Selling IP Against Analog?
I spoke with a member today who asked for feedback on educating customers / selling IP vs analog, especially for those that are budget / cost constrained.
I'd like to throw this out to the group and see what your approaches are.
Let's get the bad out of the way first. Trying to argue that IP is actually less expensive (the old Axis approach and the more recent Anixter one). Or silly top 10 lists.
The most obvious beneficial tactic is to show the image quality improvements from moving from SD to megapixel (e.g., 1, 2). If you cannot sell them on more details, I am not sure what you can.
The bigger strategic issue I see is picking an IP line that can compete with analog pricing (for markets/application/users that prioritize price). For someone seriously considering analog, $500 IP cameras are likely a deal breaker, regardless of how good you are at selling, simply because of the massive price gap that creates.
To be cost competitive here, you need a sub $200 IP camera to close the gap to a level where the improved details / quality can be justified.
Agree/Disagree? Other approaches?
A camera is a camera and cost of that unit is what it is. Now installation is all but the same with exception of cabling. As industry moves to build smarter buildings at lower cost, being able to share infrastructure can provide significant cost savings. Good example, you can run data over twisted pair but try running data over coax. Classic example is home security which is pretty much wireless today. Why run ugly cabling thru the house which also costs time to install, than just screwing a camera and turn it on.
But, the HDTV sets when compared by size are not really more expensive then analog sets that we purchased back in the days, otherwise most people would still be using analog TV sets regardless of the poorer quality.
How significant? Per camera, how much?
I dont have figures for this. I use a common sense approach but there should be an industry report or construction report that gives estimates. If I was buying cable I will probably get a better deal on 10000m of CAT6 and use it across multiple service. Adding coax for analog cameras would be an extra cost. So why not leverage a common transport medium.
I don't understand this question.
What does the customer need? Because that's what you should be trying to sell him.
I respectfully disagree with your comment above about selling customers what they need. If sales people only sell what the customer needs that makes them a poor salesmen in my opinion. The goal is to convince the customer they need more whether via demonstration or suggestive selling. Otherwise why have sales people in the first place? After all, that is their job right? To bring more money into the company... I'm not saying sell a convenience store 20 panoramic cameras, but within reason a sales guy's goal is to convince them they need the best or more than they had initially planned. My 2 cents.
Well, there's a difference between selling the customer what they want and selling the customer what they need. Security salespeople are different from, say, soft drink salespeople. If I can convince a customer to drink my Gluten Free Super Fizzy SugarWater Xtreme instead of a Coca Cola using nothing but my awesome salesman powers, then good for me, but nothing bad will happen to the customer if they choose "incorrect" product, insofar as there could be said to be an incorrect choice between sodas.
Security is different. If I try to oversell a customer, convince them that a particular technology or brand is the only possible choice and no others will do, then it is likely that the customer will decide to compromise, say by buying three SuperAmazing Cameras instead of the five PerfectlyAdequate Cameras they actually should have gotten in order to make the budget fit.
Security is not a product. Security is a process. Security salespeople have an ethical obligation to make the customer as safe as possible for the budget provided, or, failing that, explain to the customer exactly how much they have to stretch the budget in order to become reasonably safe. But recommending an IP camera because it is an IP camera and for no other reason is as silly as recommending an HDcctv camera because it is an HDcctv camera and for no other reason.
If you truly and honestly believe that an IP camera is the best way to solve this particular customer's security needs, then, go ahead, recommend it. I was an early convert to IP cameras back when the industry was mostly analog, just like I was an early convert to DVRs when the industry was mostly VCRs, and I took a lot of flack for it. I sell a lot of IP cameras to a lot of customers, because that's what I think those particular customers need. But just to say "IP is always superior to analog, full stop" is doing a disservice to the customers, I think.
Note that I have no problem with upselling. I understand that companies are in business to make money. I myself am a full time salesman, and I am always looking for ways to maximize the value of a sale. But it has to make sense to the customer and genuinely contribute to the utility of the system we are selling. I won't sell an add-on just for the hell of it.
Anyway, that's just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.
On a per camera basis, I don't suspect that would be a big cost driver compared to wide variance in cameras costs (hundreds of dollars). Secondly, to the extent this delivers meaningful savings, it will be in a larger deployments where IP is easier to justify for many other reasons.
"But just to say "IP is always superior to analog, full stop" is doing a disservice to the customers"
Who is saying that?
"Well, there's a difference between selling the customer what they want and selling the customer what they need."
I am not sure where you are going with this.
Can we return to the original question? It's a legitimate member request. His budget constrained customers consider analog vs IP. What should he do?
Please don't say he just sell them what they need because that's a nebulous, debatable concept, especially in security.
Ari, you have lots of experience in this. Customer says 'money's tight', 'budget's fixed', etc. What do you do?
ACTi E or D series cameras, edge recording to the SD card, rewrite in a week, with Trendnet or TPlink networking equipment and no-name SD cards. I paticularly like the D61 and D64 cameras.
Bu that wasn't the question, not as I understood it. If a customer says "money is tight", I ask them how many areas they need to record and how large those areas are, and if the answer is "16 or fewer" and "30 x 30 for overview or 20 x 20 for facial recognition", I tell them an analog is a more efficient use of their money, though.
If the question is "I think this customer is better off getting an IP system, how do I articulate that idea", then the answers are, of course, "show the difference in resolution, and demonstrate how the higher resolution means you can recognize faces and details from further away, making each camera more effective", "you can quickly and easily add more storage space if you ever decide you aren't able to go back far enough" "you can easily expand if you discover you need more cameras", and so forth.
TL;DR I'm not sure I understood the question properly, but I'll stand by my statement that if a customer is on a tight budget, then a good quality analog system should be seriously considered, application permitting.
"A good quality analog system should be seriously considered, application permitting."
I am sure it is, and it should be seriously considered. The question is more about what legitimate alternative or approach could justify IP in such a scenario.
As for ACTi, have you used their Edge Recorder Client, it seems new from this week?
Also, are you recommending or offering any HD kits (like the one we tested)? That would seem to be attractive to people in these situations.
Have not used the client yet.
Am exceedingly leery of HDcctv, especially discount HDcctv. The Qsee you reivewed looks nice but we don't carry that brand.
One other issue I think is legitimate is expanding an analog system to MP/HD. I've talked to quite a number of users who are confused and surprised that they cannot add MP to their existing cheapo system that they just bought a few months ago. It's understandable that they'd imagine they could just swap cameras, but obviously that is not how it works.
So once you commit to an analog system, you are committing to no MP/HD until you buy a whole new recorder. And what do you do then? Buy encoders for the existing analog cameras? Get a more expensive hybrid DVR?
If there is any doubt they want MP/HD and the price is not dramatically more, better to just go with an IP system to start.
I always see comparisons of analog to ip to that of standard tv and hdtv. Realistically, there are still people in this world that enjoy their box tv and/or analog cameras becuase they have worked well in the current era without a need for additional investment. Now by the same token, HDTV are the latest trend for various reasons, like ip solutions, however the same way every tv manufacturer offers various options, such as 780 vs 1080 60mhz vs 120mhz, 4 hdmi ports to 1 hdmi port, the bottom line is this, for every TV manufacturer available there is a specific target customer for. Cost is important to discuss but the smart conversation is cost to the individual customer. Get to know your customer then and only then can you sell a sony tv vs a samsung tv vs a colby tv etc. You get my figutive speach. Not every customer is working with your budget to sell something. Get to know their needs and their budget, and you will make your numbers across the sea of ip and even analog options out there.
Personally, I start proposing the high-end stuff, then when they tell me "wow, that's way too expensive", then I offer something cheaper. It is rare that they want to downgrade from the first offer, so instead they try to bargain the price of the high-end offer.
Do you go from an expensive IP offering to a budget IP one then? Or go straight to analog?
I step down one bit at a time ... Never the other way around. You have to make your client DREAM about his/her new system. It's tough for them to settle for less once they are in dreamland.
That's why I always start my proposals with 29MP cameras and BRS Labs pre-crime analytics....
At the start of the conversation, you just show them video of both. I will log on to a DVR over the network and show them an encoded video of the best analog camera available to me and then I compare it to one of the "lower" resolution IP cameras such as 720p or 1.3mp and tell them is this the cheapest IP camera I have. This way, you have narrowed the pricing gap down as much as possible.
Then let them make the decision. 90% of the time, they go with IP and we are no longer talking about Analog anymore from that point on.
Sean, in that scenario, what's the approximate price gap on say a 4 or 16 camera system?
Well, as far as systems go, Like for a cheap 4 channel system. $400-600, for a cheap IP system $900-1200. A "higher end" analog system would cost just as much or more as an IP system.
I prefer not to and rarely do sell pre-packaged systems, as most people arent 100% sure what they need or want, so that is why we start talking about individual cameras at first, to get a feel for what their budget is and what they really want. I ask them questions like "are you looking for Hi-Def images or Standard Def images?" Which sounds like a no-brainer question, but it gets the conversation started. We then go onto to showing video and comparing the prices. Once they decide on IP, I never mention analog again in the conversation and proceed to compiling an IP system.
But then you get those folks who just want a bargain, prepackaged system, we have those available as well, and those types of folks usually do go for the analog.
Very recently I was asked to help size a Viewing station with a VMS Client I have tested in the lab. They wanted to buy one system to handle 40 D1 streams. No problem....right?
No, then they say that within a year they are plannning to upgrade all those analog cams to 720P or 1080P. Now its a completely different system they need.
A lot of folks still have their heads in the analog world expecting the IP viewing capabilities to rival the 'smoothness' of the analog domain and the ease of 'changing out cameras'.
Very true. Part of our jobs is to set expectations. Knowing what the system cannot do is just as important to the customer's decision making process as knowing what it can.
"I've talked to quite a number of users who are confused and surprised that they cannot add MP to their existing cheaposystem that they just bought a few months ago. It's understandable that they'd imagine they could just swap cameras, but obviously that is not how it works."
But... but... I just bought this snazzy new H-Dee-CEE-cee-something camera, it's got the same connector on it, why CAN'T I just plug it in??
As others have noted, the best sales tool by far is just to display the two side-by-side; saying MP "sells itself" this way may be cliche, but it's probably true more often than not. If you use the other approaches above, and someone is still waffling on the cost, the "visual aids" will almost certainly seal the deal.
At least, that's been my experience...
Vasiles, you can use CAT5e/CAT6 for analog cameras by using a video balun. We never use COAX for analog installs anymore. CAT5e is cheaper and easier to pull than COAX. The video baluns add about $10 cost per camera, but the cheaper and easier to pull cable usually offset this cost. On longer runs, it is a net positive.
The other bonus that you may or may not see in the future is that you can use that same CAT5e cable later if they upgrade to IP cams. You won't have to rerun cable to make the switch. This assumes that the camera locations and recording locations aren't changed.
We need a "LIKE" function!!
You said you were using CAT5e/CAT6 cable for all your analog installations. Are you also using the same cable to carry the power for the cameras? If so, are you doubling up on the power-carrying conductors to have enough copper to handle the amperage? Or, are you using a separate pair of 18s?
Have you done any research to determine if one brand of balun is better than another, or have you found that they're all the same?
David, the baluns we use accept a normal RJ45 8P8C terminated CAT5e/CAT6 wire on both ends. The baluns use one pair for the video data and the other three pairs for power. They are rated for up to 1000ft/300m using CAT5e. They are passive, so no power is needed. They support 12-24VDC power, but not AC.
We have not found a camera that exceeded the amperage carrying capacity of these baluns using CAT5e. The highest amp camera we have installed were some older integrated IR Bosch cams that were pulling a little over 1A. If we were to install a cam that needed more power, we would simply pull some 18AWG along side the CAT5e.
The method I use to sell the MP system instead of SD is to provide a demo, and here's how I do it.
For "low-cost" video systems I've been using equipment from ICRealtime, and have found a small mini dome (ICIPD2000, 2.1MP 1080P, 2.8mm) to be a decent little camera for the money, less than $300. Incidentally, through a discussion here on IPVM I learned that many of the ICRealtime cameras are manufactured by Dahua including the mini dome mentioned above. I found that the same camera is available from Amazon for much less.
On a sturdy camera tripod I mounted a small plywood platform. On the top of the platform I mounted a good quality (704x480) SD camera. If the client already has a D1 or CIF system then I will use one of their existing cameras. On the underneath side of the platform I have mounted one of the mini domes. I screw a lens into the SD camera to match, as close as possible, the view from the MP camera. Of course, both cams are covering the same horizontal field of view.
The SD cam can be powered with a separate power supply, or even a 12 volt battery. The MP mini dome is powered by a built-in POE port on a small 4-channel NVR which is also part of the demo package.
The last item in my demo package is a 24" TV/monitor that is capable of displaying a 1920x1080 picture. The inputs on the monitor are SD composite, VGA, and HDMI. So, with the two cameras connected to it I can switch back and forth between the two formats. The difference in the image quality usually seals the deal.
I suppose an even better demo would be to have two side-by-side monitors, one with SD and the other with MP. But space is usually limited.
Anyway, this works for me.
I am not including my name on this post, but any replies can call me Woody.
'Woody', thanks! btw, are you buying those cameras from Amazon now or still from ICRealtime?
So far, Jon, I have puchased the mini domes only from ICRealtime. But, I am going to buy one from Amazon just for a test. The specs look the same. One thing I'm not sure about is if the ICRealtime NVR will find the Dahua camera, even though the cameras appear identical. That may not be an issue if I can get into the network programming of the camera and match it to an address in the NVR.
If you're living on the CIO's budget, the question is backwards. It's how do you sell Analog against IP.
I'm surprised that no EMI from the three power pairs affects the data wires.
Since Jon is using DC and not AC power on a CAT5e/6 cable would there actually be any EMI? And, aren't the twists in the CAT cables designed to cancel or reject any interference and function like a regular balanced line?
I'd like to know for sure. Can anyone set me straight here?
One thing I wonder, though. Jon said they were good for up to a thousand feet. How much line loss would there be after traveling 1000 feet and back on 24 gauge cable even if three pairs were paralleled together?
I'm sure DC produces EMI as well, maybe not as much as AC.
The maximum a camera can consume power at 300m using 3 pairs is about 65mA. How many analog cameras use only 65 mA? Probably none!
The twist in UTP is the secret! The ambient attenuation is countermanded by twisting the conductors around each other. It is only because of external EMI sources we have to shield or wrap the conductors in foil.
In response to some of the comments below: we've been using Cat5e exclusivley for analog installs for a few years now, and as Jon notes, have never run into an instance where power was an issue. Using mainly CNB VCM-24VF cameras with a whopping 2.2W draw (180mA @ 12V, 90mA @ 24V), we've even run two cameras, power and video, over 100' on a single line (this is not standard practice, of course, but it's what happens when the client wants to add another camera to an inaccessible location after construction is finished...). Keep in mind that these particular cameras have an operating voltage of something like 10-30V AC or DC, so almost any drop experienced with a 12V feed is inconsequential.
Second: no, DC power DOES NOT produce EMI, at least not on its own. Induced noise requires a varying voltage across the affected line; it's the changing field that creates the induced voltage. This is how transformers work... automotive spark coils... all manner of devices designed to take advantage of this effect. A constant, steady DC source means no varying field and thus no induced signal. A NOISY DC source may induce miniscule voltage on adjacent lines, but that's the fault of the noise itself.
Add to that, even with an AC source, not only will the twists in the signal line inherently reject noise, but the twists in the power pairs will cause cancellation of any field induced around those pairs as well. Add to that the balanced line created by using BALUNS (the term meaning "BALanaced/UNbalanced), which itself serves to cancel any received noise, and EMI is going to be pretty much a non-factor in this type of setup.
Third: keep in mind if you're planning for the potential to upgrade cameras later to IP, you're going to want to limit your runs to 100m anyway, unless you're going to use some form of extender... so while you CAN run a camera much farther, you may want to limit the length if planning for the future.
Fourth: Jon, you should check those BALUNs - passive video baluns are very simple devices, consisting of a matching transformer and a small capacitor or two; the guts of a typical video balun look (schematically) something like this:
The ones that include power typically just tie the power pairs together and run them straight through, meaning you can run DC *or* AC over them. Some designs also run the power over two pairs, and leave the fourth pair for things like audio, RS-485, etc.
Finally, I'd just like to throw in a little plug for a couple products we've used extensively in some past sites (NO affiliation with the source other than as a satisfied customer), and found them to work extremely well: a rackmount, combined balun-and-power unit, and a matching balun for the camera end. The "VPS" power units also combine each set of four channels into a single RJ-45, allowing easy running of four signals over a single UTP; on a couple of recent sites, we've terminated all our runs in patchbays in a wall rack, mounted the VPS boxes there, then put basic rackmount baluns in the rolling rack behind the DVR, and connected the DVR tails directly to them - this setup allows us to run 16 analog lines to the rack with only four UTP cables. Very efficient setup, and having the runs terminate in a patchbay makes switching over to IP cameras later as simple as unplugging from the VPS and plugging into a PoE switch; I haven't run 18/2 to ANY camera in at least three years.
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