Editor's Note: IT is at the Table

In today’s world of IP-based security technologies, if you aren’t speaking the language of IT, you aren’t going to be as successful a security integrator as you would like. The simple truth is, these days, you are just as likely to be working with a customer’s IT department as the security department when it comes to enterprise and even mid-sized security deployments.

A new research study commissioned by video surveillance provider Axis Communications can lend weight to this theory. According to the study — conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) on behalf of Axis — 91 percent of organizations currently using video surveillance technology reported that their IT department manages or supports these deployments. This is a vast increase over numbers reported just three years ago, when 52 percent of video surveillance deployments were supported by IT.

Indeed, today’s security integrator must embrace the IT departments of their customers to survive and thrive. “Given the inevitable shift from outdated analog CCTV to superior IP video systems, a number of technical factors — such as network infrastructure requirements, bandwidth usage and data storage consumption — are moving surveillance decisions beyond the realm of physical security to directly impacting IT,” ESG Senior Principal Analyst Jon Oltsik said in a statement. “The ESG research indicates those IT departments that include surveillance requirements in their IT strategy and leverage video for business process improvement tend to maximize the benefits of surveillance investments while reducing unnecessary operations overhead.”

Even more telling was this nugget: Of the IT professionals polled in the study who are involved with video surveillance at mid- to enterprise-sized organizations, 47 percent said their department is the “most responsible” for setting surveillance strategy and making final purchasing decisions — followed by senior management (23 percent), physical security/loss prevention (9 percent), compliance (9 percent), facilities (5 percent), and legal (5 percent).  

“We’ve seen much more IT involvement as the industry shifts to IP video, but ESG’s research was even higher than anticipated,” said Fredrik Nilsson, Axis general manager. “IT’s influence can positively affect network design, storage and business intelligence best practices, and the research points to opportunities for integrators to work together with their IT and physical security contacts to overcome the challenges of IP video with proper system configuration and expectation setting.”

The news of IT involvement in security deployments shouldn’t be a total shock to most security integrators, with the talk of IP tipping points having infiltrated the security industry for years now — not to mention the rapid rise in HD, megapixel, terabytes of storage, cloud-based services, IP access control and network-based everything, really.

But IT’s growing involvement — especially in video surveillance — is having a profound impact beyond the security integration community; in fact, the very end-user organizations themselves are being transformed. According to the ESG survey, 80 percent of IT pros use video surveillance footage for business intelligence applications, including identifying operational efficiencies (58 percent), production or process control (51 percent), inventory control (50 percent), identifying traffic patterns (49 percent) and employee training (47 percent).

The good news for our industry is that for those using surveillance for business intelligence, 88 percent said it helps justify IP video technology and infrastructure investments. That means security spending may finally be seen as more of a business investment at the executive level — thus the funding should continue to flow, or better yet, increase substantially.

If this survey says anything to security integrators, it is that they better be ready. It behooves you to stay on top of the lingo and really know what you are talking about when the time comes to take a seat in front of your customers’ IT director. If you aren’t, your competition probably will. 

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