Hikvision President Chats With SSI About Cybersecurity, Privacy Concerns
SSI spoke with Hikvision’s Jeffrey He about cybersecurity, growing R&D and accusations of the company providing a backdoor for the Chinese government.
A major topic of discussion in the security industry over the past few years is whether or not IP cameras manufactured by Chinese-owned companies serve as a backdoor for the Chinese government.
Commanding the global majority of market share for video surveillance equipment, Hikvision is frequently at the forefront of these accusations.
SSI spoke with Hikvision’s North American President Jeffrey He to get his response on these accusations, as well as learn how Hikvision is earning the trust of U.S. integrators and what’s next in store for the company.
Tell me about video surveillance competition and commoditization in the North American region.
Commoditization is a natural process in any industry. Technology matures and price points come down. This is a challenge for those manufacturers who want to sit back, keep making the same products year after year and charging the same price. They will not be successful with this approach. To stay ahead, and to really serve the market and provide security, manufacturers must innovate constantly.
I was thinking about commoditization and innovation recently when I was at the Beijing airport. Terminal 3 was completed in 2008 before the Beijing Olympics. When this terminal was brand new, I remember seeing many cameras from my competitors. I didn’t see much from Hikvision.
The other security system components were from Western companies as well. And this wasn’t just the case at the Beijing airport. In 2008, technologies from outside of China significantly dominated in the China market. Nine years later, things have completely changed.
Today you’ll find Hikvision and other local brands in airports and other critical infrastructure applications. Hikvision products are spec’d not because they are Chinese. Hikvision is chosen because we provide reliable, affordable and technologically sophisticated products. Affordable is a key word for many end users. When products are affordable, end users can deploy more cameras to protect life and property.
So, in many ways commoditization is good thing if it’s accompanied by innovation. End users win, and manufacturers that develop new technologies win as well. That’s how I see it based on past history and the evolution of our industry.
How does Canada fit into the Hikvision strategy?
Canada is a market that’s ready for newer technologies and different vendors. To serve this market, we’ve hired sales and marketing, technical and engineering teams based in Montreal and across Canada. We plan to hire more in 2017.
We also just announced plans to establish a North American R&D Center in Montreal, which will provide even more services to our enterprise customers in Canada and the U.S. Montreal is a great location for the R&D Center. It has a tremendous talent pool and the local government is very business-friendly.
Are acquisitions or partnerships in the strategic plan for Hikvision and if so who might they be?
I keep my eyes open for opportunities. We’ve had conversations in the past and I’m sure we’ll continue to have conversations with interested parties who approach us or whom we approach.
Hikvision will continue our organic growth by creating strong local teams, and we’ll consider acquisitions when there’s an opportunity to acquire a significant portion of a market segment, or patents of technologies.
What is Hikvision’s future direction?
Hikvision has significant R&D in video analytics, video compression technologies, machine vision, robotics, and drones. We’re evaluating potential applications for these technologies with our partners in the United States to see about bringing robotics and commercial drones into this market. There’s still work to be done, but I’m sure that there is a significant opportunity for us.
How is Hikvision strengthening relationships and building trust with U.S. integrators. How are you supporting them and helping them succeed?
Hikvision’s success in building trust is based on four tenets.
First, you need to have face-to-face engagement. That’s why in the past couple years we’ve built a strong team of more than 300 professionals. Our team is on the ground in markets across the U.S. and Canada meeting end users, integrators, dealers and decision makers on a daily basis.
Number two: I believe trust is based on value. Our growth in the past seven years indicates that we do provide significant value to our partners; that alone is trust-building.
Number three: Trust comes from factual information. Over the past two years, Hikvision has received much praise and some shrill criticism from online bloggers. Facts are what matter. The truth will prevail. The online blogging site must be sensing its demise because its National Enquirer-style lies and misrepresentations get more ridiculous every day. Fact-based analysis is what people remember. Facts lead to trust. That’s very important.
A very important fact about Hikvision is our commitment to the North American market. We will soon establish an R&D Center in Montreal and we have plans to establish a Hikvision Research Institute in Silicon Valley.
We’re demonstrating to our market, to our partners, integrators, end-users, that we are committed to the U.S. and Canadian market. We make these investments to understand the voice of the customer. Hikvision’s goal is to set the gold standard for security manufacturer service in this market.
That leads me to the fourth tenet, which is service. We’re enhancing our service across the board with more expert personnel in all departments and more efficient processes.
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