Feeling a little anxious about what the New Year might bring your security company? Faced with a recession that has dragged on for a half-decade now and several agents of change profoundly affecting the electronic security industry, you’d have to practically be absent a pulse to feel otherwise. At the 30,000-foot level, those factors include converging technologies, emerging business models, rising competition and heightened customer service, among others. Phew, that’s enough to make anyone woozy.
However, before you risk your sweaty palms soiling this fine publication (or shorting out your electronic device, depending on your reading format of choice), take a deep breath and prepare to assimilate plenty of affirmation, encouragement, prescience and guidance. Twenty of the industry’s most knowledgeable market analysts, business experts, systems integrators, manufacturer representatives and trade association directors lay it bare about what 2013 portends for the myriad threads tying together security’s complex and resilient fabric.
SSI’s annual Industry Forecast targets six defined categories: Technology; Markets; Business & Operations; Overall Industry; Politics & Legislation; and Pressing Challenges. Regardless of the challenges ahead, only a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist could deny the wealth of opportunities and scale of growth available to those providers that are up to the task.
2013: Security Technology
Mark Hillenburg, Executive Director of Marketing, DMP Inc. — There will be a continued move toward newer technology driven by the changes in POTS [plain old telephone service] lines and the cellular technology, as well as the move toward a more connected home. It is key to make sure the intrusion control panel is the center of the intelligence and the functional central processing unit for the home or business. The benefits that can be gained in the connected home or business when using a system that has central control of all the disparate devices is huge. Technology that is trying to make decisions and processing in two to three different pieces of hardware “glued” together makes for an expensive and complicated installation that is almost impossible to deliver the elegant solutions the consumer is desiring.
Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager, Axis Communications Inc. — The last innovation in the world of analog CCTV was the emergence of color video two decades ago. With IP video, there’s a major innovation every few months. While these technology advancements provide more options and allow security professionals and business owners to accomplish much more with their video systems, the challenge for the entire channel is to keep up with what’s new. Axis alone launched more than 40 new network video products in 2012.
Integrators must stay on top of the next big technology or risk losing a deal to a competitor who recommends a much better tech solution for the customer’s application. For instance, hosted video is taking off, with hundreds of new channels being installed each week. Yet with the emergence of easy onboard storage solutions, where the camera or encoder acts as the recorder itself, some integrators who haven’t embraced the hosted concept are disregarding it as an option for small system IP solutions. There are many reasons why a hosted solution would be a great option for an end user, but the main sweet spot is the multisite installation where only a few cameras are needed per site, whereas onboard storage is better for single-site deployments. Those who haven’t taken the time to consider hosted video could be short-changing themselves and the customer on a solution that’s just right for their needs. The point is, those who commit to technology education and maintaining their industry certifications will have more solution options in their arsenal and a better understanding of where and how to sell the latest technology. Those who don’t may miss out on a great sales opportunity and, worse, risk a competitor coming along and proposing a smarter solution to their customer.
Scott Harkins, President, Honeywell Security Products America — The security industry will continue to move toward technology that creates “connected homes” for customers. There will be even more of a focus on improving user interfaces, apps and cloud services, and technology that makes products more consumer-friendly. This new technology will look at more than life safety, but also lifestyle benefits, and the way the two coexist. It will also be a year for improved installation processes, with technology that is easier for dealers to install and program, and easier to use by consumers. Commercially, there is an opportunity for technology that improves “connected businesses,” allowing all segments of the commercial space including the entry-level marketplace to easily integrate video, access control and intrusion. There will also be a greater focus on integrating security systems with energy management systems to add value for both commercial and residential customers.
A challenge is the ongoing sunset of the 2G radio network, which AT&T has announced during the coming four years. Dealers need to begin planning and executing the transition of their 2G customer base to 4G radio technology, which provides better coverage as well as a better remote service experience, both of which will help drive growth for dealers.
Chris Peckham, Senior Vice President/CTO, Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions Inc. — There is going to be increased deployment of analytics into many areas of physical security. While analytics have been deployed in areas of video for years, its use will expand into other areas of security systems. There will also be growth in the use of business intelligence and “big data” within physical security. Many more endpoints and sensors are being deployed across the network and produce various pieces of data. This data will be collected and analyzed to enable a greater level of response or support of the user community. The term “convergence” has been used for years but there is now truly an opportunity to deploy “security information and event management” [SIEM] technology and allow the reporting of both network and physical security events using the same platform.
BYOD, or bring your own device, is changing the IT space and will impact physical security. As Near-Field Communications [NFC] deployment on smartphones increases, systems will enable using phones as access devices. A user will leave an access card at home but their phone? Not likely! NFC disrupts traditional revenue streams within the industry, like cards, and will cause vendors to move toward subscription models.
The “cloud” is here and rapidly changing many areas of traditional IT, and will come to the physical security area as well. Access control is already moving in that direction and video and other services will follow. The increased use of cloud services also provides a means for nontraditional players to enter the market as a different skillset is required to deploy and manage those systems. With the increased use of the cloud, providing managed services for physical security is a large opportunity.