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Convergint gets a new president

 - 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ken Lochiatto is the new COO and president of Convergint Technologies, the Illinois-based systems integrator announced today. Lochiatto comes to Convergint from WMS Industries, an Illinois-based electronic gaming and amusement company, where he was EVP and COO, and for the past 18 months was been president of WMS Gaming, a main subsidiary of WMS Industries. While Locchiatto's background is not security-specific, he's certainly familiar with the casino vertical. WMS Gaming is a "$700 million supplier to the global gaming business.”

I had a quick chat with Convergint CEO Dan Moceri who said that Locchiato fills an open position created when Jim Botwell stepped down for medical reasons. 

At WMS, Lochiatto is credited with driving improvements "in the company's processes to be more customer-centric, while nearly doubling WMS' revenues, operating margins and competitive positioning." Before joining WMS, he was with GE for 22 years. Most recently he served as Business Leader—Advanced Communications Systems, "a system integrator for the transit industry within the GE Transportation segment." Lochiatto has a BA in mechanical engineering from Rensselaeer Polytechnic Institute and an MA in industrial administration, from Carnegie Mellon University.

“Ken has a strong engineering background, [which is important] since we’re a highly technical company, but the key reason we hired him is his excellent leadership skills,” Moceri said. “He’ll support and grow our culture, which he fits very well.”

With Locciatto looking after Convergint in North America, Moceri will be able to “focus on strategy and acquisitions and continuing to build out a world wide or a global platform.”

In August, Convergint brought on a new capital partner [KRG]. “The result is that we have the opportunity to add an acquisition strategy to supplement our organic growth … which has been 21 percent per year organically,” Moceri said.

After the recent acquisitions of ICD, a company Moceri describes as the “Convergint of China,” and FSC in Canada, “the next thing we’re going to do is go to Europe.”

Yes. Moceri is looking now for “the Convergint of Europe” to acquire and he says he’s got some target companies.

The idea, he says is to “do all the things we do for our customers—Boeing, Capital One, Amazon, Dell—in their facilities all over the world. What we do in North America … we will be doing around the world,” he said.

2014 is looking to be a busy year for Convergint, Moceri said.
 

Digital Life, Imperial Capital join PPVAR

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Several organizations recently joined PPVAR’s growing membership roster, but two of the new additions are particularly striking. Digital Life, a home management platform from AT&T, is now on board, according to Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR. This comes about seven months after Digital Life earned CSAA Five Diamond certification.

Investment bank Imperial Capital also joined the organization. This is doubtless an interesting development as well, with Imperial being the organization's first member from the private investment side. In a certain sense, an investment bank showing interest in video verified monitoring seems unsurprising, given signs of the technology's more mainstream direction, plus the technology’s ability to drive higher average revenue returns per customer. Additionally, when a private investment bank allies itself with a best-practices organization, it suggests their interest in the value proposition runs fairly deep.

The group also added The Illinois Alarm Association and the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs as members—both organizations the likes of which we've become more accustomed to seeing engage with PPVAR, an organization focused on pooling knowledge from members in both public and private sectors.

As PPVAR forges ahead toward its goal of written standards for video verification, I’ll be keen to see what kind of bearings its new members have on the organization’s direction. Will the addition of Digital Life compel other cablecos and telecoms to join? And with respect to Imperial Capital, I’m curious to see what kind of role they play in promoting PPVAR’s cause. Will their membership generate further interest in video verification from other private investment groups?

The organization is convening in the coming days, Jentoft said. After they do, I hope to get a clearer picture of where the organization is at this stage of the process.

ADT at CES 2014: New partnerships expand security beyond the home

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ADT announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week that it is partnering with Ford Motor Company in 2014 to enable drivers to do such things as open garage doors or control their thermostats from a car.

The company also is partnering with Internet security provider McAfee this year to offer customers a plan that not only protects their homes but their digital devices and data. Additionally, ADT is partnering with health solutions provider Ideal Life to support its ADT Health platform “with real-time health management services.”

ADT also announced it has added enhancements to ADT Pulse—such as remote garage door control.

The announcements all have one thing in common: expanding ADT’s security reach beyond the customer's home.

“As a pioneer in the home security and automation space, ADT is focused on evolving the security industry by developing new ways for consumers to integrate our products seamlessly into their everyday lives,” said Arthur Orduña, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for ADT, in a prepared statement. ADT, which became an independent company in the fall of 2012 after splitting from Tyco International, had a booth this week at the CES show for the second year in a row.

Here’s more from ADT on the new PULSE enhancements, which will be available this spring:
 

ADT PulseVoice App: ADT Pulse Voice app offers the hands-free convenience of using voice commands to control nearly all areas of the home in the Pulse ecosystem, including lights, thermostats, door locks, small appliances and security systems. ADT Pulse Voice also responds to user’s vocal commands and provides auditory feedback on system status and confirmation of actions.
ADT Pulse Wireless Platform: The ADT Pulse Wireless Platform features an innovative and sleek design with an intuitive, touch-friendly user interface. The wireless control panel securely and safely manages all ADT Pulse controlled devices such as lights, thermostats, locks, and small appliances. Created with the user in mind, the ADT Pulse Wireless Platform is designed to deliver a non-invasive and seamless installation experience for homeowners, reducing installation time by half and avoiding any in-wall wiring.
ADT Pulse Remote Garage Door Control: To help ensure security and control at all access points of the home, ADT Pulse will feature remote garage door controls by incorporating leading technology developed by Linear LLC. This new feature will enable users to secure and control their garage door via the ADT Pulse smartphone app from around the corner or around the world.
Canopy App: Building on the trusted expertise of ADT home security services, the Canopy mobile application for iOS and Android provides users added personal protection and networking while on the go. Canopy enables users to identify the whereabouts of and communicate with friends and family members in a designated virtual circle. Additionally, the integrated ADT Chaperone feature provides a direct line to trusted ADT monitoring centers anytime and anywhere. ADT Chaperone is a subscription-based feature within the Canopy app that provides added protection and peace of mind in situations such as entering a dark parking garage or walking alone across campus at night.

 

Alarm.com puts its own spin on PERS

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alarm.com’s new Wellness solution, unveiled recently at CES, may perform some of the same functions as a traditional PERS unit, but the solution has the unmistakable stamp of an Alarm.com offering.

The solution combines mobile notifications and sensors with the company’s home automation platform, a medley of functionalities that make it a unique contribution to the independent living product realm, which is fast becoming a widespread RMR-generating fixture in the industry.

That’s not to say Wellness doesn’t feature some of the typical trappings of more traditional PERS technology. The solution includes panic buttons, for instance. But how the offering differs from traditional PERS units in some ways parallels how Alarm.com initially distinguished itself as a company in the residential security space—through its automation functions. Through a network of sensors, the solution can automatically detect unusual information and send mobile notifications to caregivers.  

Since Wellness is fully integrated with the company’s home automation, energy management and security services, the offering essentially slots in as another component of the broader ecosystem of a connected home. Another neat wrinkle to the offering, and one that maybe shouldn’t be surprising given the overarching design of the solution, is that it enables caregivers to adjust household devices like thermostats remotely.

It’s hard to think of a product perfectly analogous to this elsewhere in the industry, though that doesn’t mean there’s not one, or at least something similar in scope and breadth. In the coming days, once CES is in the rearview mirror, I plan to speak to Alison Slavin, VP of product management at Alarm.com, to find out more about how this product puts a new spin on the PERS space, as well as what the future holds for the company in that market. 

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

That’s a possibility, according to Bill Bozeman, CEO of PSA Security. Bozeman has experience building a systems integration firm and knows both of the players in the Securadyne/Intelligent Access Systems deal that was announced yesterday.

In case you missed it, Securadyne, a start-up integrator founded by Carey Boethel and Pamlico Capital in early 2012, yesterday announced that it has acquired Ron Oetjen’s company, Intelligent Access Systems, one of the most successful and fastest growing regional integrators in the country. Here’s the a link to the story.

I talked to Bozeman today about the deal. He offered his opinion of the union and also discussed the stages of growth for integration companies—and the new challenges that come along with those different stages.

“I know both guys [Carey and Ron] well very well. They’re both PSA Security equity partners and owners. The consolidation, from our perspective, appears to be a good solid one. Carey is building a hell of a company with Securadyne; it looks to be the next Convergint, [and] congratulations to him [for that],” Bozeman said. Convergint is not a member of the PSA Security flock, but Bozeman praised [Convergint Technologies' CEO Dan Moceri] for building a very solid company.

Bozeman identified three growth-stage milestones for integration companies and the specific challenges that arise when companies grow past a certain stage.  Those milestones occur when a company reaches: A.) $3 to $5 million in revenue; B.) $10 - $15 million in revenue, and C.) $50 million in revenue.  

To get to $3 to $5 million in revenues you need to be a strong, entrepreneurial company, but to become a larger company, “You can no longer do everything yourself. You have to have a management team to help you with sales, technical and finance decisions,” he said. “This is a stage that a lot of companies can’t or don’t want to get past,” he said. The reason? They may be happy making a nice living and being the entrepreneur in charge, Bozeman said.

The next stage of growth hits when a company is doing $10 to $15 million in revenue. “They normally have more than one office and they need infrastructure. To get to the next level you need to hire well paid management people, and that can put a strain on profits of a company unless they’re well financed, which is unusual for most integration companies, or if they have a solid RMR model,” Bozeman explained. He also noted that Ron Oetjen had already successfully moved IAS past this stage.  

The third stage of growth is at around $50 million. “That’s when you really start to need a CEO and a senior management team made up of VPs that are experienced and are well paid,” Bozeman said.   

“Carey has already been president of Netversant and Siemens. He’s the ideal guy [to shepherd this company along] because he already knows what it’s like to run a company that’s $70 to $100 million or $200 million and beyond [in revenues],” Bozeman said.

“Carey’s a polished, senior level business guy who’s experienced on the large corporate side as well as on the entrepreneurial side. … And with Ron he’s got a super field general  [who brings with him] a strong middle-management team. Put that with Carey’s existing team and you have a nice equation for further success.”

Bozeman said it’s very important that Securadyne has a financial partner that knows the security business. “That’s an advantage,” he said. Pamlico Capital is a $2 billion Charlotte, N.C.-based middle-market private equity group. Pamlico was an investor in Sonitrol, but exited when that company was sold to Stanley Works in 2008.
Not all capital partners understand the security integration business, Bozeman noted.

Of course, Bozeman said, growing a national integration company is not an easy thing to do. “The proof will be in the pudding.”

Chicago integrator expands again

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chicago-based integrator SDI is going to Atlanta—with the hire of security veteran Bob Carter, who will serve as director of sales for the Southeast region of the country.

He’ll be working closely with X7 staff, a Washington, D.C.-based integration firm that was acquired by SDI in August. 

Carter comes to Iron Sky, where he has general manager and helped “build city surveillance, LPR and data integration solutions for public safety and police departments.” Before that he was with Sentry Technology and also served as a Deputy United States Marshal.

SDI redesigned its sales organization and opened a Texas office in October.

“We’ve had our eye on Atlanta,” Dawn Pfeiffer, SDI CMO told me. IN addition to the critical infrastructure and government opportunities, there are a lot of commercial opportunities in Atlanta, she said.

SDI has had a very active year. In June it acquired i-sys  and one month later it acquired X7.

SDI specializes in complex technology systems and network infrastructure for critical infrastructure. SDI customers include airports, utilities, schools, 911 centers and public transit and toll authorities. Since June of 2012, it has been owned by LLR partners, a $2 billion investment firm.

The company will continue to be acquisitive, Pfeiffer said. “We’re looking to add a third acquisition within the next six months.”

DirectView adds central station element to video offering

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DirectView Security Systems, a division of New York-based DirectView Holdings, is adding a video verification component its offerings to clients, which include both commercial and larger residential customers. As part of the initiative, the company plans to incorporate central station alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance into a comprehensive security solution.

In its initial announcement, DirectView stated it would provide a state-of-the-art UL-Listed facility for these services, but at this this juncture it’s not clear who that third-party partner will be. Security Systems News reached out to DirectView but did not receive a response by press time.

The impetus behind the video verification push, the company noted in the announcement, is multifaceted. As any champion of video verification will tell you, the value proposition lies in the technology’s ability to add the extra layer of security of trained professionals monitoring video footage, while saving clients money by reducing false alarms. In the announcement, the company said the solution will enable clients to also save money by reducing their dependence on on-site staff.

The verification component can also provide added urgency to a legitimate alarm, making dispatches a higher priority for law enforcement.

“We have received numerous inquiries from both current and potential clients about these services as part of a comprehensive and competitively priced security solution,” Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView, stated in a press release. He added that the central station initiative is designed to make the company a “one-stop-shop” for comprehensive security solutions.

Vivint Solar sues COO who jumped ship for competitor

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Monday, December 30, 2013

I wrote back in November about how Brendon Merkley, the COO of Vivint Solar, had left to work for SolarCity, Vivint Solar’s larger competitor.

Now, Vivint Solar—an affiliate of home automation/home security provider Vivint—is suing Merkley for breach of contract.

In the lawsuit, filed Dec. 4 in U.S. District Court in Utah, Vivint Solar said it is bringing the case to prevent Merkley “from violating his contractual non-competition, non-disclosure, and customer/vendor non-solicitation covenants by going to work for Solar City.” Vivint also wants to stop him from disclosing trade secrets and soliciting Vivint Solar’s employees to go and work for SolarCity, the lawsuit says.

Vivint Solar is seeking to have the court restrain Merkley from working for Solar City for the time period his non-competition covenants apply. Vivint Solar also is asking for damages.

However, in another twist, Merkley and Solar City, which is based in in San Mateo, Calif., are suing Vivint Solar in California state court, saying non-competition covenants Merkley signed with Vivint Solar are unenforceable under California law, according to Vivint Solar’s lawsuit.

Vivint Solar, based in Provo, Utah, was established in 2011 and quickly has become the nation’s second-largest provider of residential solar systems, employing the successfull door-knocking sales techniques of Vivint. However, Solar City, founded in 2006, is the largest home solar provider.

Merkley was one of the original executives of Vivint Solar and a board member, so had an in-depth knowledge of the company, according to the lawsuit. He was “the face and voice of Vivint Solar” with the public and at community events and industry functions, before starting his new job at Solar City on Dec. 1, the lawsuit says.

Merkley tried to recruit a Vivint Solar VP to join him at SolarCity before he left Vivint Solar, but the VP refused, the lawsuit says.

Merkley was not the first Vivint Solar executive to bail for SolarCity. Former Vivint Solar CEO Tanguy Serra also joined SolarCity last spring.

Video surveillance trends to look out for in 2014

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

IHS has come out this its 2014 prediction of video surveillance trends to look out for in 2014. Of particular interest, is what IHS calls the "crowd sourcing" of video data collection, ie they way video was collected and analyzed from many different sources following the Boston Marathon bombing. There's been a ton of talk about the legacy of how that tragedy was handled, and I think IHS has summed it up well and obviously pointed out a trend to watch.

In terms of products that are selling and vertical markets that are hot, IHS points to "fixed-dome and 180/360 degree network cameras," and, not surprisingly, city surveillance and maybe a less-obvious one--utilities/energy sectors.

Thermal cameras are getting some attention. This is a topic we've written about, most recently in a market trends report.

Are you paying for video analytics? According to IHS, you will be if "the end-user needs advanced reliable analytics." Doesn't everyone need reliable analytics?

Audio capabiities will come into play more in 2014 too, IHS says.

Below is an overview of the trends that IHS put out yesterday: 

IHS has recently released its fifth annual white paper on the key trends for the video surveillance industry. 2014 is all set to be another exciting year for the industry, with big data, thermal cameras, embedded audio capabilities and the rise of the cloud in China just a few of the trends to watch out for during the next 12 months.
 
The trends are:
 
1. Video Surveillance: The Star Markets for 2014
2. Big Data: Crowd Sourcing Video Surveillance and Social Media Analytics
3. Cloud Based Video Surveillance Opens Markets in China
4. Thermal Cameras Hit the Commercial Market
5. Panoramic Cameras – Providing the Full Picture
6. Power over Ethernet: Watt’s the Story?
7. Is it Time for a Different View on Live Video and Mobile Access?
8. Video Analytics Market Reaches a Fork in the Road
9. Security Cameras to Make Some Noise in 2014
10. Video Surveillance Vendors Enter New Markets
 
 
1. Video Surveillance: The Star Markets for 2014
 
IHS has been researching the video surveillance equipment market for more than 10 years. During this time, the market has grown quickly, most years at a double digit rate. The year 2014 will be no exception. IHS forecasts that the global market will grow by more than 12 percent. Within the global market, IHS has identified fixed-dome and 180/360 degree network cameras as the fastest growing product segments, and the city surveillance and utilities/energy sectors as the vertical markets to watch.
 
2.Big Data: Crowd Sourcing Video Surveillance and Social Media Analytics
 
The prevalence of smart phones, with cameras and internet connectivity—combined with social media apps such as Vine or Instagram—has led to the first “crowd sourced” data collection for an investigation in 2013, following the Boston Marathon bombings.
 
Now that the trend has begun, IHS predicts it is likely that police forces will increasingly request, and need to manage, crowd sourced video surveillance data. While this will allow law enforcement agencies to react more quickly, especially with the use of social media monitoring, it will also create data analysis and manipulation challenges. Meeting these challenges will provide systems integrators and software vendors with a new opportunity to create solutions that improve police incident responses in 2014 and beyond.
 
3. Cloud-Based Video Surveillance Opens Markets in China
 
In China, the concept of the cloud is becoming increasingly popular, especially as the telecom infrastructure matures. As network bandwidth improves and network product pricing declines, cloud based video surveillance solutions are drawing the attention of more suppliers. While a cloud based solution is not a compulsory choice, it does represent a great opportunity to leverage the massive demand for civil video surveillance.
 
With more attention and an increasing customer base, IHS predicts that cloud based video surveillance solutions will be defined by the value created in the applications it offers to customers. With more than 1 billion potential users in China, getting the right mix of product and security features will be a successful combination.
 
4. Thermal Cameras Hit the Commercial Market
 
IHS forecasts that the video surveillance product market that will see the largest average selling price (ASP) decline during the next few years will be the un-cooled thermal camera market. While the number of un-cooled thermal camera units shipped to the commercial security industry suggests that the market has not yet been commoditized, increased competition, new products and new end-user markets will mean 2014 is a breakthrough year for the technology.
 
5. Panoramic Cameras – Providing the Full Picture
 
The big video surveillance camera category winner in 2014 will be 180/360 degree panoramic network cameras, with global unit shipments forecast to increase by more than 60 percent year-on-year, according to IHS. In particular, the cameras are predicted to gain market share in verticals such as retail, airports and casinos, where monitoring wide indoor areas is a key requirement of the video surveillance system.
 
6.     Power over Ethernet: Watt’s the Story?
 
As the transition towards network video surveillance continues, increasing focus is being placed on the supporting network infrastructure, and a crucial element to this is power. Recent developments in power over Ethernet (POE) standards and products make the technology a much more viable option for security managers. Looking forward, IHS expects that security camera manufacturers will expand and develop their portfolios of low-powered cameras to conform to the POE+ standard. Technologies that overcome the distance limitations of Ethernet and POE also will find general market acceptance.
 
7.     Is it Time for a Different View on Live Video and Mobile Access?
 
Following the events of the school shooting in Sandy Hook 12 months ago, there has been renewed focus on the idea of facility security managers securely sharing live video footage with law enforcement in the event of an incident. The technology needed to provide this already exists, yet issues over ongoing cost—and more importantly, who pays for the system—have meant that market penetration has been limited. However, with costs dropping and a refocus on protection of assets of both the physical and human kind in the post-Sandy Hook era, 2014 could be the year where live streaming of video surveillance to law enforcement becomes the norm.
 
8.  Video Analytics Market Reaches a Fork in the Road
 
For some time now, video surveillance device vendors have been embedding low-end video analytics applications in their devices and offering them as “free” features. A question has therefore been raised: Will there continue to be a market for video analytics, or will all applications simply be offered for free? As the market reaches this fork in the road, it’s clear that vendors can no longer charge for basic algorithms. That said, in 2014, the market for video surveillance devices with chargeable VCA will remain a viable market in applications where the end-user needs advanced reliable analytics.
 
9.  Security Cameras to Make Some Noise in 2014
 
More than 70 percent of network cameras shipped globally in 2013 had either unidirectional or multidirectional audio capability, according to a new analysis from IHS. However, the consensus from security systems integrators is that these capabilities are rarely used. Nonetheless, with increasing awareness of embedded audio analytics and even sound source localization, market penetration could be about to rise. With much of the technology already available and the constant need to differentiate products and increase system efficiency, IHS predicts that the market will see greater emphasis on the audio capabilities of video surveillance systems in 2014.
 
10. Video Surveillance Vendors to Enter New Markets
 
Contrary to popular belief, the physical security market is not consolidating, at least not in the near future. However, video surveillance vendors are beginning to look at new markets as they invest the profits made from years of fast market growth. Following the announcements of new products from companies like Milestone Systems and Axis Communications and new services from Hikvision and Dahua during 2013, IHS expects this trend to continue into 2014 with more new product and service announcements from network focused security companies, as they seek to add new revenue streams to their portfolio.

Honeywell gets to the heart of the holidays

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Many security companies produce holiday ads featuring their products. But Honeywell took an innovative approach in promoting security this season—actually commissioning a Nashville band, Telecommunicators, to create an original song, “You’re My Heart,” and using it in a music video that highlights the features of Tuxedo Touch.

The resulting video tugs at the heart while showing the ways Tuxedo Touch can enhance a family’s home life.

And Angela Remmert, media specialist at Honeywell Security, told me the music video carries benefits for dealers too.

“The song is free to download for dealers and consumers. It also gives dealers an opportunity to use the video on their web sites and social media channels as a holiday message, in case they didn’t have the resources to create their own,” she said.

David Gottlieb, Honeywell Security’s global marketing communications leader, summed up the holiday initiative in a recent blog post on Honeywell's The Security Channel blog by saying it shows “what our industry does is woven into … daily life.” Well said—and happy holidays!
 

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