How to Generate Serious RMR From IoT Devices
An IoT expert explains how you can gain recurring revenue from using automated firmware with any device on the network.
Today’s networked and integrated security devices are presenting systems integrators with an entirely new landscape on which to base their business models.
While surveillance cameras, video management and access control systems still comprise the core of most physical security installations, these are now typically all on an IP network.
As connected devices, they can communicate with one another, be controlled remotely and interoperate in a range of ways that only continues to grow. In other words, security systems are becoming a lot like other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Throughout our culture and across all business and consumer segments, the term IoT is growing in popularity to address the fact that more and more of our personal and business devices are on the network.
IoT is not new in and of itself — conceptually it’s always been an aspect of IP networks — but the increasing use of the term indicates the fast rise of connected devices. It is this growth that presents integrators with new opportunities for revenue generation.
As businesses and organizations of all sizes continue to add new systems and devices to their network, they are recognizing the tremendous responsibility of managing them.
In many cases they have a number of different providers; systems may have been added at different times and there may not be enough in-house expertise or bandwidth to keep everything operating at peak efficiency and capabilities.
In fact the reality is in many cases users fall far short of this — and the growing understanding of the shortfall is an opportunity for you as an integrator.
With a specialized software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, you can provide a range of service offerings that help your customers address their new pain points associated with the expansion of network-connected devices.
By proactively helping them ensure service continuity, identify and authenticate new devices as they are connected to the network and update camera firmware automatically and seamlessly, you can build a roster of customers who are contracted on an ongoing basis.
This recurring revenue model can be the most solid foundation for ongoing business success. Let’s explore how.
Offering Service Assurance
In the realm of physical security it is critical that all devices operate properly and continuously. However, often there is no indication that a camera, reader, sensor or other device is not functioning correctly. Even intermittent failures (such as on the network or in storage) can lead to missing video evidence.
Not knowing that something has ceased to function can be worse than problematic. For example, you don’t need a carbon monoxide (CO) detector to perform its job until there is an actual problem, and then at that point its failure to alert you can have devastating consequences.
The same is true for perimeter intrusion prevention systems, uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) and many others; any downtime poses a critical risk to the organization. For this reason, it is essential to be proactive about discovering service interruptions in order to mitigate this kind of risk as well as liability.
As an integrator, you can offer this kind of service assurance to your customers on an ongoing basis, providing RMR to your business, using technology from camera firmware update manager and IoT tracker solutions.
This is a direct answer to one of their greatest pain points — the reality that IP components fail. Even if all of a customer’s devices are all working properly, failures can still occur when certain conditions exist across multiple devices.
For example, video may not be recording when a PoE switch is intermittently overloaded. In today’s integrated security systems, the number of devices involved in various workflows is growing fast. They may include servers, storage, VMS, cameras, access readers, alarm systems and much more.
When you consider that a single device failure could take down a meaningful portion of the security infrastructure, this means that the potential for service interruptions is tremendous and growing fast.
Until the device can be repaired, replaced or restarted, security is compromised. You can perform a supportive and consultative function by offering your customers service assurance as an ongoing monthly product.
Device Detection and Tracking
The complexity of your customers’ system is expanding exponentially as new IP devices are added to the network (a.k.a., IoT). They may be installed by one department without the knowledge of others; they may not be properly integrated into the system, or best practices and policies may not have been followed in their deployment.
You don’t need to go very far down this road to see how problems can emerge. For many physical security professionals, there is a great need to get a handle on oversight without having to go through a lengthy and arduous process with internal IT departments.
Rather, they need to be able to demonstrate to their executive staff that they are managing the physical security devices in an optimal manner. And IP-based physical security devices no longer stop at the camera; they extend to all connected devices including (but not limited to) kiosks for visitor logging, UPS, turnstiles, environmental sensors, perimeter detection systems and more.
Every one of these needs to be accounted for and watched. The user needs continuous verification that data streams are not interrupted, and they need to be alerted in case of any problems. This can seem like a nightmare to physical security personnel, but it is one you can solve with an ongoing contract for automated data verification and alerting.
With an IoT tracker, you can provide a set-and-forget solution delivering automated control without the need for expensive and cumbersome tools and without a lengthy process of working with IT to develop something in-house.
Moreover, the solution is scalable across thousands of devices. It’s a “single pane of glass” approach that puts all the information they need in front of them in a highly user-friendly way.
Camera Firmware Updates
Another area that can bring exceptional value to an ongoing RMR relationship with customers is camera firmware updates. Every camera device has firmware that requires occasional updates in order to maintain optimal operation, combat malware, hacking and bug issues and continue to offer the newest features to users.
Yet managing these updates for devices can be a time-consuming undertaking for any business, especially if each update must be managed individually. And with the onslaught of cyber-attacks on cameras, firmware updates are being released every few months.
With manual firmware updates, a maintenance worker or security personnel must locate every camera device, climb up on a ladder, and insert a USB flash drive containing the firmware update — then wait for the update to install.
When this is multiplied by the number of devices and the frequency of updates, it represents a significant time investment. To help streamline operations, businesses need to invest in technology that allows the automation of this process without the deployment of personnel and in significantly less time.
You can provide this service using a camera firmware update manager to automate handling the scale of changes and to ensure that every camera is consistently updated with the most recent firmware in a convenient and timely manner, even as systems are changed.
This chain-of-trust methodology will give your customers greater peace of mind about their physical security system capabilities to consistently perform the work they were installed to do without fear of malware or exposure to cybercrimes.
If the customer tells you that their camera manufacturer is offering its own automated capabilities for updating firmware on their cameras, you need to ask if their installed base is limited to a single camera device manufacturer.
If not, their manufacturer software likely does not adequately cover updates for the multiple manufacturers, models and types of camera devices they are using. This problem is compounded if they are a multisite enterprise, as most vendor-specific solutions are only designed to work on a site-by-site basis.
Using a camera firmware update manager provides the same single pane of glass concept as mentioned above, giving the user visibility across all camera manufacturers and systems while demanding fewer resources and less complex work-flows.
By deploying and managing this functionality for your customers, you relieve them of a burden while providing a steady income stream for your business. The service models integrators have offered for many years are beginning to fall short as devices, systems and applications evolve.
Today’s customers expect security systems to deliver the levels of performance and reliability advertised, and most are unable to keep up with the diversity of challenges that this entails.
Integrators that take advantage of this new landscape and embrace the new technologies available can provide the services that end users need most right now.
With a service program that eliminates downtime, automatically checks that video is recording properly, ensures that fixes are performed quickly, and provides objective verification of physical security system performance, you can become a trusted partner to your customers. And you will both benefit greatly from that relationship.
Bud Broomhead is CEO of Viakoo, a provider of real-time business analytics solutions.
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