True Or False: End Users Want What They Are Told To Want

A member in this discussion raised an interesting observation: "I think end-users demand what integrators propose to them."

In my experience as an integrator, I mostly found the opposite to be true.

I could spend huge effort marketing, pitching, consulting, or advising a customer on new technology (ie: "You really should look at hosted video here, instead of a small DVR system...") but no matter how 'right' my suggestion might be, nor how well it was explained, the customer would typically ignore it if they felt uneasy or disliked the idea. In security, the status quo is tough to displace.

Most of the time, my role as designer was working to solve problems - if that meant working in new tech as a novel way to fix an issue, then customers might buy-in. However, my greatest value was giving them the lowest bid number, not upselling them. I NEVER walked in to a customer and 'created demand' based on my proposition. No customer ever told me 'shut up and take my money' because I showed them megapixel cameras.

Do end-users buy what integrators/manufacturers propose them, or do integrators/manufacturers sell what end-users are asking for?

We have found that many end-users do not know what is available - so it is important for us to tell them what we have. This is true especially for intelligent video. However, cost is always high on the agenda, as you mentioned.

Brian, that's because you are an engineer and not a sales person :(

Clearly, it's a mixture of both -- sometimes what is proposed leads and other times what one wants dominates. However, as Bohan says, many end users do not know what is available. Worse, and let's by straight / cynical here, many end users buy bullshit.

Did you see today's discussion about "Avigilon [being] the only solution for banks"? That's poor engineering, but incredibly great sales and marketing happening there.

Sure, "No customer ever told me 'shut up and take my money' because I showed them megapixel cameras." But did you tell them that your megapixel cameras were unique in the world and that they stopped crime? Try that next time. Sure, some people will laugh at you or tell you are nuts, but you will get a lot of wins that way. So long as facts do not dictate what you say, this tactic will prove very lucrative.

I must not be interpreting this correctly. I re-read this many times to make sure I wasn't missing it... which still doesn't mean I didn't. I read the postings above as agreeing with the referenced statement. End users drive what they want, not integrators. I read the original posting where "I think end-users demand what integrators propose to them" was sourced from and read it to mean that as new features become available, and people become aware, they (the end users) will begin incorporating it into their specs which will drive the integrators to propose them more ...or vendors to create them to maintain competitive (in Marketings eyes anyway).

Underlying that, I think the feature(s) have to make sense and not just be worthless bells and whistles...pushed solely by Marketing. Of course, at some point this becomes almost chicken and the egg so I see it as both. There has to be some push somewhere to advance: People have to be aware, if they are aware and like it, they will request it, integrators will propose more. My statements apply to the masses / averages. On the fringe, there are always people that will NEVER be open to new things (that might not even be fringe), there are people that will buy anything that sounds cool, and there are clients that will request crazy stuff. Some clients push the edge, most don't. There are always exceptions. I think a little of both has to happen but agree with the statements (as I am interpreting them) for the bulk.

The very first DVR I installed created a ton of "shut up and take my money" moments. We installed a DVR (an EverFocus EDR model, if I recall) in a small factory in our town, back in 2002 or 2003. Reading the manual, we discovered that the DVR, unlike the VCRs we were used to, had the capability to viewed over the Internet! Pretty crazy. Well, we (I) set it up, just to see if we could, mostly by googling unfamiliar terms like "port forwarding" until I found a forum dedicated to exlaining how to set up a private server to set up multiplayer games such as Counterstrike.

So we set up the DVR, we hand over the keys, show the customer how he can watch his cameras and switch channels on the 9 inch black and white monitor we set on his desk, and he was thrilled. Just as he got comfortable with the DVR, we asked him if he wanted to see something really cool. "Look what I installed on your computer", I said, and showed him his DVR.

The customer got real quiet for a second and then asked if I could install it on his laptop. Sure I can!

Well, the customer took his laptop and visited every single one of his buddies all over town, mostly small factory owners and store owners. He asked them "wanna see something really cool?". Then he'd take out his laptop, plug into a network jack, and show a quarter CIF, 6FPS-at-best video of his loading bay, and assembly line, and tool room, and supply room, and office, and the store owner would be begging for our phone number.

We'd created such a powerful "shutupandtakemymoney" moment that the customer essentially volunteered to be our unpaid, uncommisioned salesman. And all from the cool factor of being able to see your video, from offsite, anywhere and anytime.

Megapixel is nice compared to standard definition, but it simply isn't the leap forward DVRs from VCRs were.

Ari, great story! Sometimes there is real ground breaking technological shifts but we may not see one like the leap from VCRs to DVRs for years.

Great story Ari. When the super DVR's came out, Pelco, American Dynamics, Integral, then all the major companies started buying. Then Nicevision hit with analytics. It was a "shutupandtakemymoney" for about a year. We couldn't even keep one for a demo unit.

Back on topic, We sold a large enterprise sized access control system by the feature the boss could have an active GUI map on his computer to monitor and lock, unlock doors at will. The manufacturer didn't tell us we had to use a special file extension that most paint programs didn't use. The bitmap map file had to be converted into this unknown file extension with Microsoft Visio, which no one had, in order to place the doors onto the map. Nor did they tell us the feature would be so clunky it took 5 clicks just to get to the GUI then another 5 to unlock a single door. They also didn't tell us when he locked or unlocked a door, the door was taken out of the time parameters set by programming. To answer your question, yes they demanded but the delivery was somewhat of a disaster.

There are many dynamics to this situation, depending upon the types of applications and the business situation of the end user/purchaser.

Some things that are new become old. I'm involved in several projects where we're upgrading client video systems from analog cameras to network cameras, and the facilities have company stores with one-cashier purchasing points.

About 6 to 10 years ago (varies per client), having video on your desktop was "new" and the DVR was located in the manager's office, where the stores camreas could be viewed live, and retrieval of recorded video was easy and fast. The DVR rplaced the VHS tape systems, and of course the recorded quality and search capabilities were a leap ahead of VHR recorders.

Fast forward to now, and those same managers were told that they no longer needed a DVR type device in their office, that their existing company desktop computer or networked laptop could provide access to video and export of clips or images, and they could also view it on their phone or tablet. Surprise -- they didn't want access to the video at all! They wanted security to handle it for them.

What was once a "new and exciting" technology had become boring and ordinary, and they now have more important things to be concerned with.

Consumer technology trends, TV commercials (like ADT Pulse and COX Home Security) are becoming a pervasive influence on business stakeholder expectations and have made many aspects of high-tech seem ordinary.

At one time, it was a big "employee perk" to have a microwave in the coffe room. Now it's way beyond that, with refrigerators, Keurig machines, racks of gourmet coffees and herbal teas, a set of insulated coffee/decaf/hot water dispensers, and healthy-food vending machines as routine perks.

Along the lines of the opportunities described above, I have encountered areas where one member of a small self-funded business improvement groups was made very happy with a video security solution, and endorsed the the integrator to the group. Excellent follow up and negotiation brought made 6 or 12 other businesses happy customers, a similar kind of story to the ones told above.

There are all kinds of prospective opportunities out there, but many of them have no knowledgeable insiders, and it takes initiative, networking and reach-out on the part of the service provider to come in conatact with them and develop them.

When it turns into a chain-of-referals situation, that can be very exciting.