Why is (or isn't) company longevity important when choosing a security supplier?
Customers sometimes look at how old or new a company is when having to decide between different security suppliers. But should they?
There are several decision-influencing factors in the security industry. Other than the actual technical specifications of the security systems and solutions, there are several other factors people take into consideration such as customer service, technical support offered, product warranties and interoperability, just to name a few. Some also consider company longevity. Some operate with the reasoning that the more established a company is and the longer it's been running, the more successful and / or reliable it would be. But is that necessarily true? Moreover, should that be a factor to consider when selecting a security supplier? Is it a mistake to put much weighting on this?
Established companies provide prospects with a track record of performance in the quality of products they produce and in how well they take care of their customers' needs. Newer organisations are typically the companies that create break-through products and services. That's how we started 40 years ago - by creating the first motorised traffic controller that would puncture the tires of vehicles not authorised to enter a hotel chain's properties. Today, our job is to continue creating the quality products that save people's lives from terrorist car/truck bombers and errant vehicles while providing complete customer satisfaction. But, we and other established companies cannot rest on our laurels. Product engineers must persist in creating even more innovative products for today's security needs.
Longevity in business can be a useful guide when choosing a security supplier, but it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Its importance can also vary at different points in the wider economic cycle. Following a recession surviving businesses may have fought hard to survive and are lean and well-focussed, offering the best products and services for market demands. However, having economised to weather the storm, these businesses may also have limited offerings and product/technology development. Many "young" companies are offering newer technology; we have matched this with our own continued investments in the latest systems and product development, to ensure we are fully competitive in this regard as well as in customer service. The ideal security supplier is one which offers the latest and best technology/services, accompanied by excellent customer service – but also has a proven track-record of business competence, flexibility and core strength that can be depended upon and instils real confidence going forward.
In a world that is quickly changing, is longevity really positive or negative? Some of the most innovative technologies are spurring from new companies, but there are more factors to consider. For instance, while technology is evolving at an ever faster rate, we need to remember that a security system is typically in operation for 5-7 years, and often installed in phases. Therefore a system might have a lifetime of 10 years or longer before being forklift upgraded. So, with that in mind, part of the evaluation should be the expected longevity of a company. Indicators of success to consider: Are they working with established partners that have a trusted track record with technology? Are they reinvesting in R&D to stay relevant? If they are a startup, are they profitable? What size staff do they have? Will you be supported? Who are their competitors and how are they different?
Longevity in a security supplier is important - the switch from analogue to digital (IP) in surveillance, for example, is a complex transition for many companies and one where experience and long term partnerships hold the advantage - but it is not the only factor to consider. Technical support and innovation is equally important. Right from the outset, the supplier should support the customer in sourcing the right solution for their application. All customers today need their data stored reliably, however with increased amounts of video being stored, there is a need for fast access and sophisticated "Big Data" analytics. Companies with longevity tend to have invested the time and money to understand these unique requirements and have invested in driving innovation to meet this demand effectively. After Sales support is another factor worth considering when choosing a supplier. In the event of surveillance installations/equipment being damaged for example, long term support such as warranties and data recovery services can prove invaluable.
While company longevity can certainly be an indicator of a company's stability, just stability alone may not be what you need for your security solution. As our panellists have pointed out, company longevity shouldn't be ignored completely, yet the situation is hardly a black and white one where longevity simply equals "better". As Greg and John mentioned, established companies have a responsibility of keeping up with the times, both adapting to the ever-changing needs of consumers and continuously evolving technologies. It's difficult for long-established companies to remain successful if they don't continue innovating. Fredrik made a good point in stating that some of the most innovative technologies come from some of the newer companies. Sometimes, being able to start tabula rasa is an advantage for newer companies - there's no risk of getting caught up in legacy ways of thinking or strategies which may have become outdated but have also become so deeply embedded in an older organisation's mindset. In short, if you are looking at a company's longevity, there are other factors you should consider alongside it in order to select the best security solution from the best provider possible to fit your needs.
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