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ESX 2017

What truly makes an event meaningful?

10th annual ESX solidifies a decade of success
 - 
06/21/2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—It’s a wrap on the 10th annual Electronic Security Expo (ESX), which took place here June 13-16. Connections were made. Ideas were shared. And quality conversations were had.

ESX 2017 report from Nashville

 - 
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day One

Excited to be in Nashville for ESX 2017, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, returning to where it all started in the music city.

Started Day One moderating a very interesting session “CounterPoint of the Day: DIY Security - Passing Fad or a Real Opportunity?” featuring two great speakers—Megan MacDonald, vice president of marketing, My Alarm Center, headquartered in Newtown Square, Pa., and John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics, headquartered in Jackson, Mich. 

I want to extend a big thank you to both of them for making my job easy by getting some great conversations and interaction going with the audience.

MacDonald, who was instrumental in launching My Alarm Center’s DIY division LivSecure, started the session by defining DIY.

In the DIY space, she noted, there are two distinctions—professionally monitored and then the systems that are completely DIY, including MIY or monitor-it-yourself.

"Those are the ones you buy on the retail shelf at [big box stores], and it is truly a DIY—you set it up, there is no professional monitoring component, and no integration with a third party provider; it is literally a do-it-yourself,” she explained. “As we refer to DIY in our business, it is a bit of a misnomer, because that is not what we do from a DIY perspective—that is MIY. What I refer to as DIY … is self installed professionally monitored systems, which is a lot of what we are going to talk about today, and that is what we do at LivSecure. So the customer sets the system up themselves but it integrates with our CRM and with our monitoring center just like a professionally installed system does.”

In terms of professionally installed systems vs. DIY, Campau said, “We are a professional installing alarm company going on 60 years, so DIY is not a threat for us; we embrace this.” He made a good analogy to someone who needs to have their house painted. Some will choose to paint it themselves while some will choose to hire someone to come and paint it for them.

In regard to whether DIY sales impact sales of the professionally installed side of the business, MacDonald noted, “LivSecure is a complement to our existing offerings and as a tool to close more sales, not to replace existing sales that we were already making. It is another option for our sales reps, and we will pay them a multiple of RMR, just like we would do on a professionally installed system.”

MacDonald said it is all about closing the sale—“selling the right product to the right person at the right time.”

“If we get a DIY system in the wrong hands, they will eventually deactivate,” noted Campau. “With DIY in particular, we’ve got a very low churn rate in our business; we are hyper-focused on keeping our customers.”

Both pointed out that by just having a DIY option, it opens the conversation and can lead to that potential DIY customer choosing to have the system professionally installed, which “is just a better sale, because that is a stickier customer,” said Campau, one who is more likely to use and add to the system and less likely to attrite.

“If you are getting into the business or launching this, I would be very firm and specific on what the process is and the requirements are for rolling a truck to a self installed system,” MacDonald said, noting that otherwise you are going to put yourself in a difficult situation of rolling a truck much more than you would like.

Campau said that if a customer has a problem and needs assistance, he will roll a truck, but for a $100 fee and a commitment to an additional year on the traditional two-year monitoring contract that he offers. “You'd rather have that convo before the sale, on the front end; don’t rush to get that sale.”

The discussion also covered RMR potential, which is in the $40 to $45 range, as well as branding, marketing and engaging the customer. Both agreed that the more engaged a customer is with their system, the less likely they will cancel the service and much more likely that they will add more services over time.

Day Two

I started Day Two in the session “Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” featuring two highly knowledgeable speakers in Speros Venios, VP of channel sales at Interlogix, and Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, an advisory and consulting firm that specializes in providing financing and acquisition related services to the security alarm industry.

Venios, who is responsible for the integration of security and smart home devices in the residential and commercial segments through the distribution, MSO and OEM channels, said that 50 billion objects are projected to be connected to the IoT by 2020.

“Connected homes will be the largest sector for IoT technologies,” he said, noting that by 2019 it is estimated to be a $490 billion market. “According to one survey, more than two-thirds of consumers plan to buy IoT technology for their homes by 2019.”

Despite all the disrupters, such as the cable, telecoms and tech companies in the market right now, “The security channel is well positioned to deliver these solutions,” Venios said, noting that they have an opportunity to be that trusted provider of both security and smart home products and services.

Barnes pointed out that over the past year his focus on operating performance and valuation trends in the industry—how product and technology is affecting the industry—has revealed three big trends: Faster product evolution and shorter lifecycles; a broadening array of capabilities and services; and a changing competitive landscape.

“The number of new products coming out each day is much faster than it was before and those products are expected to have shorter lifecycles … not because they’re not manufactured well, but because they’re going to be replaced with something faster, better or cheaper,” Barnes said. 

The broadening array of capabilities and services is “a wonderful thing for consumers and commercial end users of all types,” he said. “But, of course, it puts strains on those of you who are trying to provide those services—how do you pick which ones to offer, how do you package them and how do you price them?”

With all of the disruptors in the industry right now creating a changing competitive landscape, “Clearly technology is enabling some of these new competitors … that previously wouldn't have been a competitor in the industry,” he said.

Despite some of the challenges presented by the abovementioned trends, “This is a great time to be in the business,” Barnes said, noting that he sees nothing in the data that would tell him otherwise. “We look at, and we track hundreds of alarm companies and we try and track every deal that is going on in the industry, every dollar of capital that is being raised to support the growth for all of you.”

Next, I sat in on a spirited discussion, “CounterPoint of the Day: Cable Service Companies Are Here to Stay - What Impact Are They Having on the Industry?” which was moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco, and led by speakers Daniel Herscovici, Comcast's senior VP and general manager, and John Knox, owner and president of Knox Integrated Systems, who was elected as ESA president in 2012.

De Marco noted that the counterpoint forum is new to ESX this year, with the goal of getting everyone in the session involved in an interactive debate. A cushioned square, which had a microphone inside, was available to pass or throw around to anyone who had a comment or question.

De Marco started the discussion by asking Herscovici why Comcast entered into the security industry and how this has helped or challenged traditional companies.

Herscovici pointed out that Comcast is not only a direct-to-consumer home security solution but through the acquisition of Icontrol, it is also a platform provider.

“We entered the industry mostly because we saw a real opportunity to offer a great experience and leverage our current assets,” he said. “Comcast has 27 million household relationships through our Internet, video and voice products.” Plus, the acceleration of the connected home drove that as well, he said.

“More than half of our customers have never had home security before, so it is not that we are out there converting or doing a bunch of takeovers—a lot of our acquisition is new to the category, new to home security,” he said. “Awareness of what the possibilities are with the connected home security product on a broad scale and the awareness that we generate through our reach, through our consumers, kind of lifts all boats, and makes your conversations easier when you are selling.”

Knox said that he hasn’t personally seen any affect. “I don’t think that I have lost any customers to the cable companies,” he said. “I think it is more like what he [Herscovici] says: They are bringing more people into the market that weren’t in the market before.”

He continued, “Since I have been in the business, every five years someone has been putting me out of business. We have been living that our whole lives and we are still here. And if they don’t do a good job of supporting the customer, we are going to benefit off of that.”

Daily updates from ESX 2017

 - 
Tuesday, June 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.

ESX announces 2017 innovation award winners

Award recognizes products and services driving the industry forward
 - 
05/24/2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Electronic Security Expo announced the winners (see list below) for its 2017 Innovation Awards, recognizing outstanding products and services that drive the electronic security and life safety industry forward.

ESX announces keynotes and exhibit space expansion

 - 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ESX has made several announcements recently regarding its 2017 conference, to be held at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., from June 13-16.

“Every year, planning a show like ESX is both challenging and rewarding. For 2017, it is more challenging than most,” ESX chairman George De Marco told Security Systems News via email. “Being our 10th anniversary of ESX, we want to make the attendee experience commensurate with celebrating this milestone.”

ESX looks for feedback from its attendees, De Marco said. "From this feedback, we learn the most important reasons why ESX matters to them, and continue to tweak ESX to fine tune the attendee experience. For 2017, the education will emphasize the practical and proven methods that improve operational and financial results. Some of them are basic, but even professional athletes are coached on fundamentals every year," he said. 

Bestselling author Dr. Robert Kriegel will be the ESX 2017 keynote speaker. His presentation, “Innovate or Else,” will focus on various strategies for addressing change, challenge and competition in the industry.

Kriegel will deliver five strategies for developing new opportunities, ESX wrote in its announcement. He will also discuss the four most common obstacles to innovation and how to overcome them, outlining how to prepare for change and challenging the status quo.

“Innovative ideas often come from places you haven’t looked before,” Kriegel said in a prepared statement. “One of the best sources is to look outside of your industry.”

Kriegel’s clients include AT&T, BP Chemical, Boeing, Comcast, Exxon Mobile, Kraft General Foods, Nike, and the U.S. Navy as well as others.

The keynote for this year’s luncheon will be author, speaker and aviator Carey Lohrenz, She is a former Lieutenant in the United States Navy and was the first female aviator to fly an F-14 Tomcat.

“In a fast-paced environment, leading fearlessly is not easy, but it can be done,” Lohrenz said in a prepared statement. “The ability to work through fear kept me alive as I operated under dangerous conditions and in life-or-death situations on the flight deck.”

Lohrenz will speak from experience on the foundation for strong leadership, team motivation and how companies can elevate their business.

The ESX Keynote Luncheon is sponsored by Security America RRG. Security Systems News is the media sponsor of the luncheon.

In late March, ESX announced it added 30 new booths to the show floor. "Over 200 exhibiting and sponsoring companies will participate in ESX," ESX said.  

ESX prepares for its 10th year

 - 
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ESX just recently opened early registration for the 2017 show, to be held June 13-16 at the Music City Center, in Nashville, Tenn., as well as nominations for ESX 2017 Innovation Awards.

Yesterday, ESX announced a heavily discounted rate for early registration as celebration for the show's 10th year; early registrants will only pay $199 for ESX's Premium Pass. Last year, the Premium Pass early rate was $700. 

"We are thrilled to extend the special pricing for ESX 2017! To celebrate our 10th year, we really wanted to expand the opportunity of experiencing ESX to even more integrators, dealers and monitoring professionals," George De Marco, ESX chairman, told Security Systems News in an email exchange.

"We plan to highlight all the best of what the industry has to offer – technology, education and networking – and to take a trip down memory lane, showing off the best of ESX over the years," De Marco said.

ESX has a strong focus on providing useful education each year; this year the program expands with new “CounterPoint Forums,” De Marco said. “The interactive format will encourage security professionals to explore and discuss opposing views freely and passionately. We’ll be discussing topics, such as: Should you sell your security company? Cable service companies are here to stay - what impact are they having on the industry? DIY Security: Passing fad of real opportunity?”

“We believe the Counterpoint Forum will become a strong anchor in our program for 2017 and beyond,” De Marco continued.

Vendors and service providers can submit their nominations for Innovation Awards up to March 17. 

Alongside these announcements, ESX posted its educational session this year. Glancing at some of the session, I see some key trends for the industry. 

“Video Verification - Can You See Me Now?” one of the sessions in the Grow Your Business track, will look at video verification, why it’s important and how to upsell customers to gain more RMR.

In the Monitoring Center track, “Critical Steps to Understand and Combat the Growing Cyber Threats to your Monitoring Center Data,” plans to address the now ubiquitous concern of cybersecurity and tell attendees how they can educate their staff and identify proper resources to support their IT organization.

“Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” a session in the Rethink the Future track, looks at a variety of industry topics, including cloud-based services, new players in the market, and the “pros and cons” of forming third-party partnerships.

In the Run Your Company track, “Five Tips for Managing Millennials” session seeks help attendees tap into potential talent in younger generations, through understanding common millennial career views and motivations.