The longest ISC West round-up ever

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

 LAS VEGAS—Did you miss the show? Spend too much time in the casinos to cover the show floor? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. What follows is the quickest and most comprehensive show round-up you’ve ever encountered (and we may actually add to it as we sift through our notes):

On March 31, before the official opening of ISC West, Honeywell was active. They hosted an informational seminar called “Expanding the Role of Central Stations through Remote-Managed Services,” featuring senior marketing manager John Smith telling dealers and central stations how they can offer remote-managed services such as access control to their customers and thereby generate RMR. “It’s not just central stations,” Smith said. “Everybody knows RMR is the lifeline of your business, and dealers who aren’t getting RMR today, I think you’ll take away some of what we’re talking about with access control and apply it to your business.”

That message was repeated to Honeywell’s CSS dealer group, which consists of a select group of commercial integrators. Sales tactics, RMR generation, and new tool’s Honeywell can supply to make the sales process easier were the big winners at the all-day meeting.

Other pre-show activities included the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) reception at the Rock House to celebrate its annual fundraising golf tournament. In attendance were members of the AIREF board of directors, the NBFAA Executive Committee and players and sponsors of the 6th Annual AIREF Golf Classic at ISC West.

SafeGuard Security CEO John Jennings, chairman of AIREF, announced the golf event raised more than $70,000, which will be used to fund AIREF’s research and education initiatives.

Once the show started, many of the messages from the manufacturers were less technology based, and more directed at business generation and new value propositions.

Hence the name change for Micro Key, now to be known as Micro Key Solutions. Independent trainer, consultant, and facilitator Gary Slavin, and Unicom director of account service Kari Brua were present at the Micro Key booth to talk about the company’s new brand. “What we’ve done for years is help alarm companies find total solutions,” Slavin said. “We’re not just a software company.” Micro Key Solutions also has a new tagline, “Manage, Control, Succeed.”

The changes, according to Micro Key Solutions president Wayne Torrens, are appropriate. “We have and will continue to offer complete solutions for alarm dealers and central stations of any size as well as systems integrators,” Torrens said during his speech at the Micro Key Solutions press conference held April 2. “We have, and will continue to offer best-in-class software and customer support for the entire security alarm industry.”

Sticking with central station software, Dice Corporation CEO Cliff Dice and director of operations Phil DuPont were on hand at the Dice booth to talk about all things Quantum. Dice said feedback for the recently released Quantum Operator platform was so far very positive, and he expected more positive feedback from the upcoming release of such Quantum-branded offerings as Quantum Video and Quantum Access Control. According to Dice, Quantum Video will really open up video monitoring and make it affordable for everyone since it will work with any video platform. “It’s a universal video interface,” Dice said.

Iveda Solutions’ senior vice president Luz Berg and marketing manager Bryce Witcher touted Iveda’s use of what Witcher called “human analytics,” in video monitoring, something Witcher claims is expensive, but worth it. “Our biggest expense is people—we monitor twenty-four-seven.” Witcher said the big difference between Iveda and other video monitoring outfits that use analytics is Iveda’s use of customer-generated protocols, which strictly govern the real-time handling of video.

Cernium vice president, corporate development, Phil Robertson agreed that it’s a combination of human monitoring and computer analytics that make the best solution. “You want to stop things before they happen,” Roberts said. “Analytics are an aid to humans, they don’t replace a human—it’s not magic. It’s not just the technology, it’s the whole application.”

More often, manufactures are looking to help dealers get into this managed video space. Electronics manufacturer AVerMedia’s marketing and communications specialist Kris Rangarajan spent some time explaining AVerMedia’s newest offering, the CM3000 series of central management software that allows personnel to administer and command the entire suite of AVerMedia DVRs over the network. Rangarajan is proud that her company’s technology opens video monitoring to central stations, allowing some companies, like Atlanta-based Virtual Guard Services to spin off entire companies off of their buy-the-hardware-get-the-management-software-free model. “We allowed VGS to start their own third-party monitoring center,” Rangarajan said.

Ionit Technologies had a similar message, with CEO Jim Talbot saying its DVRs and servers can not only allow greater management capabilities for enterprise-level customers, but also allow integrators to get into the remote-video-management space, as one Ionit server can handle video management and recording for as many as 3,000 cameras.

These new opportunities were of great interest to Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG Security, who talked about the many managed-services offerings he saw displayed at ISC West, something ASG is focusing on. Off the show floor, Nuccio said he’s meeting with potential acquisitions. “We’ve had a great first quarter in terms of both internal sales and acquisitions,” he said. Current growth and sales and acquisitions in the works, lead him to believe that “we’ll have a very, very good year in 2009.

Video, in general, continued to dominate headlines, especially with the move to IP-based video transmission.

Pelco president Dean Meyer had a concise message to deliver at his April 1 press conference: “We came to this show with one objective, to convince people that Pelco is in the IP space in a big way.” Indeed, Pelco’s booth showcased its new megapixel camera and new storage solutions. Yet, Meyer said, Pelco remains committed to its analog customers, who make up the greatest percentage of Pelco’s business, and helping those customers—when they’re ready to migrate to IP with hybrid solutions. Is there a danger to trying to straddle both the analog world and the IP world?

“Yes,” Meyer said, “The risk is that if you keep your hand too much on the past, you’ll get beat out the path to the future.” That’s why, Meyer said, “the majority of [our] engineering efforts are in IP.” Meyer introduced Cliff Holtz, Pelco’s new (13 days on the job) senior vice president, Americas sales, who noted that being in both the analog and digital worlds, and having a large legacy customer base, is a good place to be in today’s economy where customers want to leverage their analog systems while also investing in new IP technology.

Samsung | GVI agreed, with CEO Steve Walin busy employing the $1.5 million sales and marketing infusion Samsung had provided in deploying a brand-new look and aggressive stance in the market. With a logo he’s nicknamed “the hug,” Walin said GVI is sending the message of “just how good our support and service is.” GVI has launched, for example, a money-back guarantee for the first 120 days. “Just give us a shot to fix it,” Walin said. “If you’re not happy, we’ll take it back.”

Samsung | GVI also has a new message of sustainability, which is both a green effort and an acknowledgement that while its new IP products will be designed for easy installation and high performance, the company won’t be abandoning its analog customers.

That was similar to the message espoused by Bosch Americas president Jeremy Hockham. The Bosch booth featured its analog solutions prominently, alongside new IP efforts, and Hockham made clear that Bosch would continue to innovate in the analog world, including new analytics solutions that can affordably be integrated with an analog-installed base solution.

Hockham also admitted to contributing to “bag inflation” at the show. The Bosch bags, with a solid square yard of capacity, led a fleet of show-bag giveaways that seemed bent on providing storage space for every piece of equipment at the show.

Speaking of storage, Pivot3’s serverless computing solution took home the top prize in the New Product Showcase, and TimeSight’s storage management solution took home the top prize in the video category. More digital video requires more storage, which contributed to the increased interest.

3VR founder Steve Russell and CEO Al Shipp peopled the 3VR booth and talked about the company’s new S-Series, which helps people make sense of their stored video. The S-Series is a true hybrid DVR/NVR that offers video management features and expandability without sacrificing support for the video analytic, biometric, data integration, and search features for which 3VR has become known. According to Russell, 3VR is looking to expand in the coming year. “3VR used to be just high-end, but with the S-Series we’re now thickening up, getting more entry level.” Russell also said that 3VR’s searchable video feature, which he likened to Google for surveillance, would help 3VR grow in the following years. “I think you’re going to see this become a required feature,” Russell said. “We’re projecting triple-digit growth for this year.”

More digital video means an increased attention on lenses, as well. Tamron USA had their booth staffed by deputy GM, industrial optics business unit, Koji Masunari. Masunari was excited about Tamron’s new DF012, a 55X ultra high magnification zoom lens with built-in optical vibration compensation. Masunari explained that such high zoom rate, combined with the lens’s optical, as opposed to digital, vibration stabilization, as well as the device’s small size, make the lens groundbreaking. “Normal lenses give an unstable image due to the long focal length,” Masunari said. “They’re expensive and difficult in commercial applications.” Tamron hopes to have the lenses available for mass deployment at the beginning of 2010.

Pentax’s 1.3 megapixel varifocal lens also drew attention, winning the NPS for best OEM product.

But it wasn’t all video.

Todd Freyman, vice president and general manager of physical security for Cambridge, Mass.-based CoreStreet, was excited about CoreStreet’s card-connected technology, which he said was affordable security where wiring was a problem. “It’s access control for the field,” Freyman said, in the booth CoreStreet shared with Kaba. “An offline lock interrogates the card and updates it. Next time the card interacts with a wired door, it updates the server.” In this way, explained Freyman, cardholders become an extension of the physical access infrastructure where cards, rather than wires, carry information to and from the standalone locks.

At its well attended morning breakfast on Day 2, Assa Abloy spent a great deal of time talking, as well, about the affordable nature of its wireless locks, which Red Hawk is having great success with in the education market. Kevin Klemmer, Assa’s director of the Integrated Solutions Specialists Group continually reiterated how access control and locking solutions could offer return on investment for end users.

There was a lot of activity on the fire market, as well.

Fire alarm manufacturer and alarm monitoring company VES’ director of sales Andy Johannsen was on hand at the VES booth to talk about VES’ proprietary ESP software platform-driven Dealer Dashboard. According to Johannsen, the Dashboard “allows dealers to go in online and view all of their accounts—all of the signals from all their accounts—in one place,” which is a cost- and time-saving benefit. Johannsen also talked about VES’ relaunched full-service 3rd-party monitoring station. “We’re actively trying to expand our accounts. We won’t be happy till we have 20,000 to 30,000 more accounts,” Johannsen said. “We’re trying to show that with better services and better pricing we can make it worthwhile to switch to us. Not only are we trying to earn your business today, but we’re trying to keep it in the future.”

At the April 2 Honeywell Fire Systems press conference, several new products were introduced including System Sensor’s second generation ExitPoint, “a directional sounder” which now includes voice messaging, “something that was added based on customer request,” said David George, communications director for System Sensor. ExitPoint is now available via security distribution and is now recommended by NFPA code.

Potter Electric CEO Bernie Lears told Security Systems News he was pleasantly surprised by the heavy traffic through his booth in the first two days of the show. Potter, which expanded into Europe through acquisition last year, is holding steady through ’09 he said, and “looking forward to 2010.”

That was consistent with many messages at ISC West. Contrary to some expectations, there was no pallor hanging over the show.

J.D. Keller, who leads ADT’s dealer program said, “growth is very strong” something he attributed to the strength of the brand, which he said is particularly important during down economic times.

Ensconced in a suite off the show floor, Honeywell veterans Lance Dean and Scott Simon, founders of a new company called 2GIG, were showing off their new line of residential security products, which includes a color touch screen panel with a variety of home automation, remote control and energy management features. The economy didn’t have them hesitating to launch a new company.

Bill Polk, managing director of CapitalSource, said the capital market crisis had left the security industry “a port in the storm.” He sees opportunities across a “broad variety of subsectors [of the security industry] on both the product and services side.” CapitalSource is seeing “more opportunity in vertical markets … certain companies and certain industries are doing well in the security sector when they focus on markets that are less recession proof. For example, the energy sector tends to spend money on security regardless of economic conditions, where as, you’d expect, you see the retail industry falling of the cliff. So I think it’s important to recognize the opportunities there, it’s also important to focus on vertical markets and which industries are doing better by comparison.”

Perhaps that focus was a theme for the show. Across the board, vendors and integrators and installers alike were focused on the business of the industry, not just staying afloat, but growing.