The Education Excuse

By John Honovich, Published Jan 15, 2012, 07:00pm EST

The worst and most common excuse in video surveillance is that lack of education is holding back sales. This seemingly happens with every new technology - IP cameras, video analytics, now HDcctv, they all harp on how 'the market needs more education' and 'if only end users were educated about the benefits of our technology, we'd break through.'

Not only are manufacturers overwhelmingly wrong in such claims, believing this is dangerous and self destructive.

Education vs Development

Educating the market is easy. Building a product that is fully competitive in the market is incredibly hard. Not only do you need to achieve a high level of performance but you need to establish wide spread interoperability and hit attractive price points. This can take years to do and huge investments in R&D.

False Optimism

Manufacturers over and over again misgauge how mature their products are. At some level, it is to be expected as the manufacturers needs to build confidence in their investors and employees that victory is close at hand. However, the problem is this leads to overconfidence and failure to understand how far one is away from the finish line.

When a manufacturer struggles in the market, it is very easy to say, "Of course, it's because these idiots do not understand" or "They are just so stuck in their ways."

IP Cameras as a Case Study

In the middle of the 2000s, IP camera and VMS proponents droned on and on about how integrators lacked IT skills and end users did not understand the value of their technology, etc. However, it was not until 2009, that IP surged into the mainstream. Did integrators and end users suddenly become 'educated'? Of course not. The widespread introductionof H.264 Megapixel cameras provided a higher quality, fairly low cost option that offered a very strong value proposition against analog. It did not take a rocket scientist for users and integrators to understand the difference. Adoption surged.

Ubiquiti as a Case Study

On the other end, look at Ubiquiti. In any conventional sense, the company is terrible at marketing. It does little to nothing to educate the market. Its website is hard to understand and figuring out the right product among its dozens of similar offerings is challenging to say the least. Despite them failing at education, they are killing the wireless market with stupendous growth. Why? Because it has a simple and clear value proposition: Solid performance at much lower prices than its incumbent competitors. 

Takeaways

When your value proposition is strong, the market will basically educate itself with little help from the vendor. However, if a vendor is obstinant and keeps on blaming the market for not understanding their value, they can cripple themselves by failing to focus on the true barriers to success.

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