Helping channel partners get the most from IP based CCTV systems

March 2, 2011

CCTV channel interview with A&S International feature concering how Controlware can help CCTV installers and integrators get the most out of IP systems.

Q1. In what capacity do you work with traditional installers specializing in analogue technology? How do you complement each other?

Controlware: Due to our experience and skill set with IP video built up over the last 15 years we can offer the missing knowledge or support that the traditional analogue installer doesn’t have – This could be system design, commissioning, hardware sourcing (switches, servers etc.) or maintenance.

 

Q2. What are the usual problem areas (such as technology integration and installation techniques), and how do you solve them? How are compromises made?

Controlware: The usual problems are either around migration and leveraging legacy equipment and correspondingly any proprietary issues that might be faced such as telemetry or integrating hybrid systems.  The compromise is usually to either to have a managed migration plan that may involve additional hardware on a temporary basis or to accept reduced functionality for a period.

 

Q3. Has there been any case/project where it was simply easier to go all analog or all IP? Did you? Why or why not?

Controlware: We are currently rolling out a project for process control / improvement with a utilities company where, due to their IP VPN, it was easier to implement IP as all the WAN transmission infrastructure was already in place.  Therefore we could save costs and still improve remote site functionality and Health and Safety.

 

Q4. What can traditional installers do to better learn the IP/IT language?

Controlware: If installers wish to learn more about IP / IT then they should work with a trusted partner who has experience in IP and can help them develop their skills by working closely on projects and can then continue to help them in future opportunities through improved pre / post sales support.  This type of relationship is core to the Controlware partnership ethos.

 

Q5. What are you doing to better learn the analog/installation language?

Controlware: We understand the challenges that our installer partners face and we have a good knowledge basis on analogue implementation through undertaking industry recognized training but as we see IP as the future we don’t feel the need to invest heavily in this area.

 

Q6. What training programs are offered by manufacturers? What training programs are offered by IP/IT specialists like you?

Controlware: One of the challenges with manufacturer led training is that they are very product specific to that manufacturer whereas what the industry needs is wider IP / IT training on system design and networking such as switching technology, server specification or operating systems.  Within the Controlware group of companies we have a dedicated training organization called ExperTeach to provide exactly this missing link to our partners.

 

Q7. Is there any other support available, from manufacturers and from you?

Controlware: Most manufacturers can help with system design but again this tends to be limited to their own products and misses components like servers or switching or integration with legacy equipment.  Controlware are able to supply a complete consultancy, design and implementation service to what level the integrator requires.

 

Q8. How is effectiveness measured — number of new customers?

Controlware: This is difficult to measure – What I think you are seeing is different types of engineers coming through which allows traditional installers to bid on more and more IP based projects.  This in turn is opening up more business to them in different areas / verticals.

 

Q9. What is the working dynamics like between your company and the manufacturer partners when it comes to after-sales customer service/maintenance/troubleshooting of integrated, IP-based systems?

Controlware: We are able to provide 1st, 2nd and even 3rd line technical support as we understand IP completely and test / train all our pre / post sales engineers on all the products we supply and additional training on software and networking qualifications and undertake a lot of testing and systems approvals before signing over a project.  This is backed up by a full test and evaluation lab where we can fault find in the event of issues being highlighted by our integrators.

 

Q10. What issues can your company handle on itself, and what issues get referred back to the manufacturer partners?

Controlware: Due to the high level of training, test equipment and experience we can handle most problems ourselves and only refer back issues with things like firmware / software faults or clearly faulty hardware.  Most times we are able to give these manufacturer partners detailed feedback on the issues such as how and when the fault occurs and can be replicated, additional logging information or isolation testing to be able to eliminate other factors.

 

Q11. For customers who have come to adopt IP-based security products, what were the top three driving forces?

Controlware: I would say the drive is improved functionality and reliability, IP being seen as the technology of the future (increased deployment of structured cabling, remote communications etc.) and not having to rely on proprietary equipment.

 

Q12. How was the higher cost justified? How was ROI proved or improved?

Controlware: While the item to item cost maybe higher IP based systems have been shown to have a lower TCO than analogue and also RoI is shown through higher uptimes, greater resilience / redundancy and improved functionality and flexibility in deployment.

 

Q13. Among your customers, what verticals lean more toward using IP-based security equipment?

Controlware: Education is a key adopter of IP as they tend to be more forward looking but we are seeing more and more utility suppliers and infrastructure partners looking at IP as they upgrade networks and also Healthcare are looking more and more at IP.

 

Q14. Any specific vertical(s) that your company wishes to break into with networked security products? Why?

Controlware: Retail is always of interest due to the size of the estate and deploy base.  I also think that, with proper planning and implementation, that IP has a lot to offer in both legal compliance, health and safety and marketing as well as traditional security.

 

Q15. What are some issues that need to be addressed in order for networked security products to gain further traction and adoption?

Controlware: The knowledge base is a key point both in the installer base and system specifiers as is the entry price point of IP in certain areas.  Recording platforms / hardware also needs to be reviewed to make IP easier to adopt for both end users and the installers.

 

Q16. Any other anecdotal success stories? For the geographical markets/regions that you are active in (please identify which), what kind of growth in IP-based security systems are you expecting for 2011?

Controlware: We expect to see good growth in IP through 2011 but it is difficult to put an exact number on it due to the challenging global conditions in different regions.  What we are seeing, however, is not only a migration of traditional security to IP but also projects around process control and health and safety compliance – IP fits these types of installations due to their flexibility and reduced TCO costs as they are easier to install, integrate with existing infrastructure and provide far better redundancy options and these arguments can be carried back into the traditional installation base.

If you are interested in becoming a Controlware channel partner sign up here.

 


The consultative approach to CCTV surveillance systems

November 23, 2009

Mike Tolley, Principal Consultant at Cogent (fm) Solutions, identifies the need to understand what the customer wants to achieve in order to deliver the right solution.

Coming back to work for an installer for family reasons, I found it difficult to adopt the approach of the salesman again, so I didn’t.

I was told to expect a 1 in 12 win ratio (moving from a 1 in 4 ratio back in 2000) … all that wasted time with no benefit! Surely it couldn’t be cost effective enough to employ me?

So I spent a couple of months looking at the industry again. I looked at where a CCTV installation company could still add value without playing in a Dutch auction on prices.

Using my consultative head (based on working in partnership with the client, rather than just being another contractor) we, as a company, used the same style of approach:

  • understand the needs of the customer and the site
  • offer advice first
  • advise on a need basis, not a sales one
  • recommend the right solution even if it isn’t in your portfolio of products
  • assist in finding a reputable supplier of that solution

This approach has led us to making partnerships with several suppliers of other security related products and services, so we are not ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, we are a professional organisation working in partnership with other like minded individuals to mutually benefit our customers.

Through this approach, our partners will also benefit and the sales pro-rata will come around. We are now back into a 1 in 3, 1 in 4 win ratio of good quality business. We have won some very credible national contracts in the past three months and we have a rosy future ahead. We are also willing to walk away from those sourcing cheap alternatives.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know what you think below.

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