Rapid Response Leadership Talks Navigating COVID-19, New Tech Introductions
Rapid Response execs open up about the COVID-19 pandemic, developments within the business and hot monitoring opportunities.
What about cellular communications and the migration from 3G to 4G; where does that stand among your dealer base? Has ground been made up during pandemic?
Hertel: I think most dealers lost ground. It’ll be just like what we saw going from 2G. You have some dealers with a very well thought-out, organized program. They’re going to continue to march through and beat the deadlines. On the other hand, you have some dealers that haven’t even started the process yet and it will be a race to the end. There’s been no solid indication that any of the sunset dates are going to shift. In fact, we’re seeing areas go dark now for 3G, and only LTE works. The last day, it’ll be the last hour in Nome, Alaska, that gets turned off. I think you’re going to have some dealers who are going to be very surprised. It’s going to be a repeat of what we saw the last time, only on a much bigger scale. There are a lot more radios out there today than there were five years ago.
Let’s talk more specifically about some of the recent advancements that have taken place within Rapid Response itself.
Wright: We’re always on the leading edge of technology at Rapid. We work a lot with the manufacturers and we have great relationships with TMA and other groups. We are always doing advanced testing of new releases to the best of our ability to support them to make sure new features and functions perform as intended. We run their solutions against vulnerability management and penetration testing to make sure all the IT security boxes have been checked. One of the biggest investments we made is in a Dell VxRail hyper-converged environment to replace some of our legacy systems and provide our customers as close to 100% uptime as possible.
In legacy environments, you have virtualized or standalone servers that need to connect to a storage network. You then have a separate appliance or software-based backup and storage, and then you would throw on layers of application, data security and data protection and things like encryption. In the Dell VxRail environment, computing power, storage backup and all the data protection standards are contained in a single ecosystem to provide the best possible monitoring.
What about some of the offerings? What areas are you seeing good traction?
Moore: There’s increased interest in video monitoring. But there are constant challenges with it due to the cost and human capital involved to be able to look at every event. So we’re seeing more and more offerings come out and present themselves as an AI- or analytic-based type of solution that’s meant to assist with trying to eliminate instances where it’s a spiderweb, a headlight, a sunbeam, a leaf blowing in the wind. We’re experimenting with those types of products and services. There’s a real opportunity for us to work with our dealers to find a solution that is a little bit more attractive from a cost perspective to their end users for video monitoring.
Another area somewhat newer for us is we have started to do some wholesale at work in the Sonitrol space. While that is not a new technology [two-way audio monitoring], it is an opportunity for us to continue growing our offerings. That’s a foray we’ve been working through the last year or so, having brought a few dealers on with it.
Hertel: We’re in such a weird place right now because there is so much moving and so many opportunities, especially on the video side. I was just talking to a guy with a small 20-person startup in Palo Alto [Calif.]. They’ve taken a completely different approach to video. In the last year there has been this huge move to Cloud-based services and pushing everything to the Cloud. He told me he looked at them and said, “That’s all well and good, but it really doesn’t work for security reasons for a whole bunch of stuff .”
They spent the last 18 months moving the concept from the Cloud to the edge, using technology that’s been around for a long time but never used in this application. They ended up with a product that nobody else is even remotely close to, so when you look at video monitoring it could change how things are done. It’s really cool to see that kind of innovation happening amidst this chaotic part of our lives right now. A lot of pretty neat things are going to come because people had more time [during the pandemic] to devote to things than they did before.
Rapid offers some slick apps and interfaces. Do you monetize that or is it typically a value-add for your dealers?
Moore: Those solutions are value-adds for the dealer base. Recently we’ve combined the text message notification we’ve been doing for years with some other features that had been available in some of our mobile assets, which could be accessed by either a dealer or a subscriber, in our rapidSMS solution. We released that in April and have gotten a lot of serious traction and adoption from our customer base as it allows us to notify folks on alarm conditions. End users can cancel alarms and do other things you would traditionally do using an app, but also now things we haven’t offered like setting up a service call with your provider.
I think you’ll start to see some other pieces of our industry modernize and bring in more of a digital experience. The end-user experience for security for the longest time was punching in your four numbers on the keypad to arm or disarm your system, and if there was an event receiving a call from the monitoring center. Now there’s many providers, whether it’s from the manufacturer or platform side, that have all different applications so you can do things from home control to changing your contact lists to updating your zones on your system. Digitization of the experience for folks will be a lasting change and emerge in some sectors we haven’t seen yet.
Big picture, what is a top opportunity in monitoring moving forward?
Hertel: The notion of IoT [Internet of Things] as a buzz term is really starting to wane. Certainly, the concept of more monitorable things is clearly becoming apparent. We’re seeing more and more forays into things that are mobile that are bringing meaningful differences to consumers. The amount of interaction is starting to change. Security has become a lifestyle. It’s no longer just about protecting four walls at a house or a business or doing video or doing medical alerts.
It’s about how do I as a consumer engage with the world and increase my personal or family’s security. That’s what gets me excited is that it’s not just doing a bunch of door contacts, window contacts, and some motion with video cameras thrown in to do some verification. You’re now seeing applications that are really designed around this concept of security as a lifestyle. I think that’s going to continue to grow and bring new and different things the next 10 years.
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