The security week that was: 10/10/08

A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

Relearning how to resell security

A number of companies have talked about proving ROI in a retail model. Video analytics companies chatter about how their systems can be deployed with cameras running traffic counting to prove a system's value. Item-level RFID companies (like Sensormatic and its new acquisition Vue Technology) prove that not only can an asset tracking tag be used for loss prevention purposes, but the biggest uptick is in being able to manage stock efficiently. And of course, this week, ABI research predicted growth for video surveillance in the retail sector, noting that cameras could be used for more than simple recording, but could prove ROI through liability protection and even marketing applications where sales/marketing staff might use cameras to study traffic or how well banners and end-caps are engaging shoppers.

The reason I'm bringing this discussion of ROI up is because of the economy. With the U.S. economy suffering and the European economy following closely as well (and many other international economies seeing the same effects), you can't just go to your customer or go to your boss and pitch security equipment just for the sake of security. You're going to have to show some sort of value and maybe -- like the retail examples above -- you need to show how it can partner with another department to split a cost. If you need to brush up on this, I suggest you start working through the last year or two of back issues from Security Technology & Design magazine. That publication's editors have been working with the folks from the Security Executive Council to talk metrics, which is part of proving value. The ST&D editors have also initiated a "lean security" column that you should check out as well.

I spoke earlier this week with Scott Clements from Sensormatic and Robert Locke of Vue Technology. The two companies joined forces this week, and we talked about how they sell item-level RFID technology.

Locke explained: "When a shopper can’t find a product, after two experiences like that, they start to shop someplace else," This technology allows them to drive sales in a flat economy because they stop losing sales to other retailers. They increase sales and lower labor costs [for stock checking]."

I give you that quote not because I think you all are interested in RFID, but because it's indicative of how you have to talk today -- whether you're a manufacturer's representative, or a security director pitching a security upgrade to senior management. Locke and Clements could have probably talked for a half-hour on how their RFID readers differ from other readers, and how the software has a whiz-bang feature that the competitors don't, but instead they chose to speak about the general economics of how a retail company can invest in pricey technologies in such a down economy. Clements and Locke said they were very interested in delivering only exactly what the customer needs, rather than pushing customers towards a cookie-cutter approach. Certainly that speaks to the fact that it is a buyer's market and security and technology sales strategies must reflect market conditions.

Network video standards update
ONVIF kicks off; PSIA promotes openness

We reported on Tuesday that the Open Network Video Interface Forum (one of two North American groups working on a communications and operability standard for network video solutions) had opened its membership rosters during the Essen tradeshow. The initial phases of this group had been coordinated from video competitors Bosch, Sony and Axis Communications. The group is expanding at Essen. There’s no word yet on how many members have joined ONVIF.

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