Security Watch

Connect to Success: FAP Members Hear From Their Peers
Two-plus decades strong with double-digit year over year growth despite recession

By Deborah L. O'Mara

Hundreds of dealers turned out to hear about opportunities and new technologies and network with their peers at the 21st annual 2010 First Alert Professional authorized dealer convention in Boca Raton, Fla., in November. Amidst fun activities and good food as well as smashing entertainment, the crux of the conference was networking, emerging technologies and preparing dealer members for the future with new offerings.

New products in intrusion, especially wireless, video and access control and others for the home that are still under wraps will be launched in 2011. But the overriding message was on video and the "much more than security theme" former president of Honeywell Security & Communications and current head of Honeywell Security Group Ron Rothman alluded to at last year's meeting.

Kicked off by Joe Sausa, president of First Alert Professional, he issued a call to action to attendees to gain new business by taking it away from competitors by offering the latest services and technologies. Sausa said the 2010 event included more sessions from dealer's peers per their request, providing insights on managed access control, the government market, integrated systems, sales tools and business builders and legal considerations.

Break the residential 'ceiling' with video

JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications, gave keen insights into the company's research and development and marketing plans, focusing on video and perhaps eventually the end of the alarm control panel, according to one product roadmap session gathering.

"There are some very interesting trends right now," Sohovich told the audience. "Some say technology will leave us behind. Some say Google and Cisco will leave us out-but don't count on it. Don't count out the entrepreneurial spirit and the agile dealers we have. It's the knowledge they have that will help us deliver connectivity solutions."

She said statistics indicate only 20 percent of the country has active security. "There are some who say millions never will want security, but they value information and lifestyle functions beyond security delivered to their mobile devices. You can appeal to them with advanced technology offerings. We want to focus on video as a standalone offering, one which will drive recurring monthly revenue," she continued.

Sohovich added that convenience and lifestyle functions can be accomplished without a security system. "Sell standalone video to appeal to the lifestyle conveniences customers want. You can do all this without a security system. You can do it with video driven to the smartphone. Take a look at the lifestyle customers who value connectivity. Expand your customer set beyond the current ones. We want to help you tap these new customers," Sohovich said.

Emmy-award-winning comedian and writer Ross Shafer entertained and inspired the audience with a keynote address on customer empathy, personal motivation and business relevance. "In this culture, you have to understand the tears and the fears, especially of the female of the house," Shafer said. "You need to get into the heart zone. It's about emotions-the business winners will get into heart zones," he said. The keynote session culminated with the presentation of the 2010 Life Safety Award to Palm Beach County EMS Captain Craig Prusansky. The final FAP event lauded companies with five to 20-year service awards; sales consultants and dealers of the year; as well as others who have helped FAP become a successful authorized dealer network.

iControl Networks Ramps Up On Differentiators for Home Security

By Natalia Kosk

Just one month into news of newly merged company iControl Networks, Palo Alto, Calif., the reception has been extremely positive, according to Paul Dawes and Jim Johnson, co-chief executive officers of the company. The company merged iControl Networks, a software provider for the home management market and uControl, Austin, Texas, a Home Security, Monitoring and Automation (SMA) software firm.

"It's fair to say that since the merger, there's little that Paul and I have done except talk to our customers about the combined company," explained Johnson. "Now, it's about execution and delivering the product roadmap and the customer support these companies need. We're better able to do all these things as a combined company."

Solutions in interactive residential security, energy management and home healthcare will be provided for broadband operators, security companies, utilities and additional partners of iControl Networks.

"We've each been in the market, coming at it from different perspectives, working with many similar customers and partners," explained Dawes. "The market really exploded in the past six to nine months. ADT's Pulse is clearly driving a lot of that but it's also that similar timing has happened from the broadband side and each of our companies was severely taxed to deliver on a huge list of requirements, features and functionality to help power these launches. Some of the broadband guys want to get into the market faster and to do that, the integration required and level of support and features required is something that we are better equipped to do together. It seemed crazy that we were both building fundamentally the same type of technology for an emerging market when we were both struggling with resources," he continued.

Moving past the basics

One of the direct benefits of the merger is additional resource and support capability that allows the company to differentiate their products for iControl Networks' various customers. "Right now, the platforms feature basic functionality in remote access and home security," explained Johnson. "It's about extending that platform to make it easily customizable to do any broadband home management function that a service provider wants to do and add any applications to the platform."

One way the company plans to do this is by enabling their customers and partners to do that development themselves-to provide a platform that delivers an ecosystem of hardware and software based solutions to make a consumers life easier by focusing on convenience and lifestyle functions.

"Where you've got 23 percent of households with monitored residential systems, we think there's opportunity to grow that to 40 to 50 percent of households because it's not just about security," said Dawes. "Security is the basis but staying connected to one's home is the compelling value proposition."

Dawes stated that utilities are absolutely looking at the types of broadband and home security technologies currently available to homeowners, similar to the offering from iControl Networks. "What we're finding with the utilities we work with is they are all seeing that deploying a standalone energy management solution is hard because 'what is the value proposition?'" he questioned. "Consumers are not going to pay a couple hundred dollars for a system in their home that manages energy. It's too wide of a leap to make, whereas if it is a feature on your home security system it makes total sense," said Dawes.

He foresees a number of partnerships down the road. "I think complete energy management involving utilities and massive integration with smart grids-that proposition is 18 to 24 months away."

While energy use is a big part of the solution for the homeowner, companies trying to build their entire business around energy management will find it's not something that is "going to fly" according to Dawes. "Energy management as a feature set on top of your broadband home management system, brought to you by your security company, cable provider, Telco's-that is what's going to work. The utilities will want to participate," he explained.

Johnson foresees the cost for these solutions being offered at a similar price to current, traditional home security offerings-the basic being developed for around a $99 install with a $30 to $40 recurring monthly fee.

"When you dig into the business case that a service provider has to develop in order to justify this type of roll-out, you find that almost all of the business case is dependent upon the upfront cost, which includes the marketing to generate awareness about the service, the technician's time in the home to get the services installed and the cost of the equipment that is in the home," explained Johnson. "iControl Networks will work on all three criteria to create a secure and cost-effective solution for the homeowner."

The company plans on working with hardware partners to develop solutions for the home to match the functionality of the system. "The functionalities should double every year and the price should be cut in half every year," Johnson continued. "You'll see that these solutions will become the dominant solutions for home security."