Throughout my career in security and loss prevention, I’ve evaluated many enterprise video surveillance systems for large financial and retail organizations, with the goal of choosing the best solution for my employer’s needs.
I know firsthand the tough choices that security managers face when selecting a new system, and the rigorous process they go through to compare technology and evaluate prices.
While the process can at times seem overwhelming, I have always found it helpful to measure my preferred technology providers in four key areas:
- Their reputation;
- The reliability of their products;
- The technical support resources they offer; and
- Their product roadmap.
If I was satisfied that a manufacturer could score high in all of these areas, I knew I would be making the best purchase possible.
If you’re in the midst of choosing a new video surveillance solution, you might find this type of analysis useful in narrowing down your selection. The following are my four “R’s” of a great video surveillance solution.
To start with, look at the reputation of the company you’re considering. How long have they been in the business? Who do they sell to and what are their customers saying?
Ensure that the company has a solid reputation for manufacturing high-quality products, and don’t just take their word for it. Ask the manufacturer or your integrator if it’s possible to speak to a customer who is already using the system you’re considering. Consult your peers in other organizations as well. There are many security professionals in our industry who are happy to share their opinions and recommendations.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, evaluate the reliability of the products they sell.
Does the company have a track record for manufacturing products that last? What features do they offer to keep your video safe during power outages, or network or hard drive failures? Again, talk to your integrator and other security and loss prevention professionals to learn about their experiences.
Also, investigate your preferred manufacturer’s product warranty information and do some research into what happens when and if a product fails. Better yet, look for manufacturers that are known for producing higher-quality network video recorders, IP cameras and video management software.
Sometimes investing more time upfront can actually result in longer-term savings.
While most video surveillance manufacturers don’t deal directly with retail or banking organizations, it’s still important to consider the kinds of resources they offer to their partners and integrators, because it’s an indicator of the type of support you can expect down the road.
The best video surveillance manufacturers will provide a range of support tools and resources to their partners, including a comprehensive training program and around-the-clock technical support. This is key, because if you have a problem, you’ll need to turn to a trained professional quickly. The more resources your integrator has available to them, the greater the benefit to you, as the customer.
Ask if end user training is also available to help you and your team familiarize yourselves with the product. How-to videos and step-by-step guides can be incredibly handy. They can also ensure you’re using the product to its full potential.
Another important note: great manufacturers will design their products with serviceability in mind. In this industry, downtime can cost you, so make sure you’re dealing with a company that places emphasis on minimizing surveillance system downtown by providing easy access to troubleshooting tips, a good RMA (return merchandise authorization) process and field-replaceable parts.
Technology is always changing, so of course you are also going to consider what your future security needs might be.
I always found it helpful to look at the latest industry technology and consider what new applications would be the most useful to my business. For example, maybe I’m not interested in people counting and dwell time metrics today – data that can be gathered through video analytics – but it would be nice to know that my surveillance system can deliver these capabilities should I one day decide to use them. Or, maybe I want to keep my analog cameras for now, but gradually move to an all IP solution. Make sure your preferred provider can support you now, and years down the road.
In other words, look for a manufacturer that can future-proof your investment.
Scalability is also important, because it allows your system to keep pace with your business growth. But so is innovation and the use of open standards, which allow for more third-party integrations. Choosing a manufacturer that designs their products using open standards means you, as the customer, aren’t handcuffed to that solution for years to come. You have choice and can design your system with the cameras, access control, and additional business system integrations you prefer.
By evaluating your technology provider against these four “R’s,” you’re sure to choose a high-performance, reliable video surveillance solution that serves your business well, both now and for years to come.