The Value of IBM Video Surveillance?

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 15, 2008

Two years since the entrance of IBM into video surveillance, the value of IBM is less clear than ever. Today, SecurityInfoWatch reports on the state of IBM video surveillance and it does not look good for IBM.

Let's examine a few choice quotes from an article that is certainly worth reading:

"IBM take a role that falls somewhere between that of an enterprise-level security integrator and that of a processes management consultant."

"Hart and Allen note that their Tivoli system, which is designed for managing IT infrastructure, has been useful for managing physical-security related IT infrastructure, and can provide benefits like reporting on hardware failure or early-warning reports on impending failures."

Rod Allen, IBM worldwide director of digital video solutions states: "We come into business where they may already have the physical security running on the same network, but they're not managed in the core IT centers." Bringing any networked system (including video systems) into the IT core, he said, makes management easier."

I see 4 interesting questions here:

1. What happened to the Smart Surveillance System (S3)?

2. What type of value does the role of integrator/management consultant deliver?

3. What value does Tivoli have?

4. What value does bringing video systems into the IT core hold?

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

IBM's poor positioning is evident:

1. What happened to S3? The lack of mention implies that S3 is not getting much traction. S3 was an interesting research project but it is clearly too expensive and complex to be competitive with streamlined, purpose built commercial systems. No mention of S3 amidst 2 pages of discussion is a good indicator of the de-positioning of it. Moreover, as IBM explicitly claim in this article, they are now positioning themselves as an enterprise-level integrator / process management consultant.

2. As an integrator/consultant, IBM falls into the Lockheed/Northrop/Boeing pool of big defensive contractors/IT companies fighting over mega-projects. This is a hot area right now and an area where security integrators do not have great expertise or easy access to the type of contracting vehicles critical to these engagements. That being said, this is a tenuous position to be in because all large security integrator have huge incentive to move up into this market. Moreover, "process management consulting" is viewed by most customers as a politically correct synonym for waste. The pressure will be on to cut those costs, helping security integrators move upmarket. IBM is a powerful company and should do decently here but there's no real competitive advantage that will allow them to dominant.

3. While Tivoli is a well respected cornerstone of IT organizations, the added value that it offers relative to video surveillance health monitoring is not substantial for most customers. Almost every video surveillance system has extensive health reporting and health alerting. While Tivoli's is certainly deeper and more centralized, many if not most customers will find the video surveillance system's health monitoring as good enough. The difference in this ability will generally be seen as a nice to have but not a core differentiator.

4. IBM states that their central business proposition is bringing video systems into the IT core to "make management easier." Certainly this would be an improvement and certainly IBM has a clear advantage here. However, for most organizations, making management easier is lower priority than making video analytics work or enabling the deployment of megapixel cameras. You can buy systems from many other vendors that provide solid management capabilities but better and cheaper integration of analytics and megapixel cameras. Plus video analytics and megapixel cameras have the potential to significantly reduce losses and operational costs. IBM's advantage in management will generally be overridden by their weaknesses in other video surveillance aspects.

Indeed IBM seems to be experiencing many of the pains of attacking a new market segment without the core skills in the domain. IBM acknowledges that "The language barrier between physical and logical security is colossal."

With a weak value proposition and a variety of problems being faced, IBM faces an up hill battle. Integrators should not worry about competing or partnering with IBM. Security Managers will likely not gain much benefit from using IBM.

Related Reports on Integrators

How Integrators Use IPVM on May 24, 2017
150 integrators explained how they use IPVM and how it helps them stay informed and improve their business.  The 4 main uses integrators cited for...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 21, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
FLIR Is Giving Away $3,000 Demo Kits on May 17, 2017
Everybody likes free stuff, and FLIR is using that concept to attract dealers by giving them $3,000 worth of demo gear for attending a...
Selling and Valuing Security Integrators on May 12, 2017
This ia a tutorial in how to (1) determine your security integrator's value and (2) to sell your security integrator. If you own an integrator,...
Panoramic Camera Usage Rising 2017 on May 08, 2017
Panoramic camera usage (including fisheye and multi-imagers) continue to rise rapidly. However, the race to the bottom is hindering even stronger...
Code Blue Emergency Communications Profile on May 05, 2017
Code Blue is a US-based manufacturer of emergency call stations, call boxes, and incident management software. Over time, the company has shifted...
Varifocal Vs Fixed Lens Statistics 2017 on May 04, 2017
Varifocal camera lenses provide more flexibility at installation time, but come at a higher cost. Fixed lens cameras reduce hardware costs, but can...
Manufacturer Support Horror Story on May 04, 2017
Most manufacturers would be accommodating if an integrator asked to return product they never ordered, shipped to them by mistake. But, this...
Mobile Video Installation Statistics on May 02, 2017
Mobile video systems - those mounted on buses, trains, cars, boats, etc. - are a niche within video surveillance with its own particular...
Burglar Alarm Zoning Guide on Apr 28, 2017
The function of an alarm panel is to gather information from sensors and respond to this information by triggering actions. While it is possible to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Aura's 'Invisible Ripple' Next Gen Intrusion Detection Tested on May 22, 2017
Aura Home is a startup intrusion detection system, but it claims new, high-tech sensing that monitors the 'invisible ripples' movement creates,...
Pelco Shutting Down Clovis Line, Laying Off 200 on May 22, 2017
Pelco's Clovis facility once turned out some of the industry's most popular products. Now, the facility is mostly building "obsolete" equipment,...
IP Camera - 15 Year Shootout on May 22, 2017
How far have IP cameras come? We bought and tested 4 cameras across the past 15 years to understand how much and where performance has...
Remote Video Monitoring Providers Directory on May 19, 2017
Remote video monitoring can help integrators generate RMR plus end users lower their security costs and/or improve response to critical...
Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
Hackable 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide on May 19, 2017
Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video...
Forget The Backdoor, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on May 18, 2017
Less than 2 weeks after the Hikvision Backdoor was confirmed, Hikvision has launched a sale "ON ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS". In this note, we examine...
Amazon Techs Installing IP Cameras Tested on May 18, 2017
In 2015, Amazon started offering video surveillance installation. Now, Amazon has made it a lot easier, with automatic add-on options and...

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