other areas of the business, including business continuity. For every $1 of product, management consulting firms will generate $3 to $5 of revenue in services and will ultimately become the trusted advisor. That is a piece of the pie that will be lost if the industry does not take the lead itself.