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As an industry we have traditionally built security systems in a way that was generally from a single or limited number of manufacturers. These systems were designed for a single purpose and generally stand-alone from other systems. However, today the pace of security technology innovation is moving much faster and ushering in new requirements for security departments to meet. These innovations within access control, surveillance systems and enterprise information technologies are enabling interoperability and data sharing capable of transforming a system into a platform. These platforms are made up of products that are cross-functional, multi-purpose compared to the past when systems were single purpose with limited functionally.
Pick the right platform and you can earn the organizations trust and build strong partnerships with your vendors; pick the wrong platform and reputations on all sides are tarnished, and productivity and service erode. With the many options available in the physical security industry, how can you differentiate between, and ultimately make a decision upon, which manufacturer, platform or system is the correct one? Some of the key factors that need to be considered are:
Understanding the Pace of Technology
To say that technology moves at a fast pace is a cliché, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Just a few years ago video was still primarily viewed on CRT monitors. Today, everyone wants HD video and video clients are migrating to smart phones and tablet computers. Things are not going to slow down. Advances in consumer products make end-users comfortable with new technology, and they want to bring those benefits to the workplace. Replacing CRT video walls and workstations with HD screens and tablets is expensive, but if you chose the wrong platform five years ago it will be even more expensive now to replace the proprietary DVRs and matrix switchers that can’t scale and won’t integrate with modern solutions.
Matching Complexity to Competency
The integration process for physical security systems becomes more complex to execute and support as technology advances. Increased complexity requires a higher degree of technical competency on the part of systems designers and engineers, installation and support technicians, and sales teams. It is critical to address these competency gaps with education programs and by choosing the right platform. Choosing a platform built on standard technologies helps to contain complexity within well-understood and supported practices, and therefore reduces gaps in competency.
Balancing Project Timelines and Platform Lifecycles
Physical security product lifecycles tend to range between seven and ten years. Choosing a platform that can remain relevant for your organization throughout their project timeline is another challenge entirely. Large-scale enterprise projects have much more expansive timelines, including phased rollouts which can take up to seven years alone. Projects of this scale require a platform that is equally scalable and extensible. As customer requirements change from one location, year, or cycle to the next, the platform needs to adjust to that change. The right platform should support and integrate with products and systems that can match the required product lifecycle and won’t constrain project timelines.
Capitalize on Changes
Advancements in technology will bring new learning curves for the industry; they will create new requirements for our customers; and they can initiate revolutionary change to existing installations. We cannot predict the next important technological advancement and the unfortunate fact is that these changes will come whether we are ready or not. The truth remains that if we have planned for the future with standards-based, scalable, and extensible platforms we can capitalize on migration changes, minimize changes to project timelines, and protect our customers’ investments. Building platforms for the future is hard work, but it makes an uncertain future easier to confront.