Taking Control of Remote Video
Sure, you’ve heard the remote video spiel for years; but guess what? Technological advances, a host of real-world solutions, lower barriers to entry and feasible pricing models make it worth your while to listen anew.
Security dealers discussing remote video services typically voice several different descriptions of expectations, structure and economics. In most cases you will also find that each of the structures described are viable and real.
Savvy alarm dealers and integrators are moving beyond traditional, one-dimensional, analog security by providing comprehensive technology and services that watch over and analyze their subscribers’ locations through human and technological resources.
Many monitoring centers also understand the value of remote video and have invested significant capital and energy in gearing up to support these services. Mark Fischer, CTO and executive vice president of New York Merchants Protective Co., one of the oldest full-service dealers/central stations in the country, says, “We are heavily invested in remote video and we believe that video integration is the first major change to come to our industry since the digital dialer.”
Still, too many security providers are being left behind in terms of technology and leveraging that technology — resulting in missed revenue opportunities. To say traditional security dealers and integrators are missing the mark when it comes to remote video is troublesome because it doesn’t have to be that way.
The good news is we are embarking on a new technological era, and the economics for ubiquity are within reach. This latest technology allows dealers to service a variety of commercial, industrial and governmental facilities (e.g. car lots, warehouses, ports, cargo in transit) where traditional alarm and video systems have proven ineffective or unsuitable. Providers can also now augment existing systems to deliver security and business management tools at a new, more dynamic and profitable level.
Dealers Deal With Growing Pains
Developing and introducing new and disruptive technologies is usually a painstaking task. This is especially true when they threaten to change the landscape of an existing channel where providers are already comfortable and successful in their established path.
It is proven that the companies that offer comprehensive system installations and services to their clients realize the most profitable and steady growth. It is also a fact that the independent organizations that carry out this type of plan gain their capital strength from profitable installations predicated on recommending security/safety devices and services that make sense and deliver results.
Most control panels today include a feature to send E-mail messages to cell phones, pagers or PDAs upon receipt of an alarm. Some professionals’ resistance to such advanced capabilities has caused them to miss other opportunities that can stem from these types of systems. While some structures totally eliminate the service provider, many serve as a hybrid solution where the service provider still has great revenue opportunity. This is especially true when it comes to remote video.
In general, the ones who really seem to grasp this are new entrants to professional security and IT-based firms. They understand it, are engaged and are enjoying many great benefits that some traditional alarm dealers are missing. The organizations that have added remote video to their portfolio of services are not prejudiced by legacy systems, technologies and, most importantly, revenue models. However, this market is wide open for any open-minded provider willing to make the commitment.
Any dealer or integrator looking to expand into this area will certainly find suppliers eager to assist them in the process. Manufacturers such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Mace Security are resolute in their endorsement of remote video and see it as a key to their future success.
“I believe remote video surveillance, and all its pathways toward providing owners and managers with pertinent, real-time information, will be the cornerstone of the next decade’s security business,” says Mace CEO Dennis Raefield. “We are building our entire strategy around serving end users and integrators with managed video and access services. The value of precise, actionable intelligence delivered how the end user wants to see it will drive our industry. Those who fail to deliver information in an easy-to-use and valuable manner will be bypassed by this next wave.”
Although basic remote video capability has been around for quite some time, technological advancements this decade, and continuing enhancements and refinements, has radically increased its applicability and relevancy in providing real-world solutions. Digital technology, the growth of available Internet and network bandwidth, better wireless transmission and software breakthroughs such as analytics have opened up the channels to accommodate a virtually endless suite of remote video-based services.
“Users haven’t really leveraged analytic intelligence in security systems to their potential,” says Stephen Russell, president and CEO of San Francisco’s 3VR. “The technology can deliver information in real-time that is of immediate value, and it also provides great forensic power all the time conserving bandwidth, labor and hardware overhead. Taking this a step further, users can utilize ‘hot’ off-site storage of essential video without stressing bandwidth or disk space, which can be costly.”
Finding a Sensible Cost Structure
The big challenge is to offer services at a justifiable price and demonstrate value to the customer. Research has shown that bundling services such as alarm verification and video openings and closings adds true value. In addition, remote video monitoring has proven to be a deterrent to internal theft and false insurance claims, while fostering increased productivity and employee honesty.
What many end users do not realize is that although the price for remote video may appear high, they could actually be saving money in the long run. It is up to the security provider to fully understand this and be able to convincingly convey it to prospects. Take remote guard tour services, for example, which offer a cost savings compared to actual onsite security guards. Yet the cost difference and return on investment (ROI) can be difficult for the end user to digest.
Wayne Wahrsager, president of Merrick, N.Y.-based NationWide Digital Monitoring Co., says video guard tours and virtual guard services are examples of great new opportunities for dealers to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR). He says while most alarm dealers are afraid to approach a building owner because the monthly fees can seem high, when placed in the context of what a live person sitting at a site costs per shift the subscriber will see a 33-50 percent reduction in operating costs per guard shift.
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