Exhibitors at this years IFSEC are thinking outside the box in terms of how they communicate their value proposition and how they interface with customers. In the process, some are rethinking how big trade shows like IFSEC fit with their goals.

  • Panasonic's approach to the 'race to the bottom'
  • Thomas Lausten, MOBOTIX new CEO
  • How Gallagher benefits from IFSEC without exhibiting

Panasonic Systems Communications Europe

Panasonic Systems Communications Europe is one of several companies emphasising solutions at IFSEC rather than products. In Panasonic's case, the approach helps to explain why the company doesn't have a traditional trade show stand. Instead, Panasonic opted to sponsor sessions in the security management education theatre on the show floor, and to host potential customers in a (quieter, cooler) meeting room upstairs.

"We are inviting some of our key integrators for general business meetings in a relaxed environment, and offering two lunch-and-learn events about cybersecurity," says John Boyle, Panasonic's Country Manager for the UK and Ireland. There was standing-room only at the cybersecurity events, he adds.

Touchless 3D Biometrics
TBS specialises in 3D touchless biometrics and offers a full portfolio of fingerprint biometric technologies

Compelling value proposition

Trade shows seem historically to be about "here's our new box," Boyle observes. "We would rather talk to customers and channel partners about what issues they face, whether it's counting people or detecting scenes."

Panasonic is creating solutions that combine their own technologies with third party partners filling in any gaps. "We are creating value propositions that we can take to integrators. They need a new story to tell their customers, not just a new box. Let's look at Panasonic's technology and how that adds value. If we have a compelling value proposition, we are giving our integrators an opportunity to get more business."

Boyle acknowledges that the Panasonic approach is a way to bypass the price-focused "race to the bottom" that is lowering camera prices. "Pricing comes later if the value of a solution has already been established," he notes.

Touchless Biometric Systems

Philippe Niederhauser, Head of Sales and Marketing for Touchless Biometric Systems (TBS), Switzerland, is amazed at how many people come to IFSEC seemingly to browse around with little focus on what they need. "There are people who don't really know what they are looking for," he comments. "If I go to a trade show, I know exactly what I want."

Niederhauser also sees some of his fellow exhibitors missing the boat in terms of marketing, tending to emphasise products rather than solutions. "Some people just put products out there, and they look similar; it is hard to differentiate," he says. "This is where you need to show a difference in products, and communicate the value proposition." TBS specialises in 3D touchless biometrics, and offers a full portfolio of fingerprint biometric technologies, also including 2D optical, 2D capacitative, and 2D multispectral systems.

MOBOTIX keeps focus on technology

MOBOTIX stand at IFSEC 2017
A challenge in Thomas Lausten's new position is to communicate the advantages of MOBOTIX more effectively to the market

Trends at this year's show are a big emphasis on cybersecurity, more integrated systems and applications that extend beyond the traditional definition of security, says Thomas Lausten, who just joined MOBOTIX as the new CEO. Cybersecurity is a strong suit of MOBOTIX, given the German video company's unique platform, an approach Lausten describes as "a computer with a lens." He says a challenge in his new position is to communicate the advantages of MOBOTIX more effectively to the market and to achieve the company's unrealised potential.

"I don't see Mobotix as a traditional camera manufacturer," he says. "There is a fundamental difference between launching a camera and having a core philosophy as a company. I have been tasked with [managing] a company with a potential to be re-defined. Our mission is to develop a more open source company, although still an end-to-end solution, and a company that looks at the industry in a different way." He says the industry can expect new camera and software releases as MOBOTIX keeps its focus on technology.

Quality communication through smaller events

Gallagher, a New Zealand-based access control and perimeter security manufacturer, is an example of a company that seeks to benefit from IFSEC without exhibiting at the show. Steve Bell, Gallagher's Chief Technology Officer, travelled thousands of miles to the show for the networking opportunities, and Gallagher hosted a channel partner event in the evening, leveraging the fact that others have travelled to the show.

"Trade shows are expensive outlays," says Bell. "For our strategy, we like more focused events, getting smaller groups together. Sometimes the big trade shows aren't focused enough. The people we might want to communicate with only have a short time, and it's a noisy environment. We don't have the quality communication we'd like to have. Smaller events provide more quality time."

With manufacturers looking for new ways to engage with customers and build their businesses, the role of trade shows like IFSEC will, of necessity, continue to evolve.