Manufacturer's #1 Complaint: Integrator Errors

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 28, 2012

I have never seen manufacturers so passionate nor united than on the topic of integrator error. In our recent debate about manufacturer product failures, the most consistent rejoinder was, 'yeah but most of the problems are caused by integrators.' On the one hand, it can be seen an excuse and one that certainly does not dismiss their own issues. However, on the other, the feedback has been so common and frequent from so many manufacturers, that the complaint must contain a whole lot of truth.

In this note, we examine the problem and potential solutions.

Integrator Errors

So far, the two fundamental root causes seem to be (1) lack of expertise (general technical expertise) and (2) lack of product specific training. This leads to errors getting systems online where the integrator accuses the manufacturer of providing a defective problem. Manufacturers say this is typically because integerators misconfigure or do not understand fundamental networking or product settings. Manufacturers needlessly and wastefully send out new products or dispatch their own field engineers to assist even though the issue is later determined to be the integrator's fault.

At least a half dozen manufacturers, both publicly and privately, claim that a majority (or more) of all product problems are the cause of straight integrator error.

From the examples they provided, I would categorize these as 'unforced' errors - meaning that they are not a result of manufacturer mismarketing. By contrast, I consider 'forced' errors to be integrators following manufacturer's marketing claims and then having problems (i.e., our megapixel camera can replace multiple PTZs, our facial recognition can alert if a child molester enters your store, etc.). Those are clearly the fault of manufacturers.

Solving Integrator Unforced Errors

We see two main ways to solve errors caused by intregrators:

  • Channel / sales policy changes
  • Improved Education

On the channel / sales side, manufacturers can implement incentives, fees or policies for integrators.

  • Restricting Support: The most common one we see is offering support only to integrators who have current 'factory' training. This incents integrators to get training and helps prevent calls with techs with no background on the product. On the other hand, this can be a logistical problem for the integrator especially if the guy on the job site needs help immediately but is refused because he is not personally factory trained (but others in his company are).
  • Charging for Technical Support: Manufacturers can charge a per minute or hour fee for technical support phone calls (e.g., this is common with Microsoft). However, in the surveillance industry, this is very rare and not expected. For instance, a lot of objections were raised when Norbain instituted an ~$45 USD per hour phone support fee.
  • Adjust dealer discounts: Manufacturers could provide integrators better discounts for less technical support problems / calls. This is indirectly accomplished through volume discounts though that is not perfectly correlated with lower support problems. The main challenge we see here is that adjusting discounts based on support problems can cause ill will and conflict with the integrator (e.g., the integrator gets offended because their discount is being decreased because of too many dumb support calls).

On the education side, manufacturers can:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • Make it easier to get product information: One problem we continue to see is that information is restricted or unavailable on the manufacturer's website. Many manufacturers still restrict public access to their technical documentation. The harder they make it to get information, the more support problems and calls they will receive. On the other hand, many manufacturers want to protect their dealers from competition and view restricting their information as a tactical solution.
  • Make it easier to get product training via video: Only a small number of manufacturers offer easily accesible comprehensive video delivered product training (here's an excellent example). It is simply infeasible for most integrators to send all their techs to training. Making video training readily available can help get integrators trained quickly and at lower cost. They can also look at videos on demand when they hit a certain issue, helping themselves rather than calling tech support.

Fundamentals Training

The final and perhaps most basic component is ensuring that integrators are well trained on network and surveillance basics. 

Manufacturers try to address this but it is difficult. We have heard from both integrators and manufacturers that combining fundamentals training with product training is frustrating. Often the integrators at training already know those fundamentals so it is wasted day for them. At the same time, it costs the manufacturer a day of an instructor, classroom, etc. Plus, it is impossible to really learn the fundamentals in a day anyway.

Third party surveillance fundamentals training options are fairly terrible - typically expensive and out of date (e.g., 8 hour webinars for $495, Charlie Pierce's old CCTV course, $2,000+ training in the UK, etc., etc.). Because of that, most integrators are left to learn on their own.

Even we (IPVM) do not make it easy on beginners. While we have a training section, it is completely self serve. Plus, our focus is overwhelmingly on testing newer technologies and advanced aspects. On the plus side, we clearly have an unrivaled depth of information on the site at a very low cost. However, on the down side, we do not make it easy to learn it nor do we help teach and train our members.

Undoubtedly, there is a clear need for better training that helps integrators improve their efficiency and lowers manufacturer burden for erroneous support requests. We need to do a better job meeting that. I believe we can as we expand our team this year.

UPDATE: an IPVM Surveillance Training Course is planned for this Spring.

Conclusion

Given that integrator error is such a significant problem, we are going to investigate more into the specific causes as well as develop new content and programs to help rectify this. If you have comments or questions, that would help in determining next steps.

1 report cite this report:

Winners Losers Fall 2014 on Oct 13, 2014
We are all losers, IPVM included. The historically poor new releases for ASIS / Essen make 2014 the worst year for surveillance innovation in, at...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Integrators

Avigilon Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 15, 2019
Since IPVM's 2017 Avigilon favorability results, the company was acquired by Motorola and has shifted from being an aggressive startup to a more...
Pelco Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 11, 2019
Pelco had a significant favorability problem amongst integrators in our previous study (see 2016 Pelco results). Now, in the first edition of our...
The Battle For The VSaaS Market Begins 2019 - Alarm.com, Arcules, Eagle Eye, OpenEye, Qumulex, Verkada, More on Jan 02, 2019
2019 will be the year that VSaaS finally becomes a real factor for professional video surveillance. While Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS)...
US Gov China Ban Rules Process, SIA Lobbies Against 'Blacklisting', For 'Risk-Based Protocol' on Dec 27, 2018
Details have emerged about when the rules implementing the federal ban on Hikvision, Dahua, Huawei and others will be made public for official...
Top 2019 Trend - AI Video Analytics on Dec 10, 2018
160+ Integrators answered: What do you think the top industry trend will be in 2019? Why? AI / video analytics was the run-away winner with...
ADT Wins Fire Death Suit But Faces Appeal on Dec 05, 2018
ADT/Protection 1 has won a wrongful death court case in which it was sued by the estate of a deceased customer. However, the attorney for the...
ADT Promotes DIFY - "Do It For You" on Nov 30, 2018
"Do It Yourself" (DIY) is a popular expression and has become such a common word that it has even made the Cambridge English dictionary. But why...
Strong Outlook For 2019 on Nov 29, 2018
Integrators are bullish for 2019, with nearly 80% showing a positive outlook in our integrator results from 160+ respondents: This is almost...
Cybersecurity Insurance For Security Integrators on Nov 29, 2018
Most security industry professionals carry insurance to cover themselves in the event of a general loss. However, most are not carrying cyber...
HID Product Configurator Examined on Nov 26, 2018
HID is widely used. However, figuring out all the different configurations of features for a final credential or reader part number can be a real...

Most Recent Industry Reports

The IP Camera Lock-In Trend: Meraki and Verkada on Jan 18, 2019
Open systems and interoperability have not only been big buzzwords over the past decade, but they have also become core features of video...
NYPD Refutes False SCMP Hikvision Story on Jan 18, 2019
The NYPD has refuted the SCMP Hikvision story, the Voice of America has reported. On January 11, 2018, the SCMP reported that the NYPD was using...
Mobile Surveillance Trailers Guide on Jan 17, 2019
Putting cameras in a place for temporary surveillance where power and communications are not readily available can be complicated and expensive....
Exacq Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 17, 2019
Exacq favorability amongst integrators has declined sharply, in new IPVM statistics, compared to 2017 IPVM statistics for Exacq. Now, over 5 since...
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
Access Control Records Maintenance Guide on Jan 16, 2019
Weeding out old entries, turning off unused credentials, and updating who carries which credentials is as important as to maintaining security as...
UK Fines Security Firms For Illegal Direct Marketing on Jan 16, 2019
Two UK security firms have paid over $200,000 in fines for illegally making hundreds of thousands of calls to people registered on a government...
Access Control Cabling Tutorial on Jan 15, 2019
Access Control is only as reliable as its cables. While this aspect lacks the sexiness of other components, it remains a vital part of every...
Avigilon Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 15, 2019
Since IPVM's 2017 Avigilon favorability results, the company was acquired by Motorola and has shifted from being an aggressive startup to a more...
Gorilla Technology AI Provider, Raises $15 Million, Profiled on Jan 15, 2019
Gorilla Technology is a Taiwanese video analytics manufacturer that recently announced a $15 million investment from SBI Group, saying this...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact