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Are you really my friend? Meet me at ISC West!

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

It’s a rainy, chilly March Sunday in Maine, and a perfect way to escape the gray weather is enjoying the beautiful artwork at the Portland Museum of Art. One exhibit currently on display there got me thinking about my trip this week to sunny, warm Las Vegas for the ISC West show … and how the show is such a good opportunity to connect with people.

The exhibit is by Maine photographer Tanja Alexia Hollander, titled: “Are You Really My Friend?” Hollander set out to reach beyond cyberspace by traveling around the world to meet her Facebook friends—she has more than 600 of them. She created photographic portraits of her cyber-friends that are now on display in the museum.

The exhibit got me thinking about how many of you in the industry I feel I know because we talk on the phone and email and tweet to one another. But in many cases, we’ve never met.

So, I'm looking forward to meeting many of my cyber-friends in the security industry in person while I’m at ISC West. I’ve scheduled the three days I’ll be at the show full of booth visits, interviews, lunches and dinners.

And I’m also excited about meeting even more cyber-friends at our “Meet the Editors” hour that we at Security Systems News and Security Director News (our sister publication) have scheduled for Wed., March 28, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. We've been urging everyone to start their  ISC West show by stopping by the ISC West Media Studio (booth # 27065).

And please also swing by our booth at other times to grab a copy of Security Systems News and catch up on the latest industry happenings, and to say hello to our staff. Break through the bonds of cyberspace and meet me and my colleagues!

“The Trip to Bountiful”: Comcast now "at home" in Utah

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Comcast is now selling home security in Utah, right in the backyard of the major summer-model security companies.

When it comes to telecoms and cable companies getting into home security, I’ve written before about how Comcast has been in the forefront of that trend. It launched its Xfinity Home Security product in 2010.

It also recently renamed the product as just Xfinity Home to reflect the fact that the service includes many home automation features in addition to home security.  And Comcast has launched the product in numerous major markets around the country and continues to introduce Xfinity Home in even more places. For example, it had a Seattle launch in February and this month Comcast announced it’s now offering the service in Utah, home to residential security giants like Vivint and Pinnacle Security.

I’ll be talking to them about their take on this new player both in their home state and nationwide. Keep your eye on this site for more!

How will new robocalling rules affect your business?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calling all alarm companies …

Are you robocalling into the void in an attempt to land new business, or to sell new products and services to existing customers? There are new rules that will soon affect you.

Under provisions of an order adopted Feb. 15 by the Federal Communications Commission, express written consent will be required from consumers before a company can place a marketing robocall to a residential or wireless number. The FCC also will require telemarketers to provide an automated “opt out” mechanism during each robocall, and it is sunsetting an important exemption for businesses placing such calls.

The bottom line for the alarm industry is that companies using robocalls to market products and services will no longer be able to do so under the “established business relationship” exception, according to Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. Instead, companies will have to obtain prior customer approval.

The good news for alarm companies is that the AICC petitioned regulators to protect certain industry uses of robocalling, and Fiore said the FCC adopted final rules that did just that.

“Alarm companies that use robocalls to try to reach customers to verify an alarm [after initial attempts by a live operator] should be able to continue such practice because it would appear to qualify as a call made for emergency purposes, and not a call made for a commercial purpose,” Fiore wrote in an online AICC missive. Calls to verify service appointments and to collect debt also will not require prior consent.

Implementation of the new rules is pending publication of approval by the Office of Management and Budget in the Federal Register. The exact time frame for that is uncertain, but it will happen. To determine the extent that it will affect the industry, the AICC is asking companies that use robocalling for marketing purposes to contact Fiore at ltfiore@aol.com by Friday, March 23.

And those political robocalls that we all know and love? They’ll still be allowed. Only seven months till November …

March Networks/Infinova deal likely to close in next few weeks

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Networks, provider of intelligent IP video solutions, announced yesterday that its shareholders approved the sale of the company to Infinova. The $88 million deal, announced in December
may close as soon as next week and before the end of April, according to a statement from March.

March is awaiting a "final order"  from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The hearing is scheduled for this Friday.

Women in security and your business

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I hope you’ll make room on your ISC West calendars to attend the second annual Women’s Security Council educational session focusing on networking and career advancement for women in the security industry, which will be moderated by yours truly.

The session will take place on the first day of the show, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, from 12:45pm-1:45pm in rooms 206-207.

What can your business do to hire and retain highly qualified women?

This is one of the topics the panelists will address. And we've got three awesome security industry executives on the panel: Kelly Bonds, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Alarm Capital Alliance, Media, Pa.; Renae Leary, Senior Director, ADT Global Accounts, Boca Raton, Fla.; and Juliette Gustavsson, Head of Corporate Marketing at Milestone Systems in Copenhagen.

Kelly is responsible for increasing sales through acquisitions and driving the overall marketing and business-to-business development strategy. Renae has more than 15 years of managerial experience in strategic sales and marketing, with eight years of global responsibility. Juliette oversees brand and marketing initiatives, and is responsible for the Milestone Systems website, video, graphics and collateral teams.

Panelists will share tips, tactics, and resources with the audience and participate in a question and answer session.

And speaking of the WSC, make sure to stop by the WSC cocktail reception at the Pinot Brasserie at the Venetian on Tuesday night, March 27, between 6 and 9. Winners of the first annual WSC Women of the Year awards will be announced.

Questions about the WSC? Email Rhianna Daniels at rdaniels@compasspublicrelations.com

Help for “fear of IP” sufferers!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dealers, do you have a fear of IP? If so, Honeywell has a cure for you.

The industry is transitioning from analog to IP, but some dealers are a bit fearful of the new technology, according to
Shannon Wilson, marketing manager for Honeywell Systems.

“Maybe they think it’s hard to set up; it’s too complicated; they don’t know the IP address of the camera, or they’re just not sure how to do it,” she wrote in a posting today on the Honeywell’s “The Security Channel” blog.

In response, Wilson said said, Honeywell has “simplified the process with our new network video recorder and performance IP cameras. We’re saying it’s 3 clicks to live video, and it’s true.”

To prove that, Wilson said, Honeywell set up a “Honeywell IP Challenge” at one of its ADI sites to let dealers find out for themselves. Check out the video of dealers overcoming their fear of IP.

Pro1 goes after national accounts in N.C.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Protection1 announced on Monday that it has acquired Camtronic Security Integration of Wilmington, N.C.

I’m scheduled to do an interview with Protection1’s Jamie Haenggi, who is on the road, so I’ll have more in a story later this week. From the press release, it’s the national accounts that attracted P1 to this buy. After he took over P1 in 2010, CEO Tim Whall said national accounts would be a priority.  Last fall, Haenggi spoke to us about Pro1’s national accounts research

Judging by its web site, Camtronic seems to be soley focused on retail accounts. Its client list includes:  Winn Dixie, Coach, Saks Fifth Avenue, Safeway, Louis Vitton and Whole Foods.

In business since 1991, the founder and president is Jay Linton. Linton, Jim Finley, Camtronic’s vice president, managing director, and Paul Yezzi, managing partner of Camtronic, and the rest of the Camtronic employees will stay on with Pro1.

Does it seem like more owners are staying on with companies after acquisitions? It does to me. At the Barnes Buchanan conference this year, Michael Barnes said that keeping owners and staff is increasingly something sellers are looking for in today’s market.

 Pro1 acquired accounts from Sting Alarm in Feb. 2010

Pro1's 'Security Switch' TV ad stars Mike of "Mike & Mike"

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I just had a chance to speak to Jamie Haenggi, Protection1 chief marketing & customer experience officer, who filled me in on the Camtronics Security Integration acquisition. There's some info in a blog I wrote earlier today. I'll be writing a story with comments from Jamie this week. 

In addition to the Camtronics deal, Protecton1 is undertaking another effort to beef up its national accounts business: launching its first ever television commercial last Sunday (March 12) starring Mike Greenberg of ESPN “Mike and Mike” fame.

“It’s aimed at our commercial and national accounts customers,” Haenggi said.

“It’s a very different concept from [security commercial which tend to focus on home security] than anything you’ve seen before,” she said. “It’s set up like a game show, like The Dating Game, and it’s called Security Switch. Mike Greenberg is stars as the client and there are three security companies,” Haenggi explained. “Mike asks contestants questions. There’s good humor in there,” she said. And, the commercial “draws the competition in to play.”

The point is to highlight P1’s value proposition, she said “which is that we take your security personally.

“It’s all about building brand awareness. We’re the second-largest security provider out there and we’re the best-kept secret. We’ve got high-profile clients moving over to us, and we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” Haenggi said.

Look for the commercial on ESPN stations. 

Pinnacle settles with Florida AG

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinnacle Security recently settled a claim by Florida’s attorney general that reps with the Utah-based summer-sales-model company were using deceptive sales practices.

But the voluntary agreement states that it is not an admission of guilt on Pinnacle’s part, and that the company entered into it “solely for the purpose of ending the investigation,” which the AG began in 2010.

And Stuart Dean, VP of corporate communications for Pinnacle, sent me this statement by the company regarding the settlement:
 

Pinnacle Security is pleased that it has resolved the Florida Attorney General's investigation to the parties' mutual satisfaction.  Over the last several months, Pinnacle worked cooperatively with the AG's office to address issues related to customer complaints regarding certain alleged sales practices that occurred primarily before 2010.  Since 2010, Pinnacle has implemented industry-leading compliance initiatives to help ensure the professional delivery of its sales and services.  As part of its agreement with the AG’s office, Pinnacle will continue to ensure that all of its customers receive superior customer care and service.  Pinnacle looks forward to continuing its relationship with the State and to protecting the security of Florida's citizens.  As part of the agreement, Pinnacle is also pleased to donate $25,000 to Seniors vs. Crime, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and protecting Florida's senior citizens.

Pinnacle, which sells nationwide and in Canada, has previously said the company had some issues in past years with “rogue” door-knocking sales staff. But in 2010, Pinnacle announced it had made a company cultural shift to emphasize a code of ethics for employees and the implementation of new ways to monitor their behavior and enforce the code.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi put out a news release March 8, describing the settlement. It said:

Pinnacle Security, a Utah-based home-alarm company, will reform its business practices and compensate Florida consumers, many of whom are seniors, for high-pressure sales tactics. Under the agreement, Pinnacle will offer refunds to customers who were misled about Pinnacle's relationship with other security companies or the cost of its services. Additionally, customers who could not get defective Pinnacle equipment repaired promptly or were overcharged when they cancelled their Pinnacle contracts will be offered compensation. Pinnacle will also make a charitable contribution of $25,000 to Seniors vs. Crime, a project set up by the Attorney General in which elderly Floridians help each other and the authorities fight criminal activity.

The Attorney General's Office opened an investigation after receiving complaints about the company's door-to-door salesmen. Among other complaints, homeowners said salesmen induced them to sign up with Pinnacle by claiming it had taken over or had some other special arrangement with their existing home-security companies.

Under the agreement, Pinnacle will improve its disclosures to consumers about its services, charges and repairs. Additionally, the company will make it easier for consumers to cancel their contracts if they so desire, and will ask new customers for detailed information about their interactions with salesmen to ensure compliance with the company’s required business reforms.

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