Hit Refresh: Cost-Effective Technology Transitions

How long can your customer expect their installed security to be effective? What is the average life of surveillance, access control or intrusion detection? How can you prepare your customers for the future so they have the most up-to-date solutions? These are important questions now facing security contractors as users work to protect their investments and keep their technology current.

The industry now has the world of microprocessor advancements at its fingertips and can take advantage of mobility, cloud computing, networking and IP products. While these changes have elevated security installers into a high-tech service provider role, along with it comes the stark reality that technology is progressing so rapidly it’s difficult for users to keep up.

The formerly predominant break-fix mentality in the IT and physical security industry has gone the way of proactive managed services and preventative maintenance. Time and material calls are expensive and throw the user’s security budget out of whack, as it’s difficult to plan for these expenses even under the best circumstances. In physical security, the stakes are higher. Users count on technology 24/7 for perimeter security, visitor management, intrusion, video surveillance and intelligence that helps mitigate risk, prevent loss and meet increasingly stringent compliance rules and regulations. For these reasons and others, users can’t wait for technology to fail with age or become obsolete.

Technology refresh strategy

An emerging offshoot of managed services receiving the attention of successful security contractors includes providing a way for the customer to move to the latest products and “refresh” its technology in a cost-effective manner that lowers the overall cost of ownership and enables users to budget and plan years in advance for system upgrades.

Viakoo Inc., Mountain View, Calif., offers an infrastructure software solution that automatically verifies the ongoing performance and integrity of physical security systems and devices while delivering automated documentation of system compliance. The platform detects physical security system failures, diagnoses problems, alerts users with repair information and maintains historical records on operations.

Viakoo’s service assurance philosophy further enables technology refresh strategies—providing the historical and real-time data integrators need to be more proactive with their customers through life-cycle management of physical security solutions.

“Technology refresh strategy is a familiar concept in the IT space,” said Bud Broomhead, CEO of Viakoo.

There is a logical time period when specific technology needs to be refreshed, depending on the component, environment and the vertical market. Starting from the in-service date of equipment, Viakoo gives integrators the tools they need to help users plan for new technology years out.

“All technology needs to have a strategy around its end of life, and that’s where we as an industry can be proactive,” Broomhead said. “Viakoo provides fully automated inventory information showing all IP-based physical security devices on a network, allowing integrators and end-users to more easily manage security technology life cycles, based on corporate standards, build a budget and plan for when they need to start considering replacing equipment. This helps customers get a real-time understanding of all security equipment, so they can adopt best practices for when equipment should be replaced. It even helps provide a more comprehensive preventative maintenance picture of all security equipment, regardless of who and when it was installed.”

With the proliferation of networking and IP products, security integrators need to move away from a break-fix mentality.

“You need to be proactive in strategy, starting with a complete inventory of equipment, when it was installed and when it’s due to come out,” Broomhead said. “It’s not just a one-and-done thing. We provide information to be practical in assessing when that is.”

Planning for the future

According to Henry “Hank” Monaco, vice president of marketing—building technologies and solutions, at Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, there are various motivations to refresh technology.

“Those motivations can include saving money, improving operations, making use of the latest technology such as cloud-hosted versus traditional access control,” he said. “The idea is to be forward thinking in our solutions.”

Monaco mentioned workhorse fire alarm panels that are past their prime but still operating effectively for the customer.

“While it’s not necessary to replace the equipment and it could go on working indefinitely, refresh strategy is about bringing the customer the latest technology so they can take advantage of functions and features that enhance safety and security or attain better building automation and energy savings,” he said. “We are future-focused for our customers. Digitization of security provides many advantages, and migration to the latest access control, for example, helps users accomplish more with their system.”

For security contractors seeking a customer for life, there are various strategies to keep them on board, including technology refresh, which assists in providing customers the latest, up-to-date solutions for their facility.

About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer

Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at dlocommunications@gmail.com...

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