Home > Global Security, Integrators/Service Providers, Intelligent Video, Manufacturers, Peak Performance > Competing with inertia – slogging toward IP video

Competing with inertia – slogging toward IP video

As an analyst and futurist for the security industry, I am
often asked to describe what’s happening in the industry – where are we and
were are we going. What are the signs of
the times. And while there are many
changes happening within the security industry, the predominant characteristic
of the industry is that we are stuck. We
are either stuck, or we are hopelessly skeptical of change.

The video surveillance market is a good barometer of the
willingness for an industry to change. After VCRs were invented, it took ten years to use them for surveillance
storage. After DVRs, another ten. And today, we are ten years into the age of
the IP camera and still they are a novelty. It is apparent that technology decisions are driven not by business
value or creative problem solving but by inertia. Doing things the way they’ve been done for

It is understandable, of course. Look what an IP surveillance solution would
have to overcome to be considered mainstream. Hundreds of channel partners
would have to be convinced that the technology solves problems better and
represent a greater opportunity for making money. Then those hundreds of channels would have to
be trained in the core concepts and advanced workings of the products. The channels then have to convince
prospective customers that doing things in a new and unfamiliar way – using
software to display cameras, or running CAT5 instead of coax – is better. And
the customers have to sell the concept to their
customers – the business managers – as well as the IT folks that IP video is a
critical application for the enterprise.

That’s a lot of convincing. And a lot of opportunity for foot dragging. Gee whiz, it’s just human nature to look
around and wait for someone else to do it first.

It is obvious to me that the future of security will make IP
video a centerpiece. Once the channels and customers think not in terms of
cameras but in terms of applications, then any and every IP based solution will
have a chance to flourish. That’s the
key difference. Once you plug into the
network, your device or your software is an application – a tool for doing
business more efficiently or effectively. As security professionals become more confident with business metrics,
ROI calculations, cost benefit analysis and other business-minded thinking, the
future will be clear and IP solutions will be standard.

  1. John Honovich
    October 10, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Hi Steve,
    If security professionals are simply not confident enough with business metrics, ROI calculations and cost benefit analysis, why don’t you help them by laying out the business case? Provide them a spreadsheet that they can take to their management. I have talked to dozens of security managers and they are extremely interested in this.
    In my experience, the economic challenge is two-fold:
    1. There’s a huge investment in analog technologies that still work and will work for years. Financially speaking, it is not prudent to dispose of assets that have serviceable life remaining. Essentially, security managers would pay a significant penalty for prematurely discarding their existing assets. That being said, security managers with existing systems reaching end of life are adopting IP video systems at a higher rate (which makes good business sense).
    2. IP video systems are more expensive for most applications. The cameras are more expensive. If you have existing coax wiring that needs to be replaced or adapted for IP cameras, that is an additional expense. If you want to keep your analog cameras, you need to be encoders, and that is more expensive.
    With these factors, you need offsetting increases in revenue or decreases in costs or liability (but given this is security, it’s still primarily the latter). Achieving these financial improvements is not trivial.
    So while I don’t doubt some people are foot dragging, a lot of bright and responsible security managers are dealing with these real economic challenges.
    One area where the economics of IP video are compelling for security managers is in campuses and towers. Here, IP video is replacing legacy video over analog fiber solutions (IFS, etc) for driving video over long distances. In this scenario you are eliminating closed proprietary systems that might cost thousands of dollars per channel and replacing them with IP that leverages a shared standards based network that offers a much lower cost.
    However, this may be the exception. QSRs, bank branches, small offices, etc won’t gain the same economic benefits as campuses because they distances are so short, you don’t have an opportunity to eliminate a high cost part.
    This is just one example, obviously.
    Steve, I am sure IP video systems will continue to increase their benefits as well as get cheaper. But I believe the economic challenges are real. If you shared more data and deeper analysis, you might be able to help these security managers and you might also see that the business case is simply not there today for many security managers.

  2. October 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for the challenge and the thoughtful post, John. I’ll consider it.

  3. Barry Walker
    October 11, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Steve, I don’t believe that the industry is ‘stuck’ necessarily, it is just as you point out, lacking in demonstrable value for the physical security profesisonal. Installing an IP system just for the sake of making it IP is not a reason. As John points out, there are lots of factors, and the network transport type is not front and center.
    Delivering compelling value to the customer is the only reason for the construct to change…and there are two primary drivers here: better quality video and analytics. There is real ROI in better video, as anyone who has implemented it wil tell you. Reduced investigation times, higher conviction rates, improved deterrence. Further, analytics bring features to live video, adding software-driven value to hardware investments.
    I also don’t think that we need to worry about the channels. Integrators will aggressively adopt IP video when it delivers more value, helping them better serve their existing customers and win new ones. Many integrators and customers are enjoying 21st century video, deriving real value. The change is by all accounts inevitable, and given the slough of IP HD cameras coming out (Sony most recently) customers will continue to demand not just a different wire, but some demonstrable improvements in their results to go with it.

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