Retooled Bosch Security Blasts Back
In an exclusive interview, Bosch Security Systems’ Jeremy Hockham reveals why one of the industry’s highest pedigreed equipment suppliers became less conspicuous prior to launching 100+ new products this year.
A dozen years ago, Bosch leaped into the forefront of a wave of diversified, global corporations that decided electronic security was an attractive industry with high growth potential. Thus the century-old German conglomerate extended the name it had made for itself in areas such as automotive, appliances and tools, into security with the 2001 acquisition of two of the industry’s most storied intrusion detection brands — Detection Systems and Radionics. For the next several years, the new Bosch Security then built out its portfolio with other key acquisitions (Philips CSI, Extreme CCTV) and flexed major marketing muscle to build brand awareness. Then things changed.
After seeing a number of leadership and personnel changes, seemingly all of a sudden before the turn of the past decade Bosch Security Systems began making a lot less noise — both on the acquisitions front and in its high-profile marketing pursuits. Had security become less of a priority with the Bosch corporate hierarchy? Being that it coincided with the recession, was it attributable to economics? Or maybe, like many larger companies challenged to be as nimble as smaller competitors, Bosch Security was struggling to keep up with fast-paced technological advances like network-based systems and mobile connectivity.
According to Jeremy Hockham, who has served as president of sales for Bosch Security Systems Americas business since 2007, none of those suppositions are entirely accurate. “It wasn’t that we cut back our marketing spend; we redirected and shifted it,” he says. “We’re seeing very strong growth in our intrusion business, close to double digits. We’re also seeing strong growth in our IP video business, which is offsetting declines we’re seeing in the analog space.”
Anyone questioning the manufacturer’s ongoing investment in and commitment to security need look no further than the ISC West tradeshow earlier this year in Las Vegas. It was there in the midst of a record-setting event where Bosch made the biggest splash of all with an expanded show floor presence and an overwhelming 110 new product introductions. The firm, which annually reinvests 10% of revenues into R&D, also unveiled its revamped roving exhibit truck and gave the industry its first glimpse of the new 4K Ultra HD 8-megapixel imaging that promises to be the next generation of video surveillance.
To find out how this all came together, SSI pulled Hockham aside for an exclusive and extensive interview. The Englishman also discusses the challenges of supporting legacy devices while continuing to develop advanced solutions; the importance of offering good, better, best products; how Bosch Security provides superior technical support, training and customer service; why integrators must differentiate themselves by focusing on return on investment for their customers; and transformative technologies.
Bosch is a really well-known brand, more recently so in security than, say, automotive. Within such a big company, how high of a priority is security? Where does it fit into with the corporate hierarchy?
Jeremy Hockham:Bosch is obviously a big organization. Last year’s sales reached 52.5 billion Euros [around $70 billion U.S.] so it’s a pretty big organization. Of course, the origins of the company were in the automotive sector, which still makes up about 60% of gross revenues. However, since Bosch was founded more than 100 years ago the organization has always looked for diversity across business geographies. The organization finds strength in that. It’s not that the security business is a sort of accidental side business. It’s a conscious decision to expand the breadth of the business interests of Bosch.
That very much has been done behind many of the acquisitions that were made over the last decade or so, to really expand the presence here. Bosch has a very conscious strategy of spreading its geographical reach and product reach, and security fits very well into the common theme of Bosch.
If you look at all the businesses Bosch owns, they are all about enhancing the quality of life of the user with solutions that are both innovative and beneficial. That’s really what the vision of Bosch is, and security fits very well into that theme and design. So, it’s a very relevant segment for Bosch to operate in.
Up until last year Bosch was organized in three business units and we were in the consumer goods group. This year, Bosch formed a new collective business unit called Energy and Building Technology because we really recognize the growth potential in sustainable energy and security, in building technology. Hence, we now put those businesses that operate in that sector together in this new business group. I think that illustrates that Bosch sees this as an important play as part of their overall strategy.
How well known do you believe the Bosch name is within the security channel? What should resellers and end users associate with the Bosch name as it pertains to security?
Hockham: In terms of trying to position our brand and make sure people are aware, you never arrive at that point and you’re constantly trying to reinforce what we stand for — both through what we say but more importantly through what we do and how people measure us. Our brand is not as well known here in the United States as it is in Europe, but definitely has a very positive connotation.
We have a number of means of collecting feedback through systematic surveys and also through focus group meetings that I chair. Quality and reliability are key to our customers. That’s understandable as most business owners want to have predictability over their costs but also want to make sure the solutions they’re putting in meet their customers’ needs. That way those customers can concentrate on the core activities of their own businesses, rather than getting diverted worrying about reliability of the systems they’ve put in.
The support offerings we have here both from the training point of view and customer service perspective, as well as technical support, are all very important aspects of that. Of course, the product plays an important part too, but really of importance in how we’re perceived are quality and reliability.
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