The annual Axis Connect and Converge Conference (ACCC), held this week in Seattle, typically provides the camera solutions company’s partners – integrators, vendors, consultants and more – an opportunity to see upcoming products and solutions, network, discuss industry trends and develop new business strategies. While there was plenty of opportunity for that this year, the keynotes, panels and breakout sessions frequently featured one major theme: Do you know what your end customer needs?

“Strategy first, then the technology,” said Mike Howard, CSO for Microsoft, during a morning keynote session. When it comes to building up his virtual security operations center, he reminded attendees that he and other end users are always looking to address “business processes with a digital construct,” but it always comes back to the business impact, not just the security impact.

James Stark, Director of Loss Prevention for Pier 1 Imports, reminded attendees that “cameras are not just for apprehensions and deterrence anymore,” especially with the addition of analytics and the value surveillance systems can provide other departments. The wide variety of solutions and potential benefits available today means that Stark has to pick strategic partners – not just vendors – who will listen to his needs and requirements and help him achieve the vision for the business.

Kevin Wren, a security leader from Rock Hill School District, addressed attendees about the potential benefits of Axis IP audio speakers for intrusion response as well as his district’s aggression detection pilot program, which is intended to detect verbal aggression between students before it escalates to a physical fight. “If I can translate my security project into a higher graduation rate, that’s ROI for my district,” he said.

There were still plenty of products and technologies to be discussed, from IP audio encoders and speakers to more advanced cameras for mass transit to access control readers enabled with HID’s mobile access capabilities and more. However, at the heart of the conference was the discussion of how to tailor those products and services to further a security director’s goal of becoming a stronger business enabler, like Traegon Hon, Director of Global Security Infrastructure for Starbucks Coffee, who builds up “strategic justification” for his security program requests through TCO and ROI metrics. (Check in later this month for an exclusive interview with Hon about his work at Starbucks and building effective metrics.)

This insight for integrators and vendors was geared to change the conversation away from “what can I sell you” to “what challenge can I help you solve.” Multiple end user panelists and speakers reiterated the challenges they’re facing, with mounting risks and responsibilities including cyber, supply chains, insider threats and more, adding that they cannot be experts in all fields, so they’re relying on external partners – trusted vendors, integrators and consultants – to help.

As James Stark of Pier 1 quoted: “If you do today what you did yesterday, you’re a day behind.” The Axis Communications event worked to facilitate a shift in the industry conversation away from the solely sales-driven focus of yesterday and toward business-enablement, partnerships and fostering loyal customers for years to come.