Michael Howard continues the discussion of the product-service evolution in the security industry.
In the past, manufacturers of products were quite content, generating profitable revenues through development, manufacture and distribution of products for direct sale or resale through a sales channel. Never had the manufacturers to worry about much else, except perhaps for minimal support when occasionally a product would fail and some training would be required to ensure that customers could cope with most of the product support topics themselves. This has been the legacy of product-centric companies in the technology environment; the security industry is no exception.
In recent times, the rapid evolution of high-end technology has accelerated the overall complexity of equipment supply. Customers, now often increasingly turning towards the manufacturers for relief, demanding higher levels of support from suppliers to achieve the same successes they were accustomed to achieving in the past.
Manufacturers in technology markets have had no choice but at least to begin adapting to this paradigm by structuring their offerings to include value-added elements, which serve to ensure continuity and sustainability of sales in the longer term, as product alone no longer meets expectations of end-users.
With the phenomenon of convergence, many manufacturers attempt to increase their strategic leverage by offering converged solutions, or even so called ‘full’ or complete solutions, to promote their products above other competitors, where the market not only demands better product, but also demands relief from technical topics such as system design, integration and support, now critical for successful solutions.
Evolutionary technological trends in the security industry are not unique, yet behave according to trends already experienced in other technology markets for many years prior. What was once regarded as higher-end sophisticated technology, will most probably evolve to become lower-end business in the future. The higher-end of the technology scale will feed the lower-end and what is high-end product today, will be lower-end product tomorrow. High-end product will become less important as high-end solutions become more important.
To remain competitive, not only will good quality products be required and supported by R&D investment, but a well thought out strategy towards services will be central to maintain and support the complexity of solutions as convergence and shift towards IT accelerates. Manufacturers remain central to the development of any solution which not only consists of product, but must incorporate the services strategy for conceptualisation, planning, design, implementation and operation of a solution. Therefore the difference between a product and a solution is service. The product is only part of the solution and not a solution in itself and the security industry will eventually follow with respect to the product-service evolution.
Michael Howard is the author of the work titled ‘Product-Service Evolution’, providing insight into the service-centric approach to the implementation of complex technology in the security industry. He is a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and the SA Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE). He currently heads the Security Systems business for Bosch in Sub-Saharan Africa, a leading global manufacturer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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