Product innovation may have slowed in the security market in the second half of the year. On the first day of the ASIS International Show in Anaheim, California, new product introductions seemed few and far between. In fact, most manufacturers were touting small improvements to the products they announced in the spring. Some emphasised that the products unveiled (or “previewed”) in the spring are now fully ready to be shipped.
ASIS has historically been more an end user show than an integrator show, although several exhibitors noted that they are being visited by both integrators and end users. Grumbling about low attendance was common on the first day, especially booths located at the back of the hall, who were still waiting patiently late in the day for visitors to “filter through.”
Without a lot of product news, the emphasis is on expanded service offerings aimed at making life easier for integrators and to improve total cost of ownership (TCO) for end users.
Without a lot of product news, the emphasis is on expanded service offerings aimed at making life easier for integrators and to improve total cost of ownership (TCO) for end users
QR codes for enhanced customer service
There were plenty of examples of innovative approaches. For example, a QR (“quick response”) code on March Networks’ products can be scanned to provide information on the model (serial number, etc.), and also to set up an express RMA (return merchandise authorisation). The QR code also triggers a diagnostic programme that can troubleshoot a product based on which LED lights are aglow, for example, and whether they are green or red. Addition of a WiFi dongle can even allow simple remote programming of a network video recorder (NVR).
Use of QR codes is part of March Networks’ emphasis on providing additional serviceability to integrators and even end users -- including its Guru smartphone app to provide service functions and in-field diagnostic support. The idea is to save integrators the cost of “rolling a truck” if possible and/or to get the integrator in and out as fast as possible.
HDR imaging for ATM security
On the product side, March Networks is introducing the MegaPX ATM Camera that incorporates high dynamic range (HDR), a next generation technology that samples the lightest and darkest areas and balances lighting to get the best image. It offers better performance than wide dynamic range (WDR). The new ATM camera has a compact design, robust mounting brackets and doesn’t have a tether like some cameras use to connect the lens with the imager and processor. Opening the door to the ATM frequently for service can strain the tether and cause damage to the camera -- the new self-contained model doesn’t have that problem.
Adding value with online training
Training is another way to add value, and Milestone is emphasising its Learning and Performance Program, the new name for the Milestone Knowledge Program. The idea is to help the reseller channel with a brand new certification program and expanded training offerings. “We want to build expertise in our channel,” says Greg Willmarth, Milestone’s manager, instructional design. “It’s not just about products, but knowledge and how to apply that knowledge. The longer an install takes, the less profit there is, and we really want to help them develop their teams to be technical superstars.”
In addition to reseller training, Milestone now offers e-learning for the end user community, including a programme called “Getting Started with the XProtect Smart Client” -- available for free on a flash drive that can be plugged into a laptop. Given that there is a lot of turnover among end user employees who are tasked with operating the system, the e-learning tool quickly teaches the basics of interacting with XProtect -- how to navigate, how to export video, etc.
"We want to build expertise in our
Customer is supreme for Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is another company that emphasises customer relationships over product sales. Their approach is to maintain a relationship directly with end user customers as well as with integrators. “We came up through the integration world,” says Mitchell Kane, Vanderbilt’s president. “It’s in our DNA. It’s how we go to market. We give them attention and it’s appreciated. The end users we serve have a personal connection.”
“We’re a customer service organisation,” he adds. “We also happen to manufacture products. It’s all about customer support.”
On the product side, I saw an interesting product today at the Comnet booth. It’ a 1 gigabits-per-second Free Space Optical link for wireless data transmission over distances up to a mile (1.5 kilometres). Suitable for video signal backhaul type applications, the four integrated LASER transmitters provide low latency and high security to enable the units to provide a true alternative to fibere optics. There are no licensing requirements on a global basis for the full duplex Ethernet channel.
More tomorrow on the second day of the show...