The security week that was: 10/21/11 (the rise of home management services)

Going Beyond Traditional Security

For several years now, there has been a push within the residential security industry to move beyond installing traditional "burg and fire" systems into providing other services. Obviously, the primary driver for this was to create other RMR opportunities and provide a proverbial "kick in the pants" for an industry whose consumers had grown tired of shelling out a monthly fee for something they rarely got use out of except during a worst case scenario.

For most alarm dealers, the solution to this problem was the advent of home automation technology and the ability to integrate multiple residential systems such as lighting and HVAC into the security panel. Though home automation was once viewed as a luxury that could only be afforded by the wealthiest citizens, the technology has now moved more into the mainstream and most dealers now offer security systems that feature these capabilities.

The ability to offer services beyond security may have even become a necessity to compete in residential security as more cable and telecommunications firms have moved into the market. Earlier this year, iControl Networks announced that its home management software platform called "OpenHome," would be integrated with security sensors from Visonic and would also be utilized in security panels used by U.S. cable giant Comcast as part of their Xfinity Home Security service.

"A few things have happened at just the right time. The price of the technology has come down and it's simple enough to use where the mass market can understand it and afford it," former iControl co-CEO Jim Johnson said at the time. "The second thing is you've got the broadband service providers coming in and the competitive environment that that creates is going to demand innovation and so I think it's a very exciting time for consumers in that just having a home security system... is not enough anymore."

Another company that is trying to reposition itself as a provider of residential technology services rather than as just another security company is Vivint. The company, formerly known as APX Alarm, has launched a new solar energy panel installation business called "Vivint Solar," which further differentiates its service offerings.

"People have been calling us a lot of things. Some people still call us a home security company. That isn’t what we are; it’s one of the things we do. Some people are calling us a home automation company, that’s not what we are, that’s not all we do," said Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen. "I would say we are a home technology services company. I don’t know if that industry exists, but that’s what we are."

When asked how he thinks the rebranded Vivint stacks up against the other national residential security companies, Pedersen said the company is "getting to a point" where those firms are no longer their competitors. He also agrees that traditional security services are no longer good enough for most customers.

"I’m a homeowner, just like everyone else," he said. "I want to buy value, I want to buy new technology that’s easy to use, that’s accessible and that’s up to date. I’m taking a Vivint overall system… all day long over a bone stock security system."

It remains to be seen how this push towards home automation and other services will play out in the long run for security dealers, but I think there will always be a need for those companies that can provide quality security installation and monitoring services.

In other news
ShotSpotter rebrands, SentryNet moves to Memphis, more

Gunshot detection firm ShotSpotter announced this week that it is changing its name to SST as part of an overall rebranding strategy, which includes the introduction of a new subscription-based model for its services. … Shrink increased by more than six percent worldwide in 2011, according to the results of new Global Retail Theft Barometer. The increase was attributed to a poor economy and an uptick in organized retail crime. … Monitoring services provider SentryNet is moving its Greenville, Miss., operations to a new office in Memphis. Company officials said in a statement that move was necessary if it wanted to be able to grow and remain competitive. … Micro Key Solutions, a provider of software for central monitoring stations, has promoted Victoria Ferro to president, succeeding Wayne Torrens who will take over as the company’s CEO. … Garda has acquired airport screening services provider Aeroguard for $16 million. The company will now be responsible for providing pre-board screening services in both the Central and Prairies regions in Canada under contracts totaling $1.07 billion in revenues over five years.