Becoming good at selling, installing, managing and operating Internet-based (IP) video surveillance solutions is a difficult yet strategic challenge for global security integrators. IP surveillance growth has been strong and will continue as such, taking market share from analog solutions. An approximate 15 to 20 percent share currently might grow into an 80 percent share of IP-installed solutions in the next five to six years, meaning substantial growth, depending of course upon changes in overall demand for surveillance products and the global economy.
Being able to compete for this growth poses, however, some significant challenges for the traditional security systems solutions provider. What you need to do is develop competence in both managing and excelling in IP-based surveillance technology.
The Lusax Security Informatics team from Lund University in Sweden recently concluded a two-year study, including both statistical surveys and case studies, of integrator strategies and competence in the IP area. We examined the critical factors behind integrators’ success or failure with regards to running an IP surveillance business. More than 1,700 responses from 31 countries around the globe were collected from the survey, which was split evenly between respondents from traditional security integrators and IP integrators.
The picture that emerges clearly indicates that the development of a strong IP surveillance business is, first of all, a learning process in two quite different steps, both of which in turn are driven by a set of different factors. The two steps or hurdles include:
The ticket hurdle - It is clear that it is important to be recognized as an IP-savvy integrator and in order to do that, companies need to recruit, educate, or in the extreme, acquire companies that have IP-savvy staff.
According to our research, the higher the general degree of education, the stronger the company is at IP surveillance. That knowledge includes explicit knowledge of technical conditions, including electronics, cabling, networking, systems management and so on. It is knowledge that is explicit in character and which can be learned by means of theory understanding, such as classroom training and book-reading, not necessarily practical experience (even though this will is also beneficial). This explicit technical competence however, is primarily a ticket to the dance-floor, a basic requirement and a hygiene factor, that will allow integrators to enter the market. But it doesn’t necessarily mean integrators who have climbed the ticket hurdle will actually succeed in the long run with their IP surveillance business. And we believe, it will not generate price premiums or competitive advantages in the long run, even if it might in the short term.
The experience hurdle - Experience of IP surveillance, for instance from different parts of the value chain, is also a success factor. In contrast to the explicit and technical knowledge discussed above, IP experience is implicit and tacit and based on practice, not classroom training or studies of theory. It includes all the competence and skills required from the point of approaching customers first time, throughout design, specification, installation and after sales activities such as service and systems management. Experience generates competence by means of the trial-error-correction-trial loop, and so requires reflective practice, where experimentation is supported (and first failures accepted). This implicit and personal knowledge is a logical extension to technical competence and a potential source of competitive advantage and price premiums in the future, if it is combined with technical competence.
These two steps are sequential, meaning the former generally is a precondition for the latter. The Lusax Study reveals that pure-play IP integrators are ahead in this race towards IP excellence, but that overcoming the first ticket hurdle most likely will open up for advantages to traditional security integrators as they already have established customer relations and stronger awareness about operative security issues.