Focus on project profitability at Intersec
20 January 2020
What should systems integrators look for at Intersec? Check out all the new tech, says Jamil Al-Asfar of IDIS, but be sure to weigh up the value of solutions too.
Go on admit it – it’s hard not to get just a tiny bit excited when you arrive at Intersec.
The Dubai show has gone from a modest but promising launch in 1998/9 to now being one of the industry’s most important global events, so it’s a priority showcase for companies taking part. And that can make checking out the new tech very satisfying, even for seen-it-all-before industry veterans.
But, for integrators and installers, spending a day or more at a big show is a challenge too. Your time is valuable, and you need to identify what’s important among all that emerging tech, solutions for smart cities, analytics and AI, impressive hardware, new product offers and…well, the list is a long one.
So how do you avoid getting sidetracked by something that’s great but not a priority, or overwhelmed by sheer volume?
One practical exhibition strategy for integrators is to focus your research on long term value and recurring revenue streams, and to understand the TCS (Total Cost to Serve) for each project you undertake.
In our case, we’re talking about video solutions, but whatever technology you’re looking at, you can apply the same principle to understanding its true value.
The new features and functionality on show are sure to be impressive, but don’t forget to focus your research on how well a particular technology, product or solution will help you serve your customers. Will it let you be more efficient and profitable on a specific project? Will it minimise the chance of cost overruns? Will it lead to long term service agreements?
Get to grips with TCS
Getting to grips with TCS will repay the effort. It will allow you to price up projects more realistically.
It will let you create stronger, more competitive bids. It will drive better value for your customers, and greater profit for you. And it will help you establish a stronger portfolio of aftermarket maintenance contracts.
Focusing your research on end-to-end and one-stop-shop solutions could save you a lot of time and effort further down the line.
In video surveillance, for example, there’s a strong argument for single-source solutions. Firstly, they let you price and design jobs more confidently compared to managing a custom, mix-and-match installation combining surveillance tech from different vendors.
A second advantage for integrators using a single-source solution is that they get the benefit of an efficient supply chain with reduced costs.
There’s a big time and cost advantage to getting all the hardware and software you need from a single point. If this sourcing includes everything you need to build a complete surveillance solution, from cameras and recorders to VMS and network accessories and analytics, you’ll find the implementation a lot easier.
With the best solutions you should also be able to combine analogue with the next gen IP technology using the same user interface. This means that when a project arises where existing coaxial cabling needs to be leveraged, you’ll be able to handle that seamlessly.
With fully compatible technology you’ll have the confidence that all your hardware and software will work together and, coming back to TCS, this means jobs are easier to design and price and you won’t have complex or unexpected integration work to worry about.
The benefits of plug-and-play solutions
There are real advantages to true plug-and-play, one-click configuration. With it, you’re at much less risk of project over-runs, and are more likely to deliver the completed solution on time, as promised. In fact, the benefits of plug-and-play were among the deciding factors in one of the most significant video upgrades ever undertaken in the region’s banking sector. This was a major implementation, covering hundreds of locations, for the National Commercial Bank in the KSA.
Peer-to-peer technology, such as IDIS’s For Every Network (FEN) tech, lets engineers deploy and configure secure, multi-site surveillance solutions that deliver centralised monitoring and control without in-depth knowledge of routing or networking, for easy multi-site implementations.
This is the proven business model that plug-and-play tech makes possible – and it also makes it easier for integrators and customers to agree maintenance and service contracts, especially where there is strong warranty protection for both parties against equipment failure.
You don’t have that so easily with a multi-vendor system. Any problems that arise with a mix-and-match solution will probably take longer to diagnose and fix, and you may face the added complication of vendors blaming each other and not working together to figure out what’s going wrong.
And for integrators, with the clock ticking, costs can rise.
One of the most important benefits integrators can now offer customers is protection against the losses that a cybersecurity breach can bring.
This issue is now at the top of the corporate agenda and, increasingly, integrators who are able to offer surveillance systems with demonstrable, multilayer protection are at an advantage.
Cybersecurity losses can include direct business costs, penalties from regulators, catastrophic revenue decline and long-term damage to reputation in the event of a successful cyber-breach.
Using video technology with the right layers of protection should prevent the surveillance system from becoming a vulnerable back door into the customer’s network.
For example, choose technology that eliminates the need to manage every device with a corresponding password during installation. This is a potential source of weakness, with corner-cutting and human error making it easier for hackers to bypass, guess or steal passwords. And the larger the system, the more cameras it has, the greater the potential for mistakes to be made by installation teams.
Zero-configuration technology avoids this by making the job faster for installation teams and more secure. And it removes the risk of penetration testing after deployment revealing loopholes that require expensive re-engineering or fixes.
Any reputable systems integrator implementing a multi-vendor surveillance system needs to be confident that it's fully cybersecure – and certain that it will remain so in the future. But maintaining proper levels of cybersecurity requires timely firmware releases and software updates from manufacturers and software partners. Clearly, the more vendors you have involved in a system the greater the risk of updates not being issued quickly enough to combat new and evolving threats. And it only takes a single vulnerability in one device to put the entire surveillance system at risk and endanger the customer's network.
Maintaining protection into the future, timely firmware updates need to be issued to systems integrators and end users. And managers and engineers should be able to propagate every device simultaneously, making it faster and easier to keep security policies and systems fully updated and protected against cyber risks as they evolve.
The single source supply route saves integrators time and trouble, avoiding the need to work with multiple vendors in their quest for suitable cameras, accessories, VMS and more.
It means engineers will need to spend less time away from their day jobs at training sessions as well as attending a myriad of events and roadshows to hear from multiple vendors about future analytics advances, the latest camera tech or new software releases – and remember it all.
It’s also worth seeking out the assurance of forward-and-backward compatibility, which will make it easy to upgrade solutions for customers, both now and in the future. When you add a new camera, an analytics appliance, or bring online new deep learning technologies to an existing surveillance set up, you want to know that it will simply work.
Ideally integrators need just one point of contact – local to them – to help them design, price, sell and maintain their customers’ entire surveillance solutions.
This makes it easier to master new technology, even tech at the leading-edge – and it makes it easier to work out what to focus on when you attend a crowded trade show like Intersec.
Jamil Al-Asfar is senior sales manager Middle East & Africa at IDIS. For more information visit: www.idisglobal.com