It’s not easy being a security integrator today. New technologies and project requirements ranging from IP video and high-resolution cameras to video analytics and IT integration are enough to overwhelm even the savviest and most technology-saturated integrator. Stir in a global recession and you have the makings of one of the toughest business climates the security industry has seen in decades. That said, this kind of business climate is ripe for innovation and there will be winners in this market. Here are a few ways to make sure your business rises above:
1.) Simplify and Integrate: Holding onto a hodge podge of product lines that don’t integrate or communicate? Trade in your lone DVRs and isolated systems and adopt lines that function within the same operating system, support multiple classes of devices and have the flexibility to adapt to a wide range of existing systems. Not only will you significantly expand the applications of your product catalog, but slimming down your offerings to showcase vertical-specific, intelligent and expandable products will also allow you to simplify your marketing strategy and solidify the overall image of your business.
2.) Create a Bridge to the Future: To IP or not to IP? Analytics? IT convergence? Avoid these trends at your own peril, but ignoring your customers’ legacy requirements might be an even greater risk. So what do you do when you can’t live in the past and the future isn’t here yet? Go the other way and become a bridge between the two. Deploy products and solutions that address current market needs, but can also be expanded and upgraded in the future. For example, if your customer is torn between isolated DVRs that neither integrate nor communicate and a complete IP video overhaul, show him a third way: a hybrid DVR/NVR that meets his needs today and his plans for tomorrow.
3.) Show Return: Helping your customers track and document bad things after they’ve happened can be a fine business. Helping that same customer stop bad things from happening in the first place is a great business. For instance, while banks spend just a few hundred million dollars every year on surveillance, they lose more than $6 billion on preventable crimes like in-person fraud. Demonstrate how next generation video search and biometrics can address this giant problem and you’ll have a customer for life. Banks aren’t the only ones hurting. This year, retail businesses will lose over $10 billion in return desk fraud and it’s all preventable.
4.) Be a Platform: Providing your customers with a platform solution can be the difference between a one-time sale and a lasting relationship that provides recurring software and service revenue. For instance, if you sell a lone recording box you may well end up waiting until it sputters and dies years from now to see another dollar. But when you specify and sell a video management platform, over time you may see incremental IP and megapixel camera business. Better yet, sell a searchable or intelligent platform and leave the door open to provide your customer high-value applications down the road such as facial surveillance, license plate recognition and people traffic counting as well as potential integration with their access, alarm, POS and other IT infrastructure.
5.) Think Outside Sales-Only Strategy: We live in a winner-take-all society where any customer can just as easily purchase the very best product as any other and the competition is just a phone call away. First and foremost, figure out what the best product is and make sure you carry it. Then begin to build value beyond your product catalog. Investing in training services and leveraging existing relationships to build out local business networks is one of many business-boosting techniques that every savvy integrator should incorporate into their practice on a regular basis.
Stephen Russell is the chairman of 3VR Security Inc., based in San Francisco.