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Honeywell CONNECT 2017

Updates from Honeywell's CONNECT 2017

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Friday, November 10, 2017

This afternoon, I landed in San Diego to attend this year’s Honeywell CONNECT conference. Below you’ll find an overview of educational sessions I’ve attended and key themes and technologies highlighted throughout the conference. Be sure to check back as I’ll be updating it for each day of the event.

Saturday, Nov. 11

In CONNECT 2017’s third general session, Michael Flink, president of Honeywell Security and Fire who flew in the previous night to address the event’s attendees, talked about the company’s perspective and approach. He talked about how new entrants to the security industry from Silicon Valley have the model of putting out a product to learn from customers and improve on it.

This is the process that Honeywell is taking with its new DIY security system; using a crowdfunding site to get a product in the hands of interested consumers to learn from them and improve it.

Additionally, Flink said that the company is looking to invest significantly in research and development in the near future. Similar to DeBiasio, Flink discusses the company’s decreasing time from a product’s development to its release.

Jason Dorsey, a consultant and speaker from The Center for Generational Kinetics, was brought back after a popular performance at Honeywell Connect 2014. He addressed some myths and realities of Millennials, such as their spending habits and their presence in the work place, as well as how their key attributes compare to other generations.

After the general session, I attended “We’re Here to Help: Leveraging HIS Resources, Services and Programs to Grow your Business,” to hear about the ways Honeywell supports its HIS dealers. The session was presented by Deanna Smith, sales supervisor for Honeywell Integrated Security. and JoAnne Goldman, HIS channel manager.

Goldman and Smith showed the HIS dealer website and its feauters. In the session, they covered a variety of topics, including online resources—such as webinars, articles and case studies, training materials, and specifying tools among others.

From the last selection of breakout sessions at Honeywell Connect 2017, I went to listen Honeywell’s Quentin Gunther and Russ Ackerman, industry veteran and the new residential sales manager for Bates Security’s Jacksonville, Fla., branch. The two presented on how to approach a customer and decide which items to sell in a home security setting in a session entitled, “When Do I Sell What in Residential?”

Throughout the session, Ackerman and Gunther highlighted the benefits of using a questionnaire in sales to determine key information about a potential customer, such as the reason they’re looking to get a system, the amount of time they are typically outside of the home and what they most want to protect.

Customers don’t always value what seems most important to the salesperson, Ackerman noted, citing an instance where a potential customer had a home and a family but was not interested in monitored fire protection.

In the session, the two speakers role played a customer interaction—with Ackerman as the salesperson and Gunther as the prospective customer—to illustrate the type of information that can come out of using a questionnaire, the importance of how questions are asked and the difference in response when a customer is asked to expand. For example, a customer might say they don’t travel much, but, in actuality, they are away most weekends.

Friday, Nov. 10

Three words were projected above the stage before the first general session: Differentiate. Disrupt. Deliver. These three words serve as the main themes for Honeywell’s CONNECT and I saw some of that in the previous day’s sessions; differentiating your company by being more involved in the community.

The general session started with a video address from Michael Flink, president of Honeywell Security and Fire. He highlighted the theme and introduced Mandy Harvey, a singer who differentiated herself by singing and making music despite having lost her hearing due to a disorder. Harvey performed her original song “Try” live on stage here in San Diego.

Following Harvey’s performance, Scott Harkins, Honeywell’s GM connected home, came on stage and addressed the theme of “Disruption.” Companies that want to do well in the industry need to be open to the idea that disruption is possible in the industry, he said.

Harkins addressed the recent spin-off of Honeywell’s residential and ADI businesses, which total a $4.5 entity. The commercial security and access control sides, a $5.5 billion business, will remain within of Honeywell. This will allow both businesses the ability to be more disruptive.

Harkins outlined the market into three categories of U.S. households; the 20 percent without broadband internet, 60 percent that have internet but don’t currently have a security system, and an additional 20 percent that have internet and a security system installed. Honeywell recently announced a DIY-installed home security system, and it is currently on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. This system is a way for Honeywell dealers to compete in the other 60 percent of the market, Harkins said, calling it “professionally-enabled DIY.”

Alice DeBiasio, Honeywell’s VP and general manager of software solutions, took the stage to talk a bit about the company’s work in 2017. This year, Honeywell launched 10 products in its hardware business and more than 10 software offerings.

The company has also improved its pace of release, she noted: it launched it’s lyric platform in 12 months time, then its Lyric Gateway in less than 10 months, and the company’s new DIY system is on pace to be less than 9 months.

The company released a new version of its Total Connect app, which has been highly rated by users, DeBiasio said.

One thing the company is working on now: partitions. Honeywell is working to enable users to arm and disarm different partitions of their property and assign different users to different partitions.

Josh Linkner, the first keynote speaker of this year’s CONNECT, delivered his presentation "Harnessing Innovation: Fresh approaches to Growth, Creativity, and Transformation." Linkner has authored three books and founded multiple companies, including Eprize and Detroit Venture Partners.

To open, he said his goal was making the terms disruption and innovation more tangible and accessible. A theme throughout his presentation was that people should can, and should, stop and apply creativity in their business challenges.

He challenged attendees to think of one new idea for innovation; even if it’s not implemented, professionals will start to think in that direction and that can even spread to coworkers, he said.

After Linkner’s presentation, Honeywell’s Medal of Honor award was presented to Doyle Security Systems and accepted by Kevin Stone, Doyle’s chief operating officer. 

Jerry Camarillo, operations manager for Dillard Alarm Company, presented one of the day’s first sessions “Building RMR into Your Video Business Model.” One of the technologies that Camarillo highlighted was MAXPRO Cloud, Honeywell’s cloud-based hosted services platform for access control and video surveillance. "There's a different way to make RMR now," Camarillo said.

In his presentation, Camarillo pointed to a few benefits of using Honeywell products, such as recognition and trust with the brand and resources for technical support if a dealer needs help.

Within the “Building RMR into Your Video Business Model” session, Tim Sutliffe, regional sales manager for Honeywell Security and Fire, looked at a couple examples where equipment that is being installed today could utilize MAXPRO Cloud. When looking at the examples, Sutliffe pointed out that there’s a certain amount of up-front revenue, but more RMR that can be gained through adding this offering.

Adding RMR services to a system that was already being sold by a dealer is a way to be disruptive in the industry, Sutliffe noted.

John Cerasuolo, president and CEO of ADS Security, gave advice for onboarding, ways companies can make their best first impression to new employees with some examples from ADS’ processes. "I really spend most of my time on building the culture of our company,” he said, underling company culture’s importance. "Sometimes it's easy to overlook the cultural stuff."

In his presentation, “Onboarding Employees for Success,” Cerasuolo looked at several phases and scenarios for new hire and new employees.

Presenting culture begins in the recruitment phase, Cerasuolo said, with the information from ADS. Specifically, ADS focuses on messaging about culture and the high-tech nature of the business.

Prospective employees also get information from sites like Glassdoor, which allows current and former employees to review an employer, Cerasuolo noted.

Companies can also get involved after an employee has been selected but before they start. ADS sends a fruit basket to new employees. "I can't emphasize enough how significant [that] is," Cerasuolo said.

When the employee starts, ADS’ main goal is to have them feel that they made the right decision in joining the company.

Companies should prepare for new employees, he said, meaning having all equipment—uniform, work phone, tablet, work vehicle—ready when a new hire arrives. Additionally, people in the company should be aware of the new hire.

In the first 90 days, ADS wants to have employees engaging with leadership and reflecting the company’s culture to its customers. Cerasuolo also said that asking employees of 90 days for feedback on their roles can be a good way to field objective suggestions for improving the business.

Clearly conveying the company’s culture is also important with onboarding employees following an acquisition, he said.

Conveying the right message to new employees isn’t something that owners and business leaders can delegate, according to Cerasuolo. "To do it right, it needs the involvement of the senior leaders," he said.

At the start of the day’s second general session, Quentin Gunther, Honeywell’s dealer development manager, gave awards to companies that have now been Honeywell dealers for 20 years—Interface Security Systems and Western Alarm—or 25 years: Golden Bear Alarm, KST Security, Pasek Corporation, and RFI Communications and Security Systems.

Several dealers got on stage to their views on disrupting, differentiating and delivering.

First, ADS Security president John Cerasuolo, talked about ways Honeywell products can help a business like ADS differentiate itself. ADS is exclusively using Honeywell products for its residential business, he said.

Specifically, Cerasuolo looked at the Lyric product, which has been positively reviewed by ADS’ installation team, sales team and its customers, he noted. He highlighted three main benefits to offering the Lyric. It allows dealers to more effectively control and manage the installation process, it helps reduce service costs, and with new features coming out for AlarmNet 360, it can help to cut attrition, he said. "That's a combination that you just can’t avoid," he said.

Alexandra Curtiss, Alarm New England VP, talked about her approach to starting a DIY business. One step Curtiss took was calling large competitors, such as LiveWatch and SimpliSafe, to see how they go to market. A lot of what Curtiss does is similar to large players in the industry, but is backed by a family-owned business.

Curtiss suggested that attendees should call their customers, to see if they are pleased with their service or if they might like more aspects to their system. By understanding the market, companies can better understand how they are different and teach their reps to speak to that differentiation. 

Scott Hightower, president and CEO of Verified Security, addressed the topic of delivering the best results, both for industry businesses and their customers. In order to deliver, Hightower said that companies need to do four things: be innovative in the offerings provide solutions, give reliability, and support the products and services.

Hightower also addressed several ways that companies can know if they are delivering, such as customer surveys, net promoter score or by getting reviews or testimonials.

Honeywell’s Life Safety Award was this year given to Graham Bloem, the founder of Shelter to Soldier, a charity that rescues dogs from shelters, fully trains them to be psychiatric service animals, and pairs them with a veteran who is recovering after returning home.

“Why believe in the cloud?” This question was the session title and main point for Scott Hightower’s educational session, one of the final selection of sessions for the day.

Hightower opened with an overview of what is good about the cloud. Cloud is well tested, Hightower pointed out, cloud services have been in other industries longer than they have been in the security space. The cloud also presents an RMR opportunity for installers as well as lower initial costs for customers. Additionally, products in the cloud evolve faster, with quicker fixes to problems.

In the presentation, Hightower discussed his company’s work with the cloud, particularly with Honeywell’s MAXPRO Cloud offering. He lauded the products functionality and commented on the variety of deployment methods—hosted, managed or a hybrid model—and its mobile app among other benefits. The mobile app is a strong selling point, he said.

The platform also lets companies monitor the health of devices, and contact their customers when a product goes offline.

In terms of pricing, the industry tends to undervalue the services that it provides, he said. To help sell the service, Hightower noted that he puts an emphasis on compensating RMR that’s brought in.

Verified started with a measured deployment of MAXPRO Cloud, Hightower said, to ensure that his business could support it. Systems don't need to be entirely on the platform. Companies can have an NVR on premise and a selection of cameras linked to the cloud for redundancy, he said.

Thursday, Nov. 9

The first educational session I attended was “Maximizing you Monitoring: How to Ensure Your Central Station Is Working for You,” a presentation from Tony Wilson, president of CMS. Here, Wilson discussed key points and questions dealers should consider when looking at a wholesale central stations.

Companies should look at their monitoring center in terms of its people, he said, advising companies to tour their monitoring facilities. “Go visit your central station. See the people, meet the people,” he said. Alarm dealers should also be looking at how the central station recruits, hires and trains its employees, as well as its process for quality assurance.

There’s also the level of service to consider; while a quick response is the goal in a monitoring center, representatives should also be courteous and polite, Wilson noted. 

When it comes to the center's technology, “Make sure your monitoring partner is not cutting any corners,” Wilson said.

Companies also should have the right tools available to them. He gave an overview of how CMS worked with a third party software developer to design its new CMS Compass dealer portal to better assist its partners.

Disaster recovery is another key consideration. Dealers should know their monitoring company’s policies around events—such as natural disasters—that may affect the station or otherwise increase alarm traffic. “Ask what the plans are for an evacuation,” he said.

In the end, companies should find a monitoring center that fits them best in terms of capabilities and overall attitude, he said.

APS owner Cat Fleuriet, EPS director of business development David Hood, and Custom Alarm CEO Melissa Brinkman, in the second session I attended, each gave their insight into how security companies can differentiate and better themselves by becoming more involved in their respective communities.

Fleuriet opened the session with her company’s approach to community service. APS, based just outside of New Orleans, hears what its employees care about; the company asks each of its new hires about the community service opportunities that are most important to them.

Helping out can, in turn, help the business too. People want to do business with a company that gives back to the community, said Fleuriet. It can also be a recruitment tool, Hood noted, with employees wanting to be aligned with a company that contibutes to the area.

Community service can be a simple gesture, Fleuriet said. As an example, APS delivered handwritten notes from its employees to residents of the Ville St. Marie Senior Living Community.

Security companies can also recognize a need in their area and fill it, Fleuriet said, such as with assisting after natural disasters. Gathering school supplies for children is one example she gave, stressing the importance of returning to normalcy after a difficult event such as a hurricane.

Hood said that EPS has been embracing community service more in the past 10 years.

EPS, based around Grand Rapids, Mich., is a local businesses that is competing with national companies and community service can make a difference, Hood said. Companies can also get benefits out of more local involvement, such as networking.

Earned media recognition, when a company gets recognized for its local efforts, can also be a valuable resource, Hood said.

Companies can get overwhelmed with requests for sponsorships or their desire to help many areas of the community—don’t overcommit, Hood advised. For example, EPS tries to only donate money where it will also donate its time. 

Custom Alarm is based in Rochester, Minn. Brinkman gave examples of how the company has gotten involved. The company has been very involved with United Way, said Brinkman, as well as with local efforts like Fire Prevention Week and Litter Bit Better, which gathers volunteers to clean up roadsides in the area.

Custom Alarm looks to focus its efforts on specific areas, such as aiding people in crisis and the development and support of children. Brinkman also organizes where it devotes resources, looking at who is suggesting the charity—a customer or an employee—and if it is an employee, whether they are also donating time or money as an individual.

While there can be positive benefits to a company helping its surrounding community, all speakers stressed that this should not be the largest factor in starting a community service effort.