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DICE expands operations team

 - 
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

DICE recently announced the latest expansions to its operations team; James Beaty joins DICE in the newly created role of VP of operations and Jen Balash was promoted to director of account management.

The operations team will be focused on maintaining a cohesive environment between different departments of DICE, Beaty told Security Systems News. “Part of what I do is make sure that we’re working together and as efficiently as we can,” he said.

Beaty said one thing he is specifically looking at is improving internal communications between divisions and making sure that division leaders meet on a regular basis. “When we become more efficient, we become more efficient for our customers,” he said.

“As far as operations, Cliff [Dice] had seen a need for someone in a business position to bring together all the entities,” Beaty said. Beaty joined DICE in May, previously working with wholesale central station United Central Control

Beaty said that an important part of the team is Balash’s recent promotion. “By being promoted to director of account management, she has a team now that [is] specifically focused on getting new products to our clients, resolving any issues that they may have.”

A team had been in place at DICE, Beaty said, comprised of operations leaders in different departments. Currently the operations team is, in addition to Beaty and Balash, comprised of Amy Augustin, with DICE’s creative department, Stephen Senk, director of IT operations and Jerry Corrion, director of development.

Nortek acquired

 - 
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Melrose Industries Plc, a UK-based investment firm with a penchant for quick turnarounds, announced today that is has acquired Nortek, Inc., a global company with brands including 2GIG, NuTone and Elan. What this means for Nortek Security & Control, which specializes in residential security and home automation products and services, is still unclear.

As I wait to hear back from both Nortek and Melrose for more on the particulars of this deal, the big question is: What kind of impact will this have back here in the U.S., as Nortek is now in 18 million U.S. homes, and has positioned itself with the recent acquisition of Nuiku, a natural language processing company, as a leader in the area of smart home technology.

In a prepared statement, Nortek's president and CEO Michael J. Clarke said, "We are very pleased to have reached the proposed agreement with Melrose Industries, which represents a significant premium for our shareholders, We believe this partnership with Melrose will enhance Nortek's ability to further leverage its industry-leading brands and market positions to continue driving profitable growth. We believe this transaction will be a positive for our employees and customers alike."

From what I can see, Melrose has an excellent track record in investing in and improving businesses before reselling them within a two- to three-year window, and has been able to increase operating margins by five to nine percentage points in all of its historical investments.

Melrose's chief executive, Simon Peckham, said in a prepared statement that although Nortek “serves attractive end markets at good points in their cycle, with strong brands and market positions … there remains solid potential for further improvement under Melrose’s guidance. Our ability to apply our industrial experience and investment expertise, as well as to liberate Nortek from its current capital structure will transform the prospects of the business."

Melrose's chairman Christopher Miller said in a prepared statement that since the firm’s inception it has created and returned more than £2.8 billion ($3.5 billion) of value to its shareholders and he believes that “Nortek presents an excellent opportunity to build substantially on that track record.”

The acquisition will be implemented principally by way of a cash tender offer to Nortek shareholders by Nevada Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Melrose. The offer price of $86 per Nortek Share, net, in cash and without interest, values the issued and outstanding shares of Nortek at $1.436 billion with an enterprise value of $2.810 billion.

Check back for more on this developing story, including interviews with Melrose and Nortek management.

NAV has new home in Vegas

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

LAS VEGAS—North American Video, a systems integrator that specializes in the casino vertical, has opened a new Western Regional Headquarters in Las Vegas.
 
The new office has what NAV calls a "Security & Surveillance Center of Excellence," a camera lab where NAV customers can test camera performance. The facility includes a temperature-controlled server lab with software and hardware from major VMS manufacturers. Both the camera lab and the server lab are integrated into training room, which can accommodate up to 50 people. The headquarters is meant to be used for education and technology training for employees as well as customers.

“With our new camera lab, we can configure conditions to emulate a client’s specific gaming floor environment in order to determine how specific camera models will perform in their casino,” Laurie Smock, VP NAV, said in a prepared statement. Smock is a Security Systems News "20 under 40" award winner from the Class of 2012.
 
Smock said that NAV had outgrown its previous Las Vegas location.
 
The new facility is located at 731 Pilot Road, Suite H, in Las Vegas. NAV is headquartered in Brick, N.J.

Is the smart home window of opportunity closing for dealers?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

With more and more consumers adopting smart home technology, and more and more players moving into the smart home space, this is a pivotal time for security dealers, as the window of opportunity to reconnect with customers—and let them know about all of the interactive services they can now provide as part of the overall security package—will only stay open for so long.

In terms of smart home adoption, almost every day a new study comes out showing that Americans are embracing smart home technology. A recent survey of U.S. adults by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and CNET finds that 28 percent of Americans own at least one smart home product and almost half of millennials are adopting the technology.

"Smart home technology is catching on because it is changing the way we live in our homes," said Robert Burns, president of Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group. "Not only is it shifting the financial perception of the home, but it's also transforming our emotional connection to our homes. We have entered a transformative era. We believe that in two to three years, homebuyers will expect smart home technology." 

Of the early smart home adopters, the research shows that 45 percent of Americans say that, on average, their smart home technology saves them more than $1,100 a year, while 72 percent say smart home products provide them with peace of mind when it comes to home security, and 81 percent said they would be more likely to buy a home if smart technology was already installed.

But while consumers are showing interest in, and adopting smart home technology, a recent study from research firm Parks Associates shows that less than 30 percent of U.S. broadband households are familiar with where to buy smart home products or services.

“In addressing the low consumer awareness for smart home solutions, all players have ample opportunities to make inroads in this early market,” said Eddie Accomando, research analyst, Parks Associates. “Roughly 40 percent of the U.S. broadband households familiar with smart home products or services learned about them from TV or the Internet. In 2016, we are seeing smart home companies develop more robust TV and Internet consumer marketing strategies to reach the consumers who don’t know where to buy smart home products.”

This is both good and bad news for security dealers, as this uncertainty of where to go for these products creates an opportunity for them to be that provider, as opposed to an MSO or a retailer.

According to Parks’ research, home security providers are not far behind retailers when it comes to being the likely purchase channel for smart home products and services, with 31 percent of broadband households preferring to buy these products from a home security provider, compared with between 35- and 40 percent prefering to buy from retailers, 23 percent from an Internet service provider, and only 12 percent preferring a pay-TV provider.

“To move the smart home from early adopters to the mass market, companies and industry players must address low consumer awareness,” Accomando said.

And this includes dealers, too, who must continue to reach out to their customers. As one dealer said during a session at ESX in Fort Worth earlier this month: “When I hear that one of my customers left us because they didn’t realize that we offer these smart home services, it keeps me up at night.”
 

Industry reacts to Apple, other possible PERS threats

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In last week’s Monitoring Matters blog, I discussed the Apple Watch’s new SOS feature, and its similarities and differences between PERS functions. A few security professionals took me up on the opportunity to respond.

Daniel Oppenheim, VP of Affiliated Monitoring, said that the heightened consumer awareness of personal emergency features could grow the market, instead of cannibalize it, and that the demographics are different. “I think the Apple Watch, specifically, is for a more mobile, more active, more tech-savvy person who would not yet be an mPERS or PERS customer.” Affiliated hosted a PERS-focused conference in May.

He pointed to Amazon, and its Echo product, as another possible entrant. “In its current iteration, the Amazon Echo is not competition, but it is a harbinger of things to come, which is the realization that consumer products now have the ability to replicate or even improve on the current technology offerings of our industry.”

Oppenheim said that neither are large concerns, but something the industry should keep an eye on. “I don’t view either [Amazon Echo’s virtual assistant] Alexa or the Apple Watch as a near-term threat to the PERS industry—I think it’s something that we need to be focused on.”

Brock Winzeler, GM of mPERS manufacturer Freeus, didn’t see much threat in the announced Apple SOS feature. “I don’t think the impact would be significant,” he said. “The reason is: It is very, very difficult to replace the services that we offer. … Our devices call a monitoring center that is specifically built to handle PERS phone calls and PERS emergencies.” 

Oppenheim shared a similar sentiment on the value of a monitoring center. “That crucial decision making process, by which an operator can have a conversation and identify whether or not help is needed—and stay on the line with the customer as help is on its way, for those that do need it—I do not see that being replaced by technology.”

Speaking more generally on voice interaction, Oppenheim said that the technology could become more prevalent in the future. “It seems complex now, but in a short period of time, the concept of voice interaction with a virtual assistant will become commonplace.”

Winzeler also said there is a technology barrier for the traditional PERS demographics. “I think you’ll have a really tough time getting the senior demographic to adopt this type of technology. I think it’s just a little more challenging.”

Rich Darling, CEO of Instant Care, an OEM PERS manufacturer, also said that PERS and Apple Watch feature differ due to their target users' abilities. “It is our belief that the Apple watch is a fantastic device for the tech savvy user. However, as a … PERS OEM we have found that the most successful products targeting the PERS market are designed to require very little from the user, and perform as required when the need arises.”

Smart home wars heating up

 - 
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just as we have seen with the smart phone revolution, the battle for the smart home looks like it will be just as hotly contested, as there is no denying that consumers today are embracing the smart home concept. 

Studies are popping up weekly confirming that demand is increasing for smart home products and services as homeowners learn more about smart home and home automation technology available today.

The latest research, from market research firm Berg Insight out of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that North America is leading the global smart home market with 12.7 million smart homes in 2015, a 56 percent year-on-year growth. According to the research, the strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of smart homes in North America to 46.2 million by 2020, which corresponds to 35 percent of all households.

The study found that the most successful products in the smart home market include smart thermostats, security systems, smart lighting, network cameras, and multi-room audio systems.

“There is no doubt that regular consumers in the future will own and operate a wide range of connected objects in their homes, from connected home appliances and luminaires to thermostats and security devices,” said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst, Berg Insight. “Attractive use cases, interoperable devices, and well-implemented user interfaces are needed in order to accelerate the market.”

Although Amazon Echo’s Alexa is leading the smart home charge right now, Apple is making a serious play with its announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference last week of its new app called Home, which will be a hub on the iPhone for all the connected devices in the home. The app is the logical next step for Apple’s HomeKit platform, and both work with Siri, who is getting some improvements and upgrades as well.

Apple also announced that it is working with homebuilders—Brookfield Residential, Lennar and KB Home—to build homes later this year that come with built-in Apple HomeKit infrastructure.

Other major players in this battle for the voice-driven smart home include Microsoft with its Cortana voice platform, and Google Home’s Assistant, which was announced in May. Rumors abound that both Microsoft and Google, like Apple, are gearing up for a serious play for a piece of the smart home market. 

Apple’s brand equity with consumers, though, shouldn’t be ignored, as it is not a big leap to think that consumers would be willing to take the plunge into the smart home market with Apple, a company they know will be able to provide a complete, somewhat air-tight system from the ground up, so to speak.

One negative for Apple is its seemingly late entry into the smart home space, where many early adopters are already using many smart home products that will not work with Apple’s HomeKit platform, which requires using a special encryption chip. Some HomeKit-certified products are currently available from companies like Honeywell, August and Phillips Hue, and Apple said that there are close to 100 more compatible products coming this year.

Stay tuned, because things are starting to get interesting in the smart home space.

Will Apple take bite out of the PERS market?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Apple recently announced a new ‘SOS’ feature coming to the Apple Watch—similar to a PERS device.

If an Apple Watch user holds down the device’s side button, emergency services local to that user’s location will be notified, as well as emergency contacts.

I spoke with former Numera CEO, current Group VP of the Nortek Innovations & Incubation Foundry, about how the Nortek offerings compare to the announced features of the Apple Watch SOS. He said one particular differentiator for Nortek is "the advanced fall detection capabilities. In order to have highly reliable fall detection, you need to have something around your torso."

Smokoff noted the difference in battery life. The Apple Watch lasts about 18 hours and the Libris mPERS device lasts “about 2-and-a-half days on average,” he said.

There is a gap in price between the Apple Watch, which needs an iPhone to work, and the Libris mPERS device which stands alone and costs less than the Apple Watch by itself.

While I’ve heard of new and emerging markets for personal emergency devices—such as hikers, lone workers or for college campus safety—many of the PERS and mPERS companies I’ve spoken with point to the aging-in-place market as the market’s main demographic.

It seems to me that there are several reasons why the Apple Watch SOS feature wouldn’t break into the aging-in-place market. Firstly, both the Apple Watch and the user’s iPhone need to be charged and both devices need to be near each other.

Second, older PERS or mPERS users may not be as comfortable with technology and, therefore, less likely to own and operate an iPhone in conjunction with an Apple Watch.

Should people take notice of Apple’s entrance in the market? Will Apple take customers away from dealers in the PERS and mPERS space? If you have any thoughts, feel free to email me: sives@securitysystemsnews.com.

Who will be in the '20u40' Class of '16? Make your choice.

 - 
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The "20 under 40" awards are one of our favorite projects here at SSN. And, no wonder, in the past nine years, we've honored some real superstars.

We need help finding the superstar integrators or end users for the Class of 2016. Don't delay: The July 1 deadline is around the corner.

Here's a link to the nomination form. It only takes a couple minutes to fill out.

A reminder: The "integrator" category included people who work for a security integration firm, alarm company or installing security dealer, or a monitoring company. The "end user" category is for security professionals who work for an end user. Sorry, manufacturers,consultants, bankers are not eligible. However, anyone can make a nomination.

Please make a nomination today.

Got questions? Call or email me.

 

CMS’ Tony Wilson talks about DragonFly

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I recently got the chance to have an email conversation with CMS’ president Tony Wilson about the company working with Honeywell’s DragonFly DIY offering. The DragonFly product is a self-installed system that is tied to professional monitoring. Wilson said the company hopes to have dealers on the DIY program by the end of June.

Wilson said that this is the first DIY solution that CMS is offering its dealers, adding that the company is also “considering adding an additional DIY program that will offer a more traditional security system solution.”

CMS has been looking at the DIY offering since April 2015, according to Wilson. “In April 2015, CMS hosted a small dealer meeting, where one of the hot topics was the growing DIY market. I invited Keith Jentoft, president of RSI/Videofied at the time, to speak at that dealer meeting. Keith introduced the DragonFly offering to the group, and there was a fairly positive response from that small group of dealers.”

“Once we knew the majority of our dealers were interested it was a no-brainer,” he said. “We ramped up the integration of DragonFly with our monitoring platform, and started educating our Business Development team about the product.”

“After a year or so of discussion with our dealers about the DIY business model, and the growth of DIY as a competitor in the security market, we’re hoping that this is an easy way for them to combat against sales they’re losing to DIY only companies.”

Wilson also said that the offering could help CMS dealers enter new markets, “like renters, and all those millennials who don’t see the value in a traditional security system.”

The company announced the DragonFly offering at ISC West, alongside its new proprietary dealer portal, CMS Compass. “Our dealers are excited about the mobile app, the real time data entry, and easy access to reporting.  They realize that CMS Compass is going to be much more than a dealer portal, it’s going to help them navigate their business in a whole new way. … [It] should be ready for our dealers by the end of July.”

CMS is a wholesale monitoring company under Protection 1. Concerning the recent deal merger with Protection 1 and ASG, a company spokesperson declined to discuss the deal, saying that not much has changed at CMS.

Economist to security dealers: acquire and hire now

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Economist Alan Beaulieu, closing keynote speaker at the ESX 2016 show that wrapped up last week in Fort Worth, Texas, was back by popular demand and did not disappoint, as he was able to mix economic forecasting with a wry sense of humor that had attendees both intellectually riveted and spitting out their drinks at the same time.

After telling the audience, “Another great depression is coming in 2030,” as baby boomers continue to age and put pressure on our healthcare system and finances, Beaulieu then said the next few years will be very good for the country and the security industry overall.

“2015 was a good year—record high levels of GDP and job opportunities, and the economy is growing,” he said. “I expect the fed rates to go up, so now is the time to get that loan, and make that purchase or acquisition, hire new people.”

He said that it is also imperative to “make sure your training and retention programs are top notch,” and “plan for higher wages and energy costs” down the road.

In the short term, Beaulieu said that he sees a mild recession coming in 2019, similar to the one we had in the ‘90s, and although he wouldn’t pick our next president, he did guarantee a “one term president” because of that looming recession.

In regard to that great depression in 2030, Beaulieu said we have the baby boomers to blame for it.

“We have 80 million baby boomers, but we have 3- to 4 million more millennials,” he said. “The millennials are going to need all of us baby boomers to die off because we are going to ruin the economy for them.”

As for the millennials, Beaulieu said, “Who knew it, but they are just like us, and want the same things we do—a family, kids and a house in the ’burbs. They will be a strength for our nation, but only after us baby boomers die off.”

Beaulieu told the audience not to be afraid to hire millennials, especially at a time when it is so difficult to find quality employees in the security industry. “Just make sure you feed them,” Beaulieu said. “And I am talking actual food.”
 

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