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Why surveillance technology needs a new channel

The surveillance technology sales process is becoming like the rest of IT – needing a holistic, business-related sales process and sales people working at senior levels in the customer. It is still a separate operation from IT, however, says Brian Grainger, CSO at Spectra Logic. He maintains discrete channels for each.

“We have found that it is the same – typically in the IT market the media and entertainment or general it there is a lot of cross-over in marketing and strategies. The surveillance market takes a different operation – separate sales in the main. Even some of our products are specifically tailored for the security market,” he says.

“Security involves not just digital security but also surveillance and physical security - access control, perimeters and people as security guards. The channel itself has changed – two to five years ago they were all small regional specialists. The channel will now propose a complete solution and because of the coming together of IT equipment and security issues, we are seeing a growth in more global and national partners."

Brian Grainger says: “Convergint is a great example of this change, starting as a small, focused physical security specialist and has grown into global integration.” Now the surveillance channel is 80/20 with 80% being smaller by number and regional or city based - the 20% are the major firms.

Convergint has done an excellent job in becoming global, he says. Companies and governments and utilities are not looking for simple hardware purchase – they are looking for partnerships who can help with the integration and keeping them updated.IT Europa talked to global surveillance integrator Convergint Technologies’ Tony Varco, Vice President of Security, about the market, the skills and the potential. Convergint is one of the new breed of global security integrator that Spectra Logic works with. Convergint focuses on larger, more complex solutions across the world, with both local and global customers. “Business outcomes” is what it aims to sell, says Tony Varco. They tend to be a higher-level enterprise sales – and the differentiator is that it is selling compliance rather than storage, risk mitigation rather than cameras.

“These days, the technology pace of change and the rate of change of compliance are real issues,” says Tony Varco, “Trusted advisor status is important in the world of security and is wider than the surveillance and storage devices. My go-to-market strategy is different, we are a piece of the puzzle in surveillance whereas in storage we talk just storage and it is a different sales strategy.”

“A traditional integration is just not good enough. Even from a service perspective, customers are looking for partners who can prevent things rather than saying why things happened – this is more of a service approach. Partners and tools are needed to help deliver this and we have seen things change over the last two years. It is very interesting for us – and is not about selling a camera, but is a business outcome.  We find the security solutions go far beyond physical solution – it is now a boardroom discussion and is impacting all areas of the operation.”

Solutions tend to be based on a common set of challenges, and can be repeatable, but the compliance needs and regulations mean that the enterprise customers are looking for a reliable partner to help deal with the pressure points. “We are not consultants, but we do a lot of this, as well as working with other specialists. We work on business and system planning over the next three to five years to help them develop solutions.”

“It is an ongoing process- with these larger, more sophisticated clients, we meet quarterly for two-hour meetings and review pressures and roadmaps at a high level. They call It thought leadership as they prepare for what is coming. We can then tweak the plans, which may change around 20% -25% a year as the threats and challenges change.”

The rate of change is rapid – the skillset in technical and in sales has changed. “Our biggest competitor is the customer’s ability to learn on their own. We have to educate ourselves and then educate the customer. For example, a big area is cybersecurity – no longer just a buzz-word, we have to be able to walk the customer through the solutions. Our various components and devices on the network mean we have to be well versed in that area and the customer expects us to be a thought leader.”

With these larger clients – the big driver is compliance and it affects different vertical in different ways. – pharmaceuticals and governments have issues that are different from more common industry verticals. It is a race to stay current with knowledge.

“We stay up to date by talking to technology partners and peers in the industry. The biggest thing is the relationship with technology partners- you won’t hear us use the term vendor – it is too important for that. The days of “they make it/we sell it” are gone. It is important that we stay up to speed with technology changes and their roadmaps – we look out 12-24 months with technology partners. We feed back the voice of the customer, so there is a calibration process. It takes both is us to serve these clients now. “

“We understand how to speak in general terms and can maintain the barriers. Some customers can actually share information and we have done customer forums to help them work together, especially in the vertical markets. We will do more in the financial service industry for example to see how solutions come together. “

Video is the fastest growing area now, where it  used to be access control. “Customers in all sort of industries can’t get enough video and this is where partners like Spectralogic comes in useful as they can manage this. Turning data into actionable intelligence is the key to developing business outcomes. AI is still on the horizon and is more of buzz-word today. Analytics is appropriate now – it was oversold, so part of our job is to help customers control expectations, but there are some very interesting analytic solution that help them meet challenges. It is one more layer and opportunity to do this. “

IoT is another area – Digital Ceiling (DC) is the next big concept here – looking at the envelope of a building and how these system tie together for more robust business outcomes. The future is not about having a bunch of devices but what outcomes do they all produce. The DC brings it all together – card access, lighting and heating controls – it is a fantastic solution – that is the next big integration thing, he says.

Enterprise level integration is the convergence of physical and logical security- there are very few integrators who can compete and win at enterprise level because of the sophistication of the systems – they need certifications and a certain calibre of individuals to bring it all together, Tony Varco says.