Bosch Security Systems and Sony to Cooperate in Video Surveillance
Michael Hirsch Talks to GIT SECURITY About Recent Developments
In November 2016, Bosch Security Systems and Sony signed an agreement to work in partnership to develop innovative video surveillance products and solutions for security applications. Both companies hope to create synergies from their technological expertise in order to jointly set new benchmarks in high-resolution video capture, including in critical lighting conditions. As part of the agreed partnership, customers of Sony’s video security sector in all markets – with the exception of Japan – are to be supported by the Bosch Security Systems Sales and Marketing team. At IFSEC in London, Dr. Heiko Baumgartner, from GIT SECURITY, had the opportunity to talk to Michael Hirsch, Vice President for Sony Video Security at Bosch.
GIT SECURITY: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Michael Hirsch: Of course. I’m Austrian and for a long time I worked as a management expert in strategy consultancy at Roland Berger in Munich and China, including as a Key Account Manager for Bosch. Afterwards, I worked in the Strategy department at Bosch Security Systems for two years, and during that time, I got to know many countries as well as the company’s structure, gathering valuable experience in project planning within video surveillance solutions. For the last two years I have worked in Frankfurt for Bosch Service Solutions, where I was responsible for global distribution and marketing activities, and in February I took over leadership of the Sony Video Security Team.
The agreement between Bosch and Sony is intended to jointly develop video security products and solutions, and defines how Sony video products are distributed and marketed. What does the collaboration look like in practice?
Michael Hirsch: The collaboration, as agreed, kicked off on schedule on February 1st, worldwide except for China and Japan. Japan is not included in the cooperation. In China, the collaboration only began on April 1st in agreement with Sony and the local customer.
As you know, the agreement is made up of two parts: The distribution and marketing cooperation, and the technology cooperation. As part of the distribution and marketing cooperation, we have taken on around 60 Sony employees worldwide. We are the exclusive distribution partner for Sony video security products globally, with the exception of Japan. However, our role here is much more than just distribution, because we are Sony’s access point to the video security market. We deliver input from the market, which is essential for new product development, straight to Sony’s Development department. This work is also the connecting link to the second element of the partnership – the technology cooperation, through which we are developing new products together with Sony.
How should we imagine the development cooperation? What does the department look like and are there joint development teams?
Michael Hirsch: The intention underlying this agreement is to harness the synergies between Bosch Security Systems, as a manufacturer of smart video security solutions with its strengths in delivering relevant images at all times, built-in video analytics, intelligent bitrate management and data security as part of the back end, and Sony, with its leading expertise in high resolution imaging combined with exceptional light sensitivity as part of the front end. We want to use these synergies right from the development stage, and this is where both companies will focus on their strengths in these areas. It is a virtual team, but the R&D teams are separate organizations. They are two separate development departments, but they both collaborate on platforms and products. We feel that this is a very modern approach to cooperation; it is an approach that is also applied within company groups or with external partners in an interconnected world.
What are the advantages in collaborating on product development, and what kind of result are you anticipating?
Michael Hirsch: It is a huge advantage that we have access to Sony’s expertise in intelligent high-resolution imaging as well as superior light sensitivity, while Bosch offers its built-in video analytics at the edge as well as latest bitrate management technologies. As a result of the partnership, some products will only be available under the Bosch brand and others will only be available under the Sony brand. We are making steady progress on our developments and the first jointly developed products are expected to be launched in 2018.
How did the start of the partnership go?
Michael Hirsch: On February 1st, we went live worldwide except from in Japan, and on April 1st we launched in China. From day one, we were able to deliver products and provide customer support. It was quite a huge effort, which we managed very well. We are proud of our achievement and we could not have done it without the commitment of the entire team. In the first months since going live, we generally got very positive feedback from employees and customers. We have seen strong customer loyalty with a clear commitment to the Sony brand. We took over a large part of the Sony team and enhanced it with additional employees, especially in markets where we see huge potential. It is important to realize that this type of partnership, as formed between Bosch and Sony, is new. Yet we are already finding that our employees feel at home in an organization which is 100% focused on security. Our customers and employees see the commitment and investment put into the Sony video products and the distribution structure, and they value it.
What does the brand strategy look like? In the future, will there be further Sony and Bosch-branded video security products, and how are you differentiating between the brands?
Michael Hirsch: There will be no co-branded or dual branded products mentioning both brand names on one product. As you have already seen here at IFSEC, Sony is presenting the latest innovations, as is Bosch. There will also be a separate Sony product line, and in the future it will in fact be enhanced by jointly developed components. The distribution and marketing teams of both brands are also clearly separated to offer our customers the best possible individual support, which of course is only possible with separate product portfolios.
Can you tell us a little about the new Sony products that you are presenting at IFSEC?
Michael Hirsch: In March, we brought eight new full HD video cameras onto the market, our sixth generation (G6-R) of IP video cameras, in order to meet the growing need within video security for cameras with high-resolution image quality. All the new G6-R video cameras are characterized by highly light-sensitive sensors, which retain colors even in dark lighting conditions. All these video cameras can be seen at IFSEC and we are also presenting our high-end devices from the 4K line. Both 4K cameras are truly impressive and achieve extremely high image quality even in the most unfavorable conditions and poorest lighting.
What is your sales structure like?
Michael Hirsch: We are divided into five regions, each with a responsible distribution manager: EMEA, North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and China. As I already said, Japan is not included. There is a central marketing department and a stand-alone website for the Sony products. Some downstream functions, such as logistics and technical support, are integrated into Bosch’s structure.