Why Now Is The Right Time To Sell IP Security
By Jay McCall
With a market poised for explosive growth over the next three years, smart IT integrators are capitalizing on their advantage over traditional security dealers.
We recently produced the VARs’ Guide To Video Surveillance to educate readers on the important trends and opportunities happening in video surveillance, starting with migrating end users from analog to IP video systems and then layering on intelligent applications that transform surveillance systems into useful operations tools. In this follow-up article, we’ll be making the case as to why a large percentage of Business Solutions audience, IT integrators, should be acting with urgency to capitalize on these trends. As always, we’ve enlisted the assistance of several industry experts to share their advice — and a few warnings – so you can make the move with confidence.
Why The Urgency For IP Security?
Some trends are talked about and hyped years before they turn into tangible money-making opportunities. If you’ve attended an industry trade show within the past year, for example, you’ve probably seen a presentation about the “Internet of Things,” which is when everything from kitchen appliances to parking meters is connected to and controlled via the Internet. Cool stuff, but not something that’s going to generate a steady revenue stream any time soon. IP security is not the Internet of Things. “According to a 2013 IHS report, the video surveillance market is projected to reach $23.2 billion in 2017 with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 12.8 percent,” says Willem Ryan, senior product marketing manager at Avigilon. “What’s especially relevant is the fact that $13 billion of that total will be network- based products with a CAGR of 225 percent.”
Kenichi Mori, director of marketing and product management for Sony Electronics’ Security Systems Division, concurs with this and adds, “Organizations that have traditionally lagged behind the IP surveillance curve — such as government institutions and retailers — are now catching up. Additionally, technologies like the cloud are opening up the IP surveillance market to smaller end users who previously could not afford IP-based systems. A January market research report by Allied Market Research found that North America is expected to have the highest share of the global IP surveillance market by 2020, with a predicted value of $18.7 billion.”
IP surveillance offers several benefits to end users over its analog predecessor, including wireless transmission, remote monitoring via mobile phones, and video analytics and application software. Plus, IP security is not plug-and- play; it requires real technical expertise to execute properly.
“A study conducted by ESG and commissioned by Axis Communications indicated a greater than 70 percent involvement by IT in physical security installations and maintenance,” says Vince Ricco, business development manager of the Technology Partner Program at Axis Communications. “This number represents a varying degree of involvement by IT, from providing dedicated network infrastructure to Converged Infrastructure-as-a- Service. What we have seen from a best practice perspective is IT integrators providing network, servers, storage, and back infrastructure to support the physical security cameras and video management applications.”
Leverage Your IP Expertise Advantage
As traditional security dealers are witnessing analog CCTV sales dwindle, they’re being forced to transition their businesses by learning to engage new decision makers and learning new technical skill sets. IT integrators, on the other hand, don’t have these same obstacles. “IT integrators already know the networking side of the equation extremely well,” says Mori. “IP cameras run on the network so an IT integrator has a greater knowledge base for installing devices on a corporate network and can communicate with the IT department using the same lingo. IT integrators also know how to configure a network so that it’s capable of handling the increased data needs from HD video streams and storage solutions.”
Axis Communications’ Ricco concurs and adds, “Cameras and access control represent IP edge devices and applications. Bandwidth and storage are two additional major considerations in an IP video implementation that IT integrators are better equipped to handle.”
Kenichi Mori, director of marketing and product management, Sony Electronics, Security Systems Division
The Fast Track To IP Security Sales Success
Despite the fact that IT has a starting advantage in IP video sales, adding a new technology can be a daunting undertaking. According to Jeremy Krinitt, general manager at Frontier Security, “The fastest way for IT integrators to get started selling IP security solutions is to partner with an organization that will provide training and support. Another critical component to success is communication of the use cases behind security technologies.”
Some of the critical starting steps that Krinitt recommends IT integrators look for from a partnering organization include:
- Gaining a key understanding of physical security concepts
- Attaining the proper physical security certifications
- Learning technical concepts such as how to wire a door/entrance and selecting the appropriate surveillance camera
- Learning how to put together a solution that meets the customer’s present and future needs
- IP security system configuration and implementation
- Connecting/integrating the solution with other systems to provide additional benefits.
Ricco advises IT integrators to start small and to think of this as another building block application to add to their existing product portfolios. “Some obvious entrées into selling IP security solutions would be as an add-on to regional POS [point of sale] integration system sales, banking and finance branch offices, and regional quick serve or fast food customers,” he says. “Keep it simple and internal to the store walls. For example, start with a three- to four-IP camera setup covering the four corners of an establishment’s main public space, plus a camera behind the register, and one in the receiving area. The connection is straight PoE [Power over Ethernet] so there’s no need to touch low voltage. This is a nice indoctrination type of application.”
IP Video Challenges, Pitfalls To Avoid
With any great opportunity, there are always pitfalls that must be avoided, and selling IP security is no exception. “The primary challenge for IT integrators is to effectively meet customers’ networking and security needs,” says Ryan. “For example, a customer may have a need for high resolution video for image detail, but may have limited network bandwidth. Providing a solution that meets both requirements without compromise can be a challenge.”
Another challenge comes into play with the unique characteristics of video. “IT professionals have the tendency to think of everything in terms of data,” says Mori. “While video is essentially just data, there are some nuances that need to be considered. First, there is an art and science to camera placement and determining where to mount cameras. IT integrators need to understand the issues relative to installing different kinds of IP cameras in different locations. There cannot be a ‘one-camera-fits-all’ approach.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that video quality is greatly impacted by the environment in which the camera is installed. Getting the best lighting conditions for the camera, however, may trigger some other concerns, such as keeping it in an inconspicuous location. There is usually a balance between the technology and the customer’s needs that will impact how an IP camera system is installed and how it functions. Always deliver based on realistic expectations.
“A key barrier of entry to large-scale physical security integration is state licensing requirements,” says Ricco. “Depending on the state and the extent that low voltage and conduit access are involved, the investment to participate in this market could rise quickly. In Texas, for instance, the licensing process is extensive and time consuming. In these instances, the integrator may want to focus on the infrastructure and services to support the cameras and access control. There is also a very good case for partnership with an established security integrator where the two companies provide a best-in-class turnkey solution by each focusing on their core competencies and expertise.”
Unlike some new technology opportunities that take a lot of time and capital investments before a service provider can start turning a profit, IT integrators will find that the initial expenses of ramping up their IP security expertise can be easily recouped after a couple of projects. “Physical security solutions also have a very long life, often with expectations of operation for 10 to 15 years,” says Krinitt. “This provides an opportunity for long-term recurring revenue streams from maintenance and professional services, plus additional expansion opportunities along the way.”