Over recent years, VCA has achieved significant success promoting its analytics as an OEM edge-based solution which can be incorporated into other manufacturers’ IP cameras and devices. No less than 250,000 video channels worldwide are now using the company’s analytics.
VCA has now launched its own brand of IP network devices and software. Here, Kevin Waterhouse (executive vice-president for global sales at VCA) explains to Risk UK the thinking behind this bold step of introducing a new range in a marketplace that’s not short of manufacturers competing for the attention of installers, systems integrators and end users.
Risk UK: Until now, your business model has been based on offering the VCA analytics platform as an OEM solution. What has motivated you to change direction?
Kevin Waterhouse: We remain committed to offering our analytics technology as an OEM solution. Customers can be assured that our long-term strategy includes plans to work closely with an increasing number of manufacturers of surveillance cameras and other devices, as well as Video Management Software (VMS) providers, to ensure this important part of our business will continue to grow.
However, what we have embarked on is a twin-track approach whereby VCA will also directly support systems integrators to help them generate new revenue streams by supplying them with ‘out-of-the-box’ analytics built into the VCA brand of IP network devices.
Risk UK: What are these new revenue streams to which you refer?
Kevin Waterhouse: The new revenue streams relate to the opportunity to provide end users with intelligent video surveillance solutions that can do so much more than just deter or detect criminal activity. The analytics incorporated into the new VCA range enhances our ability in the video monitoring sector to reduce false alarms and improve detection.
It also opens up the opportunity to gather reliable and verifiable data to help a diverse range of businesses and organisations such as banks, casinos, hospitals, educational establishments, retailers and hospitality venues achieve a greater understanding of the behaviour of people who work at or visit their premises.
The technology is capable of capturing metadata that can be graphically displayed in customisable reports to provide marketing, Health and Safety, Human Resources and other operational departments with the information they need to achieve their business objectives.
By dealing directly with systems integrators, we’ll be able to ensure that they benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of our pre- and post-sales support teams such that they’re equipped with the necessary tools and have the confidence to be able to offer the full benefits of VCA to their clients.
Risk UK: Can you give us some examples of how this will help your new customers generate new revenue streams?
Kevin Waterhouse: The analytics built into the VCA devices will enable them to offer their clients added value from their investment in video surveillance systems and, if they wish, offer the cameras as part of a ‘Security as a Service’ business model. We intend to work closely with a hand-picked network of customers to help them profit from this model and, in the process, offer tangible benefits to their clients.
In the retail sector, for example, with training and support from VCA, systems integrators can offer their clients the opportunity to increase productivity with less staff, improve customer satisfaction by minimising delays at check-outs or identify the best times and locations for product promotions.
These are just a few goals that can be achieved with very little effort with the help of devices featuring VCA analytics. It also provides security personnel with a powerful tool to detect and combat theft and other criminal activity.
Risk UK: There are now a large number of other analytics solutions available for customers. How does VCA stand out from the crowd?
Kevin Waterhouse: ‘User friendly’ may be an overused phrase, but it is in fact an accurate description of VCA analytics. The significance of this should not be underrated, as there’s a perception in the marketplace that analytics can be difficult to implement and use.
We will be adding to the user friendliness of our analytics over the coming months with a new dashboard graphical user interface which will make it even easier for any business to view both real-time and historical business intelligence.
VCA analytics has also established a reputation for being highly accurate and, when employed for intruder detection purposes, has a very low rate of false alarms. This is particularly important in outdoor environments. Here, false alarms continue to be a major issue for organisations who need an effective perimeter protection solution to detect intruders.
It’s now taken for granted that HD cameras from any reputable manufacturer should be able to capture evidence grade images. However, our on-board video analytics significantly upgrade the capability of VCA cameras which, for this type of application, should perhaps be better described as ‘Intelligent Video Detectors’.
In this respect, they provide a great opportunity for VCA installers, remote monitoring centres and end users to work in harmony when it comes to reducing the time-consuming and costly impact of false alarms. It’s just another excellent example of how VCA can support the supply chain by generating new revenue streams while at the same time providing end users with a robust and reliable solution.
Risk UK: You’ve spoken about the new devices carrying the VCA brand, but you also mentioned VMS providers. Can you expand on this part of your strategy?
Kevin Waterhouse: Sure. In addition to our edge-based devices, we’ve developed a server-based software tool that will make the integration of our VCA software very quick and with little CPU overhead. The software can be added to either Linux or Windows-based software.
We already have a number of VMS clients embedding VCA and expect many more to follow along with PSIM, access and intelligent building software providers. In addition, we will shortly be launching a new device which will allow VCA to be added to any IP camera providing an RTSP stream.
Risk UK: So is VCA not developing its own VMS?
Kevin Waterhouse: Absolutely not. We have a very good relationship with the leading VMS providers and have worked closely with them to develop our VCA software tool. However, we have now released some application-specific software to support our edge devices. Ucountit, for example, is our cloud-based Business Intelligence service and Utrack is a unique auto tracking software tool. Both have been introduced because we believe it’s important to provide application solutions that fully exploit our analytics technology.
Risk UK: So you have new products and new services, but will you have sufficient resources to directly supply and support these systems integrators?
Kevin Waterhouse: We will not hesitate to continue investing in HR to ensure that our pre- and post-sales services more than match any increase in sales. It’s already the case that we have a strong technical support team in place and have recently recruited three seasoned security professionals to ensure that we can support customers worldwide.
Gary Mercer has joined VCA as UK sales manager while Ami Paz is our new business development manager for Israel and Çağlan Dilber has been appointed business development manager for the MENA region.
Ian Young has also joined the EMEA team to drive the software and applications developments and business.
All four have extensive global experience in the design and implementation of analytics applications across many different market sectors. Recently, we’ve extended our US team. There’ll be more news on this in the near future.