Thoughts on Cisco's to-market strategy

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10/08/2009
John Honovich has a post up linking to Sharon Watson's interview with Steve Collen, head of business development for Cisco's physical security unit. John's takeaway is this:
Kudos to Cisco for finally coming out and being honest about their video surveillance strategy. It's basically about extracting as much money from loyal customers as possible.
It's becoming a pretty consistent message for Cisco, I think. From the channel perspective, it's the same basic message: We want to get our current channel selling more of our stuff. This is from my interview with Steve Collen, for the Pelco-Cisco piece that's not quite done yet: Me: Do you think you've been accepted by the traditional security integrator? Collen: Our focus has specifically been on the IT-flavored integrators, and those customers where IT is leading the decision-making process. That’s where our experience is on the Cisco side. We’re trying to choose IT integrators that have the security practice in place or are looking to build one up. We haven’t really gone after those traditional integrators. With our IT-focused strategy, the demand is sort of enormous just from the IT integrators; our issues are how do we handle that demand in a way that preserves product quality. Me: I don't want to put words in your mouth. Are you saying you don't need the traditional security integrator? Collen: We need the traditional security integrator in a different way. Our IT partners will quite often pair up with the more traditional integrator, who has skills that they may not have. The overall trend is toward the IT-capable security integrator, but that hasn't gotten to the point where we can disregard the traditional players. -- It all seems somewhat reasonable to me. John thinks it's somewhat disingenuous, as they may be pushing inferior product down the pipeline. That's not really for me to say. I wonder, though, if Cisco's experience in what are relatively commoditized products leads it to have a different philosophy in the security marketplace. By their possible way of thinking: Are there really major differences between Camera A and Camera B in lots of situations? Isn't it mostly about brand and the channel in deciding who's successful and who's not in terms of selling IP cameras? You already have a relationship with us and like our stuff, so why not buy our cameras and access control, too? I don't think that's outrageous thinking, but there's certainly an argument to be made that security is more of a life and death application than running a network. But they could counter that, now that security is up on the network, their routers and switches are just as mission critical as the cameras, so they understand well the gravity of the applications.