John Bartolac is Manager of Industry Segments and Government Programs for Axis Communications. He has more than 20 years of experience in the security industry, both in the private and public sectors. Request more info about Axis at www.securityinfowatch.com/10212966.
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Ah, that ever-so-special “sweet spot” — it is that loud crack from the bat that tells everyone you just crushed the baseball; or that satisfying ping you hear before the golf ball arcs hundreds of yards down the fairway. In business, it’s the feel of a firm handshake when both parties know they have closed a great deal.
The sweet spot is typically a small, yet perfect window. In the world of selling surveillance cameras, however, you will find that sweet spot for IP video is much bigger than you think.
IP Video Dovetails with Other IP Systems
Finding your sweet spot starts with IT infrastructure, the pipeline for collecting, transferring and storing data critical for daily operations. It affords integrators the ability to deliver robust IP-based solutions that both dwarf the limitations of previous analog CCTV solutions and deliver a wealth of cross-functional value in the form of operational intelligence gathering.
On a basic level, an IP camera is really a computer that sees. It lets your customers shed DVR equipment and free up operational time by leveraging edge-based applications and storage (through memory cards or attached storage) or use a cloud-based architecture to eliminate the need for onsite devices.
On a more advanced level, IP video solutions can incorporate applications to assist organizations — from individual small businesses and franchises to large national or global companies with satellite locations — in discovering ways to improve overall operational efficiencies and performance.
In the past, you might have recommended installing analog-based cameras and DVRs because they were (and still are) inexpensive. But DVRs eventually fail, and replacements every three to five years either raised the customer’s cost of ownership or eroded your profit margins. Plus, low image quality minimized the video’s forensic value.
Features Increase Attractiveness
Fast forward to today. As IP video revenue overtakes half the market for the first time, there are many “technology sweet spots” that make the solution increasingly attractive for integrator businesses and end-users alike:
Remote support: You can offer an IP-based solution that, in many cases, can be troubleshot and serviced remotely over the web. This expedites needed fixes should problems arise, and speeds up system upgrades with remote firmware patches and VMS updates.
Edge-based management: Recommending edge-based video management running directly in-camera saves customers the cost of supplemental onsite storage devices, ongoing maintenance and periodic replacement of DVRs. These edge-based configurations are fully functional for small system installations and easily managed by either the end-user or integrator.
Cloud-based architecture: A cloud-based solution makes system management even easier for the customer. The upside for an integrator is the potential recurring revenue stream generated by the services. A hosting provider can store the video in a cloud environment and provide customers access to it through a secure web portal branded with your organization’s GUI. If you are an integrator equipped to provide managed services, you can charge for storing video, providing video on request and managing the system’s overall health. This RMR model gives your customers peace of mind that they can count on you to handle everything from general maintenance and system upgrades to the occasional emergency.
Video verification of other IP-based systems: Integrating IP-based physical access control, intrusion, alarm and fire detection systems with IP video creates a single solution source that can visually verify who is using the card to enter the facility and whether burglar or fire alarms were triggered by an actual incident; thus avoiding potential fines from local law enforcement for responding to non-events.
Because IP video is scalable, you can offer these expanded applications to any sized customer — from a small business to a global operation with offices around the world.
Market Sweet Spots
When you start looking for IP video sweet spots on a vertical market level, there are a number of directions you can take. Here are just a few examples:
• Banking: In this arena, you can offer IP-based cameras with significantly smaller footprints that cover more area with fewer cameras, deliver exceptionally clear image quality and make it easier for bank officials to access and share video in real time with law enforcement. With advanced compression technology, you can even offer banking customers a way to capture and transmit HDTV-quality video from remote branches with historically limited network connectivity.
HD video can verify transactions at the teller or the ATM, and advanced analytics can provide data for improving operational efficiencies while combatting fraud and theft. When working with banking institutions that have a long history with analog CCTV, don’t forget the video encoder and/or Ethernet-over-coax media converters as a viable upgrade-to-migration solution.
• Critical Infrastructure: Remote substations, often minimally lit and unmanned, are particularly vulnerable to theft, vandalism and acts of terrorism. For these customers, you might suggest extreme low-light performance IP cameras that capture full-color fidelity in near-dark conditions. When coupled with low-cost, IP-based thermal cameras, they can detect and track intruders hiding in darkness or approaching from the water. Today’s wireless and fiber transmission technologies make reaching remote substations a reality, enabling critical infrastructure customers to remotely monitor these locations for operational reasons as well.
• Government: These customers are looking for greater financial accountability without compromising security. Offering a distributed edge-based architecture reduces security’s footprint in data centers, reduces overall maintenance costs by decreasing the amount of field equipment required to support surveillance, and ultimately reduces the impact on an already bloated federal budget.
In addition, offering IP-based solutions that incorporate authentication protocols and data encryption standards can help mitigate against cyber threats.
• Retail: In addition to loss prevention, these customers want tools that can help improve the bottom line. Here’s an opportunity to suggest advanced video analytics that optimize floor plans, merchandising displays and identify the demographics and shopping patterns of their customers. Analytics can be used in conjunction with digital signage to target key customer segments and increase sales. Like banks, many retailers still use analog systems. By leveraging video encoders and replacing DVRs with an intelligent VMS platform, you can immediately add intelligence benefits to their system while creating a migration bridge for the future.
When looking for the sweet spots for IP video, be sure to examine your existing customer relationships and identify the verticals in which you are strongest. Learn their daily operational challenges and vulnerabilities. In industries like education, loss prevention, critical infrastructure and others, it is common for end-customers to share best practices — providing plenty of positive customer references to tap.
Determine what industry knowledge and supplemental services set you apart. If you currently have IT knowledge and IT relationships, use them. Once you realize that every customer is a potential sweet spot, the entire candy store is yours for the asking.
John Bartolac is Manager of Industry Segments and Government Programs for Axis Communications. He has more than 20 years of experience in the security industry, both in the private and public sectors. Request more info about Axis at www.SecurityInfoWatch.com/10212966.