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Smart home product sales soaring

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Smart-home product U.S. dollar sales grew 57 percent in 2016 compared with the prior year, according to recent findings from market research firm The NPD Group.

According to the study, security and monitoring products led the category, making up more than 60 percent of dollar share, with smart entry devices, such as smart doorbells, growing 171 percent in dollar sales and 206 percent in unit sales compared with 2015.

The market research firm said awareness levels of smart home devices have fluctuated, but cited the smart doorbell as a category that witnessed growth in both awareness and ownership; ownership of smart doorbells inched up 2 percent while awareness grew 4 percent.

According to IHS Markit, the global market size for video doorbells, which was at $78 million in 2015, is expected to experience a 28 percent CAGR over the next five years, with North America leading the way.

Video doorbells, many times, are a homeowner’s first foray into video surveillance in and around the home.

“Video doorbells are only just beginning to gain traction among residential consumers,” Anna Sliwon, analyst, residential security, IHS Markit, said in the study. “As the market continues its rapid ascension, partnering with video doorbell providers could prove lucrative for home alarm manufacturers and service providers.”

In the NPD study, networked video cameras led as the most commonly found product in smart homes. Nearly one-third of smart homes owned a networked video camera, and demand for multipacks of IP cameras grew 129 percent in dollar sales for the year.

“Network cameras have long been considered the entry point into the smart home, but growing demand for items sold in sets shows that the market is maturing,” Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group, said in a prepared statement. “We fully expect the next two years will see a broadening appeal of smart-home devices and estimate that the category will nearly double in that time.”

Voice command is also becoming more commonplace in smart homes, with nearly half of these homes using voice commands in some manner, and one-quarter using them to control a home-automation device, with Siri being the most commonly used digital assistant, according to NPD.

John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence, said one in five Amazon Echo owners use the device to control another device in their home.

FillQuick expands integrations

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

EDMONTON, Canada—FillQuick, a CRM company that has worked with MONI, UCC and AvantGuard, will now be integrated with ADT’s API.

FillQuick has “done a fantastic job in developing a customer relationship management tool that will allow our dealers to run their businesses more efficiently and more effectively,” Clay Fearrington, senior director of strategic initiatives, business architecture & dealer development at ADT, told Security Systems News.

“In the past, a dealer would have a CRM, but didn’t have the connection into the ADT systems,” Fearrington continued. “The big benefit here is it’s reducing keystrokes.”

ADT is also working to integrate other CRMs into its API, such as Engarde and SecurityTrax. ADT dealers specifically requested an integration with FillQuick, which led to the companies’ collaboration, Fearrington said.

Since FillQuick’s last wave of announcements in 2016, FillQuick has added several new features to the software, including auto-generating account numbers for installation and connection to central stations, expanded reporting features of its software and uploading features for proposals or images in a range of different formats. “Sales reps, they write proposals and take a picture, and attach it to a lead. So, if they ever come back to that lead, they can take a look at what they offered to that customer,” Paul Shakuri, FillQuick's founder said.

“Another big feature update was notifications for users within the software when statuses change on accounts, such as [when] an account gets installed, an account gets cancelled [or] an account gets paid on,” he said, adding that this now brings this information to salespeople.

Shakuri said that the company has a high rate, close to 95 percent, of converting companies that demo the software into customers. “[A] huge percentage of people who were not joining was because we were not integrated with ADT,” Shakuri said.

The company is currently working on new communication capabilities in the software between a dealer and its sub-dealers. “We’re looking to have it complete within quarter one [2017],” Shakuri said.

What else is on FillQuick’s agenda for 2017? “Our sights are set on integrating with a couple more central stations,” Shakuri said. FillQuick will also focus on data and dealer feedback to further improve the software.

Allied Universal CEO talks latest moves, company's future

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Allied Universal, a national facility services company and security force with more than 150,000 employees, has acquired the security services portion of Yale Enforcement Services, Inc., a Belleville, Ill.-based company that offers a full range of solutions, including uniformed security professionals, mobile patrol, physical security and life safety. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“What we really liked about Yale is that they do very strong business in the healthcare vertical, and that business is spread throughout multiple regions,” Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones told Security Systems News. “And we feel we have a variety of really good service offerings to offer in that vertical.”

Yale was also looking to provide ancillary services such as electronic security systems and security technology, an area “that we are highly committed to, so we feel those customers will fit very nicely into our organization,” said Jones. “Also, our service offerings that we have will not only enhance the relationship but also be something that the customers are excited about and embrace.”

Yale Enforcement's 1,800-plus employees serve a range of vertical markets including healthcare, manufacturing, industrial, warehouse/distribution, commercial real estate and retail throughout the Central, Midwestern and Southern states.

"Allied Universal sets the industry standard for professionalism and we know our security services clients will be well taken care of," Barbara Yale, president and CEO, Yale Enforcement said in a prepared statement.

On the acquisition front, the company “will continue to be inquisitive in 2017,” said Jones. “We plan on making at least one but hopefully two, sizable acquisitions in the security systems space by the end of the year as well.”

With the mega-merger in August between Allied Barton and Universal Services of America, 2016 was a very busy and successful year for the combined companies.

“We are now fully integrated, so we are completely rebranded and integrated,” said Jones. “We achieved the goal of doing that is six months and also made three other acquisitions and got some good mid-single digit organic growth, so we are pretty excited about all of that. In 2017, we project that we will end the year in 2017 somewhere between $5.2 - $5.3 billion in revenues and that is without any additional acquisitions.”

Allied Universal also announced a partnership with the Clery Center, a national, non-profit training and policy organization dedicated to creating safer campus communities, to develop video-based training tools for line campus public safety personnel. The roll-call training program for campus public safety and security professionals is scheduled to be released during National Campus Safety Awareness Month in September.

As a leading security services provider to the Higher Education sector, Allied Universal services nearly 200 colleges and universities at over 500 campus locations nationwide.

Big year ahead for biometrics

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Colo.—Biometrics are coming of age, and 2017 has the potential to be a big year for the continued adoption of biometric technologies, according to Acuity Market Intelligence, which released its "Ten Top Trends for Biometrics and Digital Identity" for 2017 this week.

"Biometrics and digital identity are often perceived as threats to privacy and security," Maxine Most, Principal of Acuity Market intelligence said in the announcement.. "However, taken together these technologies have the potential to enhance privacy, increase personal data control, and shift power relative to the monetization of consumer data."

No. 2 on the top ten list is iris biometrics, which will have a "breakout year as smartphone availability drives consumer acceptance up and price points down,” according to Acuity.

This is not surprising. During Security Systems News’ Battle of the Biometrics session at last year's TechSec Solutions conference, our panel of expert judges chose iris technology as the top pick over other biometrics, including fingerprint and facial. This year at TechSec, which is Feb. 27-28 in Delray Beach, Fla., the reigning champion from last year's session, Blaine Frederick, VP of product management for Eyelock, returns to continue the conversation with Jeff Kohler, product line and business development director for Princeton Identity, as they look at how lower price points are increasing demand and opening up new applications across many different verticals.

Another interesting finding, and one that does not surprise us here at SSN—the creator of the Cloud+ conference—is the rise of cloud-based biometrics.

According to Most, “2017 will be a tipping point as cloud-based biometrics, secure mobile credentials, and fintech innovation coalesce into consumer-centric solutions offering previously unobtainable levels of accessibility, security, and individual control over PII (Personally Identifiable Information)."

The following is Acuity's ten top trends for biometrics and digital identity:

1. Behavioral biometrics on smartphones, and the associated privacy issues and PII concerns, become mainstream.

2. Iris biometrics "breakout" as smartphone availability drives consumer acceptance up and price points down.

3. Security impact and liability implications of PII via IoT (Internet of Things) begins to influence Enterprise Executives.

4. Cloud biometrics are recognized as critical Infrastructure for global digital payments and commerce platforms.

5. Links between digital identity, smartphones, and mobile and stationary smart devices begin to be monetized.

6. New monetization models for digital identity emerge, shifting power from commercial enterprises to consumers.

7. Secure mobile smartphone credentials drive infrastructure development with migration from tests and pilots to deployments.

8. Many fintech innovators are swallowed by BFSIs thwarting their impact on industry transformation.

9. A handful of fintech standouts, committed to disruption, emerge as potential threats to the status quo.

10. Biometrics and digital identity begin to be understood as forces for social justice, equity, privacy, and accessibility.

Bold releases ManitouNEO

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—ManitouNEO, Bold Technology's latest version of its central station automation platform, is commercially available as of today.

Rod Coles, Bold’s CEO, called ManitouNEO “the first major re-architecture of the software. … This is version two.” Bold Technologies released its first version of Manitou in 2003, 14 years ago, and Coles expects this version to hold up just as long. Bold has about 600 customers using Manitou; the upgrade is free for current Manitou customers.

ManitouNEO will be browser-based, and feature a new user interface. “The reason that we’ve chosen a browser-based application means that its portable,” Coles told Security Systems News. The software can now run Windows, Linux, Mac and even on a phone or tablet, he continued. 

“With ManitouNEO, we can use exactly the same application for dealers as well as central station staff. It’s just permissions based,” Coles said. This makes Bold’s maintenance and dealer support easier, according to Coles.

ManitouNEO is starting out with options for both a new user interface and Manitou’s existing interface. This allows companies and their employees to learn the new interface at their own pace, according to Coles. “We’ve done a lot of work to allow them to have both [user interfaces available], and they can gradually move from one to another.”

Many of NEO’s new features are also available in the previous Windows interface. Previously, Bold had offerings in separate interfaces, such as its GPS-focused BoldTrack. “Now we’ve been able to pull that and other things all into one user interface. It just brings a lot of different parts of our products together,” he said.

Bold, in addition to the new interface, has enhanced its action patterns, which give users specific instructions and information on alarm handling. These action patterns now include more conditional items, Coles noted.

Bold’s cloud-based automation platform, Manitou Cloud Services, will be upgraded to ManitouNEO as well. “This application will work within a central station, just like our existing platform does. But, of course, it’s a natural fit for the cloud,” Coles said. This upgrade should take place in the next few months, he said.

“NEO itself will improve the upgrade process,” according to Coles. “Because it is web-based application, then all we have to do is literally update the server and then all of the work stations are effectively upgraded.”

A new feature coming soon to NEO is a communications center that will allow operators multiple avenues to connect with alarm users at the same time, such as text messaging capabilities while also being on the phone.

Training new employees could become easier, as people are generally familiar with browser-based applications, according to Coles.

MONI executive promoted

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MONI Smart Security, formerly Monitronics, recently promoted its SVP of operations, Bruce Mungiguerra, to the role of COO.

In this new role, Mungiguerra will be “Shifting some focus off of customer care leadership and increasing focus on dealer operations, innovating our dealer channel through dealer enablement, sales training and building a stronger more efficient field operations group within in MONI,” he told Security Systems News in an email interview.

Since joining the company in 2006, Mungiguerra has served in several roles in the organization, including as director of consumer sales, VP field operations, VP Sales and dealer development, and most recently SVP operations.

“In the 10 plus years I have been with the organization, we have seen a tremendous amount of change,” Mungiguerra said. When Mungiguerra started, the company “Had just over 300,000 customers, with 100% of our business coming from dealer generated sales with a heavy concentration in summer sales activity, no internal field service technicians and a brand that was unknown to most consumers.”

He continued, “Today, we sit with over 1 million customers, a new brand in MONI Smart Security, national advertising in print, radio and T.V., close to 100 field technicians across the country in MONI wrapped vans servicing our customers and several national lead partnerships driving sales and leads both internally and for our dealer channel.”

Connected products driving smart home growth

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The vision of the truly intelligent home where your security system and all of its connected smart home devices, from Siri to your stove, can be controlled by your smart phone, is starting to become a reality.

This leap in technology is good news for the industry, and good news for dealers, who are finding that this brave new world of connected devices is fueling interest in security systems, especially from customers who want to know how the two can work harmoniously together. And this is making for “stickier” or more loyal customers.

Following Parks Associates’ research that came out of the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month showing approximately 26 percent of U.S. broadband households today now own a smart home device—up from 19 percent at the end of 2015—several more studies on the growth of the smart home have popped up.

For example, a new report out this week from Zion Market Research, titled “Smart Home Market: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2016-2022,” finds that the global smart home market—valued at around $24.10 billion in 2016—is expected to reach approximately $53.45 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 14.5 percent between 2017 and 2022.

“The advanced technology has enabled various devices to be connected and controlled by one device and this technology is used by smart homes. Homeowners are enjoying more convenience and comfort from basic security monitoring and customized access to window coverings, appliances, lighting, irrigation, entertainment systems and many others," according to Zion. "Prominent drivers of smart home adoption are energy efficiency, home security, entertainment, convenience/productivity, remote health monitoring and connectivity.”

Speaking of connected home appliances, the U.S. market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 39.47 percent during the period from 2016-2020, according to another study released this week, this one by Wiseguyreports.com.

“Connected home appliance companies are focusing on the untapped consumer segments to boost market revenue,” according to the study. “The market is expected to witness rapid growth in the forecast period due to the increased awareness of connected devices.”

Just when you thought that there couldn’t be another report on connected home devices, there is even one on the global smart home shade market, which is also set to grow rapidly in the coming years. According to Technavio, the global smart shade devices market is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 90 percent during the forecast period from 2017-2021. The study considers revenue generated from the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) of smart shade devices to individual customers in the global market to calculate the market size.

Region wise, North America leads the market, holding a share of almost 50 percent in the market (2016 figures).

“The region is currently witnessing an increased adoption of smart homes and related devices, owing to the benefits associated with their use,” according to Technavio. “Additionally, consumers are increasingly adopting window-covering products that can be controlled automatically or by the intervention of electronic remote control equipped with wireless technology or by smartphones and tablets. These factors are impacting the high penetration rates of smart shades in the market segment.”

AMAG's newly promoted president shares plans for 2017

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

AMAG Technology, Inc., a G4S company headquartered in Torrance, Calif., announced this week that Kurt Takahashi, senior vice president, sales, has been promoted to president.

Takahashi, who began at AMAG in February 2015, successfully grew the business through his management of the sales, sales engineering and business development teams.

Prior to AMAG, Takahashi was the vice president of global sales and marketing at Quantum Secure, helping increase the global pipeline and revenue growth.

Takahashi told Security Systems News that he looks forward to helping AMAG Technology sustain the strong 20 percent year-over-year growth the company experienced from 2015 to 2016. 

“We had a great year and part of the reason why we have had good growth is because the industry is now starting to understand that AMAG is more than just an access control company,” he explained. “That message is really starting to resonate, because if you look at the growth of the company, we grew in every category of our business.”

Last year, AMAG released its Symmetry product line with Symmetry GUEST, the company’s web-based visitor management system, and Takahashi said he will continue to focus on delivering unified solutions that will help end users mitigate risk, meet compliance requirements and reduce costs.

“Our visitor management solution, which is a hosted service, is more than just a basic visitor management system—it is a policy-based system that has lots of full-featured integrations with third party products with calendaring systems,” he noted. “It automates how we manage different types of visitors, whether international visitors or different types of MBAs or safety certifications or acknowledgements, and things like that—really automating the experience of how companies actually manage their visitors.”

This year, the company is going to be releasing a rewrite of its Symmetry Connect platform. “We are looking forward to releasing that this year and that is going to help us to automate all of the onboarding and off-boarding and audits and compliance requirements for a lot of our customers.”

He pointed out that the success of these products can be attributed partly to the effort the company has put toward understanding the needs of its customers.

“We spend a lot of time sitting down with our customers in the command center next to the guard or the officer watching every click, asking, ‘How do I simplify it?’ These are the things that we are building into our application to simplify that process, whether it is through Connect or through new applications that we are building to augment things within Symmetry.”

He said that the company also gets a lot of great feedback and direction from customers at its annual AMAG Security Engineering Symposium. This year, the event is being held from Feb. 17-20 at the La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas.

“That is really a big event for us that helps us determine if we are on track or if we need to make some adjustments,” he said. “We invite consultants, integrators and end users all to the same event and we feel that the collaboration of all three entities brings tremendous value to us in terms of how we define what features need to be changed within our application, what new types of technology or products need to be looked at, from either developing it ourselves or seeking out another third party to enhance their experience.”

In the spirit of new ideas, the company is releasing around mid-year 2017 a new Linux-based security panel called Crypto, which Takahashi said is “moving toward a much more nimble, flexible API that is incorporating more Web services, so it makes it easier for us to make updates and add new integrations with other third party companies,” he explained. “So it gives us more flexibility down the road and puts a lot more technology in the panel. We are looking at some good increases in that area for our business.”

He continued, “Overall, we are going to continue to look at the industry as a whole and see where we can enable new technology.”

Dynamark CEO optimistic for new year

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Throughout the past year, Dynamark entered some new areas: it moved into a new 24,000 square-foot facility, launched a funding program for its dealers, and entered the mPERS space through working with Numera’s Libris device. Company CEO Trey Alter looks ahead at 2017 as the “year of improvement.”

“This year our theme is it’s all about service, both for Dynamark customers and helping our dealers provide better service to their customers. It’s easy to create accounts in this industry, but it’s hard to fulfill the expectations of the customer,” Alter told Security Systems News.

“It’s a more competitive marketplace than it’s ever been,” Alter said, pointing to the cablecos and DIY offerings. “[We’re] trying to help our dealers understand that it’s going to take more each and every year to both get new customers and keep the customers you have.”

The company grew by 36 percent in 2016, which is somewhat consistent with Dynamark’s previous growth according to Alter. He also said that dealers have been showing interest in the new funding programs since its release.

The company previously said that it is looking to acquire another central station, and Alter said it’s a “must do” for 2017. “We’re very focused on finding a second central station this year—whether it means opening a new location or purchasing an existing location—and adding it to Dynamark,” he said.

“I think, ideally, we’d like to see something more in the Western market; but, we would never overlook a quality central station,” Alter said. Purchasing an existing central, instead of building one, “gives us the chance to meet a bunch of new dealers, to roll out some new technology to them, and to just make more relationships.”

What is the company looking to improve on? “Helping dealers understand early warning signs of bad customer behavior.” Alter gave a couple of examples, “If your customer’s not arming their system, and has not done so in a month, they will cancel on you—earlier than you’d like them to—because it means they have not found value in the system.”

Alter continued, “If you are not talking to your customers about the new offerings, about the camera systems that are available today, about the ability to integrate home automation devices, someone else is going to take your customers.”

Smart home presence up at CES 2017

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LAS VEGAS—With the 2017 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show wrapping up on Sunday, it is always fun to see what technology trends are coming out of the show and how these will influence the security industry.

Over the past few years, the smart or connected home has made its way into the fabric of the show, growing in size and presence each year. Many prominent companies in the industry made big announcements at the show this year, including some notable unveils from ADT, Vivint, Alarm.com, Nortek Security & Control, Bosch, and Z-Wave Alliance, which featured its Z-Wave Experience Smart House demo area.

Vivint CMO Jeff Lyman told Security Systems News, “The show was marvelous for us—we doubled the size of our presence there this year having learned a lot from doing it last year for the first time in 2016. We were really pleased with how the show turned out. There is a large smart-home presence at CES, and it is a growing section of the show.”

Lyman also talked about the company’s big announcements at CES, most notably Vivint Sky, the company’s new smart home assistant that uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to manage all of the devices in a connected home. Vivint Smart Home also announced a new Flex Pay option with Citizens Bank, as well as partnerships with Airbnb and Vivint Solar.

Steve Connor, director of product marketing for Nortek Security & Control, like Lyman, pointed to the growth of the smart home at CES, telling SSN, “The Smart Home section had solid traffic and this time we saw a lot of our dealers, which was nice, and different from past years. The show went very well for us and we had some big announcements.”

Most notably, Nortek Security & Control unveiled its new 2GIG Vario Hybrid Security System, which Connor said is the culmination of “a lot of hard work and innovation.” The complete Vario system consists of a security control panel with on-board hardwire inputs and outputs, which can add wireless capabilities to take advantage of 2GIG’s existing wireless solutions. [Note: An article on this is coming soon, so check back on the site over the next few days for my full interview with Connor.]

Another top provider on the residential side, ADT, made a big splash at CES this year as well, making several announcements including expansions to its Canopy platform, which brings the company’s professional monitoring to various smart device partners in an on-demand offering, as well as new integration partners and ADT Anywhere. ADT also announced that its Canopy offering will be available with the launch of LG’s Smart Security product—an all-in-one security and home automation device with video capabilities. Also at CES, ADT announced integrations with Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 smart watches.

CES also offered glimpses at the future, with self-driving and autonomous cars, including one unveiled by Bosch with biometric capability, as well as drones and robotic technology as part of an overall security system solution.

Speaking of drones at CES, Alarm.com announced at the show plans to develop autonomous, video-enabled drone applications to extend the capabilities of smart home and business security systems. Alarm.com’s multi-sensor awareness and property intelligence, together with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform, will deploy drones to investigate unexpected activity. The drones will be designed to autonomously navigate through the property and provide a high-resolution video feed to the property owner. Alarm.com also unveiled at CES its Insights Engine, a multi-sensor learning capability that recognizes and proactively responds to unexpected activity around a property.

I look forward to speaking with Alarm.com's chief product officer Dan Kerzner later this week to get more on this interesting development for the company.

And while we are on the topic of new and emerging technologies, I would be remiss if I did not get in a shameless plug for SSN’s TechSec Solutions show, where we will be looking at how to leverage new technology over a day and a half of educational sessions, networking and product displays. Click here to register and get the early bird discount!

Hope to see you at TechSec in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 27-28!
 

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