If there’s one thing most small business owners have in common, it’s being pressed for time.

After all, running your own business is not for the faint at heart. Small business owners and managers often wear multiple hats, juggling priorities ranging from sales and marketing to operations and even human resource issues.

Managing so many areas of responsibility leaves small businesses with little time to dedicate to any one task. Important decisions – like investments in security – demand time and attention but must also be weighed against what’s realistic for your organization to maintain within its current resource level.

Luckily, there are some really convenient options for small business security that can protect your assets without adding to your already lengthy to-do list. 

Hosted video surveillance services, for example, can provide small businesses with reliable video monitoring but with less maintenance than traditional security deployments, and less upfront cost.  

What Is Hosted Video Surveillance?

The definition of hosted video surveillance services can vary, but in many arrangements video recording and storage happen on-site at your business through network video recorders (NVRs) or video management software (VMS), but the day-to-day video system maintenance and administration is handled offsite in the cloud by a third-party provider. The provider hosts the central video server that manages your devices. Some providers may also offer backup storage of some of your video files, as well as convenient reporting features that can help you quickly analyze your video, uncover trends and identify suspicious behaviors.

Time-Savings and Peace of Mind

The nice thing about hosted video surveillance services is that, even though the hardware or software recording device is on-site at your business, your provider is taking care of it. They are monitoring all of your recording devices and cameras to ensure proper connectivity and functionality, and also applying regular software or firmware updates to protect your devices against potential vulnerabilities.

This is often the most time-consuming aspect of video surveillance. And for small businesses in particular, which may not have dedicated security or IT departments, being able to rely on a trained provider for maintenance and upkeep is incredibly valuable.

Just think of this scenario: A security camera covering your business’ walkway has gone offline, but because of your busy schedule you didn’t see the notification. Now, a customer claims to have slipped and fallen on the walkway and they are considering litigation. When you go to review the video footage, you find it’s not there.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen a number of times. Without proper monitoring and maintenance, video systems don’t perform as needed and video is lost.  

A hosted video surveillance provider can save you from this unfortunate scenario by continually monitoring your system to ensure it is always recording.  They can also remotely apply software or firmware upgrades, as well as report on your product inventory, including device model numbers, age of equipment and warranty status, to help with lifecycle management. In some cases, you can actually access this information yourself, via a web platform.

Tools to Quickly Analyze Video

Aside from the infrastructure maintenance, hosted video solutions can also offer very convenient tools for analyzing surveillance video.

Some hosted providers make this super easy by packaging your video evidence in convenient reports that you can scan in just minutes. For example, reports could range from a series of video thumbnail clips captured throughout the day, to reports on suspicious transactions (in deployments where video is integrated with point-of-sale (POS) transaction data.)

Depending on your provider, your video system could also be configured to send you email alerts when alarms are triggered or unusual activity, like high-dollar voids or refunds, take place.  You can simply click on the email alert to see the associated video.

In retail environments in particular, these reports can greatly assist in reducing shrink by zeroing in on suspect transactions, which in some cases, can be internal theft. I’ve seen businesses recoup thousands of dollars in losses because they’ve been able to prove theft thanks to their video evidence.

Other businesses have been able to improve operations, merchandising and compliance, as well as employee training, because the video has identified a gap in their normal operating procedures.

Flexible Payment Options

Finally, one of the greatest benefits of hosted video surveillance services is the flexible payment options, including monthly payment plans. This is particularly helpful if it’s difficult for your small business to make a large capital investment in security.

With many hosted solutions, you don’t need to purchase software licenses, or worry about license renewals. Because you’re purchasing a service, you simply pay a monthly fee and your provider takes care of the rest. As mentioned, you can skip the investment in a central video server and use your provider’s instead. You may or may not have to invest in on-site devices (cameras and recorders), depending on the provider you choose. Some providers will allow you to finance your hardware, making it easier for you to get started.

While the options for small business security can seem daunting, knowing what’s available through a hosted service can help narrow down your selection. The convenience and flexibility of hosted video often makes it the ideal fit for businesses with just one or a few locations.