The Interview: Leon Langlais and Ken May, Tyco Security Products
Tyco Security Products has changed its route to market and is now being distributed in Australia exclusively by Hills Ltd. It’s a significant move for both companies, as well as for integrators and end users who rely on iconic brands like DSC, Software House, CEM and American Dynamics. SEN editor John Adams speaks with Leon Langlais and Ken May of Tyco Security Products.
JA: You have many brands under the Tyco umbrella – which does Hills now distribute?
KM: There are 9 brands in the Tyco Security Products portfolio and from 13th March 2015, Hills represents 7 of these, including DSC, Software House, Kantech, Sur-Gard, Visonic, CEM Systems and Exacq.
JA: This is a big deal for the market at multiple levels – how did the new agreement between Tyco and Hills come about? What was process involved?
KM: Despite the breadth and quality of our brand offerings, we were not attaining the desired market share in the Australian market compared with other regions and that was a concern to us. Initially, we were looking for new opportunities to expand the presence of our wireless portfolio in readiness for interactive services and Hills were well positioned to deliver growth when it came to wireless intrusion.
At the time we were talking with Hills it became clear there was a huge opportunity to expand their product offering in enterprise access control and unified systems. As we talked, the advantage of Tyco’s unified platform – all of our products talk to each other as well as many third party products – became clearer. Once we started scoping out strategy and agreed on where the market was headed, it really evolved into a bigger deal.
JA: You’ve gone from multiple distributors to one large distributor. How do you feel about that consolidation?
KM: For us it’s very exciting. Hills is a great name in Australia with a good resource base and strong financially. The other thing I like about Hills is that it wants to be more than just a distributor. Hills wants to take some offerings to the market which are different. These offerings may include managed cloud services, which are really the future, and are technologies in which Tyco is squarely invested. We can satisfy a many of Hills’ strategic aims, while Hills can give Tyco’s product range professional representation.
JA: Training is obviously a key aspect of a new distribution partnership, especially given the size of Tyco’s product range – has that process already started?
KM: There’s a huge amount of training to be done and the process has already started. There’s sales training, technical training, and certification training. Tyco provides certification training that has increasing levels of complexity and is tried and tested to provide our partners the proficiency required. We have multiple training centres around the world and a global professional services organisation so we can also bring in enterprise engineers. That’s important because you are talking about a complex, networked IT solution.
We are confident that with training, Hills will take on a bigger role as part of that process. It’s an important part of the business. When you talk about Software House, one of the reasons we have global customers is that when they need it, they have professional services support. Some of these systems are mission critical, they can’t afford to fail. Hills can certainly contribute to this. The company has a big resource pool, a professional training department, a culture of training, that’s one of the things that makes Hills and Tyco such a good fit.
JA: There are a lot of installers and integrators out there who have been buying your products from former Tyco suppliers. Do you have any message for them and for end users who are employing Tyco brands right now?
KM: Yes, certainly. The changes to our distribution model have been made to improve the level of support. It’s not just about product performance, it’s how well you support your solutions. This is particularly important in the Australian market. The U.S. is not just a few hours away – so the support has to be here. The message to integrators is that they will see a dramatic improvement in the level of pre-sales support, technical support and logistical facilitation.
Product installers will see better stocking, reducing lead times. Hills has a network of national branches and a strong logistics capability. For end users, we’ll be looking to expand our channel with more choice, appointing and training installers and integrators, particularly in the enterprise area, and Hills will help in that process. This means our product will be installed, commissioned and supported by knowledgeable and technically capable installation teams.
JA: It sounds like you will be pretty involved moving forward, that this is going to be a partnership with Hills.
KM: I regard this as a partnership – we are not looking for a short term distributor – Tyco can do logistics itself. What we are looking for is a distributor in this market with the industry connections, locally recognised and trusted, and the capability to support our entire range.
We’re certainly impressed so far and we want this to be two-way. One of the reasons Leon is here, is that this is a partnershio and Hills will have influence over product development. We run a well-defined product roadmap process and if a market needs a particular feature or product, once it gets through product management as a business case, we will deliver it.
JA: Do you have an idea an idea where you would like to be in 2 years’ time – a greater market presence? Bigger in projects? Breaking into cloud?
KM: Looking at the Australian market there are some specific technological requirements that are very particular to this market – for instance combining intrusion and access control. We’ve not had the growth in this market we would have liked because we have not focused on those particular characteristics. So if you’re looking at what our objectives are – they are to grow a bigger market share in Australia and the way to do that is to leverage the products that we’ve got but to tailor them to this market.
When we talk about integration of access control and intrusion – that capability is already there – so from a product point of view we are ready. In terms of other objectives we have a product range that covers the mid-SME level and the enterprise level and is capable of taking a significant market share and that’s what we would like do. We also see huge opportunity in the emerging smart home or interactive market, that our DSC intrusion product is integrated into cloud solutions such as Alarm.com.
JA: What’s different about the Tyco range? What do you do better than your competitors?
LL: The best thing about our product range is that it works like a unified platform. You don’t need to start from scratch to integrate it, the products already talk to each other. In today’s world that’s important. The video management system with access control integration – everybody does it but not many people do it on a unified platform framework. If you want to add on functionality, it’s not a matter of undertaking another integration, it’s basically already unified.
With Tyco’s product range it’s not only about integrating seamlessly, we can share modules so we are aligning the businesses closely together – American Dynamics towards Software House and CEM, Exaq towards Kantech, but with the entire portfolio supported by the Victor security management system – So if you have Kantech there, CEM there and DSC over here, everything will talk to everything and it will all hook up very easily.
JA: So this unification of all the product lines is a process that is ongoing?
LL: It’s not a process, it’s a culture.
JA: When it comes to Tyco’s strongest product in terms of the Australian market, DSC springs to mind. What are the plans with DSC?
LL: DSC is a great product that’s been made even better. About 3 years ago, Tyco acquired Visonic and it was for their wireless expertise and it still is the best today – Power G is a great wireless technology. NEO is the first product that brings it all together – the best of Visonic, the best of DSC in one expandable panel. Because of its integration capabilities it will put DSC more in the commercial space than it was before.
NEO is a networkable panel and when your panel is networkable, there’s really no limit to size or the number of sites you can do because your management platform is not an intrusion solution – it’s one of our enterprise management solutions like Victor, or Software House so you don’t have the limitations on the software side for active management of intrusion remotely. At the same time, if you have a small 16-zone store with 2 cameras, detectors, then it’s going to be extremely cost effective there, too.
JA: Given the potential for enterprise applications with NEO, is the simplicity of DSC’s installation still carried over?
LL: With DSC you install the panel, power it up and it self-configures. All NEO devices are 2-way wireless with long battery life of up to 8 years. They also have outstanding range, so we don’t need repeaters on most SME applications. Even in hotels like this one (Sydney Hilton), the system is so good it will work across 3 floors. There are very few wireless systems in the world that can achieve this. Nor do you need an experienced tech to install it. Enrolling devices is easy. Once the system has self-configured, you label the zones, so it can be done very quickly.
JA: Tell us about your access control brands – you have a number of very capable solutions there.
KM: We have 3 access control brands. Software House is a famous enterprise access control solution suited for customers wanting to manage solutions globally. CEM on the other hand, evolved from the airport business and has evolved into an IP-based device specialist offering very flexible enterprise solutions that do very cool things at the edge. Kantech is more about plug and play and readiness for hosted or managed services – you install it and turn it on and it self-configures because there’s a lot of very smart technology behind it.
JA: When it comes to Tyco’s cloud-capable products and the way they work together, is there a strategy you are following?
LL: We have realigned our strategy worldwide since the Exacq acquisition – Exacq, DSC and Kantech will generally go together through the same distribution channels. We are also working hard not just on the product themselves but the process, the ease of configuration, so that installers don’t need 2 weeks of training and engineers and CCNA experts to commission them. There’s a 4-hour training seminar – you can send a junior tech on an install and the job will not be messed up. The differentiator will not be the size of the job but the complexity of the solution.
JA: Tell us a bit more about cloud access control solutions. That’s an area of the market that seems to have a bright future.
KM: Talking about access control in the cloud, Kantech Hattrix is a no-brainer and I’m hoping it will take off here in Australia. It’s an excellent and very flexible solution.
LL: Our internal research has found that access control shows a much lower attrition rate than intrusion detection and a much higher recurring monthly fee than intrusion or video surveillance. The difference between intrusion and video surveillance and access control is that if the intrusion or CCTV systems don’t work, unless you are a site like a casino, the organisation can continue to function. But if the access control system doesn’t work for half a minute, people will be on the phone.
Access control is absolutely mission critical, so when people choose a cloud-based access control system they need to choose the right system. You don’t want to rely on the cloud to manage the local access control decisions. Instead, you need good hardware supported by quality software that gives you local decisions and remote management via the cloud.
JA: When it comes to new product, is there anything new and cool coming up?
KM: Oh, yes. Lots. We’ll let you know specifics in due course but when you say cool, then cloud, interactive solutions, mobility and taking integrations to another level. There are many exciting things coming up for Tyco and Hills and we are looking forward to sharing them with the Australian market.
KM: DSC has a phenomenal global market share – it has a long history of technological innovation. When DSC became part of the Tyco Group, a lot of work went into integrating it into the rest of the Tyco range. Software House is strong in the institutional segment. The other brands are catching on – something that will accelerate that growth is the Exacq acquisition 18 months ago. Exacq is the leading VMS in North America and it talks to almost any IP camera so if you combine that with the platforms that we have, suddenly you’ve got a solution that appeals to a much wider audience. It’s a coming of age for us.♦