How Do I Choose What Surveillance Lines To Carry?

A new surveillance integrator asked us. Our advice and discussion inside.


Here are 4 big considerations for integrators choosing lines:

  • Product Competitiveness
  • Profitability
  • Support
  • Market Fit

Product Competitiveness

How good is the line compared to its competitors, based on both features/capabilities and pricing. Some manufacturers are just flat out better than others, e.g., see Favorite IP Camera Manufacturers 2014, Favorite VMS Manufacturers 2014, Market Guide 2014: Video Analytics, Favorite Wireless Video Surveillance 2014, etc.

Profitability

Lines can vary in their ability to deliver profits to integrators, typically because:

  • Manufacturers vary in how much discounts they provide and to what integrators they will provide them to.
  • The number of rival integrators who use / have access to a product varies depending on how tight or loose a product's channel is (e.g., Restricting Resales of Cameras Important to Integrators)

Integrators need to talk to multiple manufacturers and research what their top local rivals are offering.

Support

Manufacturers vary in how good and timely their support will be. Equally importantly, this can depend who the manufacturer has in your region. In NY, their RSM and rep firm might be outstanding but in Texas, they both good be crap.

You want to get a feel of how willing the manufacturer is to help you answer questions, resolve broken products, solve difficult integrations, etc.

Market Fit

Last, and most obviously, you need to figure out which manufacturers best fit the types of customers you are going after. For example, if you are targeting local small businesses, Genetec, regardless of its overall quality and support, is likely to be a poor fit but if you were going after airports, the situation would be much different.

Overall

Overall, it's a balancing act. The 'best' product in terms of features / pricing might not have good support or might have a lot of competitors already in your region, etc. As such, it's hard to posit a single best answer but if you follow these factors, you should optimize your decision.

Excellent question and above is great advice. For me, I would probably be looking at Axis and HIKVision for cameras. Good combo of price & performance with pretty broad lines to choose from. As for recording, that seems to be a more difficult choice. Depends on what vertical market you may be after and where you'd like to position your company in the marketplace.
To answer a question with yet another question. I have been asked this question many times. Each time they expect that I will self promote my offerings and I leave them disappointed and a little worse of for having asked. Why....because most great installations and poor installations are the product of the installation company and not the product. The part the product plays is important, very important once the needs have been defined. Then you wonder....whose needs? Needs of the one or the many Spock? As John said, unless you are very knowledgeable eventually support will be needed and although most sales reps are fast to respond wen orders are pending it's those that respond just as quickly when there are issues that are coveted. Who is your target, who are your competitors, who is the Manufacturer's competitors and what support will you require starts the discussions. Companies and people are not perfect. What you will tolerate in each can define you.