Figuring out how video surveillance products are different is a challenging task. While some products are literally the same, most of them are actually different. The tough questions are (1) how are they different? and (2) how important are those differences?
These may be the hardest questions in the video surveillance business. In last month's poll of over 100 premium subscribers (many of who are among the most experienced people in the industry), 96% requested more product comparisons and 91% requested product testing. In my own analysis, I continuously find this to be a difficult aspect of manufacturer reviews. This is one of the reasons I have decided to run and release product tests on an ongoing basis (see the Axis Q1755 test for the first one).
This report lays out the key elements in assessing differentiation of video surveillance products. In the public section, we examine the key issues for buyers and in the premium section, we examine the specific types and aspects of differentiation that integrators and manufacturers need to consider and provide.
For Video Surveillance Buyers
If you are buying video surveillance and do not have significant background in the field, evaluation can be tough. Look for these 3 things:
- Ask manufacturers about why they are different. However, expect that they either (a) do not really know or (b) do know but will not tell you. The most important differentiation for most of them is that they have a meeting with you and their competitor does not.
- Be careful about vendor supplied competitive evaluations. Manufacturers typically create a list of their features and their implementations and use that as the criteria. This almost always unrealistically skews the evaluation in their favor. If you know you want the product, great, use it to get management or financial approval. Otherwise, be skeptical of these documents.
- Be careful about buying a full solution from a single manufacturer. Besides the risk of lock-in, the individual features tend not to be as strong as best-in-class products. Packaged solutions can make it simpler in the short run but worse for you in the long term.
For Integrators and Manufacturers
For integrators and manufacturers, determining and establishing differentiation are critical to winning business.