Owning the End User

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 13, 2011

Integrators routinely block end users from the best solutions, steering users to offerings that maximize the integrator's probability of success and profit. However, end users rarely understand the dynamics involved. In this report, we explain the problem, the issues involved and potential solutions.

Owning the End User

The nastiest battles between manufacturers and integrators is over who "owns" the end user. It is very common for integrators to demand that manufacturers only speak to "their" end users when approved and chaporoned by the integrator. Many integrators feel, and want, to 'own' the end user relationship. Manufacturers who set up meetings directly with end user often results in phone calls highlighted by screaming, yelling and cursing. We have been on both sides of such encounters.

The process of an integrator screening manufacturers has advantages and disadvantages:

  • On the positive side, the integrator can vet manufacturers, rejecting ones that obviously are a poor fit. This saves the end user time and headache.
  • On the negative side, the integrator can block manufacturers who do not provide them favorable terms or who are aligned with rival integrators. This prevents the end user from considering promising solutions.

The Problem

The incumbent integrator often has adverse incentives to their end user. Since the integrator already has the customer's business, the most immediate tactical concern is to protect the status quo. As such, incumbent integrators are often conservative because changing products can trigger reviews of new suppliers or new bidding.

On a local level, the integrator account manager of a large customer has a lot riding on continued business from that customer:

  • Not only is the account manager's income overwhelmingly dependent on that client, losing their main customer could cost them their job. 
  • By contrast, the upside of switching to a new platform or product is low to the account manager since they are already generating significant revenue and commission on existing sales.
  • Finally, the current platform or products being sold by the integrator often is a line that the integrator has good pricing or restricted access. Moving to something new can disrupt their existing competitive advantage.

However, the outside integrator's tactics often run contrary to the best interests of the end user:

  • The outside integrator is motivated to criticize the current solution, regardless of the quality level. If the end user is not convinced a product or platform change is needed, switching integrators is much harder.
  • The outside integrator will likely recommend products they have better pricing for and or have restricted access to sell (i.e., they are dealers but the incumbent is not).
  • The outside integrator is motivated to over sell new technologies to motivate the customer to switch. However, these technologies may be immature or work poorly in your environment.

What to Do?

There is no simple way to determine who is the good guy or bad guy as the quality and committment levels of integrators range widely. However, the first step is to appreciate that these drivers do exist and commonly shape what is recommended.

Here are some considerations for end users with their incumbent integrator:

  • Do not give your integrator power to reject products or manufacturers without first consulting you. This is too much power and can lead to abuse.
  • Challenge your integrator to regularly offer new manufacturer's products or platforms. At the very least they should explain the options, pros and cons of each (keeping in mind they might be motivated to discourage you to change).

Likewise, when evaluating new products directly from manufacturers or from rival integrators:

  • Be skeptical of pitches for new technology. Vet references carefully. Do real on-site tests. Your current integrator may very well be trying to protect you from a shady operator trying to take advantage of you.
  • Inquire over what terms or restrictions the outside integrator has on the products they are recommending you. Remember they might be pushing a specific thing mainly because it is their best chance of ousting the incumbent.

It would be nice to think that all suppliers have end user's best interests at heart. However, often they do not. End users would be well served to watch out for these specific patterns of bias.

Related Reports

4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
GDPR For Access Control Guide on Jul 03, 2018
Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming...
Replacing / Switching Access Control Systems Guide on Jun 28, 2018
Ripping out and replacing access control systems is hard for important reasons. Because users typically hold on to access control systems for as...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
The Dumb Ones: PSA's Bozeman On Cybersecurity on Jun 15, 2018
The smart ones are the hundred people who flew to Denver and spent $500+ on a 1.5-day conference featuring Dahua as a 'cyber responsible partner',...
Worst Features for Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 07, 2018
4 clear worst features for installing were identified by 140+ integrator respondents to: What feature(s) make a camera hard to install? The...
Top Features For Easy Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 05, 2018
Camera installation is the most fundamental and common task for video security technicians. Because of this, camera manufacturers market their...
Stats: IP Camera Dead On Arrival (DOA) Decline, Near Zero on Jun 01, 2018
New IPVM integrator statistics show that IP camera DoA rates have declined with zero dead on arrival units for many integrators and effectively...
Stats: Upgrading Cameras Far More Common Than Replacing Failed Cameras on May 30, 2018
The old saying "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" does not apply here. New IPVM statistics show that 60% of cameras that are replaced still work but...
Exacq Improving Technical Support, Responding To Integrator Complaints on May 21, 2018
Exacq had been a long-term favorite of integrators, but since their 2014 Tyco acquisition, Exacq has fallen in IPVM integrator studies (though...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Security Sales Course Summer 2018 on Jul 13, 2018
Based on member's interest, IPVM is offering a security sales course this summer. Register Now - IPVM Security Sales Course Summer 2018 This...
US Tariffs Hit China Video Surveillance on Jul 13, 2018
Chinese video surveillance products avoided tariffs for the first two rounds. Now, in the third round, many video surveillance products will be...
Last Chance - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jul 12, 2018
Registration ends today, Thursday. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Axis Perimeter Defender Video Analytics Tested on Jul 12, 2018
Axis 'high security' video analytics offering is Perimeter Defender, OEMed / developed with Digital Barriers. But how good is Perimeter Defender?...
Hikvision Fights Ban - Claims 'Red Scare', Hires 14 Term Ex-Congressman on Jul 11, 2018
Hikvision is fighting back against the House Bill Ban of their products. Hikvision has hired one of the biggest lobbying firms, led by a 14 term...
Arecont Acquisition By Costar on Jul 11, 2018
Arecont Vision acquisition by Costar Technologies has been approved by the court, concluding the bankruptcy process triggered by Arecont's...
Amazon Ring Partners With Rapid Response For $10 Monitoring on Jul 10, 2018
Amazon's Ring alarm system is using Rapid Response for monitoring, IPVM has confirmed in our testing. Amazon is arguably the most feared new...
SIA Lobbyists Working On House Bill Ban of Dahua and Hikvision on Jul 10, 2018
While SIA is most known for ISC West, SIA maintains the industry's most significant lobbying organization to influence US government action. Last...
Eastern and SavvyTech Merge, Form ENS, Targets ADI on Jul 09, 2018
ADI, ENS is coming for you. Or, at least, they hope. Two US distributors, NY based EasternCCTV and California based SavvyTech have merged, to...

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