Security industry veteran Frank De Fina, Samsung's senior vice president of sales and marketing for North America, announced this week that he will be stepping down from the company effective June 2. De Fina, who previously served as president of Panasonic, has been with Samsung for nearly five years helping to build it into one of the strongest brands in the video surveillance industry.
In a conference call earlier this week, De Fina said that he’s leaving on amicable terms for personal reasons and still would still like to do some consulting down the road potentially. SIW recently caught up with De Fina to discuss some his achievements during his time with the company and what he believes the future holds for the surveillance industry.
SIW: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you arrived at Samsung?
De Fina: An unknown brand in the security space. Although a global brand, the Americas market did not view Samsung as a viable player. The first order of business was to build the brand in terms of being a credible product and translating that into Samsung projects.
SIW: You've been in the industry almost three decades, what are some of the most striking changes to the video industry that you've seen?
De Fina: Most obvious is the shift in decision point from the tradition physical security director to the IT director. This parallels the simultaneous tech trend (from analog to IP).
SIW: What has been the most satisfying aspect of working at Samsung in particular and in the security industry in general?
De Fina: At Samsung I was quite proud of mentoring people like Janet Fenner, Tom Cook and Keith Ridings. Although they possessed considerable skills, it was great to be a part of watching them grow into some of the industry's best professionals. The security industry is a problem solving industry. The problems we solve are critical not only to business but to the safety of our population.
SIW: What direction do you see video going in the next decade and how will advanced technology change what we see today?
De Fina: Video must continue to evolve especially in terms of analytics. I like to use the term "targeted solutions" referring to the need to distill the general video solution down to a specific and increasingly sophisticated approach. A systems integrator will have to understand their core competency, choose an area of concentration and do that better than their competitors.
SIW: What do you hope Samsung's security operation looks like five years after you depart?
De Fina: We've always developed our strategy towards achieving the top market share in the security space. I believe that the current combination of people and products at Samsung will achieve that goal within five years.
SIW: You have written in the past about surveillance industry consolidation: Do you still feel this is an inevitability in our market, and why?
De Fina: I still strongly believe consolidation is inevitable. Although the common thread in every video solution is a camera, there are simply too many manufacturers to support the business. This presents an opportunity for companies like Samsung to differentiate by building more and more intelligence at the edge.
SIW: From your experience and perspective, what is the key to keeping your channel customers happy and coming back every year?
De Fina: Very simply - make your line profitable.
SIW: What will your level of involvement be in the industry moving forward?
De Fina: I hope to continue to mentor security leaders of the future, to continue my deep study of the security industry and to, in some small way, repay the industry for their contribution to my career.