Poised for growth: video as a service

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

A combination of evolving technologies, economic pressures and new relationships between distinct, but connected service providers has given rise to a new security offering: remote guarding, often called “video as a service.”

Software and hardware developers, command centers and integrators are teaming up in new ways to offer clients not only the physical installation of hardware-cameras, access control, etc.-but also services that involve the remote monitoring of property through that hardware.

It’s a concept that gets the most out of installed equipment while driving technology upgrade cycles. It’s also taken security from the one-time capital expense line-item and put it into a monthly operation expense for clients and has also proven the return on investment for quality hardware.

“The underlying economics driving it are powerful. End-users can often save 75 percent on their monthly expenses compared to on-site guard costs, while dramatically improving protection, because video analytics detect intruders immediately and prevent theft, vandalism and other threats,” said Doug Marman, chief technology officer and vice president, products, for VideoIQ, in an e-mail interview. “At the same time, providers can provide a highly professional service at a price point many times higher than traditional alarm monitoring.” VideoIQ is a manufacturer of cameras with on-board video analytics. The company has started a consortium, encouraging central stations to use their technology for remote guarding.

“This will grow to become one of the most significant trends in security protection over the next 10 years. Just as the digital dialer created the alarm monitoring market, video analytics and audio over IP are creating the remote guarding market. Guarding companies, integrators and monitoring providers are all seeing the value.

“The big question is which of these three will move the fastest.”

Envysion Inc. secured a stable spot in the game with its DVRs and Web-based software that made video both scalable and intuitively approachable for average users. The system intelligently uses analytics, and, among its features, can tie into point-of-sale data at retail establishments.

“We give people the ability to use video in ways they couldn’t before to better understand their business so they can operate bette-without killing their IT guys,” said Matt Steinfort, Envysion president and chief executive officer.

For its partners, Envysion sees several benefits, first, recurring revenue. But, as the clients see the value of the system, they often want to install and upgrade cameras.
“To me, we are at the very, very beginnings of this trend. You look at market conditions today-profitability, revenue, are all under pressure,” said Steinfort. “(Companies are) going to be looking for services that have demonstrable ROI. I see the need for this kind of service increasing dramatically.”

And hooking up with integrators makes sense, said Steinfort. They handle another piece of the service chain.

“That’s why we’re such a good fit with the integrators-they like doing all the stuff I don’t like to do,” said Steinfort. “I can’t tell you the best cameras to use in every single environment, but they can. They can’t tell you how to build a scalable, network-based video solution, but I can. It’s a great complement.”

Envysion just announced it had added integrator NAVCO to its partner program.NAVCO sees itself as the general contractor in building the security house, said Jim Kauker, executive vice president for sales and marketing.

The partnership with Envysion fits in well with NAVCO’s goal of having customers look at security expenditures as a monthly expense, not as a capital expense where a security head asks the CFO for money every three or five years-“whenever you’ve got the guts to do it.” Integrators would do well to grasp how much of a game-changer broadband has been, Kauker said.

“All of the integrators out there ... need to work with the IT departments and the security departments to make sure they have a common goal and they’ve got a two-, three- and five-year plan of where they’re going,” said Kauker. Lack of integration by alarm companies of video services and their monitoring platforms was actually a bottleneck noticed by Felix Gonzales, VP of strategic initiatives & business development at Stanley Convergent Security Solutions Inc.

“True video monitoring should be an integral part of your monitoring operation platform and starts with integration on to a single platform for alarm and video,” said Gonzales in an e-mail interview. “This allows for improved speed, data and efficiency by the alarm company providing service to the end-user customer.”

While economics and cost savings are driving factors, that’s not the top selling point for video as a service sold by VIEWPOINT CRM, said Michael Hanlon, VP for channel sales & marketing.

“We try not to lead with ‘We can save you money.’ It’s not to save money, it’s to do a better job.”