A New Low In Embarrassing Security Awards (OSPA)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Aug 03, 2016

The trade show stunts continue, though this one purports to be 'credible' and 'respectable'.

The Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs) are spreading across the world. Next stop, next month, is the US version at ASIS.

Inside this note, we analyze the deep problems of these 'best' awards and how ASIS plans to profit from this.

OSPA Worldwide

There are OSPAs being organized in various countries (e.g., Australia, the UK, Germany and just announced Nigeria).

Interestingly and sadly for the US, the US version added a security manufacturer category. Additionally, the US one focuses on selecting the 'best', a much harder task than the non-US versions which have so far selected the simpler 'outstanding' entrant.

OSPA USA

OSPA USA announced finalists in a variety of categories including 'Best Security Manufacturer', 'Best Integrator / Solution Provider', 'Best Customer Service Initiative', etc.

A key differentiator is that no payment is required to enter, which is atypical for most security industry programs. Each entrant is asked to write ~1,000 words which is used to help judges make decisions.

The problem is the breadth of the categories that make judging accurately and fairly impossible.

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Manufacturer Best

The category that best exemplifies this is 'Best Security Manufacturer' which is incredibly broad, including the following 5 top choices:

Comparing these companies is senseless. Orion Entrance Control makes turnstiles, American Science and Engineering makes X-Ray inspection systems. Are those companies better or worse than Dahua or Genetec who do completely different things?

[Btw, and Hikvision cannot make the top 5? They have been crushing Dahua and the entire US market for 3 years now and they did not even make top 5?]

For sure, it is great for whomever wins it because they can then market that they are 'best security manufacturer' in the USA. But what does it really prove when the criteria is so vague and the contestants are so broad?

Integrator Best

The integrator category makes only slightly more sense, including 3 large integrators but also 'Integrity Advocate' which bills itself as 'identity verification with one line of code'. Is that better than TycoIS? Maybe you think anything is better than Tyco but comparing the two makes no sense.

Service Best

There are only 3 finalists in this category:

Is Chuck Andrews personally better at customer service than Axis? Did only these 3 make the cut? So Axis is one of the best in the US at customer service but could not beat Orion Entrance Control for one of the 5 top manufacturers?

Award Specificity Required

For awards to have validity, the category being awarded needs to be specific enough for it to be objectively and quantitatively measurable (e.g., 'Best Outdoor Fingerprint Reader' or 'Best WDR Camera Performance' or measuring based on revenue, unit sales of products within a category, etc.).

Unfortunately, the OSPA categories are so broad and the choices so fundamentally incomparable, that it serves no real goal outside of marketing for the entrants.

Company Behind This - Perpetuity

The company behind OSPA is Perpetuity Research, a UK organization, that claims to do real research. Minimally, having such deeply flawed awards undercuts their own mission / branding. While many have asked IPVM to launch awards, the fear of undermining our own brand is certainly a major factor in why we have not.

ASIS Makes Money

ASIS makes money off of manufacturers - more than half their revenue and effectively all of their profits through sponsorships and exhibitions.

For the US OSPAs, ASIS posted this sheet looking to generate $50,000+ revenue for companies sponsoring the announcement dinner. This is in addition to ASIS other award program ('Accolades') where they charge each $2,000 for participating and then pick ~10 winners.

The public loses, the organization doing this (Perpetuity) loses but, as always ASIS and the manufacturers will make money off this.

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