David and Goliath – ioimage and Object Video duke it out on the battlefield of brand
I’ve been thinking a lot about ObjectVideo recently, and how it competes with innovators like ioimage in the video analytics space. (I’m naming these two in particular because I have had some exposure to both management teams during very brief consulting engagements.) The issue, in a nutshell, is brand. ObjectVideo has a well known brand and strong OEM and reseller channel to promote the brand, but suffers from confusing messages about what the brand represents. ioimage, on the other hand, is newly promoting a very clear brand message around simply installation, and reliable, state-of-the art technology. [BTW – the company’s PR agency contacted
me after this post went live and asked me to type the name properly as
one word. Better brand protection!]
These two vendors are representative of a condition of the intelligent video business. As customers and manufacturers clear the fog of what intelligent video means and what value it creates, marketing messaging will be the loud and clear beacon through that fog. And at the moment, it seems ioimage is making a powerful attempt to get noticed. ObjectVideo is the brand to beat, obviously. The amount of money the company has spent on marketing, and the amount of effort it has put into its very successful OEM and reseller campaign has propelled it to the top of the market. And while we don’t really know how much money is being spent in intelligent video nor do we have clear ideas of how big the potential revenue pot really is, our intuition leads us to think of some very big dollar figures. It just seems like intelligent video is the right technology at the right time. Therefore, the winner will not necessarily be the company with the best technology. But it will certainly be the company with the best brand.
Brand is influenced by many factors. Colors and logos are powerful of course. So are advertisements in trade mags and exhibits at trade shows. But even more important are reference customers, customer satisfaction ratings, and most important of all, integrator satisfaction rating. The integrators, after all, are the ones actually selling the solutions and setting expectations in the minds of the customer. For a number of years ObjectVideo has been the victim of its own marketing in this regard. Integrators made bold claims about the usefulness of the product, following the lead of the company’s marketing messaging, and created a dangerous situation, namely, that the product would not always live up to the expectations of the customer. I personally have heard many end user customers and integrators complain that their lofty hopes were never realized. As you all are painfully aware, no doubt, we in the physical security industry have no objective industry analysts like Forrester, Burton Group, or Gartner in IT researching best practices and analyzing the best technologies for certain deployments. As a result, both end users and integrators are at the mercy of marketing campaigns and press releases that appear in trade journal articles and email blasts.
The result is a fog. A fog of bold claims, never tempered by the reality of sober case studies. That fog breeds another problem, too. Consultants and integrators only know what they know – what they’ve experienced first hand – so if ObjectVideo makes improvements in messaging or technology, the world might not be able to hear it. ObjectVideo has tremendously improved its product in the last year, and has fixed most of the problems, emerging with a really excellent video analytics platform. But most people don’t know that. Most people see ioimage’s lovely red and white logo, hear enthusiastic reports of successful, cost-effective deployments through clever and subtle marketing messages, and consider ioimage to be the next big thing. Actually, ioimage has far fewer reseller partners than Object Video, but the rate of sales wins and the overall satisfaction of the customers and integrators is impressive. ObjectVideo still has a massive channel – meaning a greater relative chance for success or disaster compared to ioimage. But Brand is about perception. And Perception is reality.
If ioimage is going to make a place for itself in the highly charged, competitive field of intelligent video, it needs to stay focused on delivering satisfying experiences to end users and integrators – as its doing. If ObjectVideo does not want to lose significant ground to ioimage, the company needs to communicate its technology improvements to its channel in a way that will empower the channel to sell more effectively and set expectations conservatively. ObjectVideo and ioimage are the two vendors to watch at ISC this week. One has a central booth and the other in the back left corner. Both will be making announcements. But the quality of the messaging and the "story" will reveal to us all which will be the dominant brand for the rest of 2007.