Changes in a fast changing industry !!
"While an industry is a collection of many organisations working on offering similar products developed through different procedures and offered to market in different packages, Video surveillance in last decade was an industry which had very less differentiated products offered to the customers. However, past few years have seen a sea change in the offerings to the market with integrations to various other subsystems that work together to produce end results meeting customer-defined objectives."
One fine morning of April 2012 saw a commitment developing in two souls to serve the society by making it more safe and secure.
"If not complete eradication, can we reduce crime rate ?" "Can we provide a sense of safety to the people around us ?" "Can we connect the social cause to a self-sustaining business model ?" These were a few questions crawling in my and Sumant's mind. We deliberated on these questions for next 3-4 months and came up with a business plan to serve the society and businesses through Automations in Video Surveillance. As per the exhaustive research, we found that the market was exploding with lots of me-too brands. It was a difficult proposition to identify the brand to partner that will help us achieve our objectives. We had realised that the industry was shifting from Analog based dumb surveillance to a Network/Digital surveillance. With this change, the industry had discovered a plethora of opportunity for connected devices and automation, but it also witnessed a challenge of dearth of skilled Taskforce to achieve this. While the traditional surveillance system integrators were electricians providing electrical-based connections to the surveillance system, the demand of network based surveillance was rooted in its electronics based devices. Traditional system integrators could not upgrade themselves to network based surveillance solution and hence there was a huge gap between demand and supply. Being from IT
system integration, we found it a perfect match between our skills and the requirements of the industry.
The video surveillance industry, that was still product oriented, was full of similar looking products with varying price points. It was difficult to sell even a single camera as the sale involved a concept selling and educating the customer even before identification of the need of the customer. We did multiple rounds of one-to-one customer education for many customers across Hyderabad. Our first order came after visiting a customer for more than 10 times. While network surveillance was gaining an edge, the price points made it difficult to sell the solution. And on top of it, there was not much integration available between the cameras and the storage devices. We saw customers being constraint to use of the same OEM for camera and storage and been bullied by oEM's after the sale. This is what we call LOCKING a customer with your brand. Another challenge that we faced was the huge response and resolution time taken by different service providers. The replacement/repair of a camera varied between 45 days to over 3 months. Being from IT background, we were used to service levels of 4 hours response and 24 hour resol
ution parameters. For us this was a shock hard enough to digest. We were one of the first companies in Hyderabad to have promised our customers of a 6 hour response and 3 days resolution service level way back in 2013. This meant that we had to make an arrangement of parts at local level and also an arrangement with the OEM for advanced replacement of parts on urgency basis.
After 5 years of our foray into this market, we found the industry becoming responsive to the needs of the customers. We have also witnessed lot of OEM's promising resolution within a week. We also witnessed what we recall as commoditisation of network devices. With the entry of low-priced low-quality products in Indian market, we found the industry suddenly flooded with fly-by-the-night brands. It was difficult to explain to customers on the varying price difference between a low-priced brand and a brand that we represented. Customers were still ready to buy the concept of high mean-time-between-failure concepts.
Today, the individual alternatives to components of the surveillance solutions are many. With one of compliance to ONVIF by majority of OEM's, it has now become easy to mix and match various devices on the network and ensure that they co-exist on the same platform over a single console. We also are now into an advanced stage of automation of video surveillance through video analytics. The choices are many ranging from a basic analytics like tripwire to more complex perimeter intrusion systems and Face recognition systems. The latest video analytics being deployed is Contact-less Human Temperature measurement system that identifies human temperature of multiple people moving in front of the camera. The accuracy levels being promised are between 0.3 deg to 0.5 deg. Going forward, we strongly believe that industry will move towards consolidation and
we might find only a few strong brands resist the strong winds of such acquisitions. We will also have even more modular based surveillance system components that will talk to other independent systems through IoT and exchange important information between them to provide a seamless and meaningful information to the user of such systems. We are heading towards an even more tightly integrated and automated world that has never been so much controlled and co-ordinated ever. Privacy and freedom are two major l
osers in the fight to increased surveillance. With advent of BIG DATA, video data conversion into meaningful information will also give birth to an information economy which would be an even bigger trade than any other industry in future. CHEERS !! * The views expressed by the writer are his personal views and no way resembles views of the organization or any other association that the writer is a member of.