When know-how information, or knowledge, is scarce, customers overcome it by doing it themselves. This isn’t a new trend; it happens in every industry that experiences significant change within a short period of time. Customers who are eager to apply leading-edge technologies are forced to develop know-how, pay a significant premium, or wait until the knowledge becomes a commodity. The only problem with these choices in the early years is that technology advances faster than know-how, until the technology itself becomes commoditized. So for several years the DIY, or “Do It Yourself,” demographic rapidly expands. These customers truly finance the innovative and transformational technologies. Without them, the status quo would prevail for longer periods of time.
Types of innovation that require significant behavioral change for the users within a marketplace are disruptive. In order to facilitate behavior change, a great deal of learning must take place prior to the behavior change. Within the surveillance industry these innovations are digital recording, IP cameras, mega-pixel resolution, analytics and video management software. Several innovations are converging to create a surveillance platform that is discontinuous from the old analog CCTV world. Early adoption of a discontinuous innovation requires a certain type of individual, one that is self-directed in their ability to learn. These early adopters will always include some business consultants, forward-thinking end-users, and innovative systems integrators who are all willing to change their behaviors.
Self-Directed Surveillance “On The Job - Know How”
The challenge for many DIYers is gaining access to the information necessary to begin learning. Many manufacturers of these new technologies are not mature businesses yet, so they lack the necessary support resources for their customers. Nor do they fully understand themselves what is the required know-how. This typically forces many DIYers to purchase a system first, and then learn on the job. These on-the-job experiences are typically not good at first because there are many know-how problems with the systems, causing relationships among the suppliers, partners and end-users to become strained. If the new systems being deployed are in a production environment, this can cause additional strained relationships between the security department and the internal IT departments. However, if the approach was to learn using a proof of concept in a non-production environment many of these experiences of on the job learning could be improved. Last, it’s critical for the proof of concept to be set up as a learning initiative. This will establish the correct expectations for the DIY demographic.
DIY and/or SI Partner
The surveillance industry has revealed a lot about this DIY market over the past five years. The DIY demographic is not only thriving but is a huge purchasing force that if thought of as a partner “channel,” it would be in some cases as big as the actual systems integrator partner “channel.” The reality is when you analyze the DIY “channel” purchasing power, it is typically made up of very large end-users that purchase thousands of ports of networked surveillance a year for several years, behaving much like an annuity, and as these types of relationship expand they have a compounding effect on the manufacturer’s sales volumes. DIY customers are very loyal, and year-after-year, they like to make big-platform-like decisions, which allow them to leverage their resulting know-how and will scale their solution.
Mitigating Customer Conflicts
With such a lack of competency within the early adoption phase of the IP surveillance market, customer conflicts will grow, often a result of unclear or realistic expectations typically developed during the design phase or presales phase of a project. In addition, most of the customer budget typically is used during the installation process leaving little to nothing for customer training or system maintenance. This leads to the DIY end-user having to invest additional resources and budget themselves to address these needs.
Next Big Thing - Managed Services
As the DIY customers mature they often will look to outsource the management of these large deployments what was the new discontinuous innovation, often a result of an increasing annual expense that needs to be lowered. This is the next phase of the IP surveillance market and systems integrators are working to build offering for the DIYs. The rise of “managed” services also isn’t a new concept; if you look at the evolution of the IT industry as a model, you can see the same market transitions. Today, almost all IT systems integrators provide managed services of some type. While these offerings within the surveillance industry are very limited today, they will expand as a natural evolution of the market. This evolution – managed services as a means of improving customer relationships – will be the discussion for my next couple of monthly columns.
About the Columnist:
Keven Marier is the founder and CEO of Connex International, Inc. He has a 20-year background in technology consulting, publishing and educating within the physical security technology and enterprise IT industries.
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