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

Vivotek Favorability Results on Jan 20, 2017
Financially, Vivotek is doing relatively well. The company did ~$130 million in 2015 revenue and 2016 revenue (through Q3 reported) was up more...
Dahua (Un)Favorability Results on Jan 19, 2017
Dahua, the mega-Chinese surveillance manufacturer not primarily owned by the Chinese government has been trying to break out of the shadow of...
Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon on Jan 18, 2017
Anixter regularly says they do not sell direct to end users or that they do not do it anymore. However, over the past year, Anixter has sold Bosch...
Genetec Favorability Results on Jan 16, 2017
In the race to the bottom and flight to 'solutions', Genetec has taken a contrary path. The company remains independent, focusing up market,...
ONVIF Favorability Results on Jan 11, 2017
ONVIF has been one of the most debated aspects of the video surveillance industry. On the one hand, its aim to increase interoperability has been...
HD Analog Usage Rising But Barriers Growing on Jan 09, 2017
The good news for HD analog is that its usage is rising, fairly significantly since our 2015 HD analog usage statistics. The bad news for HD...
How Axis Can Beat Hikvision on Jan 09, 2017
Hikvision has rocked the industry globally, bullying former video surveillance revenue leader Axis even in the Western world. What can Axis...
Cisco Favorability Ratings - Positive In Networking, Negative In Surveillance on Jan 06, 2017
Cisco is the big name in networking, but they have not been able to leverage their brand and sizable sales channel in the security industry to the...
Video Surveillance Storage Duration Average Is 1 Month on Jan 06, 2017
IPVM statistics show that 1 month duration for video surveillance storage is, by far, the most common used. However, in contrast to 2012, there...
Hikvision Most Polarizing Favorability Results on Jan 05, 2017
Pro or con, integrators have an opinion on Hikvision. Hikvision scored, by far, the lowest neutral levels on IPVM's favorability results,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Vivotek Favorability Results on Jan 20, 2017
Financially, Vivotek is doing relatively well. The company did ~$130 million in 2015 revenue and 2016 revenue (through Q3 reported) was up more...
PR Firm: Don't Scrap PR Spending on Jan 20, 2017
PR is not dying, warns pleads PR firm. Take 40+ year old industry PR firm LRG, who recently lamented the 'misconceptions' that: Traditional PR...
Getting Started With Your IPVM Membership on Jan 20, 2017
Here's how to get started and get the most out of your IPVM membership. Books for Members All members can download the 3 member-only books below...
Jim Cramer Sucks Up To Knightscope on Jan 19, 2017
Credit must be given to Knightscope. They are raising money right now and despite their $80 million pre-money valuation against a lowly sub $1...
ADT Launches Canopy - Professional Monitoring For DIY Devices on Jan 19, 2017
The intrusion industry has criticized DIY security systems for years, claiming systems like Canary or Scout cannot match professionally installed...
Dahua (Un)Favorability Results on Jan 19, 2017
Dahua, the mega-Chinese surveillance manufacturer not primarily owned by the Chinese government has been trying to break out of the shadow of...
Paxton Hosted Access - Disruptive Low Dealer Pricing on Jan 19, 2017
Paxton is entering the hosted access game, with BLU, at a cost that is a fraction of key competitors. The different approach could be very...
Geovision Launches Direct Cloud Offering on Jan 18, 2017
Add cloud, subtract integrator. Geovision has launched myGVcloud, an offering that allows consumers to buy cameras and cloud services directly...
Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon on Jan 18, 2017
Anixter regularly says they do not sell direct to end users or that they do not do it anymore. However, over the past year, Anixter has sold Bosch...
Smart Power Tools For Security Installs on Jan 18, 2017
Installing a smart camera? Perhaps you should use a 'smart' drill. The intelligent appliance / IoT trend has hit power tools. In this note, we...

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