In mid-March the company formed by the merger of Resolution Products and ipDatatel was renamed Alula, after the holding company (Alula Holdings) that acquired the two. This signaled the beginning of a new journey for the company and Alula Holdings CEO Brian McLaughlin as it turns it sights on competing with some of the major home security technology providers in the industry.
At ISC West, I had a chance to sit down with McLaughlin to discuss the new journey and explore Alula’s offering and go-to-market strategy. Here’s what he had to say (This interview is also available as an audio podcast).
SD&I: You had two brands that people knew in this industry (Resolution Products and ipDatatel)…why would you go with Alula, the name of the holding company, for a rebrand?
McLaughlin: Your choices are to stick with the brand equity that you have – the preconceived notions and impressions of those brands – or to try something new. When we looked at the marketplace, (we thought) it is looking for some alternatives right now… something fresh and new.
When people did business with Resolution Products, the first thing that came to mind was ‘amazing hardware’ and when they did business with ipDatatel, they thought ‘amazing network.’ We really didn’t want that kind of isolated impression on what we are doing; we wanted to introduce something that is fresh and new and that is an alternative to maybe some of the stagnant solutions that are already out there in the marketplace.
It was a tough decision, but I think the team rallied behind this, and really said that we want to be something new and fresh and modern and unique in a space that’s kind of in need of that. It seems like the industry is going through a major inflection point – you’ve got home automation, DIY and Ring and Amazon and all these other things that are out there happening, and you have consumers who want to buy more products. So we wanted to represent that we are changing the game a little bit, and you’ve got to do that by changing the name – but there’s a risk to that for sure.
How does Alula’s solution stack up against some of the other established home security providers?
We’ve tried to do things differently – from the design of the system, to the way we go to market, to even our company culture and our name. The differences start with the sensors, as they are truly sensors to network – end to end. That means one roadmap, one support team. If something goes wrong, you call us. You don’t have to call a network provider or a software/hardware provider – it is one neck to grab from a support standpoint, which is a different approach to this marketplace. No more finger-pointing.
The sensor is fully encrypted, and that encryption flows all the way through the system.
We are also hub-first, which means if you want to, you can unlock (your customers) from the panel on the wall. I know in some cases, that is blasphemy, because there are all these really cool panels that are out there, but what we are trying to drive is a mobile application suite that can run on a panel, phone or tablet and try to break people free from this 20-year-old notion that you have to have a panel on the wall. You can put a panel on the wall and it will look really cool right now…two years from now it’s not going to look so cool, but it is stuck on the wall. It is a different mindset – we can still do a panel, but we give you choices.
The network is IP-centric; others are cell-centric. That means faster response times and lower costs. When you are IP-first, it allows us to drive costs down.
How are you recruiting new dealers?
We’re making some good progress and have had a number of nice conversions, but we already work with about 3,500 dealers between the two companies (most of whom came from Resolution Products, but there was a lot of overlap).
We have two strategies: One is to convert dealers that are using other legacy systems, and that’s going well – although it is not easy. The other side is new markets – this is a modular system, so if (a dealer) wants to lead with home automation and put a Z-Wave device in and maybe add security later, we can do that. There are just so many things you can do with the modularity of the system that you can’t do with an expensive panel. Builders and SMBs can use our system in ways that they haven’t been able to using legacy and traditional systems.
What about back-end business support for dealers?
A year ago we didn’t have nearly the amount we wanted to because we weren’t focused on that, but over the last year, Dan (Morton, VP Marketing) and his team have really worked to ramp up our dealer marketing tools, and we are doubling down even more on that. We now have a nice packaged suite of marketing tools that a dealer can use to try and grow their customers, and that’s going to get better and better – that is a key area of focus for us right now.
On the analytics side, we have a rudimentary offering, but we will be spending more investment in that area to be able to help dealers evaluate who are at-risk customers, who is using what, and which customers are viable to use certain services in the future. (The analytics will help dealers) to not only react to who is using what, but to predict what customers should be cross-sold on these other capabilities.
Paul Rothman is Editor in Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine. Access the current issue, archives and subscribe at www.secdealer.com.