ISC Deals Industry Winning Hand
I bring good news from the desert where I encountered an oasis of relief from the recession blues in the form of ISC West Las Vegas.
Even if you did not attend you may have heard the deafening din of exhibitors’ (and show organizer Reed Exhibitions’) collective exhale once the event got under way April 1. Vendors — many of which have experienced up to 30-40 percent drop-offs in business this year — had braced for the worst by downsizing their exhibit booths and sending fewer people to the show. So when they saw busy attendee traffic rife with serious prospects, they were ecstatic!
However, by the end of ISC it almost seemed as if it all may have been an elaborate April Fools’ gag since attendance dwindled dramatically each day. This was particularly peculiar since the second day is traditionally the busiest. Plus, when evaluating ISC keep in mind not only was its scale reduced to a single floor but the aisles also appeared to be wider. With things more condensed, the activity level may have been deceptive.
ISC organizers had anticipated a 10-percent decline in attendance. I would estimate it was in that ballpark but would peg it closer to 15 percent. Fortunately, when it was all said and done, the opening-day rush proved enough to generate some much-needed optimism. Most exhibitors and attendees walked away feeling better about the future of their businesses and our industry than they did in the days leading up to the top dealer/integrator event.
Some exhibitors I spoke with said they actually ran out of literature because they underestimated the demand. SSI also exhibited at ISC and attendees had nearly fully depleted our supply of magazines by the end of the second day.
For the most part, the show’s themes, trends, technologies and products were a continuation and refinement of what we have been seeing for the past couple of years. Here are my top 10 observations:
1. Everything is migrating toward IP (including access control, intrusion and even fire), but in a very measured way and analog video figures to continue being dominant in the field for several years.
2. Megapixel cameras and products that accommodate them are becoming readily available and being enhanced with more capabilities.
3. Video management systems (VMS) continue to proliferate as a way to make sense of the overwhelming volume of surveillance data, and to control myriad systems with a single user interface.
4. The rise of open platforms and multivendor partnerships to facilitate seamless solutions.
5. Wireless solutions gaining traction in video surveillance and access control.
6. Developing return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) propositions/models for end users that position security buys as ways to increase overall enterprise operational efficiencies and decrease bottom-line costs.
7. Learning to work hand-in-hand with and speak the languages of not only security directors and IT but also end-user facility managers and C-level executives.
8. The hottest vertical markets are in the public sector, especially hospitals, schools and universities.
9. Managed services, such as remote video and access control, are becoming not only technically viable and desirable, but extremely attractive ways for installing/monitoring companies to build strong recurring revenue bases.
10. Products are much more installer-friendly, with modular designs and snap-in-place deployment.
One of the collective thoughts of many exhibitors I met with is the continuing challenge of training the installer channel not only to grasp what’s available on the technical side but also the sales strategies and business models to achieve significant market penetration of emerging solutions. Most also believe the woeful economy is slowing the speed of IP and converged solutions adoption.
With ISC West 2009 now a memory, I, for one, feel reassured about a swift turnaround for our industry and just about limitless growth potential as America gets back on track.
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