For the past several years, security dealers and integrators have eyed video monitoring services as a significant opportunity to generate recurring monthly revenue (RMR) from existing and prospective customers. But up until very recently, RMR has proven elusive, particularly in the residential market, to all but a select group of high-end installers. Today, several technology, product and market factors are enabling dealers and integrators to convert the potential of video monitoring RMR into reality.
Deeper broadband and smartphone penetration-33 percent of mobile phone owners in the U.S. classify their device as a smartphone while 39 percent confirm their cell phone runs on a smartphone platform, according to a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Greater smartphone use equates to more consumers able to interact regularly with video via mobile applications (apps) and devices, while increased broadband penetration needed to support video further expands RMR opportunity.
Increased affordability of video cameras-Strong demand for a solution is useless if residential and small business customers can't afford it. This has been the case with video cameras and equipment that, at several thousand dollars for even a basic install not too long ago, were priced beyond what average consumers could afford. Now, for a few hundred dollars, dealers and integrators can offer customers wireless IP cameras that deliver high quality video which can be accessed and monitored from a computer or smartphone.
Simplified installation process-Video formerly required deep networking expertise that complicated the installation process. Dealers and integrators had to maintain a high level of IT knowledge to deal with such issues as port forwarding on a customer router. This is no longer the case as easy install solutions enable quick camera setup. Following a 'plug & play' format, the system finds the cameras and provides prompts to ensure system connectivity.
Improved compatibility-Dealers and integrators seeking to leverage video monitoring for RMR no longer need to write off customers that have invested in traditional analog (CCTV) security cameras or try to sell them on expensive replacement cameras. Leading technology providers enable video monitoring that is seamlessly compatible with legacy security camera equipment, resulting in an easier upgrade process. This also unlocks a larger pool of potential customers who may have video cameras but likely don't have the interactive monitoring features that enhance RMR.
Commercial market viability-Commercial customers, particularly small businesses, have always been strong candidates for video monitoring, innovative new technology capabilities and features that offer an even stronger RMR opportunity. For businesses with multiple properties, such as restaurants and retail chains, the customer can now monitor these locations from a single account and user-friendly interface. At the same time, leading video offerings now ensure important video clips can be protected so they are not overwritten in the normal First-In, First-Out recording process. Additionally, video monitoring can be extended outside the property with night-vision cameras to capture video footage. So at 3 a.m. if an alarm is signaled, the business owner can view an alarm-triggered video clip taken by an Infrared (IR) camera to determine if there is a serious situation or not.
Setting the infrastructure, selling the service
To convert video service as a security system enhancement into recurring revenue, dealers and installers should consider the following:
Select the right technology partner-As with any in-demand technology, companies chasing this opportunity are tempted to tackle a video solution that has not been fully tested or lacks the required scalability and reliability. When leveraging video monitoring technology, identify partners with strong video expertise; successful deployments that can be referenced; and those who have invested in technology and services that simplify the installation process and offer more integrated features to the end-user.
Leverage interactive services that support video-Research strongly supports that increased consumer engagement and additional interaction with the security system will lead to improved stickiness and result in a higher perceived value of the system. Ensure that the video monitoring solution features services that increase the customer's daily usage of the video system, such as live video feeds, motion or alarm-triggered video clips, or pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras that can be controlled remotely by the customer from a mobile device. Analyze the quality of the technology provider's mobile apps for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices to ensure that customers interacting with the system will have an engaging but reliable experience.
Don't view video in a vacuum-From a higher RMR generating perspective, the more tightly video monitoring is integrated with the security platform, the more likely the customer will be to regularly interact with the system. Also, the greater the integration and interaction, the more likely the consumer is to value the service and remain engaged longer.
Leverage the video 'wow' factor-As consumers interact more frequently with smartphone apps, tablet devices and mobile media, their technology expectations have risen in tandem and they become harder to impress. It is for this reason that more dealers are leading demonstrations to consumers by showing video monitoring on smartphones and tablet devices, and showcasing new, free mobile apps consumers are increasingly accustomed to using in their day-to-day activities. Video not only generates RMR but provides a lifestyle solution that can adhere to a consumer on a variety of levels, from mobile interactivity and increased awareness to more advanced security.
Don't overlook the existing customer base- Video monitoring isn't just an RMR channel with new customers but represents an opportunity for dealers, who've partnered with an integrated technology partner, to go back to existing customers and upgrade their service package to include video with minimal disruption. By positioning video as a service, rather than a product, software and firmware upgrades can be done remotely without any action required on the part of the customer.
Recurring revenue opportunities for video monitoring are no longer a moving target for security dealers and integrators. Video monitoring generates a tangible impact on the frequency with which customers interact with their home security and monitoring system and the quality of that experience. By fully leveraging innovative, new applications and services developed by proven video monitoring technology providers, dealers and integrators can open up a new and sustainable RMR channel.
Jay Kenny is vice president of Marketing, Alarm.com, Vienna, Va.