Using the ‘Net to Catch More Alarm Customers

Gilles Prefontaine, who leads strategy and planning at VOXCOM, notes the strong correlation between the acceptance of IP technology by consumers translating into expanded monitoring services. Leading technology companies have tapped into this trend by introducing and promoting Internet-based security monitoring platforms that enable homeowners and small businesses to access real-time information and to remotely control and manage security systems, environmental controls and video. 

The offering was tailored to the security industry, to central stations and security dealers because of the platform’s ability and versatility to use existing security, monitoring, and IP network video equipment. It also has the capability to communicate using a range of different networks — cellular, IP or PSTN. Dealers using such a platform could create their own “virtual central station” with no requirement to purchase any additional expensive hardware.

“As broadband has become a more common and reliable vehicle of communication, more businesses and consumers are turning to IP for communication services. As cost savings and a rich set of features entice consumers to migrate to IP-based services, security companies need to recognize the opportunity and evolve,” Prefontaine says. “We’ve seen the adoption of mobile devices and increase of IP alarm transmission and we continue to look toward new partners and technologies to ensure our customers have the best services in the market that fit their needs. From a business perspective it has led to our own company’s growth, increased revenues and lowered attrition.” 

However, to get traction to bolster subscription rates and springboard off a popular wave for accessible services, Raji says a company has to bring forth a compelling reason for people to renew security contracts. This can be done by creating enhanced functions that seamlessly integrate with other technologies.

“We wanted to turn the whole security question on its head and tie it into all the content the Internet brings forth today so there is a perceived daily value to people. We wanted to create a total experience,” Raji says. “People already tap into weather and news

through an Internet portal, so it was time to tap into security
so people can stay in touch with what matters most to them: their family and home. These innovations bring peace of mind.”

The idea is that through a handheld device – popular with just about everyone these days – people can now check on their isolated grandmother living alone, or view real-time data to see what is happening when their kids arrive home from school or to see who is at the door.

“Home Security 2.0 is going to fit into this new landscape and will expand in the traditional security market. People on the fence will jump in, expanding the market of security customers. They are going to treat this as another valued service and this will drive the security and Internet markets closer together,” Raji says.

To keep pace with what’s happening, the trend in today’s monitoring realm will be for dealers and central stations to offer their customers this enhanced functionality and data accessibility with their systems to meet the needs of these latest customer demands.

Raji says central stations and security dealers will offer these expanded functions to differentiate themselves from other dealers. This can be accomplished by offering enhanced notification from cameras to cell phones, for example, or allowing a subscriber the opportunity to arm or disarm a system remotely after watching live video.

“Central stations are getting used to these changes and are offering it now, but the industry itself still gets confused on how to standardize everything,” Hertel says. “If they have to buy new receivers to pick up a certain type of signal, it is hard to recoup on the initial investment, which can be costly upfront, especially at the lower rates they charge on the consumer end over a period of months. This makes it slow to catch on if they have to invest on every piece of gear.”

Bugs Must Be Ironed Out Before VoIP Solidifies Itself as a Solution

Nothing’s perfect, and sure enough voice over IP (VoIP) solutions are not without their own set of problems. Of the two types of VoIP technologies, two distinct issues present themselves.

With facilitated VoIP, such as what is offered by your local cable company, the carrier can control what happens from end to end and can shape the bandwidth, which lends itself to consistency. The problems start, however, if the network crashes and important data falls off the grid.

Other VoIP solutions, like Vonage, are carried over a public Internet domain (a VoIP tunnel) where there is less control. This can create latency and a “jitter” in the frequency that is not ideal for signals to transmit to an alarm panel. Hertel points out that a “bridge” can be developed, or dialer capture cards on the subscriber’s side can lend consistency, but it is not a long-term solution and information can’t be downloaded under that scenario.

“Over time people will sort out the significant problems,” Hertel says. “IP is here to stay.”

Benefits Many as Monitoring Firms Move Into the Next Frontier

Central stations stand to gain improved volume, speed, and the reduction of costs and manpower requirements through greater efficiencies with the newest technologies. This will create the added advantage of a revenue stream for both central stations and dealers, proponents say.

To facilitate that, however, there is a certain amount of discussion that needs to take place between two camps that historically have butted heads: security specialists (or alarm dealers) and those in IT. Professionals on both sides need to work together due to the convergence between voice, video and data that used to be “siloed” as separate components. Now both need to integrate and speak to each other, Hertel says.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters