Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Targeting the Consumer

The biggest technology shift in access control and video security in the last 10 years has not been the move to IP/IT devices, which was and still is a necessity. The real change impacting every new product is customer-centric design.

Long gone are the days when manufacturers ventured into the night to provide a service that few people understood and even fewer knew they needed. Today the products that gain the greatest amount of usability are not just because of the technology deployed. Dare I say, they are developed around what the customer is asking for.

Security devices are now just another part of the corporate culture, and the value proposition for access control is now deeply ingrained into both the building administrator and system users. Building administrators know why they want access control and how they want it used, but they aren't ready to take on the task of putting it in themselves. This is, after all, a big investment.

Manufacturers are now starting to realize that the customer drives the business. Long gone are organizations where the primary driving force is a “cool new technology” developed in someone's garage that now needs a market. Today's security market is mature, and manufacturers understand the growing trend to be market-driven. So the question for manufacturers now is, “How do I get closer to what my customer needs?” Some of those answers fall into the IP/IT space.

Consumers are forced daily to learn new technologies in the IP/IT market space. Whether it be a new VoIP phone system, a new wireless system in a campus infrastructure or even just new ways to control information flow on the corporate network, every computer now has a window open to the Internet. The IP/IT market is one of great technological advancements, and there is growing commoditization. The savvy security manufacturer understands that serving the market involves embracing standards and understanding that the end-user can and should know how a security system works.

Once one has come to that realization, development can begin on products that not only gain consumer acceptance by using base technologies already being adopted, but also expands the consumer's options for choosing installation companies. This widens the range of personnel who can administer the system. And the security manufacturers gain by having a much larger resource and talent pool of engineers, marketers and sales personnel to bring the “next big thing” to market.

Is IT/IP a trend? Yes. Are IT/IP devices and policies the number one trend in the market? Not any longer. They are currently just part of the mandatory feature list.

So what is the “next big thing?”

It's the consumer. You are driving the business now. And it's about time.