Tech Trends: Megatrend Watch

Dec. 14, 2015
How cyber security, big data, apps, IoT and others will cause future disruption to the industry

I recently had the privilege of moderating a panel at SIA’s Securing New Ground Conference entitled “Re-thinking Strategic Priorities: How Megatrends Will Affect Your Business.” The panel, consisting of six industry leaders, discussed the effects of the following trends on the security industry: Cyber security, big data, mobile apps, social media, the cloud and the IoT (Internet of Things).

There is no question that each of these trends will affect the industry in some ways — some foreseeable and some not. Furthermore, they are all tightly interrelated.

Cyber security is the biggest elephant in the room, and I am happy to see earnest discussion of it finally  happening in our industry. This is a multi-faceted issue involving not only technology, but people, process and procedures; proper mindset of manufacturers, integrators and security clients; regulations and mandates; and good common sense. The need for strong cyber security is, in fact, a potential brake, on all of the other trends we discussed.

Big data, as it is usually defined, is the aggregation and analysis of massive amounts of data to determine underlying facts and trends. It is implemented though raw computing power and strong underlying algorithms. The millions of security devices deployed represent potential sources of data not only for security purposes, but also to provide business and social value. Deriving analytic information from video that can flow into a pool of big data will enhance this value.

Mobile apps bring security monitoring, control and access to the hands of the individual, alleviating the need to be in a fixed location or operations center. Security can be provisioned in a more distributed model. Working in conjunction with non-security apps, this technology can integrate functionalities to provide more complete capabilities, such as residential and commercial environmental monitoring, energy monitoring and control, and customer service and responsiveness.

Interestingly, our panel felt that social media was the least impactful of the megatrends.  When aggregated with big data and mobile apps, information from social media sources in massive quantities can and will contribute to heightened situational awareness.

The movement to cloud–based services is happening right before our eyes, although many still resist putting their security information in the cloud. Concerns persist about securing and accessing services when needed. Since the cloud presents the advantages of less capital investment, predictable and uniform service offerings and performance, and predictable costs, it will only increase in importance and relevance.

For some in the IT world, IoT is the next big thing. Billions of related and unrelated devices streaming information through the cloud will give us unprecedented insight. Really? It is not going to happen until mechanisms are in place to gather, process and distill this information in standard ways. Until then, groups of devices that have common characteristics — say those made by the same manufacturer — can yield information of interest to an entity that cares and actually has a purpose for it.

The Next Disrupters

While there is no denying that these megatrends will have varying degrees of effect in varying time frames, the real question that comes to my mind is about who — not what — will be the next major disrupter in our industry?  

History abounds with examples of industries changed by technologies and carriers of those technologies that were unforeseen or dismissed by established players. For those old enough to remember, what vacuum tube suppliers survived to dominate the semiconductor industry? File giant Eastman Kodak sat on its digital technology while others, like Sony, swooped in and changed their world. Refrigeration changed the ice industry while diesel technology killed the steam engine. Who would have thought that the taxi industry would be turned on its head by once no-names like Uber and Lyft? The list goes on.

Think about the “disrupters” in our industry. In the mid-1990s, the video surveillance industry saw the introduction of the DVR. Axis, a company based on network print servers, brought network IP cameras into video surveillance, while established players dismissed the technology as incapable of producing acceptable images and continued nurturing their proprietary analog based businesses. S2 created a minor tremor with network-based access control. Cisco had the opportunity to be an industry disrupter circa 2006 by dictating what security networks would look like and driving tight integration between network and device. That opportunity was understood but not realized.

Who will be the next industry disrupter? Is it a guy like Dean Drako, founder of Eagle Eye Networks and acquirer of Brivo? Possibly, but history suggests that the likelihood is that it is not one of the major industry players today. Perhaps it will be a Dell, Google or Microsoft? Maybe we will see our own security version of Uber.

Herve Fages, former SVP of Pelco by Schneider, and now CEO of an internal Schneider start-up called MultiSight, believes the answer is firmly rooted in the cloud, as embedded in the familiar Burger King refrain, “Have it your way.”

“Users will acquire capabilities (not products) as they need them”, says Fages, who believes that it is difficult for a large company to get close enough to the end-user to determine that need. Data-mining companies like Facebook and Google might think differently.

John Recesso, Director of A&E – Business Development for Hikvision, believes “ the next market disruptor will be a combination of smarter edge devices in our wireless networks working in conjunction with cloud based data storage and retrieval’ possibly delivered by a complete outsider.”

My own feeling is that whoever figures out how to leverage security devices, service, and capabilities to deliver unprecedented business value — through whatever technology — will become the next king of the hill.

Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of and Reach him at [email protected], through LinkedIn at or followed on Twitter, @RayCoulombe.