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The quest for operational efficiency

End users are now proactively demanding integrated security solutions to save money, according to a new study.

Security system end-users have educated themselves to a level where they are now driving the requirement for integrated security solutions, according to a survey commissioned by the organisers of ISS Expo.

Only 15% of integrators now say that lack of knowledge amongst the end-user community is holding back the adoption of integrated solutions today.

Over half (54%) of security product vendors, security installers, integrators and consultants responding to the e-survey, believed that end-users were pushing them to bring more security-related systems together for the benefit of their businesses. A further 38% of respondents said that end-users’ relentless quest for operational savings, including reduced energy bills, was driving requests for more integrated solutions.

The fact that end-users are now calling for tighter integration, largely due to the productivity gains and cost savings that it implies, sends a strong signal to vendors, integrators and consultants everywhere. Vendors that have been offering tighter integration and interoperability between devices and security systems are finding the end-user’s door is open for business. But those who are still offering standalone systems, with little consideration of how they might link with other security systems, are set on a declining path.

Nearly a third of the sample (31%) believes that the most significant barrier to security integration is the domination of proprietary and/or analogue-based products at end-user sites. These traditional legacy systems are often difficult to integrate with the latest technology, making integration difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Despite these constraints, the largest group (39%) say that the single most significant factor breaking down barriers to integration is the increasing availability of systems designed to centralise and provide insight to end users; notably Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) and next generation Building Management Systems (BMSs).

The next most significant factor (for 27%) for breaking down barriers to integration was thought to be the vendors’ own efforts to integrate their products tightly with other ‘best of breed’ product providers. The building of product ‘eco-systems’, as they are often called, has been a consistent feature across the vendor community over the last five years. These endeavours are clearly being noticed and welcomed by end-users now.

A slightly smaller group (19%) said that more widespread use of IP-based products is easing integrators’ workload and stimulating implementation. A total of 15% of respondents said that vendors’ channel education programmes and their support for standards bodies such as ONVIF and the PSIA have played significant roles in breaking down these barriers.

Respondents also found it difficult to prioritise end-user benefits of integrated security solutions and gave these results: greater operational efficiencies (25%); cutting maintenance costs (24%); and centralising operations for access to more intelligence and control (22%).

However, ‘giving ageing standalone systems a new lease of life’ (15%) and ‘ensuring greater business resilience, continuity, health and safety compliance’ (13%) were lesser benefits for end-users.

The emphasis from end-users was that integrated systems are the best perceived route to operational efficiencies.

More in-depth discussion in phone briefings following the survey found that the partisan ‘IP versus analogue’ war of words amongst some vendors has not been helpful for end users when the reality is that most comprehensive, integrated security solutions will involve a mixture of legacy analogue and newer IP-based systems.

All enterprise-class central VMSs and PSIMs and BMSs will take feeds from a range of systems across a mixture of cabling infrastructures. Demand for hybrid skills amongst the integrator community will increase, according to a substantial minority.

Graeme Howe, Event Director for ISS Expo, commented: “The findings prove that far from demand for integrated security solutions cooling in the current economic climate, harsher economic conditions have forced end-users to act on plans to squeeze more out of their existing disparate security systems, bringing it together to create operational efficiencies and generate productivity gains. It confirms our belief that the time is right for an exhibition dedicated to driving adoption of integrated security solutions.”

Alastair McLeod, Managing Director of IP video transmissions at Veracity, stated: “The survey findings show that end-users are finally starting to call the shots, demanding integrated systems which guarantee productivity gains and energy savings. Vendors that work closely with integrators and create products and tools which are designed to make them integration-ready will be winners. We also work hard to forge partnerships with a range of other vendors to make sure that end users have the freedom to select best of breed without risking integration horrors down the line. The successful vendors in this market tend to be the ones that build strong eco-systems of other vendors around them.”

Adlan Hussain, Marketing Manager at CNL Software added: “The headline figures provide further proof that end users are becoming more technology savvy, and are helping to push the industry into the next phase of technology adoption. Our experience has shown us that once systems are connected and end users are able to see how a situation management process can start by a simple alert trigger, they start to understand how they can apply this within their security environment. These developments have been in parallel to changes within forward thinking technology vendors. If we go back a few years, a large numbers of vendors were expanding their security product portfolios in order to offer a ‘one stop’ solution for complete security systems. We are now seeing vendors going back to their core areas of expertise and working within a partner ‘ecosystem’ to provide interoperability. CNL Software is an eco-system partner for a vast number of companies.”

Integrated Security Solutions (ISS Expo) will be held at the ExCel in London from 3-4 October 2012.

See this event and more on our diary page.

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