Daily updates from ESX 2017

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06/13/2017

I've arrived safely in Nashville, Tenn., for the 10th ESX show. Looking at the educational sessions, I am seeing a lot of engaging topics. Over the next few days, quite a few of the sessions I'm planning on attending will be in the "Maximize Your Monitoring Center" track. I'm particularly interested in the monitoring-focused, three-part leadership boot camp on Friday, presented by Justin Robbins, content director for HDI & ICMI. Be sure to check this blog daily, as I'll be updating it with some key points from the educational sessions as well as some highlights from my trips to the show floor.

Day 1

To start the first day, I attended the OpenXchange Breakfast, featuring a presentation on "The Changing Competitive Landscape." This session brought up a variety of points and perspectives from each of the panelists. The moderator, ESX chairman George De Marco, addressed an interesting topic: whether consumers are more drawn to the connected home or security.

Justin Wong, VP of business development for IFTTT, said there needs to be a defined difference between the two. For example, a consumer may purchase a home camera, not connected to a security system, and believe they have security. The product they have is more for awareness than security, and a security dealer can focus on that messaging.

Andrew Thomas, SkyBell's co-founder and chief revenue officer, said, “The thing that keeps you safe also needs to keep you connected.” Dealers can use connected home as a bridge into offering security.

At another point De Marco asked about the DIY space. Robert C. Martens, futurist and VP of strategy and partnerships for Allegion, said that the space has done well, which attracts new entrants viewing the market as an opportunity.

When De Marco asked about potential use cases for IoT, Scott Harkins, Honeywell’s VP of Honeywell Connected Home, had an interesting take on IoT as an opportunity. He wondered about the potential for more mixing between DIY and professional security, such as through partnerships or professional systems being as easy to install as DIY systems.

Following the breakfast, I went to "Raising the Talent Bar: Your Guide to Finding Qualified Employees," featuring panelists Don Childers, Security Central's COO; Cathy Rempel president of American Security Integrators; and Dee Ann Harn, CEO, RFI Enterprises. Rebecca Bayne, president and consultant for Bayne Consulting and Search Inc., served as the moderator.

I found this topic to be particularly interesting as SSN both heard from a variety of professionals about the challenge of hiring and in our April News Poll readers weighed in on the topic, saying that finding the right people can be a challenge.

The panel addressed some points that I’ve heard before, such as culture being the key to attracting good applicants. Childers in particular had a point that companies need to offer incentives that are different, which might not be more monetary compensation, but could be more time off.

Harn said that a referral system that rewards employees for recruiting new employees has been successful for RFI. "In every different market, it's a different kind of a challenge," she said, but highlighted that companies need to know who their employees are.

Rempel said that her company often looks to hire from within. She noted that in order for that system to work, employees need to know what is expected of them to advance, such as certain skill sets.

I found Bayne had a memorable way of looking at what applicants need to know about a company; they want to know about the CLAMPS: culture, lifestyle, advancement, money, people and stability.

In the opening keynote luncheon, Carey Lohrenz, author and the first female U.S. Navy F-14 tomcat pilot, translated her experiences with adversities into ways that businesses can approach changes. In the Navy, Lohrenz faced a variety of challenges including aspiring to be a pilot when law prohibited females as well as the physical challenges of flying at Mach 2—twice the speed of sound.

One piece of advice she gave was to simultaneously focus on long term goals and do the difficult, short-term work to achieve those.

Lohrenz discussed how certain training techniques were designed to break people down, mentally and physically; she also said that these were instrumental in getting people to overcome a fear of failure and operate at the best possible levels.

She stressed the importance of being fearless in moving ahead. While taking the safe route, someone else can move ahead, she said. “Sometimes not taking a risk can be the biggest risk you can take," Lohrenz said.

On the show floor, I got to catch up with a variety of people. I was pleased to meet Randy Hall, Security Partners’ new president, face-to-face.

Also on the show floor, De Marco announced the winners for this year’s TechVision Challenge. The TechVision Challenge was started ahead of ESX 2015. The contestants were chosen from this year's Innovation Award recipients. DMP’s Secura, Dealer Services, Marketing Support won, with Essence’s Care@Home Active being named the runner-up. 

Day 2

For me, the second day of ESX 2017 began with “Advanced database Management for the Monitoring Center—Unlocking the Power of this Major Asset.” This session had quite a line-up of speakers: Dave Bhattacharjee, vice president of IOT for Stanley Security; Jens Kolind, president and CEO of Innovative Business Software; Sandra Maples, director of IoT product management for Verisk Insurance Solutions; and Mark E. McCall, Security Central’s general manager. The moderator was Mary Jo Lakhal, senior program manager for West Safety Services.

Bhattacharjee opened with a point about different aspects to data coming in, such as the categories of structured and unstructured data. He continued by defining data with three other points: the variety of the data, the volume of it, and the velocity of how fast it can be processed.

Kolind concurred, adding a separate way to look at data: by its size, the type of data, and what it is the company wants to do with it. Kolind also said that visualization and analysis of data has become more important.

Maples also touched on the concept of visualization. She advised audience members to consider third party tools and look at good colors and contrasts for laying out data. Data that will be interpreted and used in a monitoring center needs to be well laid out, she said, because it can mean the difference between correctly using it and making a mistake.

Wholesale monitoring centers have a couple of key uses for data, which McCall touched upon; using it internally as well as sharing it with the company’s customers.

Next, I went to the session “Monitoring Industry Update: Part 1: ASAP to PSAP: Your Electronic Link to Profitability and Part 2: Checklist Working Session for UL 827 and UL 1981,” with TMA’s executive director and CEO Jay Hauhn and UL’s engineering manager Steve Schmit.

As it turned out, the session was reversed, with Schmit presenting first. He examined various aspects to UL standards that affect monitoring centers—UL 827 and UL 1981—how they will change in their next editions and areas where UL sees the most non-compliance issues.

UL 1981, focused on central station automation systems, will now be more focused on software in its new third edition, Schmit said.

Among potential non-compliance issues for UL 872, he listed needing multiple ISPs and MFVNs if possible or where available and needing a trained staff member or contracted service to fix the secondary power solution.

Most requirements for UL 827 new eight edition are effective on Jan. 31, 2018, with redundant site requirements effective May 29, 2020.

Recognizing a wide range of attendees in the session, Hauhn discussed a variety of aspects relevant to The Monitoring Association’s ASAP to PSAP program, such as how it works and its benefits.

The program seeks to improve accuracy and speed of communications between central stations and PSAPs by transmitting alarm information digitally. Among other benefits, Hauhn noted on the time saved per call, about one-and-a-half minutes per call. From the approximately 190k dispatches using ASAP in the last 15 months, the time saved adds up to about 4,748 saved hours, he said.

Giving an update on the program’s progress, Hauhn mentioned getting parts of New York online with the program with help from Doyle Security Systems.

The general session, “Innovate or Else” presented by Dr. Robert Kriegel, best selling author and owner of Kriegel 2 Inc., talked about approaches to business—particularly the difference in a winning attitude and trying not to lose.

Kriegel pointed out that industries are changing. “The digital revolution has changed everything, dramatically changed everything," he said.

He invited the audience to play a game with a person next to them, asking them first to play to win. Attendees had a different strategy when asked to play not to lose, becoming more cautious and taking fewer risks.

Everybody is playing-not-to-lose in one area of their life, Kriegel said, and that is an opportunity for growth. “What's one thing that you could be doing right now that's a play to win strategy?"

Among other advice, Kriegel spoke against the “110 percent” mentality, saying that a passionate and more easy-going 90 percent is better than a stressed 110 percent.

Among the afternoon sessions I was drawn to “Residential Security: Innovation, Competition, and Channel Growth,” with panelists Derrick Dicoi, executive director for Xfinity Home Product Management, Comcast, Tom Few, senior vice president of business development for Vivint, Timothy McKinney, Vice President of ADT Custom Home Services, and moderator Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst for Parks Associates.

Abdelrazik opened with some perspective from Parks Associates’ research, including that the penetration rate for the industry has been steady over the past several years and key triggers to buying a security system are the move to a new house or a break-in experienced in the neighborhood.

The format for this session was largely around attendee questions, which covered a range of topics including whether lower cost options could canablize a company’s higher RMR base as well as Vivint’s new FlexPay options and its partnership with Best Buy.

Day 3

I spent the morning of ESX 2017’s third day attending the three-part leadership boot camp, presented by Justin Robbins, content director for HDI and ICMI. "Boot camp is not always comfortable, it's not always fun, but it gives you information that you absolutely need to move forward," Robbins said in the first session.

The first part was entitled, “Leadership Fundamentals in the Monitoring Center.” He examined the variety of aspects related to a monitoring center, defining it as a “coordinated system of people, processes, technologies and strategies that provides access to information resources and expertise, through appropriate channels of communication, enabling interactions that create value for the customer and organization.” From there, Robbins defined leadership in a monitoring center as having everything to “handle an accurately forecasted workload, at service level and with quality.”

Among a variety of factors that impact monitoring centers, Robbins took a close look at three driving forces: workload arrival patterns, visible or invisible queues and customer tolerance factors.

In “Resource Planning in the Monitoring Center,” the second part of the leadership boot camp, Robbins focused on the concept of "having the right people, in the right place at the right time."

Here, he outlined steps of the planning and management process, such as choosing service level and response time objectives, collecting data, forecasting workload and calculating base staff.

Robbins stressed the importance of getting this right, adding that there are consequences of having too many or too few staff on at a time. Companies should be looking at workload in short time periods throughout a day, such as half-hour intervals as opposed to the workload over an entire day. Companies can then accommodate by bringing on or taking off employees as workload fluctuates throughout a day.

Another concept Robbins examined in his second session was “shrinkage,” the average amount of time an employ would not be able to work as a result of training, time off or other factors.

In the last portion, “Inspiring Operator Performance in the Monitoring Center,” Robbins looked at various groups of employees, including those that are tuned out, on hold, engaged, overwhelmed or burnt out.

He touched on engagement and satisfaction. These topics are not necessarily linked, he said; A person can be satisfied with all of the compensation and benefits, but they are not engaged, or a person could be engaged, but dissatisfied with their benefits or pay.

Robbins said that people leave bosses more than they leave jobs. He added to this point by illustrating the differences in why a person joins a company and the reasons they might leave.

People generally join a company first for its compensation, second for the job itself, and lastly for who their supervisor would be, he said. However, when they chose to leave, the biggest reason is often the employee's supervisors, followed by the job’s responsibilities, and lastly for the compensation.

Robbins underlined the impact of seemingly simple gestures, like a hand written thank you note when someone does something above and beyond.

ESX 2017 was capped off by the “Public Safety Luncheon: Video Surveillance – Focusing on the Evidence,” where Miles Brissette, principal in the Law Offices of Gill & Brissette, spoke on factors of how video surveillance is used in the courtroom.

I was interested to hear Brissette talk about how the face is generally not focused on, and other factors are used to identify criminals captured on video. He showed a video where a person was recognized on video because of characteristics in their bag that tied them to a crime, not their face.

In another video example, Brissette showed a clip and highlighted that the person committing a crime was identified due to the appearance of their jeans.

Among other pieces of insight, Brissete highlighted the importance of having something colorful in the field of view of a camera, which can be used for color calibration.

It was great to be in Nashville, Tenn. for ESX 2017 and I hope to see another great line up of educational sessions and keynote speakers at ESX 2018, to be held in Nashville, June 19-22, 2018.

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