Viscom Systems' tech guru on tech to look out for

4K and NFC technology will be big; cloud, not so much
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WATERTOWN, Mass.—As ISC West 2014 nears, security experts, like Viscom Systems’ Bill Clements, have some predictions about what technologies we’ll see at this year’s show and which technologies will have an impact on the industry.

Clements believes there are “two biggies.” On the access control side “it’s going to be NFC. That’s going to be huge. Everyone at schools and on campuses is looking for it now and it will eventually spill over into the business world,” he said.

And, on the video side, “it’s going to be 4K [technology],” Clements predicted.

While NFC is starting to affect business now, 4K “is just starting to gain steam [in the security industry] … combined with H.265 … it will be really big in a year or two,” Clements said.

He’s less enthusiastic about some cloud-based technologies, saying that hosted video, for example, is really just for certain, specific, low-end applications.

Clements joined Viscom Systems as an electrical apprentice in 1993 and has “worked in almost every position at the company” on his way to becoming technical manager. He said he “follows technology closely” and has his own “mad science lab” at Viscom where he and his staff test and try to break equipment. After attending the February Milestone Systems partner event, for example, he returned with “a box of cameras … [that he and his staff will try to] beat up.”

Viscom is a privately owned systems integration firm with 40 to 50 employees and gross sales of around $13 million. It has one office and 90 percent of its work is in New England. The other 10 percent of the business are national and global accounts. “We have a few large accounts were we have the global office [locally]; we do the drawings, design/build, [and manage other integrators who take care of offices] around the country and the world,” Clements said.

In addition to its core security business, Viscom also does networking, telephone and data work. “You’ve got to be IP-centric,” he said. “If you don’t understand networking as an integrator, you’re done.”

Vertical markets that Viscom plays in include financial, hospitals, real estate, municipalities, industrial, commercial and private schools and higher ed.

The company does a lot of bid work, but “we don't do a lot of public work … just a couple of schools,” he said.

He says Viscom rarely installs analog cameras any more and said that Milestone’s VMS makes the transition from analog to IP easy for analog legacy customers. “They can convert the critical cameras first, [and others as budgets permit],” Clements said.

The company does a “ton” of access control and video. He is a fan of S2’s network products and Milestone’s VMS.

“We do a lot of custom turnstiles, custom elevator operations. Our focus is integration, where, for example, access control is integrated into HR PeopleSoft or Blackboard,” Clements said. “So, when an employee is enrolled in the HR [system], they show up in the access control [system]. That’s the kind of stuff we excel at,” he added.

On service revenue, Clements said it’s an “important aspect” of the business, and what helped carry Viscom through the lean years of 2008 and 2009. The company’s model is not to “chase big service contracts,” however. Instead, Viscom’s “service revenue naturally and organically grows from existing accounts.” Its customers tend to prefer T&M service agreements, and that also works well for Viscom, he said.