Bernard Senekal, MD of SentronicsSD discusses a new way of servicing customers that cuts the cost without cutting the benefits.
Until now, we have all been happy to sell surveillance solutions to clients, make our profit on the hardware and installation and then maintain some form of relationship and hopefully income through service levels and maintenance contracts in place.
Most clients purchasing surveillance equipment will not reciprocate this joyful selling as it places immediate strain on cash flow and has ongoing intervention by the installation company on the client site. On the sellers end it makes for a harder sale and the cycle times to get approval for sales are much longer due to budget considerations. Yes, sales can be done using a finance house, but still you are placing down unnecessary equipment on a client site and increasing the monthly spend in doing so.
So, can we really sell CCTV systems like a cellphone contract? Managed and hosted video security services present the opportunity to do just that. Selling video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) presents benefits, challenges and change which we will investigate in this article.
No longer do we need to install expensive recording devices on the client site, but rather just plug the client into an offsite service provider that performs all the recordings for them. In its simplest form we are actually only removing the network/digital recording device off site and onto a remote server, hosted by a service provider that enables us to access the footage (recorded or live view). This footage can be accessed from just about any device, with Internet access from anywhere in the world, provided we have the permissions (allocated username and password) to do so. Imagine a type of YouTube.com, but dedicated to recording, storing and broadcasting security footage.
The real question that needs to be answered is how this will affect traditional security installation companies, system integrators and other product and service providers in our industry. The initial target market for this seems to be the domestic and SME markets, therefore the immediate opportunity (or concern perhaps?) are the security distributors and installers that play in this end of the market. Depending on the go to market strategy of the hosting companies that offer these services, the traditional installer might find himself having to reshape his business dramatically to either cater for installations only, or perhaps be in a position to resell the service and generate recurring income for the duration of the contract term.
Even though the focus might be on these markets initially, I can also imagine a world where even mission-critical systems such as stadia, traffic management systems and multinational private sector companies pay monthly fees, attached to service levels for the hosting and management of their surveillance footage rather than huge capital layouts and expensive monthly maintenance contracts and onsite support.
In South Africa, we are starting to see less expensive and more guarantees on bandwidth uptimes in our homes and places of work. Add compression technology and a standard ADSL line could easily be utilised for selling CCTV as a service. The offer however, goes over and above CCTV and could include management and hosting of other disciplines such as access control.
Having a look at the growth of this trend internationally, there are some start-ups that already provide an effective solution through Internet service provider platforms and security companies with control rooms alike. This technology might be very close to being overhyped and in the short term not have a direct impact on the industry as we know it today, but in the long run it will. So keep your ear to the ground and your eyes wide open as the case has been made and the trend cannot and should not be ignored.
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