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Telcos & Cablecos: Their strategies revealed

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Monday, June 25, 2012

I’m here in Nashville for the fifth annual ESX show and I’m currently prepping for three, count ‘em—three, panel discussions that I’ll be moderating tomorrow. I will show no moderation in moderating on Tuesday.

The panel discussions center on three different topics—careers in security, new technology impacting your business, and the new entrants into the security industry. However, when I did conference calls with the three different groups of panelists, the conversation inevitably touched on how to effectively compete against the AT&Ts and Comcasts of the world.  

The new entrants will, no doubt, be a recurring theme in many of the educational sessions, discussions in the hallways and probably in the watering holes on Broadway in the evenings.

Another theme in my panels and others is the importance of IT know-how in security companies. It’s something security systems integrators have been talking about for many years, but it’s now becoming a crucial skill for the average security company that does residential, small business and light commercial as well.

On a related note, we’ll also be discussing security company’s back office operations and processes during a couple of my panels. Is your office IT infrastructure up to snuff?

Here’s what I’m up to on Tuesday:

9-10:30 a.m. YSP Eye Opener Breakfast in the Renaissance Ballroom: We’ll be honoring the members of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2012 and the Security Industry Mentors. After that, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion about careers in security with Mel Mahler, CEO of ADS, and one of the five Security Industry Mentors; Mike Jagger, CEO of Provident Security, SSN “20 under 40” Class of 2008; Laurie Jackson, VP, gaming sales for NAV.

1:45-3 p.m. Technology Trends Impacting your Business in Room 204.  We’ll be talking about mobile apps, managed services and what you need to do internally to ensure that your business is ready to offer these services. On the panel: Wells Sampson, CEO of American Alarm; David Carter, managing director of Security Networks of America; Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee

4:45-6 p.m. The New Competitive Landscape: Telcos, Cable Companies and Beyond in Room 204. We’ll talk about the new entrants’ strategies and timelines to scale their business. What do you need to know to compete? On the panel: Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG; John Loud, president of LOUD Security; and, Tom Kerber of Parks Associates.

Showdown at the cableco corral? ESX has ammo

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The big, bad cable giants and telecoms are riding into town, aiming to steal your horses and accounts and whatever else they can toss a lasso around. Everyone knew the day was coming, but now that it’s here, are you prepared to hold your ground? Do you really have what it takes to compete, or will you forever be at the mercy of the black hats?

Rest assured there’s hope, and you can tap into it at ESX. A number of sessions are planned to help alarm companies deal with this new landscape by staying technologically savvy and by offering what has long been seen as the silver bullet for the industry: superior customer service.

At the ESA Industry Luncheon and Annual Meeting on June 28, Kristen Simmons, managing partner at Lightswitch and former VP of marketing for Mazda North America, will share her expertise about what it takes to earn customers and turn them into advocates for your business. Simmons led Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” ad campaign and also founded LiveSmart Security, a boutique provider of home security services.

“Over the next five to 10 years, one factor will become ever more critical to the success of manufacturers, security integrators and monitoring companies alike: the customer experience,” Simmons said in an ESX news release. “New technology and integrated approaches have enabled a far more captivating experience for security customers than the traditional ‘detect and respond’ model. Leveraging these capabilities will be an enormous catalyst for customer loyalty, RMR growth and bottom-line profitability.”

On the technology side, at least a dozen sessions are planned at ESX to help attendees take on the telecoms and cablecos. A recent addition to the schedule features Patrick Egan, owner of Lancaster, Pa.-based Security Partners, who will host a series of interviews with industry leaders on how alarm companies can compete with the big boys entering the market. Egan will talk with each executive for about 15 minutes, then open the floor for a 15-minute Q&A.

The sessions are scheduled to run from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 27 at the Security Partners booth (No. 725) at the Nashville Convention Center. Seating is first come, first served. Executives on board so far include Kirk MacDowell from GE, Lance Dean from 2GIG, Gordon Hope from Honeywell, and Jay Kenny from Alarm.com.

“With all the buzz in the marketplace, we think this is going to generate a lot of interest,” said Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator for Security Partners.

To check out the full list of ESX seminars, go to www.esxweb.com. See you in Nashville …

Vivint gets millions more in financing, surpasses RMR milestone

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ever since rebranding last year, Vivint has seemed to do nothing but grow. The latest sign of that is the announcement yesterday from the residential security and home automation provider that it has surpassed a $30 million milestone in RMR, putting it among the top three largest security companies in the nation.

Also, the Provo, Utah-based summer-model company said, it has added another $50 million to its financing, bringing its total senior debt financing to $812 million.

That refinancing comes on the heels of a $72 million financing boost the company announced just over three months ago. It then had $762 million in total financing.

I’ve reached out to Vivint officials to learn more about these developments. In the meantime, here’s what they had to say in a news release:
 

“Surpassing the $30 Million RMR benchmark is quite an accomplishment and is a testament to our loyal customers and employees,” said Alex Dunn, Vivint’s chief operating officer. “We look forward to growing our customer base with continued product innovation and a corporate focus on customer service.”

… Chris Black, Vivint’s chief financial officer, commented, “We continue to enjoy a very strong relationship with our lenders and are pleased to have added an additional $50 Million to our existing facility, increasing the bank deal to over $800 Million. The increase will be used to support organic growth of the business and continued expansion of our customer base.”

“I am very proud of the accomplishments that Vivint has been able to achieve,” added Todd Pedersen, Vivint’s chief executive officer. “None of this would have been possible without the support of our customers who trust us to protect what is most important in their lives, and the talented team we’ve assembled who are passionate about creating exceptional customer experiences every day.”

Vivint is not without its critics, however. A recent television news report from South Carolina cites a homeowner and CPI Security Systems, a North Carolina-based security monitoring company, in saying that Vivint used deceptive sales tactics to steal customers from CPI.

However, the TV report says Vivint issued a statement saying: "Vivint does not condone aggressive or misleading sales tactics. To ensure the highest level of customer service, Vivint conducts a recorded telephonic survey where the customer is asked to confirm their understanding of the terms of their agreement and that Vivint is not affiliated with any other company."

Vivint rebranded from APX Alarm Security Solutions in February 2011 to better reflect its expansion beyond security into home automation services.

IMS on whole-building trend, benefits of being 'super-integrator'

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Monday, June 18, 2012

IMS released a report this morning about the whole-building trend.

The research group says that 25 percent of installed building automation systems in the Americas and EMEA were integrated with lighting control systems in 2011, and predicts that number will increase to 35 percent by 2016.

It's an opportunity for security systems integrators, but only if your company has a "robust understanding of multiple system types and strong IT networking knowledge," according to a prepared statement from IMS's Will Rhodes. IMS says what it's dubbed "super-integrators" have that capability, while "traditional integrators "often have a good understanding of one buidling system, but may lack wider IT knowledge."

Rhodes is quoted as saying that observers believe "traditional integrators are starting to lose business to 'super integrators' when a building owner or managment cmopany wants to integrate across building systems."

The overlap between security integration and building automation is a trend that Honeywell Security Products president Scott Harkins talked about at the HIS Forum (HIS dealers are Honeywell's high-end integrator partners) which took place in May in Chicago. "We hear every day about building management companies that want to get into this space," he warned about 80 integrators who attended the event.

I emailed Rhodes this morning to get a sense of how IMS is defining super integrators. "We would classify a ‘super integrator’ as a company that can integrate across multiple building systems. They can integrate building automation and physical security or security and lighting or multiples of the above," he told me in an email.

So, major integrators like JCI and Siemens clearly have the scale to do this kind of work. What about mid-sized or smaller companies? Rhodes pointed to Advantech as a good example of a super integrator. He also said that Tridium’s integrators of many sizes fall into the same category. They use Tridium's Niagara framework to integrate across many building system types.

First day at NFPA: SimplexGrinnell and Tyco split; Siemens guarantees no false alarms; and social media ROI

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How the Tyco International split this fall will benefit SimplexGrinnell; Siemens’ no-false-alarm guarantee; and how to maximize your ROI using social media are among things I learned about at my first day here at the annual NFPA Conference & Expo, being held in Las Vegas this week.

I started Tuesday morning at a pre-show reception where SimplexGrinnell president Bob Chauvin talked about Tyco International’s pending split into three publicly traded companies Oct. 1. The new companies will be ADT North America residential security business, Tyco Fire and Security, and Flow Control.

SimplexGrinnell, a Tyco International company, will be part of Tyco Fire and Security, “a global, mostly commercially-focused fire and security company,” Chauvin said.

“I think for us and for the life safety industry it means some very positive things,” Chauvin said. “What one is that we’ll be the only pure-play company that is singularly focused on the commercial fire and security business globally. Many play there, but I like to call it the privilege-of-focus opportunity: We have the opportunity to uniquely focus just in the life safety and security business.”

Secondly, he said, “SimplexGrinnell will be a significant part of this new company,” which he said is expected to do about $10 billion in sales, have almost 70,000 employees in about 1,200 locations and serve about 100 countries.”

Chauvin said he was excited and predicted that “our business will thrive with the change.”

SimplexGrinnell also was touting its eservices platform at the show, which it described as an “advanced suite of integrated web-based technologies can provide more value to customers through improved efficiency, added productivity, and lower life-cycle costs.”

Over at the Siemens booth, that company was promoting its long history of innovative technologies and its no-false-alarm guarantee.

Ron Ouimette, a Siemens product manager, said Siemens believes it is “the only company in the industry that offers a no-false-alarm guarantee. If trucks are rolling and there’s no fire, we pay.”

Company officials said the company has had that policy since 1997 because Siemens is so confident in the quality of its products.

Among the products the company is promoting at the show is its new ASAtechnology. ASA stands for Advanced Signal Analysis and its fire and fire and carbon monoxide detectors use “state-of-the-art forward/backward light scattering technology,” the company said.

The detectors also have two thermal and two optical sensors. All those features, combined with a built-in algorithm that allows for detection profiles that can be easily tailored for spaces as diverse as an office and an industrial warehouse give them very fast, reliable detection capabilities, the company said.

I also attended an educational seminar titled “Taking Your Social Media Presence to the Next Level.” It featured Lauren Backstrom, NFPA social media manager, and Michael Hazell, division manager, Web, for NFPA.

Among the surprising things I learned is that baby boomers aren’t as social media averse as we’re often made out to be. Backstrom said that while 89 percent of the members of Gen Y use social networking, and 79 percent of Gen X use social networking, baby boomers aren’t too far behind at 72 percent.

In fact, Backstrom said that boomers are “the fastest growing adopters of social media at this point.”

That’s something to think about when figuring out what customer bases you want to reach through social media.

ITC to take up OV vs. Samsung Bosch next month

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I had a quick conversation last week with Object Video CEO Raul Fernandez, about the company's recent announcement that it has signed another licensing agreement, this time with Vivotek. 

Earlier this year, OV announced that it had signed similar agreements with Sony and Tyco’s American Dynamics.

Fernandez said the fact that Vivotek decided to do a portfolio-wide agreement speaks to the fact that more and more products will be built with video analytics already onboard or will be video-analytic enabled.

OV is suing Samsung and Bosch through one legal process with the International Trade Commission and it announced last month that it had filed suit against Pelco in the U.S. District Court in Virginia.

The discussion between Vivotek and OV was prompted, Fernandez said, by OV’s Amnesty offer, which it announced just before ISC West.

The five-day ITC trial with Samsung and Bosch will start on July 18, Fernandez said. A judgment will not be announced until November, however.
Fernandez is optimistic that OV will prevail in this trial. “[We’re saying that their products] made outside the U.S. have features [for which we] have patents … they’re attacking the patents [and saying they’re not valid],” Fernandez said. “But only one [claim] has to survive. One claim does it all… it leads to an injunction of the product. It’s a highly risky proposition,” he added.

Fernandez said OV will be announcing another agreement in the near future.

Samsung, Bosch and Pelco have previously declined to comment on the OV lawsuits saying that they do not comment on ongoing litigation

SIAC honors Mahler, Malice for service and perseverance

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Longtime alarm industry leaders Mel Mahler and Maria Malice padded their laurels last week with SIAC’s 2012 William N. Moody Award, which pays tribute to those in the industry who exhibit “integrity, fairness and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

Mahler, chairman and CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based ADS Security, was a charter board member of SIAC and is currently co-chairman and treasurer. He oversees daily operations and has helped the group clear a hurdle that long defied it: establishing a better relationship with police agencies around the country.

“SIAC’s success in building bridges to law enforcement, creating new standards for equipment and encouraging best practices in alarm monitoring and regulations would not have been possible without Mel’s dedication,” SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to add the Moody Award to the many awards Mel has received for his leadership.”

Malice, VP of special projects for COPS Monitoring and president of the Arizona Alarm Association, was instrumental in getting a statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona. [http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/arizona... [Link - statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona.] Alarm dealers there will soon be able to operate with one license, replacing a web of local regulations that subjected many companies to duplicative background checks and paperwork.

“No one has faced more challenges in a single year than Maria Malice,” said Jon Sargent, industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC. “Opponents constantly tried to undermine her efforts [on behalf of the AzAA]. Maria rallied the troops, fought back with facts and traveled to numerous meetings to help elected officials understand the issues.”

Mahler and Malice will receive their awards June 26 at the ESX IceBreaker Luncheon in Nashville. Congratulations …

Say “cheese”: The Wisconsin Electronic Security Association has bestowed its annual Bill Cooper Award on Dave Simon, who recently stepped down as SIAC’s public relations chairman after being named marketing communications manager at Brink’s Inc. The Cooper Award embodies “the ultimate in hard work and fun, tenacity and getting the job done, but with a lighter side,” said Mike Horgan, former WIESA president.

Kratos personnel moves

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kratos announced  this morning that Jack Turley has joined the company as VP of Strategic Development, responsible for all marketing, vertical market development, and strategic alliances for systems integration business. .

Most recently, Turley was the VP of Sales & Marketing for Gallagher Security, and before that, he was VP of Sales & Marketing for Aronson Security Group, the West Coast ASG.

In a prepared statement, Kratos PSS president Ben Goodwin said: "Jack has a strong background in marketing with many innovative programs for various facets of the security sector in his previous roles and will work to enhance the Kratos|HBE brand to support our key initiatives."

In other Kratos news, Kratos CTO Chris Peckham has joined the TechSec Advisory Board. We have a couple other new members of the board as well; we'll be making a formal announcement before the end of the month.

LifeShield customers to be ‘monitored by Protection 1’

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yardley, Pa.-based LifeShield Security offers wireless digital home security systems that are easy to install and are professionally monitored. And now monitoring and installation for LifeShield customers is going to be provided by Protection 1, the second largest security company in the United States.

LifeShield today announced a new partnership with that industry leader. Here’s more from the company’s June 6 release:
 

LifeShield Security is pleased to announce a new strategic relationship with Protection 1, the second largest security company in the United States, that will leverage the five fully redundant UL certified central stations of Protection 1 by offering their services to LifeShield customers as "monitored by Protection 1."

With customers in all 50 states, LifeShield has built a significant national brand using innovative products, value pricing, and strong endorsements from Dan Marino and John Timoney, America's top cop. Protection 1 is known for its highly rated customer service and local presence in 60 key markets. The relationship will leverage the best attributes of both companies and accelerate residential subscriber growth.

"LifeShield Security has grown rapidly over the last couple of years, but we believe we need a local presence to expand our opportunity to grow even faster. Protection 1 has one of the industry's best reputations for local service," said Michael Hagan, CEO of LifeShield. "This relationship with Protection 1 is a win-win-win for LifeShield, Protection 1, and our customers. We both have an over 95% customer satisfaction rating, and together we give customers peace of mind with LifeShield's superior technology and Protection 1's state of the art monitoring centers."

"We are thrilled to partner with LifeShield Security," said Tim Whall, President and CEO, Protection 1. "They have brought affordable interactive services to the industry through their IP- and cellular-based products and mobile applications. Their team has a great track record in high growth Direct-to-Consumer Marketing. We think this industry is entering a new phase of growth and these types of strategic partnerships help both companies gain larger market share in a growing industry."

LifeShield also is known for making innovative use of popular culture to promote home security. Check out my blogs on the company's partnering with Airbnb and also the wide-ranging ways it taps into social media.

Axis and Salient partner with HP for VSaas

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In an effort to bring VSaas to the masses and IP to everyone, IP video provider Axis Communications, VMS provider Salient Systems and storage and server company Hewlett Packard today announced a Video Surveillance as a Service solution.

I spoke to Scott Dunn, Axis’ director of business development for North America, this afternoon about the deal. Salient adapted and integrated its enterprise VMS solution for Axis’ “one click camera connection” to stream video from IP cameras and encoders to remotely housed hosted servers from HP.  

Dunn said Salient’s VMS “has dynamic resolution scalling to serve up video and live feed in a thumbnail [view], which allows you to see a lot of feeds very efficiently .. and with efficient bandwidth usage.”

“Ultimately, we want to deliver solutions to the integrator that will drive RMR for them, so … working with world-class partners [such as Salient and HP], we can deliver a total solution to integrators … that’s cost effective and can be easily installed,” Dunn said. “And they can sell it as a service solution very much like the alarm industry [has been doing with monitoring services] for years,” he added.

So what’s the difference between this marketing agreement and the deal announced at ISC West 2011 between Axis and EMC?   They’re both aimed at making hosted video a reality for applications small and big, but there are some other differences.

For one, Salient adapted its VMS for this solution. However, “the main difference is that EMC is hosting the video in its own data center,” Axis’ Domenic Locapo said. “HP is bringing [the solution] to its biggest hosting partners to do the actual hosting,” he added.

How do integrators choose? Axis is providing best-of-breed options. It's a matter of what works best for a particular integrator and application, Dunn said.   

Dunn said Axis’ central theme this year is: “IP for everyone … affordable, quality, IP solutions for every class of user.” He said a “cloud deployment allows everyone cost-effectively [to have] benefits of IP including HD, mobility, scalability.”
 
The announcement was made today at an HP partner event in Las Vegas (called HP Discover 2012). Dunn said that in contrast to fears several years ago that IT companies would take business away from physical security integrators, this deal shows that IT and physical security collaborations mean more business for both professions.

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