I would have never guessed a pandemic would impact our industry the way it has. The security industry is resilient, one of the reasons I have invested my life into it and have no intention of leaving. Our companies can grow even during an economic downturn if you know what you're doing.
IT Taking Over Not Really
This was my fear in 2010; I knew a lot of IT guys that wanted to get into installing cameras. Most of the companies I knew making a move from IT to installing camera systems were installing what I would consider non-industry standard camera systems. I think this is why they failed. They couldn't deliver on the promises they made to their customers. I saw a lot of Ubiquiti products installed; they're OK. Not great. IT companies probably didn't realize the level of customer service that would be required for camera systems. They're used to dealing with issues via an email ticketing system and not helping the customer through physical security threats to their business.
2020 to 2030
First of all, we need to see the world return to normal after COVID, it's going to be hard to predict the next 10 years and how this will impact our industry. We may see one of two things happen. People will be sick of working at home and ready to get back to work and those office buildings will fill up again. Or we could see a lot of those buildings sit vacant for many years and see a need for security decrease as those buildings are empty with no one to pay the lease. We may also see a dramatic increase in home security as people are at home more (we've already seen this). Let's revisit the next 10 years next Spring when we see what happens with the COVID regulations in place now.
At the time I was eagerly awaiting this occurring. While much of the security industry was backing away from IT in fear I had my best results selling IP surveillance systems to IT. With the rise of Verkada and other similar products I am revising that belief. IT is Verkada's path into the market.
You are right for 1 reason. IT is being increasingly looked to in verticals, like schools mostly, to shoulder the maintenance of the video system. I have talked with several school IT admins who like verkada because they dont have to mess with it. They dont have to maintain a server and verkada for the most part lets them know if there is a problem and sends new hardware if there is. So you are right. And its because IT is overloaded.
Many of our customers turn their home security systems on during the day and keep panic buttons close to their home office and bedroom. They’re looking for a lot more than a basic doorbell. This is the area of our business growing the fastest right now.
I was just talking about the analog to IP conversion with someone this morning. I think the bottom line is that technology takes longer than we like (or hope) to get established in the security industry - but it eventually happens.
Often times we can talk until we are blue in the face but the fact is some customers just don't want to spend the money to upgrade an outdated system such as analog cameras. One they don't have the money or they just don't care. Some of those systems will be in place until people retire.
In our experience, internal I.T. personnel and network cabling & electrical contractors getting into the camera business has been disastrous.
For I.T., the motivation seems to be control, but they don't even have the resources to provide fundamental desktop support to your basic Karen in accounting. How could they possibly manage thousands of cameras effectively? So far, we have successfully resisted them.
As for cabling & electrical contractors, it's a money grab and they have no idea what to do when it comes to service. We are always careful to choose certified contractors when we can but sometimes other decision makers want to save money... inevitably it backfires.
For many in IT I think it sounded like something cool to get into, and they also seemed to think it would allow them more budgeting. But with the increase in automation and simplified programs and hosted SaaS, the IT departments did not get the increased resources they hoped and were continually asked to do more with less. So they were taking on more work for no gain. And when they found out hooking up an IP camera was not the same as putting a printer on the network, and realized security devices like cameras and doors require a lot of physical maintenance (break out the ladders and screw drivers again), they quickly lost interest.
Granted, many small business IT shops, around 1 to 4 people, still do a lot of their own camera work and manage their own EACS and alarm, partly because of budget and partly because the IT people who work there don't have a concept of doing a cost benefit analysis of spending days of company's time tinkering and asking forums why something isn't working vs hiring a security company to take care of it. And there are PLENTY of cheap, over the counter solutions for them to choose from, criticize their quality though must. That has hurt the small time integrator and will continue to do so.
As so-called consumer and prosumer cameras get more self configurable and self optimizing, and more feature rich out of the box versus their "professional" counterparts which cost 4 times as much, making them more disposable, that's when it'll really start eating into the business of integrators of all sizes.
You don't mention video analytics, I'm guessing because you are delineating the market segments, but 10 years ago there was an overcrowded video analytics market with a lot of software that didn't work. Now, there is an overcrowded video analytic market with a lot of software that works pretty well. I think that it will influence the camera market over the next 10 years, as camera manufacturers with integrated analytics will become more appealing, whether homegrown or built by a partner. At some point (if not already), selling a camera that doesn't have analytics will be mostly a price decision.
Also, Sony went from a major security camera player (including being a founding member of ONVIF) to a chip vendor over the last 10 years.
While VSaaS and video analytics are hot now, they were hot in the mid-2010s.
I do agree about video analytics become more fundamental and critical in the 2020s.
Sony went from a major security camera player (including being a founding member of ONVIF) to a chip vendor
Yes, that's a good point. Sony was strong in 2010 with no one projecting them to be finished in 2020 back then.
Panasonic was in a similarly strong position back in 2010. And Samsung was not a significant commercial video surveillance provider at all back then so it would be hard to guess that Samsung would sell off Techwin and then Hanwha Techwin would be bigger in video surveillance than Samsung Techwin ever was.
I'm a manufacturing rep now in the VMS space. Dealing with IT was a curse and blessing when I was an integrator. The CSO is the key. I was always willing to pass the SQL DB running in a cluster to a corporate DBA to backup and have IT run roughshod on the virtual applications. The downside to this was the endless, mind numbing GoTo's for resource allocations, call trees, scheduled meetings, etc. But in the end, there was never a failure or compromised security of the same. This is Access Control in it's optimum environment across an enterprise.
Now it's VMS and it is exactly the same. It's not that IT doesn't want to do it, but if there is a WAN/LAN facing port, they feel obligated to get into the fray. Most of the time, when explained, it a no brainier. However, there are IT gods who feel that they own every RJ-45 going into a switch, regardless of the ownership.
In essence, IT can be your friend or your nemesis. Play nice, lay out the responsibilities and it typically works out.
It's all a conversation in front of the right people.
If someone said in 2010 that Motorola would buy Aviglion, Pelco, and Indigovision, I would not have believed it.
It's a great lesson, though, about how much can change over a decade. Avigilon got way bigger, Pelco got way smaller, IndigoVision stalled and Motorola needed a way to grow beyond its declining but huge radio business.
Great reflection. I think one of the takeaways I've gleaned as I think about historical trends, about which companies thrive and which trends take off, is that execution often drives the trends, not the other way around.
Which is to say a trend gets adopted not because the technology is inevitable, it's because a company really executes on it well. It's often not the industry having to wait until a technology is mature to be adopted, like we think, it's a player(s) in the industry executing on making it easy to be adopted.
Analytics are a great example. A lot of analytics deployed today aren't really that much more mature than what I was involved with in 2010. But they're more seamless to deploy and put into an actual workflow. That could have been done in 2010 - it's more of a UI/UX and customer needs challenge than a technology capabilities one.*
Cisco is a great example. Cisco could be dominating the industry right now and that could have felt inevitable. But they bought the wrong companies and executed poorly. Same with Hik and Dahua - criticize up and down if you like, but I think it's hard to argue that they didn't execute on quality product with a industry-changing price point. Axis could easily have been eclipsed by big brands like Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and others had Axis not executed so well on a smooth brand and focused product portfolio.
*Sure, tell me that analytics have "AI learning" and run on the edge and those weren't possible in 2010. Yes, but ease-of-use and integrated user experience absolutely could have. The experience could have matured much earlier (and still isn't nearly mature enough today).
Cisco is a great example.. executed poorly. Same with Hik and Dahua - execute on quality product ... Axis executed so well
Good thoughts! I would use the term 'focus' rather than 'execution'. To be clear, I am not saying these companies did not execute (though Dahua has operationally been a mess for years). But all of them focused on video surveillance, which in the long term (a decade or more) is critical.
By contrast, Cisco was never focused on video surveillance. And I talked to Cisco video surveillance executives repeatedly over the core 2008 - 2012 time frame. To Cisco, video surveillance was a way to make more money selling networking products. They literally shrugged off that their products were inferior (from a video surveillance perspective) because they believed their buyers would focus more on networking and accept the video surveillance deficiencies. And obviously quite a number of customers did, in the short term, but ultimately Cisco burned many of those customers and failed to win over customers that really cared about video surveillance quality.
Focus issues with other conglomerates are common (think how JCI historically extracts value of their acquisitions or how UTC strangles theirs, etc.).
Btw, one important lesson I take from Dahua and Hikvision is how important achieving scale is and how much they benefited from PRC policies in blocking our foreign competitors. It might take Dahua 10x the number of engineers to do what a good non-Dahua company can do but they have 100x the number of engineers, given their now vast size. As long as Dahua stays focused on video surveillance (their car manufacturer is a warning sign), they are going to be able to be a factor.
Sure - I'm not making a value judgment on them here, on whether or not they're "good for the industry" or fair competitors. I think my main point on Hikvision in particular is that there were many low-cost players that failed on actually executing on their product line. Separate from how they got there, Hikvision executed on - or had focus on, was deliberate in - creating quality product at that low-cost.