As the video security industry is seeing a shift from legacy analog systems to IT-network based video management systems (VMSs), many systems integrators have seen tremendous growth in this market over the past few years. This is particularly true with IP cameras, where the technology now provides better resolution than analog cameras at a lower price point. Randy Montelius, VP of engineering at CEC, a systems and technology integrator, has an insightful theory on this phenomenon. “As a culture, we’ve made a 180-degree change in our attitude toward having cameras around us in the workplace and in public — our YouTube and reality TV generation readily accepts it,” he says.
CEC can attest firsthand to the explosive growth in IP video sales. Between 2010 and 2013, the company’s workforce grew from 140 employees to 270 employees, and its revenue grew 93 percent — due in part to the upsurge in sales of IP video hardware, software, and services. Concerns over the chaos caused by such quick growth led CEC to take a close assessment of its two most important assets — its employees and customers. The results of its business introspection included three initiatives that have this integrator poised for sustainable growth for years to come.
Key #1: Refine Your Video Management Training, Customer Service
With all the advances in VMS over the past few years, IP video is now playing a greater role than ever in enhancing physical security initiatives (e.g. video verifiable alarm systems). It’s also being used in non-physical security roles to help companies make smarter business decisions. Retailers, for example, can use video surveillance systems to identify shopper traffic patterns, and they can position their best-selling merchandise strategically to drive up profits.
Key #2: Make Smarter Hiring, Onboarding Decisions
CEC also realized that bringing in so many new employees in such a short period caused its quality to suffer. “In the past we didn’t follow a systematic hiring process, and we were inconsistent when training new employees,” says Montelius. “This problem was amplified when we grew quickly and noticed our service efficiency levels drop, which we found was due to new technicians having to learn our procedures for ordering parts, stocking their service vehicles, and filling out service tickets — tasks that our tenured employees had mastered.”
Key #3: Uncover Convergence Opportunities
One of CEC’s strengths as an integrator and IT service provider is providing a broad range of expertise across multiple disciplines, including audio/video, fire and security, healthcare communications, IT (everything from application development to unified communications and wireless), and two-way communications (e.g. E911 consoles, GPS vehicle tracking). To develop and maintain its expertise, CEC separates its specialists into technology groups. “Even though there are benefits to having employees focus on a single technology, it can make it harder to uncover convergence opportunities,” says Montelius. Convergence entails using technologies from two separate disciplines that are riding on the same network. In addition to sharing common infrastructure components, converged solutions often create new benefits that otherwise wouldn’t exist if the technologies operated separately.
For a more detailed list of keys to handling IP video growth pains, visit