Why AI, Analytics, Cloud and Cybersecurity Open New Opportunities for Integrators
March Networks President and CEO Peter Strom examines key security technologies and trends that systems integrators should be tracking currently.
I was recently asked which technologies are going to have the most significant impact on the physical security industry in the next few years. With the rapid pace of change in technology today, there is no simple answer to this question.
One thing that is certain is that companies are under pressure to become more efficient, secure and operationally aware. That, in turn, is driving the need for real-time data capturing and processing from every part of their business, including security.
We are just beginning to see how emerging technologies and concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI), Cloud computing and cybersecurity are impacting our industry. As companies plan for the future, budgets are increasingly focused on innovative solutions that can help to process the growing amount of data being captured and consumed.
Manufacturers and systems integrators that understand this shift have been quick to identify opportunities to win new business through the introduction of value-added applications or new services capable of generating recurring monthly revenue.
We explore some of those technologies and opportunities below.
Artificial intelligence and analytics
Customers are looking to AI and data analytics to gain better insight into their operations. These offerings can enable security-related intelligence or operational and customer insights. The key to AI is self-learning algorithms that, over time, get better at identifying certain targeted behaviors or transactions and reducing false positives.
We have also begun to see several chip manufacturers introduce next generation processors with AI built into the core firmware. As a result, systems integrators can expect to see many product innovations in 2018 focused on advanced video analytics, data integrations and application software.
The challenge for their customers will be clearly defining which data is most valuable to them, who will have access to it, and how to best manage it. Systems integrators can play a key role in this process by having those discussions with customers up front and encouraging a proof-of-concept phase before fully rollouts are undertaken.
In addition to AI and data analytics capabilities, we are seeing demand from customers for Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. The combination of low, upfront capital costs and outsourced services has made Cloud-based video and access control popular, especially in the hospitality and small-to-medium enterprise markets.
As technology providers add more sophisticated applications and services to further drive customer insight and efficiencies, expect enterprise retail customers to begin moving to this model as well in 2018. For systems integrators, SaaS solutions can represent a recurring revenue stream and a great opportunity to generate new business.
The sheer scope and size of the data breaches we saw in 2017 – Equifax being one of the most notable – has heightened concerns over cyber-preparedness. Increasingly, customers are evaluating their own level of cybersecurity preparedness, as well as that of their suppliers.
There’s no doubt that our industry is taking cybersecurity seriously, however there is still work to be done, and both systems integrators and their manufacturer partners need to be prepared. Information technology (IT) departments will continue to play an expanded role in approving products for deployment on corporate networks. The use of third-party cybersecurity audits will also become more commonplace, which will significantly impact how products are developed and deployed.
In addition to ensuring that their products are secure, manufacturers and system integrators will also need to improve their own organizational security. For video solution providers, that could mean demonstrating how they protect their software code and architect their software, and how compliant their solutions are with data privacy standards in North America and globally.
The need to bolster cyber defenses will also create demand for new equipment and software upgrades as the vulnerabilities of customers’ legacy equipment are exposed.
Cybersecurity will be a challenge for some systems integrators, but a great business opportunity for others. Customers will increasingly look for integrators that can meet their cybersecurity standards and possibly pass a cyber audit. If there’s a weak link in the chain – from product design to installation or service – then everyone loses.
So it’s important that integrators and manufacturers work closely together and ensure that they share the same high cybersecurity standards. Integrators should also demand that their manufacturer partners be diligent about educating them on products and keeping software up to date to reduce potential vulnerabilities.
Knowing your market
Many of today’s leading system integrators have begun investing in the additional resources needed to educate staff and align their organizations so they can successfully adopt and provide these new capabilities to their customers.
It’s important that your organization have conversations with both your end user customers and your technology providers so you can take advantage of new opportunities while also helping to clarify what’s possible today and what’s still on the horizon.
As integrators move from equipment sales to consultative solution sales, it is important to understand the unique business problems of the customers in your target market. While this concept is not new, a growing number of integrators are putting vertical market initiatives in place to concentrate their expertise.
The top five business challenges of yesterday may no longer be the top five challenges of tomorrow. Integrators need to understand what those unique challenges are for each vertical they play in, and work with manufacturers that can provide proven solutions for specific markets.
Peter Strom is President and CEO of March Networks, a global provider of IP video surveillance products and solutions.
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