WHETHER it’s the earlier date of Security 2014 Exhibition or simply the passage of years, this year’s security event seems out the gate early, creating a sense of hustle most people in the electronic security industry must be feeling a lot these days. Product upgrades are almost constant and the latest market leaders are usually overtaken within 12 months. (Pre-register right here!)

In 2013, the key building trends we identified were things like price deflation, thermal cameras, video verification, cloud-based security solutions, wireless and mobile management of security solutions. Also noticeable was the digitisation of wider electronic security solutions – IP access, alarms, intercoms, home automation and the rest. A surfeit of features was another trend, with buyers getting more for less.  

But we also identified core performance parameters that continue to define our solutions – from image quality, low light performance, resistance to false alarms and low power draw, through to compact solutions integrating multiple security subsystems. Then there was traditional stuff like relationships with suppliers, commissioning of entire solutions by distributors before shipping, local servicing of hardware and plain old quality support. 

Last year installers and integrators said they wanted suppliers to give them more amazing product, for less money and with more support. At the same time distributors and manufacturers wished installers and integrators were more loyal, more prepared to try new solutions, better with IP and less transfixed by the lowest price. 

Industry observers will have noticed a wave of start-ups sprouting in the automation/security/cloud crossover. It seems to me many of these are MBA-fuelled, crowd-funded attempts to relieve the wallets of over-funded tech giants, not serious efforts to build profitable businesses. What impact might they have on our electronic security products? They’ll encourage cloud model to offer more competitive prices and they’ll push our manufacturers to be more clever than they are. At Security 2014 take a look at Risco Agility 3, Honeywell Tuxedo and DSC NEO, among others. 

Something that’s creating a hum just now is froth and bubble in the local security business. It’s likely this will increase the frisson at Security 2014. There’s a lot of jockeying for position going in 2014, with big players shuffling their product ranges, more staff movement than we have seen in many years, along with some big mergers and acquisitions. I tend to think we’re going to move into a period of consolidation in the back half of the year but competition will stay hot. 

In terms of technology, what should visitors expect to see at Security 2014? I think technology will continue to evolve as it has been doing but the pace of development will gather and prices continue to slide in areas where competition is hottest. I’m not certain the speed of development will be so noticeable in software-based systems as it might be in the IT industry. There’s a viscosity to the electronic security industry’s software development. Some of the industry’s VMS products have nearly reached their teens without significant upgrade.

We mentioned Chinese manufacturing as a driver of change in the industry in 2013 – primarily through price deflation but also thanks to that endearing tendency of Chinese manufacturers to cram all the latest features into their affordable products. I think this impact on price will continue in the short and mid-term but perhaps not in the same way. 

I’ve long had a fondness for Chinese watchmaker, Sea-Gull. What’s relevant here is pricing, which used to be jaw-droppingly low given the quality and complication of the company’s mechanical watch movements. But over the past 12 months routes to market have crystallised and prices of key models have suddenly doubled. 

It might be a different industry but this development suggests to me quality Chinese manufacturers, as well as beginning to cement their distribution models, have begun valuing Chinese technology in a way we have not seen before. From the perspective of security electronics people, I think this changing attitude will see the heat move away from price and towards performance and features.  

By John Adams

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