Q: Gabriel, you’re in the unique
position of sourcing new product for Australia’s largest and most successful
electronic security wholesaler – from the strength of that position, how do you
see the overall trends facing the electronic security market?

A: First, let me address your perception
of our “strength of position”. We have a view that our business, like any other
business, is only 3 bad decisions from total irrelevance.

Now to your question about industry
trends, I am very excited about the leading nature of security technology. This
continuing advancement particularly in the area of video creates an early
adopter culture amongst end users that equals to higher growth which then fuels
more innovation. So our trends are very positive and strong and the future for
this industry is extremely healthy.

Q: When you go looking for new
technology what sorts of products and technologies are you looking for?

A: We are mainly interested in
technologies that are useful. Ultimately our customers must see value in
parting with their hard earned money.

Q: You must have an idea for a wonder
electronic security product in your mind. If you could contrive the perfect
security solution what would it be?

A: Yes, we have conceived the ultimate
security product. We believe it will be a world beater but even though I
believe you can keep this secret unfortunately I cannot tell you anything about
it.

Q: Would you say Aussies are early
adopters of electronic security technologies or are we a bit slow?

A: Our market is driven by great new technology
and that contributes to an early adopter culture.

Q: We’ve suggested in SE&N before
that the current financial challenges facing the global economy should
facilitate a strong swing from legacy analog video surveillance solutions over
to full digital as users look to leverage existing infrastructure. Would you
agree with this?

A: I don’t think it needs to take a
global economic crisis to point out that leveraging your existing
infrastructure is a smart decision. The real question is what capacity does
your infrastructure allow for and what is the best way to utilize any spare
capacity. Security may or may not be the priority for a given user. It is our
role in the security industry to compete for those priorities.

Q: Areas like access control and
intruder alarms have not openly undergone a digital revolution in the same way
as CCTV. That’s partly because access control has had an IT component since the
1980s while alarm systems benefit from their reliable, low cost solid state
architecture. But is it possible these areas could head further online as CCTV
systems are doing?

A: It is true that video has by far been
the leading technology innovator but it must be put into perspective. Video
technology is not the sole domain of the security industry. Security is only
one vertical market for video and security is by no means video’s largest
vertical market. On the other hand, access control for example is predominately
a security industry technology and hence is a smaller technology opportunity. There
are of course other reasons for the technology development discrepancy, however
we believe this is the main one.

In saying that, we still believe that
alarm and access control have a lot of room to grow in terms of their
underlying technology.

Q: When it comes to access control do
you believe in door controllers residing on common LANs with PoE to locks and
readers or is this an unrealistic future?

A:  The question is do you want your door to have
the same level of reliability as the rest of your computer network. I know that
our IT department sees no issue with one of our PCs being unavailable for hours
or days at a time. In saying that, I do accept that many users will be sold on
the idea.

Q: DAS is distributing Sagem’s benchmark
range of networking biometric readers – do you think that the combination of
zero-card biometrics and networking means that biometric technology’s time has
finally come?

A: Over the years, I have learnt that
there is one human trait that is more powerful than the need to secure your
belongings and that is the power of convenience. Biometrics day will arrive
when it becomes as convenient as the proximity card. That day is approaching.

Q: Intruder alarm systems have remained
essentially the same for a very long period of time. Does this stability of
design reflect a pinnacle of accomplishment or has price consciousness put the
brakes on inventiveness in system design – driving economy at the expense of
features?

A: Ultimately it is the customer that
determines the outcome of innovation, for example, if your largest customer has
primarily a strong recurring revenue model and there is nothing wrong with
that, then innovation and extra equipment sales are not going to be a priority.

Q: Where do you see monitoring technology
going in the next 12-24 months? Will DAS continue to release alarm panels with
onboard dialler as standard or will be there a switch to wireless or IP options
as standard?

A:  The answer is that it must be all of the above.

Q: Does Hills have any exciting new
products set to come out in the New Year?

A: Yes and we are looking forward to
soon letting you know what these are.

Q: Do you see signs in new technology of
a single solution able to handle alarms, access control, video surveillance
(and other input/outputs) or do you think that time is some way off or even
never to be attained?

A: We believe that the convergence of
these technologies have been with us for a little while now. The issue is that
we don’t believe there is one solution for every application, therefore
diversity will remain while customers continue to have different needs.

Q: How will DAS and Hills Industries as
a whole face the challenges of the next 12 months – what’s the most important
thing for your business right now?

A: The next 12 months will be the same
as our previous 21 years; we will continue to focus on only the things we can
control.

“Over the years, I have learnt that
there is one human trait that is more powerful than the need to secure your
belongings and that is the power of convenience”