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ESX 2019 full of passion from start to finish

 - 
Monday, June 10, 2019

From the showroom floor and education sessions to motivational speakers, one-on-one interviews and central stage talks lead by SSN as the premier media sponsor of ESX, the goal of #PassionateSecurity was more than fulfilled. In my opinion, this passion for security was best seen as industry peers openly shared their experiences with others via conversations, interactive education sessions, networking events and receptions—even if that meant sharing with the competition, all in the name of keeping security as top priority.  

One of the unique things that happens at industry events is an overarching theme will emerge, one in which “everyone” seems to be talking about. At ESX 2019, that was the customer and employee experience. This takes empathy and the ability for security professionals to put themselves into the shoes of their customers as well as their employees to understand how they feel and what they truly need. The result? Employees feel appreciated, leading them to embrace a “servant” mentality toward customers, doing whatever it takes to ensure nothing but greatness, which fosters excellent customer experiences when working with your company. (Hence, #PassionateSecurity.)

Case in point: I was honored to moderate the education session “Sales vs. Operations: 6 Ways to Turn Conflict into Collaboration,” where Jeremy Bates of Bates Security, Paul Hevesy of Stanley Security; and Suvankar Roy of Xfinity Home shared some amazing tips on how to bond together sales and ops teams so that the customer benefits. One easy-to-implement tip presented was “Thankful Thursdays,” where people on the sales team identify someone they are thankful for on the ops team and why, and of course, the ops team does the same for the sales team, and then voice this during cross departmental meetings. This fosters a culture of appreciation and gratitude within the company, which spills over into customer interactions by sales and ops team members, and helps to enhance the overall customer experience. 

And, speaking of unique … this year at ESX, SSN live-broadcasted the central stage talks, hosted by Editor Paul Ragusa, via Twitter. Below you will find a list of informative quotes that emerged from each on-stage security professional. Simply click on their name to be transported to their specific talk to gather even more valuable tips, tricks and insights. It’s like sitting in your living room with knowledgeable security professionals, sharing a cup of coffee and chatting about the industry! In fact, grab a cup of coffee and sip along as you view! And, please don’t forget to “like,” share and comment on each one.

ESX 2019 Central Stage Talks

“The two touchpoints today are the voice of the customer and the customer experience. At the end of the day, I think it’s the personal relationships that are going to differentiate those well-sought-after companies.” 

Ivan Spector, president, TMA

“They [the customer] want the latest video camera, door locks, but at the same time they don’t want to have 50,000 apps. They want simplicity.” 

Celia Besore, executive director, TMA

“Really what we need are salespeople who can ask better questions: what’s the problem we’re trying to solve? What is it that they [the customer] is trying to accomplish? Not just be so product oriented but solution oriented.” 

Gretchen Gordon, president, Braveheart Sales Performance

“One of the strategies we use is to let citizens know how a policy like verified response, which means that it confirms some criminal or attempted criminal activity before the police will respond, will affect them.” 

Stan Martin, executive director, SIAC

“Almost all the features that we do in our panel, all the technologies that we put in there, are a direct result of listening to our customer’s feedback.”

Jeremy Mclerran, senior director of marketing at Qolsys Inc.

“ … there’s DIY and DIT, “do it together,” and I think dealers are figuring out how that’s going to work … customers are taking some responsibility for their systems … I think the more that there is opportunity for the consumer to become aware of their security system and some of the features it delivers for them, whether it be convenience featured of peace of mind features, the more they’re willing to spend to add onto and grow, I think that will grow our entire industry.”

Mark Hillenburg, executive director of marketing, DMP

“On average, consumers spend four hours or more installing their DIY security system in the home, so the market tends to push toward ‘do it for me.’” 

Dina Abdelrazik, senior analyst, Parks Associates

“We [ESA] are launching an assessment exam which I think is something we’ve needed in the industry for a long time … because we have so many training courses, we have this vast array of test questions. So, we took all that information and put it together in a software package; we can actually have a technician take an exam, and that will give us the information we need to understand where their strengths are from a technical standpoint and where their weaknesses are. And, then we can develop a roadmap for the member to put that technician on a path to improve their weaknesses and maybe even accentuate their strengths.” 

Merlin, Guilbeau, executive director, ESA

“One of the great things around the smart home being more common and more useful is it brings a lot of awareness. It wasn’t too long ago, we’d have to explain to a client or prospective client what was possible with their system; whereas now, people understand you could control your lights with your phone. You can decide whether or not that’s of interest to you.” 

Mike Jagger, president, Provident Security 

“On the commercial side, it’s really all about cameras; it’s really about video and everything that video can do … that’s not just driven by market demand, but it’s also driven by legislation and local governance.” 

Steve Firestone, president, Select Security 

 

ESX 2019 wraps up in Indy after memorable event

 - 
Monday, June 10, 2019

ESX 2019, one the key security industry conferences, wrapped up last week in Indy, with the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA) organizing another great event. As the premier Media Sponsor for ESX each year, Security Systems News is always proud and honored to support the conference.

As I said in my introduction of the opening keynote, it is inspiring to be in a room filled with so many professionals who are so “passionate” about security. This passion is what differentiates them from others, and makes them so successful at what they do. This passion for security is also what made ESX 2019 stand out.

One of the ways that SSN has tried to bring better and more-timely content from key conferences like this is through live videos and social media. Throughout my wrap-up and SSN Managing Editor Ginger Schlueter’s wrap-up coverage you will find links to live videos (mostly SSN Live Twitter Feeds), as well as footage of the SSN Video Interviews that were done on the Expo floor at the ESX Central Stage.

The conference started with what has become a staple at ESX, the Open Exchange Breakfast, which always seems to deliver a high-level content focused on industry specific topics. This year was no different, as ESX Chairman George De Marco moderated an interactive panel that included Alex Pachikov, Founder, Sunflower Labs, and Nate Williams, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Kleiner Perkins.

Williams, who founded UNION Labs, spends his time these days discovering the next big businesses at the intersection of Connectivity (IoT), DataScience (AI/ML) and Autonomy/Automation as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Kleiner Perkins.

Williams said that “security” is one of those areas that “couldn’t be hotter” as more and more IoT devices are connected and exist on a platform that must be secured. The sensorfication of security, he noted, will continue at an ever-increasing pace, and security is going to need to keep up, even stay one step ahead. And as Silicon Valley continues to innovate in the space, partnerships with these companies can be very advantageous to more traditional players within security.

He also pointed to the potential to mine and use all of the data that is being generated today and in the future — from our phones, our cars, our homes, cities, etc. — pointing out that the “breadth and depth of it is enormous,” noting that the data can help security professionals run their companies smarter and better serve their customers in the process.

When it comes to the truly smart home, Williams pointed out that there is still a “divide between the dream of the connected home and reality.”

Pachikov, who is a founding member and longtime leader of business development at Evernote, has since become a specialist in emerging trends in the mobile and robotics industries. His Sunflower Labs’ company features an autonomous drone-based security solution that he demonstrated for attendees, showing just how far drone technology has come over the past few years. You can tell that he has spent years perfecting the system, overcoming many challenges that first existed for this technology, such as flying in bad weather, which he showed the audience how he was able to overcome.

Pachikov said he believes the “next revolution will come from autonomous drones” because they offer many unique advantages, including:
•    Coverage of large properties (up to 150m radius);
•    Tracking of moving targets;   
•    Proactive deterrence; and
•    Standalone or integrated with existing security systems.

Overall, he said, “The time is right and technology is ready … I am excited to bring this to market.”

As Williams pointed out, ultimately it is about “capturing your customer” and finding out how to address their “pain points” and provide the right solutions for them, whether it is through technology, or services, or both. Pachikov’s drone system is a good example, he said.

Another highlight of ESX this year was the Opening Keynote Luncheon: Making an Impact, which was delivered by the amazingly charismatic Dr. Rick Rigsby (click here for the full keynote), who spoke about how important it is for us to get back to the basic values — kindness, compassion, ethics, morals, decency, to name just a few — that many times get overlooked in today’s “look at me” society we live in.

Dr. Rigsby referred many times his book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” which is based on the timeless common-sense wisdom learned from his father, who as a third grade dropout taught himself how to read and write, all while working for his family at an early age, and supporting and guiding the moral compass of a large family as an adult.

Rigsby was quick with inspirational and thought-provoking quotes throughout his gripping presentation, where he asked attendees to pull their heads out from the insanity of the day-to-day and look at the bigger picture that is life itself. My favorite of his witticisms — “Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.” For more on Rigsby, I highly suggest you give his keynote a listen — just make sure you have a Kleenex handy!

Moving to the Expo hall, I was able to have some great conversations with many of the exhibitors as well as with many leaders within the industry during the SSN Live Interviews that were conducted on the ESX Central Stage. Below is a short recap and link to the interviews that I did on both days of the Expo floor:

Tuesday, June 4

Ivan Spector, President, and Celia Besore, Executive Director, The Monitoring Association.
During our conversation, these two key leaders of this important organization shared their thoughts on what the association is focusing on these days, how monitoring companies and stations are evolving and what is to come moving forward for professional security monitoring.

Gretchen Gordon, President, Braveheart Sales Performance
Be sure to check out my enlightening conversation with sales performance guru Gretchen Gordon, who shared many secrets of successful companies, including how top companies today are finding and retaining good employees.

Stan Martin, SIAC
It was nice to sit down with the head of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition and get an update on what SIAC is doing to combat the Sandy Springs Alarm Ordinance that has sparked such controversy over the past year.

Jeremy Mclerran, Sr. Director of Marketing at Qolsys Inc.
During our interview, Jeremy tells SSN about the company’s latest panel, which took home First Place in the ESX TechVision Challenge, a culmination of the ESX Innovation Awards, which were given out at the show.

Mark Hillenburg, Executive Director of Marketing, DMP
Mark speaks with SSN about DMP, which took home two ESX Innovation Awards this year.

Wednesday, June 5

Dina Abdelrazik, Senior Analyst, Parks Associates
SSN speaks with Dina about where the smart home is today, including the latest Parks research on smart home adoption, the future for smart home automation and what dealers and monitoring companies need to do to stay on top.

Merlin, Guilbeau, Executive Director and CEO, ESA
Check out my conversation with the head of ESA, who shares with SSN some details on the latest initiatives the organization has going, including a workforce development initiative with SIA that couldn’t come at a more critical time, as this is a major concern for everyone in the industry.

Mike Jagger, President, Provident Security
During my talk with a former ESX keynote speaker who runs a highly successful security company, Jagger shared some refreshing views on the industry that may alter the way you look at topics such as false alarms.

Steve Firestone, President, Select Security
During my talk with the head of one of the most successful and fastest growing companies in security today, Steve shares some of the secrets of Select’s success, as well as some of the areas of focus for ESA, which he serves on the Board of Directors for and helps guide strategy.

In addition, sitting in on the many educational sessions, and having the opportunity to moderate one myself, I was reminded of how important a conference like ESX is in helping to define where we are as an industry, and how we can continue to push the industry forward together — as an industry.

In my session, Installation Performance: On Time, On Budget, On Par for Quality, I had the pleasure of leading a great panel that featured Mike Williams, Project Manager, Security Pros; Cindy Ponder, General Manager, Bates Security; and Shuvankar Roy, Vice President, Xfinity Home.

Each of them pointed out in their own way that the customer is still king, and getting the job done right for them is the first and most overriding priority. Ponder, for example, outlined how the company was able to “create efficiencies and best practices within sales and operations” that have lifted the company to that next level, cutting a 16-week backlog for commercial jobs in half, “empowering staff and lifting morale of staff,” which as she pointed out, is the goal for any company today.

It is sessions like this and speakers like Rigsby that make ESX such a memorable experience.
 

Live from ESX 2019

 - 
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Excited to be here in Indy for ESX 2019, one of the key security industry conferences in the industry, organized by the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA). As the premier Media Sponsor for ESX each year, Security Systems News is proud and honored to support the conference and ESA and TMA, which has put together an amazing educational program, keynote speakers and trade show experience.

In addition moderating two sessions, Sales vs. Operations: 6 Ways to Turn Conflict into Collaboration and Installation Performance: On Time, On Budget, On Par for Quality, SSN Managing Editor Ginger Schlueter are conducting SSN Live Interviews on the ESX Central Stage featuring interviews with key security leaders from ESA, TMA, Parks Associates and SIAC, to name just a few, so be sure to come check them out from 2-3pm on Tuesday and 1-2pm on Wednesday.

Be sure to come by booth 701 and visit the SSN team!

Check back here all this week for updates and a full recap of my time in Indy at ESX 2019.

ESX 2019: Day One

 - 
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

It’s my first visit to Indiana and it’s amazing to be spending my time at ESX 2019 learning about new trends and happenings in the electronic security industry. The day opened with a breakfast panel: Nate Williams from Kleiner Perkins and Alex Pachikov of Sunflower Labs, both of which highlighted focusing on the customer as well as the customer experience as it relates to security solutions created and offered. Education sessions followed and then Rick Rigsby took the stage as the luncheon keynote speaker, who divulged getting back to the basics when it comes to excelling in the security industry as well as life in general. Rigsby’s motivation that he shared with the audience can be experienced on Twitter @SSN_Ginger. 

Once the showroom floor opened, our Editor, Paul Ragusa, took the central stage, interviewing leaders within the industry. The knowledge shared can be seen on my Twitter @SSN_Ginger. 

Tomorrow’s agenda is filled with time on the showroom floor, education and more motivational keynote speakers, so stay tuned for a recap of things learned at ESX 2019 and be sure to follow me @SSN_Ginger for live Tweets and videos of the action! 

 

Cyber:Secured Forum helps heat up the Lone Star State

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Things are heating up here in the Lone Star State which means air conditioning bills are about to go up, water will be consumed by the gallons, the smell of sunscreen and sun block will be everywhere, but most importantly, it means the Cyber:Secured Forum will be here before we know it at The Westin Dallas Park Central, July 29-31.

Senior Technical Director for NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center (NCTOC), David Hogue, will be taking the stage on July 31st, 11:30am to 1:30pm, keynoting about fostering innovation and public-private partnerships in cyber defense. 

“The NSA is one of the most forward-thinking security organizations in the world,” Joe Gittens, director of standards, SIA told SSN. “David Hogue has been a technical expert on many of the agency’s cybersecurity threat mitigation efforts and a lead researcher on a number of high-profile breaches, like the Sony Pictures hack.” 

Attendees can look forward to the following take-aways from Hogue: 

  • Principles on how NSA is approaching cybersecurity innovation
  • How the security industry can partner in this overall mission; and
  • Ways the industry can develop solutions for: managing gateways and cyber perimeters, hardening endpoints to meet best practices and standards, embrace comprehensive and automated threat intelligence and cultivate a culture of curiosity and innovation. 

 

“I believe there is not a better voice to educate our industry on the emerging threats that enemies are deploying to interfere with the ever-connected nature of our nation,” Gittens said. “Security battlefronts are constantly changing, and David’s presentation will offer rare insights into how partnership and innovation within the security industry can lead to increasing success in the public and private sectors.”

I look forward to seeing everyone at Cyber:Secured and taking lots of notes on what Hogue has to offer! 

 

Smart home market is growing and maturing

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The smart home continues to grow in awareness among homeowners, with approximately 22 percent of U.S. Internet households reporting owning a smart home device in Q4 2018, up from 17 percent in Q4 2017, according to The NPD Group. Alongside ownership growth, 2018 saw an 18 percent dollar sales growth in home automation devices compared to 2017, and NPD’s latest Future of Tech forecast expects the category to reach $2.5 billion by the end of 2019.

According to the Connected Home Automation Report from NPD’s Connected Intelligence, smart home device awareness has reached 42 percent among non-owners; but growth in awareness is beginning to slow, indicating that the marketplace is maturing. Additionally, the report shows the largest increase in ownership occurred in the 35-54 age bracket, from 16 to 22 percent, a sign that the smart home concept is shifting from early adopter to mainstream consumer.

This is further evidenced by the broader scope of retailers through which purchases are being made. In fact, consumers are increasingly buying smart home devices from cable/telco providers, home improvement stores and pure play online retailers, according to the NPD Group. Out of the more than 5,000 consumers surveyed who own a smart home device, the research firm found that 13 percent indicated making at least one smart home purchase through their cable/telco provider in Q4 2018, up 6 percentage points from year ago.

The home improvement channel also realized sales growth, particularly in the smart entry category, where 27 percent of consumers reported purchasing in this channel in Q4 2018, up from 16 percent a year earlier, NPD Group found. Finally, sales through pure play online retailers saw increases in smart power and smart lighting, with 51 and 38 percent of respondents indicating purchases were made in those categories through this channel in Q4 2018, up from 38 percent and 30 percent year ago.

“As consumers become more familiar with smart home products we are seeing that they are more open to purchasing through a wider variety of channels,” said Weston Henderek, director, industry analyst for NPD Connected Intelligence. “This demonstrates the importance of having strong retail distribution across a wider number of retailer categories for smart home OEMs.”

The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Connected Home Automation Survey is based on consumer panel research that reaches over 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18-plus from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds.

Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market.

For more information click here

 

Capturing the magic of Catalyst 2019 with these “need-to-knows” about PERs, mPERS and professional monitoring

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Earlier this month, I attended Catalyst 2019, hosted by Affiliated Monitoring, at the “happiest place on Earth,” where “magic” literally happens moment by moment. With two main goals—education and networking/relationship building—this year’s Catalyst provided a ton of “magical” nuggets that all PERS and mPERS professionals need to know.

Need to Know Data

Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated Monitoring’s CEO, pumping up the audience with his keynote and survey results from Edmonds Group: in 2017, PERs signed up 1.4 million service customers. This data is significant, because up until then, the PERs industry didn’t have good data revealing the size of this niche industry.

Oppenheim continued on, explaining how professional monitoring protects our 911 system: Of the 3.4 million active PERs customers, 51 percent press their button every month. This results in 1,734,000 professional monitoring interventions per month, saving 166,464 lives per month and preventing 1,567,536 calls to 911 per month. To continue “protecting seniors and giving peace of mind to caregivers,” Oppenheim suggested the need for professional monitoring companies to partner with government entities.

Need to Know Challenges

The top three PERs company challenges are:

1.    Telecom changes – The National Center for Health Statistics found 24 percent of those aged 65 and older have do not have a landline phone and within the next five years, VoIP adoption is expected to see a 124 percent growth rate.
2.    The 4G transition – Carriers say there will be no new 3G Sim activations after THIS summer, with the 3G network forecasted to shut down by February 2022.
3.    “Self-monitoring” and overcoming customer objections – Educating customers as to why PERs and professional monitoring is needed when there are so many smart devices on the market today, including smart speakers and watches, and emergency alert apps.

Need to Know Telemarketing Insights

Michele Shuster, partner, MacMurray, Petersen & Shuster, LLP took the Catalyst stage, gave some important advice regarding:

•    Third-party lead generation (gen) – if you purchase leads, know exactly where the company is getting those leads from; make sure lead gen contracts include “callable leads,” meaning the consumer understood that by providing their information they will be contacted; train your staff on how to make calls lawfully and audit using scrubbers. Shuster also said if you receive a letter threatening to get sued because one of your company representatives called a consumer, do not ignore the letters; be proactive by obtaining legal advice.
•    Consumer data – if your company has collected sensitive data about consumers and that information isn’t needed, get rid of it.
•    STIR/SHAKEN – make it a point to understand this new technology standard to ensure calling numbers aren’t spoofed, or the calling telephone number is not altered.

Shuster explained that basically, a trust token is issued from a telephone company, authenticating all the company’s phone numbers. The type of token issued dictates whether your call will get through without harmful labels being placed on it, or even getting blocked.

Need to Know Business Operation Tips

Richard Brooks, president, healthcare division, ConnectAmerica, gave the executive keynote, with business tips interspersed throughout:
•    Your teams make you successful; make sure each team member knows their jobs and their importance to the overall success of your PERs business.
•    Build “on-ground” relationships; you have to actually “touch” people so get “feet on the street.”
•    Your employees are your most important asset because they talk to your customers, sell your products and serve people.
•    Employees need to understand everything they do can impact a life.
•    As your PERs business grows, it’s impossible to do everything, so hire a management team to help with leadership.
•    For small PERs businesses, emphasize you’re the “local PERs provider” because seniors like local.
•    Local relationships are key for small PERs companies getting bought by larger companies. Know the key local people, interact and establish a good relationship. Brooks also advised keeping great books and records, staying on top of cash receipts.

Attending events is an exciting part of my managing editor role here at Security Systems News, which suites me to a tee because I love learning and then sharing my newfound knowledge with our amazing readers.

SSN exclusive Q&A with ESX Chairman George De Marco

 - 
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

With ESX 2019 just a few weeks away, SSN caught up with ESX Chairman George De Marco to talk about the upcoming conference and expo in Indianapolis, June 3-6, his views on the industry and what he thinks are the greatest challenges and opportunities within security today.

SSN: As the Premier Media Sponsor for the ESX Conference again this year, Security Systems News is excited to support and participate in the conference and expo. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s ESX Conference?

De Marco: Every year, I look forward to reconnecting with security professionals from across North American to get insights on their business challenges and near-term opportunities. However, the Indy Experience is top of mind for me. I’m very excited to head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a tour and an opportunity to jump in a pace car for a quick trip around the track, especially just after the Indy 500 takes place at the Brickyard.

SSN: What do you think are the some of the key benefits of attending ESX? What do attendees have to look forward to this year?

De Marco: The key benefits for security professionals are education, networking opportunities, and quality conversations with exhibitors. For education, our peer-developed and peer-delivered content represents some of the best in the industry … it’s an opportunity for security professionals to gain knowledge about the trends, opportunities and challenges in the industry, including learning best practices from industry thought leaders. Our networking opportunities allow security professionals to spend time with their peers and colleagues in informal settings to talk shop and allow for deep conversations on how to solve everyday problems with real solutions. In addition, the exhibit hall is where dealers and integrators will have quality conversations on ways to grow revenues and improve profits.

SSN: You have some exciting keynote speakers this year. Can you talk a bit about each one and what they bring to a show like ESX?

De Marco: Every Main Stage session brings something special to ESX, whether its inspirational, business-focused, or addressing the changing competitive landscape. The OpenXchange begins the Main Stage journey with a drone company founder who has a unique perspective on security as well as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence from Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that specializes in investing in incubation, early stage and growth companies.

The Opening Keynote, Dr. Rick Rigsby, will highlight a profound message about rediscovering what is really important and meaningful for organizations to consider. The General Session centers on a compelling message from Kevin Brown, called the Hero Effect, giving us insights on what it takes to reach beyond what is required and do something remarkable — personally and professionally. And our Closing Keynote focuses on taking security to the next level. A Secret Security agent and a Director of Safety from the motorsports racing company will illustrate a process to change our perspective on how we approach security, especially in the workplace and in schools. In addition, during the Closing Keynote, we will recognize recipients of ESA’s Scholarship and TMA’s Public Safety Award, including SIAC’s PDQ and Moody awards.

SSN What do you think are the top trends — technology and otherwise — impacting, shaping and affecting the industry today?

De Marco: I think the future of interaction with security systems and connected devices is beginning to take effect, from voice-recognition and voice-enabled technologies. As the interaction of voice evolves into a more natural experience for humans with their computer counterparts, the adoption of smart home devices and security-related products will grow within the home, at work, and on the road.

The definition of monitoring is being redefined beyond just dispatching police or fire services. As next-gen monitoring evolves, new services are being developed that provide consumers and businesses with personalized monitoring capabilities for their specific needs, like self-directed and on demand monitoring options and concierge-type services.

SSN: What are some of the most notable challenges — disruptive factors — for security pros today and how will ESX address these and help them to overcome them?

De Marco: I believe false alarms continue to impact the industry, highlighting the need to use technology to find a better method that significantly reduces false dispatches. With the help of video using AI and machine learning capabilities, metadata that brings context to data received from connected sensors and mobile devices and next-gen monitoring processing, the combined methodologies will greatly reduce false dispatches over time.

Labor shortage is causing some companies to tap down their growth initiatives. As dealers and integrators struggle to find a qualified workforce in traditional channels, I think progressive companies are looking outside these channels to attract new employees and are reevaluating their organization’s culture, purpose and training to be more aligned to attract next-gen workforce.

Industry disruptors are beginning to evolve their offerings to be more mainstream which is changing consumer buying behaviors for security and safety products and services for homes and apartment communities. This trend is having traditional dealers and integrators reassess the residential channel and consider pivoting to the commercial marketplace.

Lastly, the 3g sunset is looming on the horizon and is a major concern for industry professionals. The cost to upgrade communications protocols and rolling a truck are expensive. It also negatively affects customer retention as consumers seek alternative solutions for their security needs, causing attrition rates to spike.

Our educational tracks deliver ideas and real-world solutions that help mitigate the effects of disruptive technology, offer innovative go-to-market strategies, and survive the current challenging workforce environment.

SSN: What do you think is the overall state of the industry and the forecast moving forward?

De Marco: I believe the industry has some interesting challenges ahead, especially as the competitive landscape unfolds. Disruptive companies, like Amazon and SimpliSafe, as well as the 3g sunset, margin compression, creation multiples, and the cost of customer retention programs play a major factor into lenders and buyers’ valuation methodology, which are all beginning to contribute to downward pressure for acquiring RMR contracts. In recent years, there seems to be a pivot towards commercial security and fire systems by traditional dealers and alarm companies.

The eavesdropping Alexa … is it really that much of a shock?

 - 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

For the past few weeks, I have been rather intrigued with IoT devices, smart homes, and security and safety of people in this context. (After all, aren’t our homes supposed to be our safe haven … our place of escape from the crazy, hurried world we live in?) After perusing the internet regarding this topic, I thought I had read about almost everything imaginable, but I was thrown a curve ball by a man, Geoffrey A. Fowler, technology columnist, The Washington Post, who literally made a song out of the recordings Alexa had of him! (Click here to listen.) 

Fowler reported that he listened to four years of his Alexa archive that highlighted fragments of his life: spaghetti-timer requests, houseguests joking and random snippets of a once-popular TV show. Alexa even captured and recorded sensitive conversations—a family discussion about medication and a friend conducting a business deal—apparently triggered by Alexa’s “wake word” to start recording. So, why are tech companies recording and saving our voice data? According to Amazon, “when using an Alexa-enabled device, the voice recordings associated with your account are used to improve the accuracy of the results.” 

Fact or fiction? Maybe both, because another main reason is to train their artificial intelligence (AI). 

I may be going out on a limb here, but if people’s voice data is being recorded and USED without their knowledge, isn’t this an invasion of privacy? I say, “Yes, without a doubt!” Not only that, but shouldn’t these tech companies hire and pay people for their voice data to train their AI? I mean, “free” saves the companies money, but to the extent of people’s private conversations and information being recorded and used without permission?  

So, what can be done? Defeating the purpose of Alexa would be to mute its microphone or unplug it, but, in my opinion, if I was going to have a private conversation, that would be better than putting my personal business out there. Another option would be to delete Alexa voice recordings, but Amazon warns

  • “If you delete voice recordings, it could degrade your experience when using the device.” 
  • “Deleting voice recordings does not delete your Alexa Messages.” 
  • “You may be able to review and play back voice recordings as the deletion request is being processed.” 

(I wonder what a “degraded Alexa experience” entails and I also wonder how long it takes to process a deletion request, as during this time voice data can be used.)

For me personally, I will stick with the “old-fashioned” way of living to preserve and protect my privacy—physically stand up, walk over to the window and close/open the blinds by hand; set alarms manually on my smartphone or built-in timer on my microwave; and even use the remote to turn the TV off and on, change channels and control the volume. 

By the way, don’t forget to listen to your own Alexa archive here or in the Alexa app: Settings > Alexa Account > Alexa Privacy. What all does Alexa have on you? 

 

ESX Innovation Awards to recognize top products at Expo

 - 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Each year, the ESX Innovation Awards program recognizes outstanding products and services that drive the electronic security and life safety industry forward. This year’s winners will receive their awards on the expo floor at ESX on June 4 and be featured in the Innovation Awards Showcase during expo hours, June 4-5 at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

To determine the best from each category, judges select winners from a pool of applications from manufacturers and service providers, serving the industry with innovative end-user offerings and tools that help dealers, integrators and monitoring professionals become more efficient and profitable.

“The nominees for ESX Innovation Awards were extremely impressive this year and nicely represent the electronic security and life safety industry,” George De Marco, ESX Chairman said in the announcement. “Solving everyday problems is the key to growth opportunities for dealers, integrators and monitoring companies to better compete in the marketplace.”

The winners selected are recognized as next-gen products and services that offer significant opportunities for growth. Judges from across the country are invited to provide their expert opinions. This year’s judges are: Rodger Reiswig, Johnson Controls (Florida); Grady Medcalf, Spectrum (Colorado); Michele Monheim, Amherst Alarm (Upstate New York); Steven E. Paley, Rapid Security Solutions (Florida) and Adam Thompson, Wired-Up Systems (Arizona).

Entrants to the Innovation Awards program are judged on: Features and functions, innovation, end-user experience, ability to solve a problem, revenue growth potential, impact on company efficiencies and compliance with regulations. These metrics provide a rubric that determines the most innovative and exceptional products and services in the industry.

Winners of the Innovation Awards will be featured in the ESX Innovation Awards Showcase in Booth 615 during live expo hours, June 4-5.

To determine the best in show, the ten most innovative category-winners will enter the TechVision Challenge – a “Shark Tank” style competition before a panel of judges at ESX. The winner of the TechVision Challenge will be announced live from the expo floor at ESX Central on June 4.

Registration is still open for ESX. For more information and to register, visit ESXweb.com.

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