Security Systems News

AUG 2019

Security Systems News is a monthly business newspaper that reaches 25,100 security installers, product distributors, central stations, engineers & architects, and security consultants. Our editorial coverage focuses on breaking news in all major se

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www.securitysystemsnews.com August 2019 s EC u RI t Y s Y st EM s NEW s Monitoring 14 the day-to-day concerns, but they need to start thinking ahead: 'What are the next things they're going to be offering to their customers?' SSN: What are some pain points your members need to solve and how is technology going to help them do that? SPECTOR: One of the bigger challenges that our industry is faced with is labor — finding people. Across North America as a whole, the labor market is extremely tight. Certainly, con- solidation is also increasing and is also a driving force, as there's been a lot of capital [that] has become attracted to the industry space. It's a different world today. When we're interfacing with clients' IP networks and if there's any problem with their computers or commu- nication protocols, who do they call? They call the alarm company for the simple reasons that we are there; we answer the phones; and we're in a service-intensive busi- ness and a lot of the providers are not. This is increasing the skills required for us to stay in a progres- sively technology-changing world. Demands are increasing on our sales people, installation people, customer service reps back at our offices and our technicians out in the field. So, because change is happening so quickly around us, it's getting much more difficult to stay relevant, stay on top of technology and to be able to offer those services that customers are asking for today. Case in point … if I told you 10 years ago that we would be installing apps that could be driv- ing thermostats, door locks, audio/ video doorbells, and layering all that onto security systems' apps, you probably would have looked at me like I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead! I don't think anyone could have foreseen the impact in the adoption rate that these technologies have driven our businesses to, particularly in the residential space. What's also interesting to date: it used to be the commercial space drew the demands of residential. That [dynamic] seems to have flip-flopped. The two touch-points today are voice of the customer and the customer experience. It's inter- esting when you think about it, TMA leaders dish on the state of monitoring today ss N EXCL us IVE: Continued from page 1 because even though we live with so much technology, and even though there's so much technol- ogy around us, at the end of the day it's the personal relationships that are going to differentiate those well-sought-after companies that are left standing. BESORE: Things are very com- plicated, but the customer doesn't necessarily want to deal with complexity. They want all of these things … the latest video camera, door locks … but at the same time they don't want to have 50,000 apps. They want simplicity, but because we're at a transition point, it's hard to know what will endure. So, I suspect our members need to anticipate who will be around because the companies that are strong now may not be stronger in the future. Some of that disruption also creates a lot of uncertainty. Some people like to be with the more established ones [compa- nies]; some people are more willing to take quite a bit more risk, but go with the more innovative one [company]. SPECTOR: You don't want to interface with four or five apps in order to get things done. And, the fact that we can layer a multitude of services and various options on the apps that we now have available to our clients gives us a distinct advantage. SSN: How is technology helping the security industry beat the age-old problem of false alarms? SPECTOR: One of the things that I think has changed started with enhanced call verification or two-call verification, where we would be contacting the client in order to hopefully not have to dis- patch the police. So, the new level of this is the app. A text message will be sent through the app to the client saying, [for example], 'Would you like to cancel the dis- patch or would you like to proceed with the dispatch?' In addition, the software providers for automation systems are also doing that, so there are a multitude of ways in which the burden of responsibili- ties has shifted in order to reduce the false alarm dispatch rate as low as possible to the client so that they are invested in the process. False alarms … if you're going to have an alarm system, you will have false alarms whether it's caused by the user — a pre- ponderance of false alarms are user-based — but that's a really weak argument because we [the security industry] design and sell the systems that the customers are interfacing with. It's a tough call; I don't think anyone is ever going to have the answer, although there supposedly are motion detectors which are going to be incorpo- rating … I don't want to say 'AI' because it's a very overused term in any industry today, but that are supposed to be integrating facial recognition technology. The motion detectors are going to be able to differentiate a 'you' from 'me,' for example. It's disturbing to me and I think it should disturb all of us as an industry — the fact that we're relying on motion technology, which is probably over 40-years old. SSN: What are the key opportuni- ties moving forward for monitoring professionals? Where do you see ways to keep monitoring stations alive, prospering and doing well? SPECTOR: There are some very well-run, third-party monitoring stations that are on the market today. I think the value proposition for high-security, well-run com- panies to keep their monitoring station open is an eroding possibil- ity. I know that a lot of companies are looking at outsourcing some of those services or adopting a hybrid model. We don't like to talk about this, but it's the truth. Those third-party monitoring sta- tions can focus on the technology of monitoring and that world has been changing significantly in the past couple of years. We have to figure out how to remain relevant, cutting-edge and keep our members healthy. But I believe we're going to see a lot more consolidation in the moni- toring end of things, particularly because a lot of these third-party monitoring stations can do it if not better, just as well. They can do it more cost effectively. In other words, the value proposition of people having monitoring stations is not going to be on the increase, but there are always going to be those niche service providers where we can layer on additional services: parcel deliver verification, concierge-type services, video and PERs monitoring, emergency con- ditions, environmental monitoring, cyber monitoring. There are still opportunities that are out there, but it's going to take expertise and a new level of skill sets in order to achieve those results. BESORE: The 'monitoring of everything' … everything could come to a central location and they [the people working there] would be the ones to curate with AI-assistance, or whatever it is at the time; it's not necessarily going to happen now, but there are so many things that are going to be monitored that people are not going to want to be bothered. And I don't think technology will be at the point where the AI would be so good that it would be able to make the decisions. At least for a while, we still need that human interac- tion [with whatever is coming into a monitoring station]. For me, not having a monitoring company, all I see are all the pos- sibilities. What needs to happen is to think differently about what monitoring is; it's not that we will ever abandon the security part, but there are so many other things that we could be doing. Also, there are challenges with the human factor, so some things will have to be more automated than they are right now. But, I think, if we thought [about] it in a new way, taking advantage of old and new possibilities, it could go well; it'll just be different. SPECTOR: I don't want to paint the picture of gloom and doom, but we're going to have to rethink the way we offer services … some of the services that we do offer … to make sure that we can continue to differentiate the services that many of our members offer. Our members are a cross-section — third-party stations, proprietary stations and full-service stations — so we are sensitive to the broad spectrum of the dynamics of each one of those silos. SSN SSN Editor Paul Ragusa (left) sits down with TMA's Ivan Spector and Celia Besore at ESX 2019 in Indianopolis.

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