Despite the tidal wave of change that will sweep the alarm monitoring industry in 2016, it’s apparent the market remains sanguine about the future, with interest in automation and cloud-based applications yet to peak. 

IN 2016 we’ll lose 2G and PSTN, changes that will pitch-pole the alarm monitoring industry into a strange new place without the parachute of rebates, a place beset by monsters. These monsters won’t be the sea dragons of cartography but the gatekeepers of a digital world and combating them is going to demand a focus on what customers want. 

We’ve been lucky in many ways. The decision of the conservative government to shelve fibre to the door has slowed the pace of change, as well as pinching the possibilities. There have also been delays from big players, with Telstra’s rollout of its new alarm monitoring service said to have been put back by the need to train an adequate number of technicians. 

There’s no word on Telstra’s pricing yet, nor on how far into automation and video the big Aussie Telco’s chosen solution is likely to go but once Telstra’s people get out and start churning, we’re likely to see some fireworks in the market. Telstra has a turbulent history of competing with its wholesale providers and just how this is going to impact on the overall market remains to be seen. 

Something we’re certain to see is the evolution of alliances between hardware providers and back-end providers. That’s visible now with DSC, Go!Control and Alarm.com, all of which had a strong presence at SecTech Roadshow in May. But things are not going to stay as they are for long. We’ll see other key players taking up powerful positions. 

CSD’s plans are in this area have not yet been revealed but those plans are likely to be thoughtfully considered and technically adept and they’ll muster the support of a loyal customer base. Bosch too, is developing considerable automation capability that will demand an appropriate delivery mechanism, while Risco is already well established, having pioneered the space. 

It’s a time of opportunity at multiple levels. From the point of view of alarm panel makers, this means sales. Some alarm systems can’t handle automation, some don’t integrate with the best supported remote management applications. 

And therein there’s a particular challenge for installers, manufacturers and distributors. Each needs to map out a route to market, an ecosystem that will support their solutions and their customers. The nature of the issue is such that it almost suggests proprietary solutions as the state of perfection.  

Trying to make a selection of hardware and backend is likely to be fraught for many companies but it’s something they’ll have to take on over the next 18 months. We’ll see swirling allegiances, realignments and the formation of alliances. Some companies aren’t going to want to sell the products of bitter competitors. 

I think something that’s apparent among installers is unease. Some installers seem cynical about the changes, perhaps feeling they’re being led by the nose by great powers beyond their control. To some extent, those feelings are accurate. There are huge changes coming and while many installers recognise the need for change, some fail to see how profound the changes must be. 

The old model is not going to exist much longer. Installation businesses must look at the products they support, the services their customers require, at the sales hooks they believe in, at the dependability of their comms and mobile applications. They must consider the needs of the deep future. 

Taking these and other factors into consideration they need to select hardware and a backend that will service their businesses, as well as supporting their client’s operational requirements. For many installation businesses and monitoring providers, this process is not going to be easy.♦