Back in the old days, when I started with SMART Security Solutions (or Hi-Tech Security Solutions, as it was known then), one of the major ‘revolutions’ of that time was the imminent demise of analogue CCTV in favour of IP-based surveillance.
Of course, as in all market revolutions, the move to IP was fast, but more of an evolution. Today we still have analogue cameras being bought and sold, some of them the high-definition systems that were initially designed to compete with the IP invaders. Accurate information is hard to come by, but at, best analogue today represents 10% of all camera sales, and it’s still declining (although at a slower rate than in the first decade of the century).
There are various reasons for the longevity of analogue technologies, but that is something people can argue about (those people that do argue about stuff like that, I’m sure some still exist).
The reason I mention analogue is that I recently had a conversation in which I was informed that “physical security is dead”. As can be imagined, that made me think.
In one way, the statement is true. Companies and people selling physical security products are under immense pressure these days, as margins have hit the floor. I can remember when a 20% margin on a camera was considered unacceptable; 30-40% was the starting point for most companies – unless their physical security kit was a loss leader, or the customer was spending a fortune.
In the fight to remain profitable and keep the wheels turning, companies today are looking for revenue streams, other than merely product. This is not any new revelation, of course. Manufacturers are including more in their hardware, often in the form of something with ‘AI’ in it, but also looking at providing software with their equipment to make it more tempting for the buyer.
The biggest change is in the software world where integration and working with other products is no longer a speciality, but expected. Proprietary solutions, although they still exist, are finding it harder to make inroads and grow their market – except perhaps in smaller installations where they can do everything. But in the small end of the market, they are being challenged by cloud service providers and their AI/analytics, and are unable to command a premium anymore – and who these days is willing to pay a premium unless you see significant value for money?
And then there is the IT threat, both from a cybersecurity perspective and from IT integrators who can throw IP security systems into their current mix and offer it to clients as part of a broader solution – oh, the horror!
There is not enough space to really get into this topic in a short article like this, but I will hopefully be able to expand on it in future as I am hoping to get some people brave enough to talk openly about it at a round table event. If you have any opinions on the topic, or want to be involved in the round table, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, I guess we can carry on as usual because if physical security really is dead, there are a lot of zombies making money out there.
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