Making the Vertical Leap

We’re all feeling it. We are all tightening our belts. The economy is not where we would like it to be, and it is affecting everything we do, especially our businesses. We can’t keep doing things as we have been, and we need to work harder to succeed.

The converged marketplace has provided us with some great things such as technology advancements, new tools and easier installations. But it has also given us something we may not always realize — new opportunities.

The convergence of technology has the ability to open doors for you that aren’t always easy to spot. It may be necessary to reorient the way you view the marketplace; it may be necessary to look up and down. Vertical market segments are all around us. A vertical market is a group of similar businesses and customers engaging in trade based on specific and specialized needs. Simply put, it is a focus on a specific industry.

For our purposes, it is important not just to look at verticals, but specifically those that lend themselves best to the Convergence Wave. The trick is to find the niche that best fits your particular skills. Let’s examine a few verticals that could provide the boost you need during these challenging times.

Good Prognosis for Health Care

If you are going to make a big push into any vertical it is important to know as much as possible about that market. Nowhere does this apply more than in health care. Beyond the technology, a thorough understanding of the unique needs and goals of that industry are required.

There are many different places to look for opportunities in the health-care industry. There are also many ways to demonstrate value in this industry as well.

One of the most important things to any hospital is its nursing staff. Retention of good nurses is a problem affecting the industry as a whole. Nurses don’t want to go where it isn’t safe. One of the best ways you can make your way into the health-care market is by addressing this problem.

Technologically, this issue can be tackled via some of our industry’s most common methods. Utilizing video and access control to provide a safe working environment is a winning solution. Using converged technologies such as distributed, network-based systems to leverage existing network infrastructure can provide an even easier win.

Another major issue facing the health-care industry is the problem of patient roaming. Whether it is an infant being taken from a maternity ward or an elderly patient suffering from a condition affecting their memory and walking away, the ability to keep track of patients within a facility is becoming another important need to be addressed.

This provides an excellent opportunity to leverage new technologies such as wireless networks and RFID tagging. Integrating these types of systems with traditional security and video systems can give health-care facilities a great value, and position you as a value-added provider.

Passing the Education Market Test

Much like health care, the educational market offers us a great many opportunities to provide value through technology. In particular, schools and colleges are well suited for converged technologies for one big reason: bandwidth.

After the deregulation of the telephone industries many years ago, deals were struck between the new group of phone companies and the government to get free fiber into school and university campuses. While not all facilities have bandwidth to spare, quite a few do. This gives you a unique opportunity to conquer problems with some very advanced solutions.

In the November 2007 “Convergence Channel,” we discussed the use of mass annunciation systems on college campuses to provide a way to deliver an emergency message to a large group of people spread across a large area. This is still a very prevalent need in the educational market and can be another great value-added proposition when integrated with more traditional security systems and voice over IP products.

Once again, the educational market generates its revenue by attracting students. Providing a safe place for our children and young people to learn can generate an ROI that goes far beyond just money.

Partnering With Police, Cities

Some of the leading sources of new opportunities in recent months have been city governments. There is an enthusiastic interest in video policing systems all across the country. Police departments are starting to see the benefits of how virtual sets of eyes and ears can help overcome dwindling resources. However, it is important when providing such a service you make it perfectly clear that technology supplements — rather than replaces — people.

Providing technology solutions to city governments (or any government agency, for that matter) can present some unique challenges; more political than technological. It is vital to know how to deal with the many roadblocks you will encounter, from funding to a fiefdom mentality (each department acts as its own kingdom). Politics can be a major obstacle in government projects, but one that can be overcome with patience, and the rewards for that patience can be great.

Video policing systems can provide a huge windfall. They can contain large numbers of cameras and an appropriately large head-end or management system. These systems are rapidly becoming the biggest user of IP-based systems, primarily due to the fact they are spread throughout a city.

The typically large installation footprint of a citywide system is also providing a great opportunity for selling wireless systems. It is important to remember that while these systems are an excellent way to transport IP video, if designed correctly they can also be used for other things.

A great many of the newer wireless mesh network systems on the market today utilize two radios in each node. In some cases this dual radio capability can provide expanded bandwidth for backhaul links, but there is another possibility.

In some cases, the second radio can be used as an access point … community wireless, anyone? There have been several attempts at putting in municipal WiFi systems, some slightly more successful than others. One of the major stumbling blocks of these community access systems is the question of who is going to pay for them.

Adding a dual radio wireless infrastructure could provide the backbone for just such a system. If the funding is provided as part of the security project, guess what? You just added a great deal of value to that project. If a community wireless access system isn’t desired or still isn’t feasible, this alternate radio can be used for citywide data transmission, telemetry from traffic systems or any number of things. Again, it’s all about adding value.

Finding Your Niche

On the surface, focusing on a single industry could seem counterproductive. But it is precisely that type of drilling down that can allow you to see things you may not have before. With any of these markets, it is important to expand your thinking beyond just the traditional security model. The new opportunity will lie in places you least expect.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters