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Live from ESX in Nashville

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Thursday, June 21

A key theme for the second full day of ESX was meaningful and interactive education, as the morning and late afternoon educational sessions had something for everyone.

I had the good fortune to start my day moderating a session—“Top 5 Disruptive Technologies Impacting The Commercial Market”—featuring a stellar panel of Steve Butkovich, chief technology officer, CPI Security and Rodger Reiswig, VP, Industry Relations, Johnson Controls Inc., who really played well off each other, presenting their perspective and expertise on each of the five disruptive technologies we decided were most impactful today.

The Top 5 Disruptive Technologies Impacting The Commercial Market that we collectively decided on are:

1.    Cloud-based Solutions
2.    Cybersecurity (IoT, Adaptive Risk, etc.)
3.    Mobile/5G Connectivity
4.    AI/Machine Learning
5.    Biometric Identity Solutions
 
As a group we came up with a definition for what disruptive technology is: "Technology that displaces, replaces or improves on an existing technology or business process and protocol in the marketplace, producing something new and more efficient."

Reiswig and Butkovich looked at how each of these technologies are changing and disrupting what is currently in place, the benefits and potential for each within security, as well as some excellent use cases and examples to illustrate their points.

I also sat in on highly informative session, “Industry Outlook - What You Need to Know,” featuring Jeff Kessler, managing director, Institutional Research, Imperial Capital and Blake Kozak, principal analyst, Smart Home and Security Technology, IHS Markit.

Kozak presented first looking at IHS research on the total equipment market (by technology type) for 2017, pointing out that IHS estimated the total security market in 2017 is worth about $31 billion. By 2021, Kozak said the market is estimated to reach $42 billion globally. Not surprisingly, video surveillance equipment was the leading technology at more than $18 billion.

What was surprising is how much video surveillance dwarfed others on the list, including access control as the next closest at $4 billion, followed by entrance control, intruder alarms, enterprise storage, consumer video surveillance and mobile video and body worn cameras. The two fastest growing areas over the next five years will be enterprise storage and consumer video, like Nest, Kosak said.

Kozak also presented a global forecast for the electronic access control equipment market that showed a CAGR of 6.2 percent from 2016-2021. The global market was worth $4 billion in 2017 and will grow to over $5 billion by 2021. Of this amount the U.S. represents about $1.2 billion or about 33-35 percent. The U.S. market will not decline.

Kozak also got into cybersecurity, noting that recent data suggests that more than 420 million companies were hacked, including data breaches, in 2011, which increased to 4 billion breaches in 2016, “more than a 200 percent increase in a short time,” he pointed out. 

Kessler looked at monitoring trends and how they are affecting the residential and commercial markets and the convergence of physical and logical security.

Kessler presented some interesting findings from a recent survey that Imperial did with 400 police agencies looking at “who gets the first response from a verified call” when given a choice between a professionally monitored security system versus a self monitored DIY system. Interestingly, 331 out of 400 agencies said they give priority to professionally monitored systems, which Kessler astutely pointed out is good news for monitoring companies as it shows the value of professional monitoring today.

Wednesday, June 20

Great to be here in Nashville for ESX 2018, which is off to a great start, from the opening celebration on Tuesday, June 19, at the Country Music Hall of Fame, to a packed first full day on June 20 that featured a stellar—and hilariously funny—keynote presentationfrom from Scott Stratten, president, Unmarketing, entitled “The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.” at the Opening Keynote Luncheon (more on this later).

At the OpenXchange breakfast on Wednesday, ESX chairman George De Marco led a diverse panel that included Michael Simmons, CEO, Driveway, Mike Soucie, senior product marketing manager, Google, and Jeremy Warren, chief technology officer, Vivint Smart Home. The group looked at how disruptive technologies are changing the security landscape.

The panel also looked at how the world we live in is becoming more connected and more automated, from our home to our car to our place of work. The group discussed the relevance of integration services, how to adopt IoT offerings and how to provide more value to customers by taking the complexity out of making a wide variety of devices work together for a truly intelligent home. They also tackled topics such as data privacy and the role of the integrator and dealer in an ever-increasing DIY industry.

Looking at the future of the smart home, Warren said it is “not about the devices, but about the platform that ties it all together.” As the home becomes more of a “thoughtful home,” Warren asked, “What services will homeowners be willing to pay for in the future?”

Soucie added, “Devices should fade into the background,” noting that there are opportunities to “monetize solution bundles.”

The group also got into a good discussion on privacy. With the increase in video and data being produced today, homeowners are becoming more comfortable “trading privacy for convenience,” De Marco pointed out.

De Marco also moderated the counterpoint session of the day, “How will MAGA affect You and the Industry?” featuring Robert Few, managing partner, The Connection Xchange and Kirk MacDowell, president, MacGuard Security Advisors Inc., who looked at how MSO’s, Apple, Google and Amazon (MAGA) is impacting and reshaping the security industry and challenging security dealers today.

Both panelists agreed that MAGA is good for the industry, as they are raising greater awareness for a residential market that has been stuck around the 20 percent penetration rate for as long as anyone can remember. Few said that he believes that these entrants are helping already to drive this penetration rate up into the high 20s.

“I am excited they are here,” Few said. “They make our businesses better.”

Few also pointed out dealers really need to focus on connecting with their customers. “Engagement is key,” he said. “The more, the better.”

This counterpoint session provided some valuable opportunities for the audience to participate and guide the discussion. There was some good discourse around questions about competing with MAGA on pricing and creation costs, as well as installation, support and maintenance, which are key areas where dealers and integrators can differentiate themselves, the panelists pointed out.

Moving to the opening keynote luncheon, Stratton started out looking at the importance of brand, but from a slightly different perspective. He gave a great example of the great extent Ritz-Carlton’s employees went to get a lost teddy bear, Joshie, back to a family that had stayed at the hotel. Hotel staff went above and beyond, overnighting Joshie back to the family, along with sending pictures of Joshie enjoying his extended stay at the pool, Joshie working at the hotel, etc., as well as a Joshie employee badge—the ultimate customer service response that started with the laundry room staff member who found the bear all the way to the front desk person who made sure this issue was resolved.

“We all want word of mouth,” said Stratton, noting that many times companies aren’t doing things that are worthy of it. His example also illustrates the need for great leadership that is willing empower and trust their employees to do the right thing. For example, the Ritz-Carlton, he said, allows an employee $2,000 to make things right with a guest who has any issue or needs special attention.

“The frontline changes the bottom line,” said Stratton, for better and for worse, depending on the tone and direction from leadership, which is something that is often mistaken for management. “From 30,000 feet up you can’t see the cracks on the ground,” said Stratton, noting that leadership requires that you listen to your employees.

What made this presentation so great was the way Stratton weaved in funny stories and witticisms that resonated with everyone in attendance, from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers. 

Following the keynote, and the expo hall ribbon cutting, the winner of the ESX 2018 TECHVISION Challenge Best-of-Show competition was announced. DMP's Virtual Keypad and Dealer Admin took home the top prize.

In addition to the Innovation Awards, attendees honored the recipient of ESA's 2017 Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award, Tom Donaldson, during the Opening Celebration. “I’m honored that anyone would take a moment to think that I could stand with these gentlemen,” said Donaldson as he received the award.

The Monitoring Association's 2018 Excellence Awards were also announced and congratulated, including: Patricia Fody, Vector Security, Operator of the Year; Carmelo Mosca, Affiliated Monitoring, Manager of the Year; and Beth Bailey, ADT LLC, Support Person of the Year. Affiliated Monitoring took home the association's coveted Monitoring Center of the Year award.

Daily updates from ESX 2018

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Thursday, June 21

My first session of the second day was “Improving the Customer Interaction Experience: Strategies to Consider Before Implementing IVR in the Monitoring Center.” Here, Peter Giacalone, president of Giacalone Associates, and Morgan Hertel, VP of technology and innovation for Rapid Response Monitoring, presented on interactive voice response technologies, or IVR, and the benefits for the companies that implement them and their users.

The main benefit of IVR is not its reduction of labor for a company like a monitoring, but instead providing a better user experience, and it can be utilized to achieve both, Giacalone said.

Hertel used Rapid Response’s relationship with Connect America, a PERS company, as an example for the benefits of IVR, though he said the technology benefits other companies in the space as well. One observation about senior users of PERS systems is that they often don’t want to bother people or be a burden, Hertel said, and that can be a difficulty when asking them to test their systems frequently. With IVR their test signals are handled quickly, and through automation. He also highlighted the reduced work load for test signals by handling those with IVR.

The rollout process for IVR should be a careful consideration, Hertel said, not something that goes on overnight but rolled out in phases with different groups. 

For a few years now I’ve been hearing about the concept and potential for on demand or pay-as-you-go monitoring models. A panel tackled exactly this topic in “Next Gen Monitoring—Do Monitoring on Demand or Pay-as-you-Use Models Really Work?” Morgan Hertel served as moderator, leading panelists Caroline Brown, EVP form Security Central, Mark Matlock, SVP of UCC, and Thomas Nakatani, IT VP—customer monitoring technology and product, ADT Security.

Customers understand that, with the MIY model, they do need to eventually sleep or go on vacation, Hertel said to open the conversation, and when they don’t want to they’ll seek a professional monitoring options.

UCC does some work with DIY installed systems, such as Lowe’s’ Iris offering. Matlock said that, overall, the company has seen a good adoption rate from MIY set ups to on demand customers.

Asked about the typical usage for monitoring from on demand customers, Matlock and Brown estimated about 10 days. Nakatani mentioned that ADT is a little different in its model, offering one month at a time.

Hertel brought up a key question: while there is an opportunity for new business from offering pay-as-you-go monitoring, will it take revenue out of existing customers who then want to downgrade their system? Each panelist seemed to portray it as more of an opportunity than a risk. Brown said that it’s important to offer the dealers different options, Matlock said that he doesn’t foresee losing many customers to DIY, and Nakatani sees tremendous opportunity for DIY and monitoring on demand.

Don Yaeger, associate editor, Sports Illustrated, NY Times best seller, presented the Thursday general session titled, “Great Teams Understand ‘Why.’”

When Yaeger started looking at what makes great teams great, he said he looked at two types of teams: those that make up exceptional sports teams, and those that make up outstanding companies.

One of the things Yaeger noted on in his presentation was that companies should look for the signs and clues of success from successes in the industry. “The truly great ones are always studying each other,” he said.

He also addressed culture, specifically that a team’s culture will form either through design or default, Yaeger said. And a key part of a culture is understanding why the team is there, who it is that they working for—whether that is friends, family or a certain cause or group of people.

According to Yaeger, culture can influence behavior, behavior brings about habits, and habits can lead to success.

Getting the right people is important for every organization, and several speakers that I’ve heard in the past few years have addressed the challenge with different approaches—and I’ve been interested to hear the variety and universal focus on the matter. That’s why, for the last session of the day, I attended “The Perfect Fit: New Strategies for Attracting and Retaining the Right Operators.” This session featured Michelle Lindus, central station manager for Vivint Smart Home, Steve Crist, director of monitoring, ADS Security, and Bill Kasko, president and CEO, Frontline Source Group.

There are now more job openings than people looking to work, Kasko pointed out, which means that companies are going to have to find individuals in new and ingenious ways. While before companies looked at college recruiting, now some are getting involved at the high school level, to get their brand out to potential employees even earlier, he said.

Lindus brought up that Vivint has programs that event engage parents and children in elementary school.

One thing Kasko recommended was a instituting a referral program, where current employees can recommend their friends for open positions. “Great people know great people,” Kasko said.

Lindus added to that, saying about 30 to 35 percent of new hires come through a referral program. Crist said that 50 percent of new hires that he sees are coming from referral programs.

Crist also stressed that job applicants of all ages ask about possibilities for advancement or developing their careers.

Wednesday, June 20

I started my day with this year’s OpenXchange breakfast. Held on the main stage, Michael Simmons, CEO of Driveway, Mike Soucie, senior product marketing manager for Google, and Jeremy Warren, chief technology officer for Vivint Smart Home gathered for a discussion, moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco.

In large letters projected onto a screen, De Marco highlighted the idea of disruption and some key questions around that topic, such as whether a company is changing as fast as the world around them, or if there are factors blinding a company to change. 

Each of the speakers was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, their company, and their perspective.

Simmons outlined the mission for his company, Driveway, as wanting to cure car crashes. The Driveway app utilizes mobile phone sensors to keep track of driving habits and keep users safer. It can let a parent know if their child is not available to talk or text due to driving and it can alert authorities in the event of a crash, among other functions. “We’re all in the peace of mind business in one way or another,” he told the audience.

Soucie define his role with Google as seeing how Google, Nest and partners work together. He addressed his reason for being—as a company with a primarily DIY product offering—at a professional security conference: “We actually believe there is a tremendous market opportunity for your, for this channel.”

Warren stood up and posed some considerations to the audience around changes in the market place, such as what to do if new companies enter the market with different ideas of profit margins for similar offerings.

Among a variety of questions, De Marco asked was about how to make sure that dealers and integrators remain the preferred home providers.

According to Warren, it’s about finding out where it is that companies are really providing differentiated value.

Soucie brought up making business models around reducing complexity for consumers, as well as hearing from consumers what is important to them.

From Simmons’ perspective, it will be important to have great customer experience, but also around a profitable business model.

The first educational session I attended for ESX 2018 was, “The Monitoring Center of the Future is Here Now! – Technology You Must Leverage to Thrive,” featuring Mike Tupy, director of central station technology at Vivint Smart Home, Ken Green, CEO of ItsPayd, and Justin Bailey, president and COO of AvantGuard.

Tupy opened the session with an overview of several topics. He started with the alarm panel, saying that he hopes attending companies aren’t installing any more systems on POTS lines. Keeping users upgraded is important, he noted, and even if it comes at a fee. His comparison: people will pay to upgrade their cell phones, so why not their security system?

Monitoring companies can also look at their receivers, he said, as a way to increase more accounts coming in or help with redundancy.

Green brought up the changes in paths of communication and how to best reach customers, specifically hitting upon the value of text messages. He offered several reasons for why companies should look into offering text messages: it can provide a competitive edge, it can improve customer experience, it offers flexibility, and it can help reach new younger customers—the millennials.

Bailey covered uses for analytics and other data analysis tools. Staffing is one problem that affects a lot of monitoring centers, he noted. The right analytic tools can provide a better picture of where the best operators are coming from and metrics can show how and why a great operator is a great operator.

Certain tools can also look into alarm traffic and whether the number of operators on staff is perhaps too light or too much.

Tupy added that looking into historical data can also help, such as with knowing roughly what to expect on the Fourth of July as opposed to a more typical Wednesday.

Younger generations that are entering the work force now can be accustomed to plenty of feedback, Bailey said, and the right dashboards can provide information on how an employee has been doing or how they’ve improved.

At this year’s Opening Keynote Luncheon, Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, presented “The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.”

Stratten said that the most effective marketing happens not through marketing campaigns but through interactions between employees and customers. “The front line affects your bottom line,” he said; companies often want good word of mouth but that means doing things that would be worth talking about. Creating stories that evoke an emotion makes them more likely to be shared, Stratten said.

Brands and how they are perceived can change, Stratten said. For instance, he asked the audience to shout what came to mind when they thought of The Ritz-Carlton. Some attendees said “expensive” or “luxury.”

Stratten told the story of a child losing their stuffed animal at a property of The Ritz-Carlton. The child’s parents said that the stuffed giraffe, named Joshie, was just on an extended vacation and would return. A laundry worker found Joshie, recognized its importance, and brought it to the attention of a front desk employee. Joshie was sent back to its family, along with pictures of the toy lounging at the beach or in the spa, working for The Ritz-Carlton—even with a new ID badge made for the giraffe.

Asked again how the audience would define the hotel brand, attendees used words like “caring.”

Tuesday, June 19

I landed late this afternoon in warm Nashville, Tenn., for this year's ESX. It was great to see some familiar faces at the opening reception. I'll be updating this blog with daily updates on the educational sessions I'm attending, the keynote sessions and some of my meetings from the show floor. Be sure to check back for more perspective on the show! 

GSX announces keynote speakers

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

This week, ASIS International announced that Fareed Zakaria, global thinker, columnist, and CNN host, and Scott Klososky, futurist and technology visionary, would be opening keynotes for Global Security Exchange (GSX).

ASIS announced the name change, from the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits to GSX late last year. ASIS expects GSX to attract more than 20,000 operational and cyber security professionals to the Las Vegas Convention Center from Sept. 23-27 for the event.

“Between Fareed and Scott, attendees will receive a rounded, nuanced, and incisive overview of the trends—social, political, business, technological—informing the transformation of security and how professionals will have to adapt to thrive in the years ahead,” Peter J. O'Neil, CAE, chief executive officer for ASIS International, said in the announcement. “The presentations will lay the groundwork for a forward-looking enterprise security risk management approach to risk, setting up security to be a critical business partner.”

Zakaria, host of CNN’s Peabody Award-winning “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” is former editor-at-large of TIME magazine, a three-time bestselling author, and one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, the announcement noted.

At GSX, Zakaria will open the conference with an examination of important forces, developments, and risks affecting the global community. His remarks will address cyberthreats—espionage, ransomware and spear phishing. With an emphasis on international intelligence and security, Zakaria will explore what it means to live in a truly global era, ASIS said.

Klososky returns as the GSX Tuesday keynote following his popular 2017 presentation, “The Technology Integration of Man.” Building on his continued involvement with chief security officers and ASIS stakeholders in the past year, Klososky will address the impact of today’s rapid digital transformation on security management and leadership. He will build a compelling case for managing and using technology—and knowing when not to use it—to gain a competitive advantage and lead successfully into the future, ASIS said in the announcement.

“We are excited for these well-respected thought leaders to share their vital insights and set the stage for the conference education that follows,” Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president of ASIS International, said in a prepared statement. “These keynotes reflect our commitment to bring diverse, forward-thinking speakers to our event to address vital issues impacting businesses and communities worldwide.”

Headed to ESX in Nashville?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I am excited to be heading to Nashville next week for ESX 2018, especially with Security Systems News as the premier media sponsor once again this year. As always, we love supporting this key industry conference each year.

If you don’t find me at the SSN booth, roaming the trade show floor, or at one of the many keynote events lined up this year, come and check out one or both of the two interesting sessions that I will be moderating this year.

The first one, “Top 5 Disruptive Technologies Impacting The Commercial Market,” is on Thursday, June 21, from 8:00-9:15AM in room 101 D, and features two great speakers—Steve Butkovich, chief technology officer, CPI Security and Rodger Reiswig, VP, Industry Relations, Johnson Controls Inc. I don’t want to reveal what those “Top 5” technologies are just yet, but one will be cloud. You will have to come to the session to find out the other four!

The second session that I am moderating, “Proven Customer Care Programs: Tips For Getting Started” is on Friday, June 22, from 11:00AM-12:00PM in room 101 A, and features two excellent speakers—John Bazyk, vice president of sales, Command Corporation, and Philip Pearson, president, Smart Home Consulting Group. Each of these speakers has a unique perspective on the topic and brings a wealth of information, resources and guidance on how to engage with your customers, lower attrition and improve retention and profitability long term.

Looking forward to a great week of education, networking and fun—Pub Crawl anyone?

See you in Nashville!

 

Convergint continues global expansion

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Convergint Technologies made its second acquisition outside the U.S. this month, with the acquisition of Integrators Australia, a systems integrator based in Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

One of the world’s largest systems integrators, Convergint continues to grow its global footprint via organic growth and acquisition. Integrators Australia is Convergint’s second international acquisition in 2018, and it provides Convergint with a physical location and a group of experienced colleagues to expand its service in the local market.

“Acquiring Integrators Australia is another major step in building out our global service platform,” Ken Lochiatto, CEO of Convergint, said in the announcement. “The addition of Integrators Australia greatly expands our presence in the Australian market and strengthens our ability to meet the service needs of our global customers in Australia. We welcome Dean Monaghan and his entire team to the Convergint organization.”

Founded in 2005 by Dean Monaghan, Integrators Australia is one of the largest independent integrators in Australia, servicing key clients across both Australia and New Zealand. Convergint chose to join forces with Integrators Australia because of its dedication to excellent customer service, a key component of Convergint’s own culture.

“We are very excited to become a part of Convergint Technologies, in which we have found a like-minded culture of service-first delivery,” Monaghan, managing director of Integrators Australia, said in a prepared statement.  “It has taken 13 years of dedication from our entire group to reach the strong level of capability and expertise that we offer today, and joining Convergint marks the next step in our evolution.”

Dan Moceri, Convergint’s co-founder and CEO told SSN after the acquisition of Paris-based systems integrator Astrec Security in early May that he sees many more opportunities to grow the company’s global presence.
 

DICE announces new CFO and new telecom manager

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

BAY CITY, Mich.—DICE Corporation announced today that Jackie McCarthy is joining the company as its new chief financial officer and Jerry Corrion will now manage DICE’s telecom department, in addition to his current role as senior vice president of software development.

McCarthy will be responsible for overseeing accounting, managing company financial statements, reporting on key measurements, and budgeting and analysis, the announcement noted.

McCarthy comes to DICE with more than 30 years of experience as a CPA, with 15 of those years in public accounting. Before joining DICE, McCarthy worked for Ernst & Young, Nexteer Automotive and in local government. She also taught at Delta College and operated her own CPA firm for several years. McCarthy holds a BBA in accounting from Saginaw Valley State University.

Corrion, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, will oversee the telecom department at a time of rapid growth and advancements, according to the announcement.

“Telecom continues to be our fastest-growing department, and a lot of software is tied to telephony. Jerry is the perfect fit for leading this team,” DICE Corporation president and CEO Cliff Dice, said in the announcement.

“This is an exciting time at DICE Corporation and I’m pleased to have Jackie and Jerry on our team, leading us into a new era at the company,” said Dice.

Cloud+ 2018 program announced

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Security Systems News is proud to announce that the program for our 2018 Cloud+ conference is now available! You can view the entire by clicking here, and there are a few highlights will be included below.

Cloud+ 2018 will be held at the Delray Beach Marriott in Delray Beach, Fla., on Sept. 5 and 6. This is a great location that has served SSN very well as the spot for its annual TechSec Solutions conference—and it’s right across from the beach. Registration is also open for the event and you can register through the Cloud+ website.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Rick Juarez, managing director of Imperial Capital, presenting “Finance and the Future for Cloud and Security.” Here, Juarez will cover the current M&A landscape within cyber- and physical security, particularly cloud-solution providers, and also take a look at what research says about key growth areas, challenges and opportunities.

Cloud+ 2018 will also feature a dynamic two-part session, looking at “How Can Cloud Help the Integrator,” with two separate panels, one from the perspective of integrators and another from the suppliers’ point of view.

The Day Two Keynote will be AJ Frazer, VP Sales, America, Agent Video Intelligence, presenting “How the Cloud Enables the Dream of AI.” Frazer will examine how cloud is helping realize artificial intelligence within the security industry.

We look forward to seeing you down in Delray Beach in early September!

House passes bill to ban gov’t use of Chinese surveillance equipment

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives on May 24 passed H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes an amendment prohibiting the federal government from purchasing video surveillance equipment from several China-based manufacturers, including Hikvision and Dahua. The bill still needs to make it through the Senate before being signed into law by the president.

In response to this legislative action, Jeffrey He, president, Hikvision USA Inc. and Hikvision Canada Inc., told Hikvision channel partners in an emailed letter, “We are actively working to assure our North American stakeholders that Hikvision strictly abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates. We also reaffirm the fact that we hold our products to the industry’s global cybersecurity standards, including North America.”

He continued, “As we continue to monitor and further deploy the necessary resources to address this matter over the coming weeks and months, please know that we will vigorously defend Hikvision from dangerous and unproven accusations about the cybersecurity of our products and solutions.”

Dahua issued an official response to the proposed legislation, saying, “Dahua Technology is a commercial enterprise with high level of business integrity. As an international company, Dahua Technology complies with all related laws and regulations in the countries where it does business.”

As this bill heads to the Senate for any revisions and ultimately to the president for signature, it will be interesting to see if specific references to Hikvision and Dahua will be included in the final bill.

SSN continues to report on this story.
 

ACRE COO looks at future of access control

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

LAS VEGAS—Security Systems News caught up with ACRE COO Ron Virden, who this week published a great piece titled, “Electronic Access Control & The Future of Security: Is the Lock and Key Obsolete?”

Virden noted in his article that the end of the traditional lock and key may be here as wireless technologies transform “the possibilities for electronic access control.”

With Google and Amazon getting into the residential space, they are “really helping to drive that tipping point and you will see the consumer demand speed this up into the corporate space, especially the SMB market where we are already seeing this happen,” he told SSN. “But for the larger [enterprise] groups, where you still have to have the identification piece that a badge provides, the migration will take longer and I don’t know if it will ever be a 100 percent migration to mobile.”

And while wireless locks have been in existence for a long time, “next-generation products equipped with near-field communication and Bluetooth represent a quantum leap forward,” he noted in his article. “With established players such as ASSA ABLOY, Allegion and Dormakaba bringing their high-tech products to the market, wireless will rapidly become the standard means of managing access.”

He continued, “This is game-changing because it extends monitoring and control capabilities to a far wider range of access points. Today, most organizations limit digital locks and access credentials to the first line of defense—external doors. With nextgen wireless, any internal or external door can be added to the network so that traffic can be monitored and controlled throughout the building or complex. Not only does this improve the level of security and visibility, it also has the potential to provide valuable usage data that can help to reduce energy consumption, enhance safety and comfort and even provide predictive analytics that can guide space allocation or development.”

But before the industry can realize this new generation of wireless and mobile technologies, Virden said there are some challenges to overcome.

“The market is fragmented and territorial with lock manufacturers and mobile access firms focused on developing proprietary credentialing systems that protect their market share,” he explained in his piece. “However, that doesn’t serve the needs of the consumer or business market, both of which are resistant to being ‘locked’ into a specific brand of hardware or software.”

This is why, Virden told SSN, "open platform" is so important. “If you look at the intrusion business, you can go in and take over a panel and you can change who your provider is, so we have to have some way in the future for companies to not just be wed to one platform, and if you want to change who your credential provider is, you are able to do that,” he said.

Companies that focus on open platform and working well with others will benefit the most moving forward. “Focusing on hardware-agnostic software or credential-agnostic hardware will generate a bigger, more sustainable market,” he noted in his article. “Players that adopt a collaborative approach, aim for the mid-market, and look for ways to add value—whether through enhanced safety, convenience or data-driven insight—will see big opportunities in the coming years.”

For the full version of Virden’s article, click here.

Updates from Affiliated Monitoring's Catalyst 2018

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla.—I arrived Monday on Amelia Island, Fla., for Affiliated Monitoring’s third annual Catalyst conference, focused entirely on the sales and marketing aspects of the medical alert industry.

The first full day began with a welcome from, Mike Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring. He brought up the idea of “forced networking,” making sure that people are meeting and conversing with a multitude of different professionals, including ones they haven’t met before. To facilitate this, the conference has attendees in different groups throughout the event, such as with the table assignments or teams for networking events.

Zydor said that one of the valuable takeaways from the event will be the discussions and relationships made at Catalyst. Following this point, each attendee had the opportunity to stand and introduce themselves, their company, and where they’re from.

Next, Affiliated executive vice president Daniel Oppenheim presented “PERS: Today and the Future,” an overview of themes in the PERS industry and observations within Affiliated Monitoring. Oppenheim said how fortunate he is for what it is that the industry offers, “We offer a service that is vital to our customers, we save lives.”

The overall number of PERS signals that Affiliated received went up 45 percent last year, Oppenheim said.

“I feel very strongly in the future of our industry,” Oppenheim said. He pointed toward the baby boomer generation, the oldest of which are about 72 now, as a large opportunity—an entire generation that is about age into the typical PERS and mPERS demographics.

Related to that is one of the problems the industry will face in coming years, Oppeneheim said: that there are going to be more seniors, but there are projected to be fewer available caregivers. “There’s only one answer and it is our industry and technology that is going to solve this.”

An annual staple of the Catalyst program is the executive spotlight series, where Oppenheim has an on-stage conversation with leaders in the PERS industry, covering their perspective on the industry and the decisions that got them to where they are today. In 2016, Oppenheim sat down with Ritch Haselden of Essence USA, and in 2017, he spoke with Ken Gross of Connect America.

This year Oppenheim talked with Rob Flippo, CEO of MobileHelp, a provider of mPERS and health management solutions, which began in 2006.

“You bet big on mobile and you were right, what did you see that others in the market were not seeing at the time?” Oppenheim asked.

Flippo said that people weren’t using cellular in the home when he started, and he did his due diligence to figure out that there was no business reason for this and chose to take up the technology in his business. He noted that GPS technology was also in the early stages at that time.

Affiliated is now fully integrated with MobileHelp, Oppenheim announced on stage Tuesday. Through that process, Oppenheim met many members of Flippo’s team. He asked Flippo for his philosophies on putting together a team. 

Flippo first responded by agreeing with the phrase “The fish rots from the head down;” how management and ownership treat the people below them affects the entire business. Flippo also said that in assembling his team, he looked for people that would fit executive roles, before the company even had those positions.

Flippo provided an interesting perspective when asked to think about the future of the PERS industry, 10 years down the road. He said that the people buying PERS systems now, where about 65 when he started a little more than a decade ago. So, he challenged the audience to consider a 60 or 65 year-old now—that person will be a potential PERS user in 10 years. A 60 or 65 year-old now is more technological than in 2006, Flippo noted, and he predicted that PERS systems will come with more features and functionality that connects to other aspects of a user's life, much in the same way that the security ecosystem evolved to include more elements of home control.

The last session of the day was a panel, titled “Ask the Experts: Product Mix and Planning the PERS Future.” Here, Pete West, VP, North American director for KORE, moderated a conversation with Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA, Ryan Bangerter, business development director for Mytrex, and Scot McGehee, VP of operations and sales at Climax.

To kick things off, Ward asked Bangerter about the value of the cloud for PERS. Mytrex is leveraging the cloud with its new PERS product, the MXD LTE. Bangerter said that, historically, PERS systems are a local installation, but the cloud element allows for an easier integration process and it helps with different communication paths.

Ward asked McGehee about the usage of mobile PERS inside of the home, as opposed to a cellular PERS system. Seniors can be much more energetic and mobile, he noted, and Users need something for mobile use outside of the home as well as usage in the house. “We’ve got to be able to cover both bases going forward to take care of the aging population,” he said.

Essence does business outside of the US, Ward noted. He asked Amir about trends that are in international markets that might enter the U.S. market. Voice activation is one such trend, according to Amir. Specifically, Essence offers a voice panic alarm system, where emergency response sensors can be installed throughout a user’s house and—because it relies on voice—doesn’t require a wearable. This is a good solution when caregivers would like to see more protection in an elderly person’s home, but that user does not want to appear frail.

To open the second day of Catalyst 2018, Mike Zydor had an on-stage conversation with Mark Melendes, managing director and group head—specialized industries, CIBC Bank US, about what dealers need to know a head of looking for additional funding.

Borrowing from a bank can be a great way to grow a PERS business, Zydor noted. He asked Melendes for the first thing PERS dealer should do when thinking about additional funds.

Melendes said to think of alternatives to borrowing from a bank. Borrowing from a bank can be very involved, he said, and there are other options that a dealer could look into; for instance, finding a local lender or sometimes the seller in a transaction can partly help with financing.

According to Melendes, key considerations include: whether financial records in tact, does the company have good financial reporting and a history of financial reporting, is there a good CRM system, and are there the right people to support a banking relationship.

The first time that Melendes meets a company, it can be when there is an immediate acquisition opportunity, one that might want to close quickly, and unless they have the right information it can be a challenge.

Zydor asked: What do people looking to buy need to pay attention to in buying a competitor?

While CIBC focuses on the financial part of the transaction, it is also concerned with the strategic fit of the purchase and the legal due diligence, Melendes said. “Strategic fit is definitely one that we focus on,” he said.

Something new for Catalyst that was included this year was a session devoted to a variety of discussion groups. Through an event app, attendees were asked for the topic that most interested them out of nine options. Four topics were chosen for discussion groups: Medicaid and government programs, customer retention strategies, leveraging social media for your business, and building your team: the most essential roles to fill.

I sat in on the social media session, curious for business leaders’ opinions on leveraging social media for an offering geared toward the senior audience, which is currently noted as not being very technological.

This group was divided into two tables. The table I sat with discussed how the main audience is often not the user themselves, but instead the younger caregiver—an individual more likely to be on social media.

One idea was that messaging about PERS products has been often built off of fear, the fear of a fall. The industry could benefit from portraying PERS as more of a lifestyle product, a device that allows its user a certain lifestyle with more freedom.

From there, the discussion circled around to newer ideas of advertising that are mainly focused on showing a product and then showing a user having a better experience from using it. This is a concept in imaging that PERS products could use to showcase the offering as a lifestyle-focused device, as opposed to one driven by fear.

After about 20 minutes, each table in the room—about nine in total—chose a representative to present the ideas of their group.

The final presentation for this year was from the featured guest speaker, Erica Javellana, speaker of the house for Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. Javellana joined the company in 2007 as a human resources generalist and quickly rose to be the employee relations manager. She took the stage to talk about Zappos’ focus on customer service and how to focus on company culture.

Javellana began by talking about what Zappos calls P.E.C.: personal, emotional connection. Zappos wants each employee to establish a connection with each person they interact with, she said.

Zappos is committed to the idea of company culture and that means hiring and firing by those principles, Javellana said.

Zappos has 10 core values, central to the company’s culture, and one of them is to “Build a Positive Team and Family spirit,” and the wrong person can ruin a team’s dynamic. “If you get the right people, you get the right culture,” she said.

Other tenets of Zappos’ culture included “Deliver WOW through service,” “Create fun and a little weirdness,” and “Be humble.”

To “wow” through service means to go above and beyond, Javellana said. She shared the story of sitting in on a customer service call where a woman called in to try to find a specific sweatshirt. This woman hadn’t ever shopped with Zappos, Javellana noted, but the Zappos employee helped her none-the-less, and got to know her while searching for the sweatshirt. He eventually learned that the woman’s son had died in a car accident wearing his favorite sweatshirt at the time, and her younger son wanted the same one to remember his brother. The customer service representative, finding that Zappos did not have it, purchased one through a competitor and told the caller he would sent it to her.

It’s about the experience more than the transaction, Javellana stressed.

Creating a little fun and weirdness does not mean Zappos only hires extroverted people, Javellana said, it means they encourage employees to be their whole selves at work. Some people stress work-life balance, and are entirely different people outside of work. People could focus more on work-life integration, she said.

The last principle Zappos has in its culture is to be humble and the company has a small test for this. In hiring for any position, whether it be the COO or a department manager, they inform the candidate that all new hires are required to attend company-wide training followed by a period of answering phones, taking four weeks in total. If the applicant turns their nose up at the idea of answering phones, they are shown the door. One reason for this is that at busy times of the season, such as during the holidays, answering phones can mean all-hands-on-deck, Javellana said, including her and Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh.

Javellana ended her presentation with this question: “How will you wow?"

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