We’re here again. The end of another calendar year, and a time when many organisations are assessing their performance over the past 12 months and finalising strategic plans for 2019. Taking time to reflect on where our industry is at – and what’s likely to happen in the future – is important for all organisations as they set out their long-term goals and tactics.

Here are some of the key trends to watch in the months to come and some predictions on their potential to influence, or disrupt, in 2019 and beyond.

Providing value with A.I. computer vision

No one will be surprised to see artificial intelligence (A.I.), computer vision and similar content analytics listed as a major trend shaping the physical security industry. Solutions employing A.I. (performing a task that would normally require human intelligence) and/or computer vision (extracting, analysing and understanding information extracted from digital images or video) are everywhere. And most would agree our industry has only scratched the surface in terms of their potential.

We’re seeing organisations working hard to develop content analytics that perform in an effective, efficient and accurate manner

While many companies are focussed on the efficacy of these analysis technologies, there’s been less discussion about how to best leverage them in real-world applications. Ensuring the accuracy of these products is certainly a must, as no one wants to repeat the cycle we saw with security analytics a decade ago, when their promise initially fell far short of expectations.

Identifying the real benefit of analytics

With A.I., computer vision and similar content analytics, it will be interesting to watch the companies that take the next step beyond proving viability for security purposes to deliver true business applications to the market. Right now, we’re seeing organisations working hard to develop content analytics that perform in an effective, efficient and accurate manner.

Many of these organisations are true A.I. and/or computer vision companies, and they are spending a lot of money developing very advanced algorithms. However, there’s still work to be done identifying the real benefit of these analytics for customers as part of comprehensive business intelligence solutions. Until that happens, and customers understand how those benefits apply to them directly, adoption will continue to be lower than all the marketing hype would suggest.

Hybrid solutions for data storage

A majority of cloud solutions in the physical security space have been pure cloud solutions as opposed to hybrid solutions
Expect to see more hybrid solutions on offer in 2019, incorporating both on-premise storage and cloud storage

Another trend that will continue this year is the push toward centralised cloud storage, particularly in enterprise organisations. Expect to see more hybrid solutions on offer in 2019, incorporating both on-premise storage and cloud storage for the retention of more critical data for longer periods.

Despite the buzz around cloud solutions the last few years, uptake has not been significant to date for several reasons. A majority of cloud solutions in the physical security space have been pure cloud solutions as opposed to hybrid solutions, and many organisations have yet to embrace the costs and understand the benefits.

Most corporations considering a cloud solution are focussed on leveraging cloud storage as a back-up to on-premise storageMost corporations considering a cloud solution today are focussed on leveraging cloud storage as a back-up to on-premise storage in case of a hard drive failure or for archiving video for an extended period. But that’s only the starting point for the power of centralised data. The real benefits will be clear when organisations start applying cloud-based analytics to enhance business intelligence and improve operations including inventory management, marketing and customer service. Expect this to be a growing theme in 2019. 

Access to affordable bandwidth will also help with cloud adoption. While bandwidth remains an issue for some organisations, it’s becoming less of a barrier as enterprise customers continue to update their networks and capacity.

Impact of GDPR on organisations

Data protection was another key focus this past year, especially as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR has impacted not only European organisations but most organisations doing business in Europe. Whether you’re a bank based in Dubai or a retailer headquartered in the U.S., more than likely you’re touching European soil at some point, and therefore you must follow GDPR legislation.

Data protection was another key focus this past year, especially as Europe’s GDPR came into effect
The GDPR has impacted not only European organisations but most organisations doing business in Europe

It’s now clear that the regulation is casting a much wider net that some anticipated. Expect to see a stream of announcements from manufacturers in 2019 as they continue to enhance and offer new features to customers to support GDPR compliance, or play catch up in some instances.

In addition, we will certainly see other jurisdictions issuing their own versions of data protection legislation. California, for example, passed a similar Consumer Privacy Act in June 2018. Often considered a bellwether state, California’s Act likely signals the start of more data privacy legislation to come across the U.S.

New companies entering the AI and analytics sector

There are a number of startup companies focussed on A.I., computer vision and similar analytics emerging in our marketA final industry shift to track in 2019 is the entry of new companies in the physical security space. As I noted above, there are a number of startup companies focussed on A.I., computer vision and similar analytics emerging in our market. While the majority of them likely won’t make it as standalone companies, many of them will be acquired by larger organisations looking to enter the video-based business intelligence space and/or accelerate market penetration.

Because data analytics are becoming such a significant component of today’s ‘big data’ solutions, watch for a number of large, enterprise software companies to start focussing on the security industry. This shift will create a huge disruption in our industry and cause further consolidation.

Those are my top predictions for 2019, following what I would consider to be a pivotal past 12 months. It’s a time ripe with opportunity for those companies with a clear vision that correctly anticipates future market demand, and the ability to execute. I look forward to seeing how these next few months unfold.

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