IT vs CCTV Techs - Competitive Shift Examined

By: John Honovich, Published on Feb 09, 2011

Many incumbent CCTV/security dealers do not want to deal with IP's complexity. It is frequently argued that these dealers, perhaps the core of the industry, will never go to IP and will flock to easier alternatives such as HDcctv.

While we accept the existence of widespread resistance, we think these dealers and techs face significant risks that are likely to marginalize them if they try to maintain the status quo.

Labor Market Changes

The key issue is that, in the last 10 years, the labor market has flipped from a world of very inexpensive and limited IT skills to one that is increasingly ubiquitious. 

In 2001, IT networking skills were quite limited and expensive. People with basic networking skills (e.g., a CCNA) could command $75,000 or more in the general IT market.

At that time, very few electronic security techicians had deep IT skills. When I first came into the video surveillance space in 2001, it was almost scary to see how little security techs knew about IT. A tech who could do little more than set an IP address was considered above average.

Furthermore, at that time, it was relatively easy to hire techs out of 2 year electronics programs. They were inexpensive and had a deep understanding of the key issues in analog CCTV, access control and EAS.

In 2001, low voltage skills were plentiful and cheap; IT skills were rare and really expensive.

Now, compare this to today in 2011, where the circumstances have nearly flipped. While most 2 year colleges have closed their electronics programs, almost every young tech is completely comfortable with IP networks. How many 22 year old techs know how to use an o-scope? How many know how to use a packet analyzer like Wireshark? The latter is now far far more common.

Because IT expertise is now widespread and because so many young people have IT skills, the cost of IT staff has gone down dramatically since 2011. By contrast, low voltage technical talent is now increasingly older and more expensive.

Holding Firm

Traditional dealers and techs may hold to technologies they are more comfortable with and, to that end, they may push back against IP video / IP cameras.

However, they face their own risks - specifically competitors or new entrants that are filled with younger IT people who may work for equal or less pay and have greater abilities to deliver more feature rich solutions.

Undoubtedly, these dealers have the power of long standing relationships with many end users. However, they also may have the weakness of an uncompetitive cost and talent structure relative to cheaper, younger, hungrier IT-centric entrants.

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