In 2018, proactive video monitoring services provider Netwatch Group was formed as a result of the consolidation of four different monitoring companies based in the U.S. and Europe, including National Monitoring Center (NMC), Netwatch, CalAtlantic, and Onwatch Multifire.
Just prior to the merger, Netwatch, which was founded in 2003 in Ireland, was already attempting to make inroads in the managed video services market in the U.S. as it had opened a new operations center in Chicago in the summer of 2017 with an eye on even greater expansion.
But just as the newly merged company was looking to hit its stride and integrate the aforementioned companies together as one cohesive unit, the world was upended by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and maintaining continuity of operations took precedent over everything else as it did at most organizations. As part of an effort to get the businesses aligned properly, in early 2021 Netwatch Group tapped industry veteran Kurt Takahashi, the former CEO of Pelco who also previously served as president of AMAG Technology, to be its new CEO.
The company subsequently consolidated several of the companies under its umbrella and launched Netwatch North America.
“When you look at Netwatch Group as a whole, there are now three distinct businesses – there is National Monitoring Center… and then we formed Netwatch North America, which is our proactive video monitoring business and then we have the Netwatch Ireland and UK business, which is where Netwatch and proactive video monitoring was founded,” says Takahashi, who sat down with SecurityInfoWatch.com (SIW) for an interview ahead of this year’s ISC West tradeshow in Las Vegas. “I wanted to establish these three distinct businesses because each has a different strategy in how they are going to go to market. Then what we did is established our management team and we embarked on creating a suite of shared services to help manage across the three portfolios where we have finance services shared across all three, as well as HR, engineering and marketing.”
The goal, according to Takahashi, was to get the organization on track and create clarity about what the strategy of the respective entities was going to be moving forward. Additionally, Takahashi says it was important for the company to be able to establish an identity and corporate culture across these companies.
“Most of the employees didn’t know each other. A third of the employees are in Ireland, a third of them are in Netwatch North America and another third of them were in NMC,” he adds. “They didn’t know each other, they were kind of operating in silos and so when we broke down all of those walls everyone had a clear picture of what we are going to do, how we are going to do it, why we are going to do it, and then we asked our employees, ‘What are the values that we want to embrace as a company?’”
Having established a firm identity and culture internally, Takahashi says they then turned their focus outward to determine how they wanted to take the company to market and what kind of education efforts they needed to undertake relative to defining proactive video monitoring for the U.S. security industry.
“It is extremely well-established in Ireland, if you go anywhere in Ireland and you ask them who Netwatch is, everybody knows who Netwatch is in Ireland,” he says. “But here in the U.S., proactive video monitoring is not a really well-defined lane because it gets cobbled together with all of the other video services that are out there. So, as we launched Netwatch North America and we established our value proposition, we’re finding now that there is still quite a bit of confusion out there around what is proactive video monitoring because when you talk to one person, they go, ‘Oh, yeah we do proactive video monitoring but then when you really dig into it is just video verification.”
A Different Kind of Solution
Among the key differentiators for Netwatch, according to Takahashi, is that there is a software-led company, which they built from the ground up versus those who are using some other type of legacy software solution to do another form of video monitoring. Additionally, Takahashi says they are a tech-enabled service as well as a high-value RMR generator for security integrators.
“Really getting people to try and embrace it and change their business model is very difficult,” Takahashi explains. “You’re trying to go to these independent dealers, these business owners, and you’re trying to convince them to change religion and you take them to church, you convince them, and when you leave you’re hoping they stay and it is not easy to do because a lot of these people are traditional alarm dealers – not that that’s bad, but you’re trying to transform their business into this high-value, higher rate of RMR through these more tech-enabled services and it is much harder than trying to sell an intrusion alarm system.”
Over the past year, Takahashi says they have sat down and evaluated the integrators that have successfully leveraged Netwatch and continue to grow this segment of their business versus those that may have tried it out but did not stick with it for the long term to develop their own, end-to-end onboarding program which now offers a full training academy, onsite training program, education materials, etc.
“Now we have this repeatable process to go attract, onboard, educate, mentor, and work side by side to help these dealers who we are trying to convince to adopt this so that they will continue to do it,” he adds. “The ones that we have seen so far that are super successful, have completely changed their entire business model and have dedicated teams just to this that have increased their annual recurring revenue exponentially, which is transforming the economics on their entire business. We’re not trying to get thousands of dealers, we’re just trying to get the right dealers, doing the right things, right now and then we know that we will be able to scale it down the road.”
Joel Griffin is the Editor of SecurityInfoWatch.com and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at email@example.com.