2016 witnessed some very unexpected and potentially game-changing international political changes, such as the US Presidential Election and Brexit, which have shaken the status quo for many sectors. However, despite some uncertainty, there’s much to be excited about in the security sector for 2017, as John Davies outlines.
Predicted international growth
Talking to installers and partners, it’s very clear to me that they are predicting sizeable growth in the UK and Europe, along with a continuation of impressive growth from the highly reliable Asian markets. Despite recent upheaval in the region, there are also signs that the Middle East will see increased growth in 2017.
Some sources are predicting double-digit growth within the UK’s access control segment, which seems achievable. This is an area that’s less ‘commoditised’ than some security segments and doesn’t rely on simply mass-producing the cheapest hardware.
By contrast, recent years have seen CCTV and intruder alarms become highly commoditised, as the market has been flooded with increasingly cheaper and cheaper (but by no means necessarily good value-for-money) solutions which have made it harder still for established players with a long-term vision and development roadmap to compete on fair terms.
Interestingly, we’re seeing an increased market interest in new and highly usable access control systems such as Bluetooth Low Energy readers and open protocol solutions. These technologies are gaining ground because they’re highly cost-effective and offer security operators and consumers unprecedented choice in how they employ security.
The downside for the security industry – and, ultimately, consumers – is that this could also lead to a more commoditised market with cheap, but inferior solutions, bloating choice options but at the same time reducing opportunities for greater investment from more innovative suppliers.
The concept of truly open protocol systems has been around for a long time, but I believe 2017 will be the year when talk turns into action. There was always going to be a tipping point when open systems went from being ‘desirable’ to ‘essential’, and all indications are that the balance is now shifting. This is game-changing, but I believe it’s inevitable and will ultimately be a very positive transition for everyone concerned.
Manufacturers will now have the impetus to build systems which operate with a range of software from other providers. This will often be the case with other key security providers’ systems, but also, as we are increasingly finding, with the security solutions from Physical Security Information Management providers that don’t develop their own hardware offer.
There have never been greater opportunities for security providers of all types to talk to one another and ensure all the bases are covered with regards to co-operation and alliances.
Key products and features
This is always an area of popular interest. It’s fair to say that the key products for the New Year were coming to the forefront in 2016.
There’s already a very keen interest in wireless locking systems, so naturally any security solutions that integrate with and use their considerable benefits will be market winners. By offering easy installation with a minimum of fuss, along with instant IP connectively, it’s easy to see why there’s so much interest here.
General integration of these wireless locking systems is equally important, be that with CCTV systems, intruder alarms or centralised data systems such as MS Active Directory. Ensuring that any new security systems join the current mix will continue to be very important in 2017.
We’ve also seen a big upsurge in CCTV and intruder alarm providers looking to gain better integration with situational management and VMS software from security manufacturers. This demonstrates just how compatibility has become a key differentiator for these important market segments.
Interestingly, having been courted as ‘The Next Big Thing’ a few years ago, we’ve seen a noticeable drop in interest in NFC (Near-Field Communications) systems in recent months. While I believe NFC still has a place in the security mix (and indeed we still produce readers that cater for it), 2017 looks like being the big year for Bluetooth Low Energy authentication instead.
I believe Bluetooth Low Energy has more scope, being far more mobile platform agnostic than NFC, and is easier to use, so subsequently it’s more straightforward to provide readers for it. It seems like a far better way of using mobile device authentication, which is ultimately a very sensible and pragmatic way of providing security end users with a highly convenient and cost-effective authentication option.
Despite the recent political and financial upheavals in the UK and internationally, the security industry is still very buoyant and, I believe, in great shape to meet the considerable demand for our world-renowned products. With exciting technology on offer and confidence from the market, 2017 will be a highly positive and potentially very successful year for our sector as a whole.
John Davies is Managing Director of TDSi