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A killer, ADT, and lots of lawyers

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What a way to start a week. Yesterday was a glorious fall day in Maine, and a holiday for us here at SSN. But look what my editor sends to me this morning! It's story from Minnesota and it is downright chilling. Click here if you dare. First there's the scary killer. There's a picture of him. He murdered two people back in 2007. It's scary story for ADT, because it appears that a federal judge has said ADT may be partly liable for this guy's murders because their security system was faulty. It's also scary for readers who like to understand what they're reading. I do believe it contains the most turgid, tortured, legalese that I've read in a long time, maybe ever. It is from some lawyerly journal, but still... A Judge Turnhiem is saying things like:
Judge John Tunheim disagreed, finding that ADT’s interpretation of the law would likely eviscerate the negligent security claim.
And someone else says:
"He doesn’t believe the Legislature intended to lump intentional torts into the comparative-fault calculus.
Stop. please stop! I'll be looking into this story further, but not before I get a lot more coffee.

Need a spokesmodel?

Friday, October 9, 2009
I'm not sure if this means times are particularly tough, or if it means that just about every profession is professionalizing, but we got an email here in the SSN offices today from a very enterprising woman offering her services as a spokesmodel (she writes it as "spokes model," and though that just doesn't seem right to me, maybe I should go with her way - she's in the business, after all). Anyway, though her English is a little fractured, I have to say she makes a compelling case as to why I should hire her for the upcoming ISC East show.
As you may or may not know having a Spokes Model creates a tremendous traffic boost to your booth, increased sales and makes for a successful show. Many clients I have worked with have commented that they have had their best show due to an increased traffic flow to their booth. Hiring a Spokes Model will actually "COST LESS" as compared to sending a staff member due to the high costs of air travel, hotel and meals.
This makes a lot of sense, really. I think I should just not go to New York, and leave the coverage of the show to Lada Praskova, who definitely would look better on camera for ssnTVnews than me: lada-business3 Have you ever, Lada asks:
Missed deadlines because your sales team was too busy catching up from attending a trade show?
I'm sort of missing a deadline right now, actually. I'm way behind on the November paper, and it's all because of the time I wasted reporting and talking to people at ASIS. Oh, Lada, where were you two months ago when I was prepping for Anaheim?
Spent too much money on hotels, food, travel and entertainment while your employees are attending trade shows?
Um, this happens every single time I go to Vegas. Lada, I'm booking for you for ISC West, too! (This will also keep me from spending dozens of hours at the blackjack tables.)
Become too busy on the next event to make the last one profitable?
Exactly! I'm trying to book people to be on ssnTVnews at ISC East and I'm not even caught up on all the ASIS stories yet!
Felt overwhelmed with unqualified leads, that then lead to wasted time with follow up calls?
Yes, yes, yes. I hate getting all these business cards. It's like I should call and follow up with people, but I really don't want to. I really just want to check my fantasy football team and play with my iPhone. If Lada would just go to my shows for me, I'd never get another business card!
Let me help you increase your sales and save your company revenue!
Lada, I'm pretty much sold. Just have to run this by Tim, the publisher. I'm sure he'll be into it. He doesn't really like having me around much...

Thoughts on Cisco's to-market strategy

Thursday, October 8, 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.

Summer-model housing secrets

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Ever wonder how those summer-model companies manage the temporary housing for the thousands of young sales people they send out each summer? Yes? Well, here's your answer, for Apx anyway. It's a press release put out this week by CORT, a company that arranged 1,800 apartments and furniture rentals for 6,300 people (Apx employees and some family members) in 100 different locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

Well, this makes the naked video slightly less entertaining

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Harumph. Just when you thought you had a good naked burglar video to laugh about, a possible explanation for his problem has to come along and make you question your morality. This article says naked guy was possibly suffering from some kind of diabetes-related mental problems:
Police received a call Tuesday evening from a relative of the man who saw news media reports about the early Monday morning break-in, Foltz said. Investigators then spoke with the man, who agreed to come in for questioning, he said. Police were told the man was suffering from a medical problem related to his diabetes during the break-in, Foltz said.
The commenters on the story, of course, are having none of it. Most assume his "medical problem" was an addiction to meth or PCP. Which would sort of explain hanging out in someone's house while naked, cooking meals, and taking showers, then leaving wrapped in a bed sheet. But so, possibly, would having some kind of insulin deficiency. Maybe. I'm not doctor. If it turns out he was suffering from mental illness, does it make me a bad person for laughing aloud when the woman told the news station, "You can see the crack in his butt; you can see the front part of his organ"? Because I did kind of watch it three or four times. And I did rewind a couple of extra times to hear the "crack in his butt" part. God that was funny. I'm kind of hoping he's just a garden-variety drug-addict thief so I can continue to feel good about myself. Isn't it much better when people on the Internet are only abstractions on video instead of real people?

Afternoon entertainment

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Because the child in me can't pass up embedding a video about catching a naked burglar on a security camera: Favorite quote: "You can see the crack in his butt; you can see the front part of his organ."

Where else you gonna go for vendor-neutral info on video and RMR?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I was talking to RSI Video Technologies president Keith Jentoft the other day (actually my day today began with a chat with Keith as well), and he was telling me about a project he'd been working on with ESA (that's the new-fangled NBFAA, for those of you who haven't been paying attention). It seems the parties involved have been working on a "Technology Interest Group." Jentoft assured me the endeavor would be vendor-neutral and packed full of useful info to help traditional burg folks to start reaping some of the benefit of video. The first category explored at the wiki is video-verified alarm systems. I actually wrote a story with input from Jentoft and Sandra Jones and Company principle Sandy Jones. Look for that story on SSN's next newswire tomorrow (I'll update this post with a link when it's available). from the wiki:
The first category to be addressed is Video Verified Alarms as this is a small incremental step in both technology and business model from the traditional intrusion alarm business. We hope to complete all sections soon. We are especially looking for actual real-life input from central stations and dealers to bring value to the 'Best Practices' section under each of the three technologies covered in Video Verified Alarm Systems.
They're looking for real, live input from bona fide security industry folks, so drop on by and participate. And maybe earn some money and be part of the next big trend...

Gallagher: 'We're a bit like a flea attacking an elephant'

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
While I was poking around for any sort of update on the GE Security potential sale, I came across an enthusiastic article from New Zealand's National Business Review, gushing over Gallagher's ad in the Wall Street Journal. National pride clearly runs hot for the kiwis, and the NBR is pretty impressed with Gallagher's gumption:
Hot on the heels of winning New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s international business leader of the year award, Bill Gallagher could finally be breaking the back of the US security market. The Hamilton entrepreneur’s Gallagher Security Management Systems took on Uncle Sam last week, taking advantage of widely-reported rumours GE Security was selling its security division and placing an ad in the Wall Street Journal to woo the conglomerate’s customers – just in time for last week’s ASIS security trade show in Annaheim.
Um, "breaking the back of the US security market"? I'm thinking that's a bit much. And I love how they equate GE Security with "Uncle Sam." They can be forgiven, probably, for not being that hip to the security marketplace in general. I like this paragraph a lot:
But the company, which designs and manufactures Cardax electronic access control and intruder alarm systems and PowerFence perimeter security systems, was now happily taking on the likes of GE, Honeywell and Snyder.
How did Honeywell get involved? And did they mean this Snyder? A 400-person guard firm in Danvers, Massachusetts? Or maybe that's Schneider? Luckily, Gallagher, himself, is a little more contrite and humble. A little:
While it might have created more talk than anything else, it seemed that was enough to please Mr Gallagher. “We really got the controversy going,” he said. “We’re a bit like a flea attacking an elephant.”

Some ASIS numbers released, analyzed

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
While we wait for audited numbers, ASIS has released preliminary attendance figures for the recent show in Anaheim: 19,300 attendees. They say that's down "single digits." Here's where you can find their audited numbers going back a few years (pdf warning). Last year it was 21,126. So, my math puts that at 8.6 percent down. Not much room left in the single digits. According to this release, they first broke 19,000 in 2004, which was at the time the most in the event's 50-year history. They also had 842 booths that year, too, however, which is many more than the 715 they're reporting this year. Maybe that's why Cisco's Steve Collen said Cisco had significantly more leads this year from the show than last year: more people for fewer booths? I personally think the far superior venue got people circulating much better, so that more people saw more vendors. In 2002, just a year after Sept. 11, the event drew 17,650, also a record at the time, along with 725 vendors. While a lot of people are focusing on the attendance figure, it's got to be a little scary that ASIS drew fewer vendors than in the first year after Sept. 11. Actually, I think the attendance figure is very good. I think the economy is terrible, more terrible than some people realize, and I think travel and education budgets have been slashed like crazy. You'll also notice that this article about conventions coming to Orange County only even predicted 16,000 for ASIS. So, back in January, optimism was running even lower than September's reality. What will be interesting is to see in the audited numbers how the attendance breaks down. Built in the attendance number is generally some 9,000 or so exhibitors and sponsors. As a percentage, they were 41.4 percent in 2006, 39.6 percent in 2007, and 40.8 percent in 2008. With 23,708 attendees, 2007 is looking like the apex. Where the nadir will be is the question. If it's 2009, ASIS should consider itself lucky. For context, here's how ISC West's audits (pdf alert) have broken down: 2006 - 24,379 attendees, 36.7 percent exhibitors, etc. 2007 - 26,562 attendees, 37.8 percent exhibitors, etc. 2008 - 26,362 attendees, 37.5 percent exhibitors, etc. 2009 - 23,097 attendees, 35.2 percent exhibitors, etc. However, ISC West is a very different show in terms of make-up of the attendee-attendees. The audits break them down into "conference attendees" (those who pay for the education, etc.) and "exhibit-only attendees." While ASIS has been over 4,000 each of the last three years, ISC's high was 1,189 in 2006, and this year had just 674 conference attendees. Ouch. That will be a very interesting number for ASIS when the audit comes out: Did their core people still pay to come? That would validate the "there were less tire-kickers" crowd. Did the core stay away? That would support the slashed-budget crowd.

What's new with newcomers 2GIG and ETL/Intertek?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Read on for the latest on two security newcomers: ETL Intertek and 2GIG Technologies. 2GIG is Honeywell vets Lance Dean and Scott Simon's start-up company. Lance and Scott are making a new alarm panel called GO!Control. It's a "self-contained, all in one security and home management system panel" with a fancy LCD touchscreen. Here's a story I wrote about them., and here's a link to their site. Yesterday, 2GIG announced that GO!Control has been ETL certified. ETL/Intertek is the newest NRTL in town, taking on UL and FM in the security and fire space, and by all reports, making some waves. NRTL, for the uninitiated, rhymes with turtle, and is the way the cool people refer to Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories. Here's the 2GIG/ETL Intertek press release.