Hot Seat: Schneider Electric Strategies and Market Maneuverings
SSI caught up with a pair of Schneider Electric executives at ISC West to discuss the firm’s technology offerings, including the Pelco video brand, as well as its topmost objectives in the electronic security marketplace. Joining the conversation is Sam Belbina, who serves as vice president, Security & Video; and Kevin McCaughey, vice president, Security Solutions.
The Pelco legacy is one of the best in the industry. How important is it to brand Schneider as a name within the security space? Is that a high priority?
McCaughey: I would say branding Schneider in the security space is as important as branding Pelco in the security space. You said that Pelco has a long reputation. It’s a well-known brand in the industry. That brand stays at the top of the tree and we put the Schneider brand right next to it, because what we’re saying to the industry when we do that is we’ve got best-of-breed products and services from Pelco in a name and entity that is well known and well respected.
The Schneider brand in the security industry gets help from the Pelco brand and vice versa because we talk about integration. You asked the question about our other products and services from the rest of Schneider that are available to system integrators or end users in the security space, and the answer is, yes, for sure they are. That’s why it’s important to establish the Schneider brand in the security space as well, because more and more we’re finding end users’ primary concern often is security, but that’s no longer their only concern. They’re recognizing they’re part of an enterprise, whether it’s a manufacturing business, a hospital, a university, a commercial office building. They’re part of t
hat team. When they report to that executive team in that business or enterprise, there are other responsibilities and other opportunities to help that business accomplish whatever is there to accomplish. That’s really what the Schneider brand is all about; looking at security as well as the rest of the business, bringing certain products and services and expertise to sure make those businesses are more efficient and more sustainable.
Belbina: The Pelco brand is very strong for us. It’s well recognized globally and we want to maintain that. At the same time, we want to better serve the end user. If we want to really give end users what they’re looking for from a total solution, building performance, smart cities or whatever, I think it’s important for us to bring the other entities all under the Schneider brand. That makes not only the Schneider brand name stronger, it’s also creating clarity for the end user so there’s no confusion there. They know this is what Schneider offers. In my opinion, there are benefits in the marketplace there to better serve the end user and the marketplace by having the Schneider brand on top.
Security integrators value support, innovation and pricing. With that in mind, what do say to integrators to get them to become a loyal partner with your offerings?
Belbina: No. 1, Schneider Electric has a total offering that meets the end user’s needs and makes the systems integrator a lot more successful in terms of how to deliver it. No. 2 is the ease of installation and certainly what we offer with our solutions today is a lot of support in terms of training, in terms of manuals, in terms of engineering support and so forth.
From a pricing standpoint, we are very competitive and we do offer a compelling story to the marketplace. If you look at our access control line, enterprise level solutions, we do serve the market very well. We do also have other lines [for the mid to low end markets].
If you look at the video, we are unique in the marketplace because Pelco is the only company in the U.S. today that actually offers end-to-end video. You’re talking about cameras, you’re talking about software, you’re talking about hardware, you’re talking about [camera] mounts. And because we’re based here in the U.S., we have 24/7 technical support. We offer a lot of training, a lot of support to our customers, free of charge. We also offer certifications and we call on our system integrator to make sure the camera is certified on a regular basis.
From a sales support standpoint, we have over 300 salespeople in the country with technical support located in each region. Overall, the story that Schneider brings to the table is pretty compelling in the industry.
If you could identify two of the top challenges you’re looking at right now in the security space specifically what would they be and how are you addressing them?
Belbina: For me personally the one challenge I can think of, and maybe the second one Kevin can cover, is the evolution of technology. Certainly the speed of convergence is challenging for the whole industry. We are constantly evaluating what we need to be. Look at video today and where video is going to shift … how much is going to go to cloud, where do we need to be as far as the cloud, how we capture that market and be at the forefront of technology? From an access control standpoint, again are we now going to the edge devices and becoming all-software based, then the PSIM name comes into it.
For us, it’s day in and day out, that’s what we are constantly thinking. I’m pleased to say we have a very good team. Between Kevin’s team on the global side, between my team which is the Center of Excellence, we put a lot of thought into staying ahead of the curve in terms of technology. That’s probably the challenges we see in the marketplace.
McCaughey: From my point of view, staying ahead of the curve, we reflect on a challenge that end users have so we embrace that challenge. That is that security directors, security leaders, whether they’re a chief security officer, maybe a CISO, whatever their title might be, there are security leaders in our customers’ businesses that are faced with the challenge of securing the enterprise and they’ve got lots of different needs. Those are changing all the time. They’ve got a regulatory environment, either from external or internal reporting and auditing requirements that they have to meet. They’ve got suppliers and consultants with practices and tools. All three of those things are either growing in scope and cost across the industry faster than their budgets are growing.
The challenge we’re helping end users and our channel partners address is how do we explain to executive management which has the keys to the budget why it makes sense that there needs to be a 10-15% increase in the annual budget, or whatever it may be, as opposed to a 10-15% decrease. Historically the industry has done a really good job delivering security to the businesses at the lowest cost possible. Being out in front of the learning curve, we’re starting to turn our attention to an ROI model in security, similar to an energy management model, which has been in place for a long time because it’s easy to measure energy. If you turn the lights off you can reduce the kilowatts and save this much money.
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