| Key to stability during economic downturn is investment in partners and product innovation
If we are to believe the words of the Bank of England's Mervyn King, the recession may be coming to an end. No longer are we to fear the shouts of the dreaded "credit crunch" resonating from our TV screens. While green shoots of economic recovery spring up around the world, there is still enough uncertainty to warrant the question: How is the security industry to survive through this period of economic instability?
SourceSecurity.com spoke to Vineet Nargolwala, Managing Director of Honeywell Systems Group EMEA, to get his insights on how Honeywell is coping with the impact of the global economic downturn on the security industry.
Seated in and amongst the buzz of the IFSEC tradeshow in May this year, our interview began with an obvious question on the recession. However the reply from Vineet Nargolwala: "While the recession has affected the security industry, it is faring better than other industries."
Reflecting on this positive outlook the question then was; what are the keys to survival through these uncertain times? To which Nargolwala advised the following: "a strong focus on providing a reliable product, supporting partners and delivering quality customer service."
Now, fast-forward six months - the world economy is experiencing "positive growth" and global recovery seems to be underway. Nargolwala's comments above may have seemed rather surprising but in light of this shift in the economy it appears his projections were justified. Following our meeting in May we asked Nargolwala to comment on how Honeywell was responding to the current "up" turn in the economy:
"While the recession has affected the security industry, it is faring better than other industries," said Nargolwala
"We remain focused on our customers - that has not changed," said Nargolwala. "We continue to work closely with the leading installers and security consultants - our partners of choice - to maximise business potential throughout the chain. Honeywell continues to concentrate on growth in Europe through excellence in customer service and product innovation."
Delivering value added security solutions, not the cheapest
"New innovation initiatives are often the differentiators in an economic trough," continued Nargolwala. "With the rise of IP, convergence and the increasing need for integration between third party products, companies are adopting a far more holistic approach to creating new and innovative applications. There is a need for companies to go "beyond the products" and some cases "beyond security" to create new business. In a time when return on investment is the watchword that can make or break deals, security companies must build on their offering and provide a 'value-added' proposition to customers. Beyond the offering of a total integrated solution, the focus for Honeywell is bringing value to partners that can generate more business. Honeywell is committed to providing and obtaining value for all. Security systems will rightly continue to be value driven and our new solution roadmap epitomises the broad scope of choice that Honeywell offers."
| There is a need for companies to go "beyond the products" and some cases "beyond security" to create new business
So, one of the success mantras clearly seems to be to invest in partners to enable growth. But is this not a period where spend is highly scrutinised? Although this may be true, the answer lies on how resources can be used. Nargolwala emphasises the need for increased training for partners to encourage good working projects and prevent high technical discrepancies in the installation of solutions. Honeywell's Trained Specifier Certification (TSC) programme has gone some way to illustrate the need for investment in training.
The TSC programme was created to help consultants and specifiers understand products and technologies so they are better able to identify the most appropriate and most cost-effective solutions for potential clients. This is crucial, even with the recent economic turnaround. And Honeywell's Training Centres of Excellence are a further endorsement of the company's focus, investment and commitment on training and supporting the industry.
"A deliverable and effective solution is not simply about the intelligence of the technology but the need of the client," said Nargolwala
Choosing security solutions that fulfil client needs over intelligent technology
We also touched upon recent technology trends in the security industry - for example, are video analytics overhyped? - and sought Nargolwala's perspectives. "A back to basics approach on emerging technologies is very important," said Nargolwala. "A deliverable and effective solution is not simply about the intelligence of the technology but the needs of the client."
The road ahead
Having established the need for training for partners and investment in customer service, we asked about the goals that Honeywell will pursue in the short-to-medium term.
"Honeywell will continue to support integrators and installers as well as consultants with a determined focus on R&D and new product development supported by authoritative training and customer service," stated Nargolwala. "There will be further investment in the geographic expansion of support and availability of products as a determined approach to keeping two-way communication open and active."
Since the interview six months ago, one thing has been made clear: while the security industry can never be totally immune to the macro-environment, it is still running a good race. Several companies have unearthed new opportunities to help them stay ahead of the game. With things now beginning to look up, the industry is faced with a world of opportunities.