It sounds pretty simple really, doesn’t it? As an organisation with a strong security mission, you have invested a lot of money – not to mention time, effort, expertise – in a sophisticated surveillance system, and you expect it to work as well as it possibly can.
For a while, it will. All the cameras have been deployed fresh out of the box, their firmware is up-to-date, the latest edition of Video Management Software (VMS) connects them twenty-four hours a day, alerts are set for unexpected items and visitors, access control allows trusted staff members to enter and exit the premises, allows or denies them access to certain areas depending on their status, allows them to access hardware such as printers, computer terminals, as well as logical control of files and applications.
A fine plan, but one which can be cut down by the simple act of assuming that vendors are all doing their bit to keep their part of the security machine moving forward. Sadly, it is not always the case.
Take surveillance cameras for example. Without a trusted vendor that is committed to regular firmware updates, the best high-definition cameras in the world are left exposed to cyber threats. The same goes for a VMS vendor. Selling software licences is one thing, but providing a solid commitment to the ongoing health of a security plan is an integral part of that licence, or at least it ought to be.
As well as keeping on top of the constant evolution of cyber threats, a solution that is regularly updated will also keep abreast of the latest technology, expanding its boundaries as solutions evolve.
An agile development platform allows software to be updated quickly, without having to take it offline. Additions and tweaks can be made in the core programming without much disruption, enhancing the platform ‘on the fly’. This means that vendors can keep their platform up to speed with the very latest modifications, and pass those updates and changes on to customers without needing to release a major software update. This allows an organisation to update their VMS or other software components quickly and easily, without a major disruption to the normal running of their security operations.
This duty of care extends to resellers, integrators and other partners as well. In the modern world, where every solution and component piece of a security network needs to be hardened against the threat of cyberattack, it is more important than ever for proper collaboration between major players.
This extends to partner training, which provides a network of trusted companies with the equipment and experience they need to get the absolute best out of a solution. The phrase “set-and-forget” just does not apply in the modern world, where threats evolve almost as fast as they are blocked.
Update packs for camera firmware should be applied every six to eight weeks, in a best-practise scenario. It is important for vendors to align with like-minded, trusted companies and work toward a solution that does not just address part of a problem but looks at it from the end user or integrator’s point-of-view and provides a holistic approach. Companies that work together will come to know and trust each other’s product offering and core mission, which makes updates, integrations and training much easier and more effective.
Customer care, however, should be a vendor’s number one priority – but it is something which is often overlooked.
While many companies talk a good game, and tell us that customer care is top of mind, it is not always the case. A proactive customer care package needs to include the above-mentioned product updates as they occur – rather than waiting to bundle them into a new version of the platform and release it months or years down the track. Incremental progress will allow a company to assimilate changes easily, always staying on top of the technology as it advances in accord with their security mission.
While regular updates are an important asset, a proper care program ought to be multi-faceted and pro-active. Self-help tools, live chat assistance, video and audio tutorials, informative articles and a global support community all contribute to peace of mind. Adding extra levels of care is also beneficial in some circumstances, depending on the size of an enterprise and the scope of their security network. Twenty-four hour, seven day direct technical support or even a dedicated technical account manager can reduce the administrative burden, and provide an avenue for fast-response problem solving in sensitive industries.
Empowering integrators and customers to get the best use out of that technology through education and regular outreach – as discussed above – will make sure that the security solution is being maximised, but ongoing attention to the overall health of the system is equally valuable. Having a system monitor built into a VMS ensures a continuously functioning platform, and one that can be monitored by the end user or their integrator using minimal resources. A complete overview of the system allows easy administration of network components and the software platform, and can be set to alert an administrator to potential technical incidents before they occur, as well as keeping an eye on firmware updates and component functionality.
Customer care extends to the simple act of communication.
Giving customers the option of calling and speaking to someone at any time provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if all else fails, you can speak to an expert whenever needed.
Vendors can, and should, take bigger steps toward helping customers maintain their security plan. The world has changed, and connected devices are both more functional and more vulnerable than they were in the days of analogue CCTV. An advanced system requires advanced attention to detail, and advanced levels of care from all vendors involved.
by Jordan Cullis, Director of Sales – APAC, Milestone Systems
This article was published May 22, 2019 by this leading Australian security media: