What impact has the larger economy had on the security marketplace in 2020?
For nearly 9 months companies have worked to adjust to new health and safety guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19. As we enter the new year, the US is facing another surge in cases, and in many parts of the country companies are operating under a new wave of strict regulations and lockdowns.
“The pandemic has truly altered how we live and do business and likely will for many months and years to come,” says Bob
Moore, Axis Communications’ Director of Marketing, who we exclusively spoke with for this article. “In terms of the security industry, it’s notable how people’s preferences for solutions have changed since the start of the year to increase safety and security and operate their business in unique, innovative ways.”
Overall, the industry has fared relatively well this year and is still expected to grow moving forward, according to research from Frost & Sullivan; although that growth is now likely to be more modest year-over-year compared to original projections at the beginning of 2020. While this is comforting, it still begs us to ask how current economic factors have impacted those working within the industry and how it’s changed what products and solutions end customers are looking for.
In a previous article, Moore offered his insights into what he felt was the security industry’s biggest challenge moving forward. His answer was simple: uncertainty. We sat down with him again to get his perspective on the changes he’s seen take place this year within the industry.
The state of the industry
Despite indications the security industry will continue to grow, we conducted a recent partner survey that revealed there still exists a high level of uncertainty from those working within it. We looked to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on business operations. Results revealed nearly 70 percent of respondents were concerned with overall economic recovery and how it’d impact operations. So while the overall state of the industry is projected to fare well, at a more granular level, businesses are concerned about the shape of their business.
But where there’s uncertainty, Moore believes there’s also opportunity. “I’m noticing more and more customers are looking for solutions that are adaptable and scalable; technology that can help them meet today’s unique challenges but also enable them to thrive for years to come,” says Moore. “For example, integrated network solutions based on sight, sound, and analytics can help companies who are operating with a limited staff or are looking for ways to reopen—or stay open—while meeting current health and safety guidelines. Technology exists to make this happen.”
Both research from Axis and Frost & Sullivan support Moore’s point. Fifty-eight percent of respondents in our survey, for example, felt that IP-based solutions would gain wider acceptance among their system integrator peers and customers. Forty-five percent believe artificial intelligence will too.
Moore notes he’s seen three big shifts this year:
- The increased interest in analytics and artificial intelligence
- How companies are (and may continue) creatively using network surveillance solutions that were once only viewed for security purposes
- How technology is helping industries that may have ramped down production and thus are now understaffed
“I’m noticing more and more customers are looking for solutions that are adaptable and scalable; technology that can help them meet today’s unique challenges but also enable them to thrive for years to come.”
Utilizing analytics and network surveillance solutions in unique ways
The year 2020 has accelerated interest in analytics and network technology as companies look for ways to continue operating efficiently while meeting current health and safety guidelines. This has come in the form of redesigning interior spacing and putting in place best practices, many of which we already know. But enforcing rules can get tricky, especially if those places are understaffed. This is where network technology can step in and help.
One example is AXIS Cross Line Detection. This trip-wire application, when installed on Axis network cameras, triggers an event when someone crosses a user-defined threshold. In retail, this application can prompt an IP audio system to play a pre-recorded message, such as reminding employees or customers to use hand sanitizer as they enter the store or a bathroom. In a healthcare setting, cross line detection can be utilized in a completely different way. As part of an access control solution, it can prompt an IP audio system to play a pre-recorded message directing visitors to a main entrance to be screened before entering.
The unique ways analytics can and are being used prompted Moore to wonder how other products could be used in non-traditional ways to meet today’s needs.
“The first thing that comes to mind, outside of analytics, is body worn cameras,” explains Moore. “Traditionally they’re seen as a tool used by security personnel. But why can’t it be used in retail for curbside pickup or food delivery, especially during a time when many restaurants are being forced to close their doors to or limit in-person dining? The answer is, they can. Axis body worn cameras not only act as a strong deterrent, but they can capture evidence to verify delivery and the condition of the food or item.”
What’s unique about Axis body worn solutions is they can be used across a variety of industries, and they adapt well for many surveillance strategies. Moore made sure to point out this solution really is a natural extension of a businesses’ current security system. Because it’s based on open architecture, it can naturally integrate with existing equipment, as well as a video management or evidence management system. The Axis body worn solution can be use utilized with third-party software, on-premise or in the cloud, allowing for seamless integration with other video surveillance data. Or it can also be delivered as an end-to-end solution when integrated with AXIS Camera Station.
Network surveillance technology as a force multiplier
COVID-19 has caused staffing shortages in many industries. This can compromise the security of people and valuable equipment. While technology isn’t foolproof, it can play a significant role in filling in security gaps both today and tomorrow, says Bob Moore.
“We already see network technology being used by retailers to monitor unattended loading bays that are accessed by third parties,” explains Moore. “We also see it being used in perimeter defense because security guards can’t be everywhere at once. The pandemic has placed an unprecedent threat on the safety and security of businesses from retail to healthcare to the energy sector. If a facility is short staffed, that doesn’t mean critical areas should be left exposed to illicit activity or potential damage, which may further comprise that business or endanger people even after employees return.”
A lasting impact on the security industry
One day we’ll revert to a normal that looks a bit more familiar, but that doesn’t mean everything will go back to the way it once was. (And that may not be a bad thing.) In the short term, growth in the security industry is still expected to increase albeit at a much more modest pace than it was previously. And concerns for those working within the security industry are likely to remain, at least in the short term, as our partner survey showed. But changes being made now, as Moore notes, will have a lasting impact on every industry for years to come…and maybe even forever.
The larger economy has, like every industry, impacted the security industry. And while uncertainty exists, opportunity to adapt and succeed does as well. Our research indicates there is increased demand for low touch entry solutions and tools to lower personnel contact and exposure, analytics for crowd management, and reducing high-traffic areas with heatmapping solutions. The health crisis has placed an intense spotlight on how useful these applications are to solving challenges brought on by the health crisis. But their use cases go well beyond today. They’re a fit for tomorrow’s new world as well.