Big Market Potential in Small Systems
Even though most businesses are now well aware of the benefits of IP, video surveillance and network-based security solutions are expected to reach a tipping point to overtake the legacy analog technology in 2014. Most small to medium-sized organizations are currently still stuck with old analog systems.
Many of these analog cameras are with no support and have not worked well for some time. They are mainly used for live viewing while the recording function has either been abandoned (as it is no longer efficient for storage with physical tapes) or has stopped working altogether. There is a big opportunity for installers who can provide these small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) with a good service package that offers them the option of either buying the hardware with the service or leasing the cameras that come with a service agreement. For instance, according to the Annual Center for Retail Research survey looking into the use of CCTV in retail, over 60 per cent of UK retailers are planning to adopt IP video surveillance in the next three years.
Omid Ghannad, owner of security installer GH Data in Sweden, pointed out that price is often the determining factor for SMBs. There is also the challenge of the lack of knowledge about what's on offer from network cameras. "It really helps answer a lot of questions when we demonstrate even the basic features of IP-based solutions", added Ghannad.
Customers are now more frequently demanding more from video surveillance solutions other than just straightforward security. For example, a caretaker who oversees the garbage rooms within a region used to have to drive from place to place to check each room, which happened once a week as it is very time consuming to drive around every single one on a daily basis. But with the help of network cameras, he can see the status of each room remotely and in real-time. It saves him time and the expense of traveling, as well as being much better for the environment.
For medium-sized organizations, being able to see different offices or shops anywhere and anytime has become an appealing reason for installing IP-based cameras.
GH Data has been working with hair-dresser Skult to improve the security of the retail chain. The owner of Skult had been looking into getting a security system for each shop but the cost of installing one analog system per shop was simply inefficient. The idea of having one video surveillance system hooked onto one network and across all sites was a simple and cost-effective solution to the problem. Since installing the IP-based security system, the management of Skult can now view every section of all sites, including the shop floors, back offices, etc. from anywhere and anytime. The retail chain no longer needs to hire security guards to go around each shop before closing to check if the premises are empty - it can be done remotely via the network cameras.
Step by Step
According to GH Data, a majority of its customers have an old analog system, and are looking at upgrading to IP video surveillance. A well-received recommendation is to start with a video encoder solution, in which users can integrate their existing analog cameras with products that bring their system up to speed with the latest IP technology.
Video encoders give users the immediate network video benefits, as well as a platform to expand and update their infrastructure with IP-based cameras, software and networking/storage devices. Ghannad commented: "Once the customers have noticed the significant difference from analog to digital, they will gradually upgrade to IP solutions. Many are very impressed with the huge difference in image quality."
Omid Ghannad thinks that vendor support is key in helping installers materialize the huge market opportunity with SMBs. While having a wide camera range covering different needs is important, listening to market feedback is key to a successful partnership.
"We work with multiple camera vendors and often share our initial feedback with them as we tend to be the first group to try out new products. I was particularly impressed with one situation when tweaks were made within 24 hours after our feedback was sent back to the Axis product team. They really listen and act on our input.", said Ghannad.
Growing market beyond 2015
The SMB IP video surveillance market is expected to continue growing from 2015 and onwards. GH Data has already seen more than double the installations from last year, and is expecting a more rapid growth in the years to come.
One of the keys for installers to be successful with SMBs is to provide good service packages. While enterprises and other big organizations have their IT department to handle the initial installations, SMBs rely on the installers to start with the technical process. However, the real competitive advantage lies with the installers who offer the best ongoing services that would add value to the customers' business beyond security.