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Axis Communications

Trying harder and the right employees

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The stories in our newswire this week are part of our annual Women in Security special report. When I interviewed Bodil Sonesson, VP global sales for Axis Communications, we were talking about her work outside of Axis, as a member of the board of directors of a public company based in Norway. I was interested to learn that public companies in Norway are required to have a certain percentage of women on their corporate boards. 

Sonesson said that she was recruited for the board. It wasn't easy, the headhunter told Sonesson, to find a woman with extensive experience with global sales and marketing and an advanced business degree. To find a woman who met that profile the headhunter told Sonesson, he just needed to "try harder." 

"I wouldn't be on the board if it wasn't for that quota," she said. "Once they found me, I had a chance. It was up to me to do a good job," she said.

The story reminded me of a joke we have at my house. When they were younger, my kids would open the refrigerator and without looking inside they'd say, "Mum, where's the butter?" I would remind them, that just because the butter, or whatever they're looking for, did not fall into their outstretched hand, it does not mean there's no butter in the fridge. Sometimes you need to take a few extra minutes and look around.

Sonesson, who oversees a global sales team that's grown eightfold under her leadership, said she believes diversity in the workplace is important, and advises recruiters she works with to "try harder" to find the right candidates for jobs.  

Today there are more women than men on the corporate board where Sonesson is a director. And, yes, it's a profitable company that's doing well.

Trying harder to increase diversity of all kinds—gender, race, age, ethnicity, experience—makes good business sense. Think about it. Your shareholders may thank you.

This year we've profiled four leaders in our industry, Bodil Sonesson, Axis Communications VP global sales; Jill Lloyd, owner of Lloyd Security; Bethany Taylor, Dakota Security director of operations; Judy Randle, president of Central Montoring. Our Five Questions this month features Cassie Weaver, operations coordinator for Dakota Security. We also have a general news story about how security companies use social media which features three women: Rebecca Matson Purtz of director of business development for Matson Alarm; Alison Shiver, residential sales and marketing manager; and Kristin Milner, ADS director of marketing.    

Axis VP’s global role evolves with firm’s big growth

‘Multicultural aspect” of job right fit, she says

SAN ANTONIO—After doing some consulting work for Axis Communications in the mid-90s, Bodil Sonesson was recruited by Axis in 1996, the year it introduced the first network camera.

The cyber elephant in the room

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I've spent several days recently with two major camera companies, Hikvision and Axis Communications. The last week in October I was on a Hikvision trip to China where I met with executives from the company, toured the headquarters and one of their factories, and also went to China's version of ISC West. This week I'm in San Antonio at the Axis partner event.

There are more than 400 integrators and technology partners here this year. Yesterday's agenda included information on the company's technology road map, a panel discussion on school security, an IT director for Westgate Resorts, and a forensics expert talking about camera evidence and how integrators' careful design and installation of video surveillance can help in law enforcement, rescue efforts, and criminal prosecution. There were also break-out sessions and there's a full agenda for today as well.

I'll have more stories on both the Hikvision trip and the Axis event, but I took note that both companies made a point to talk about cybersecurity, both internal efforts to ensure that their products are safe and external efforts to educate their integrator partners on best practices.

This is good news. It's about time the physical security industry starts talking about the cyber elephant in the room.

When I was at Hikvision, the president of the company, Yangzhong Hu and Hikvision international marketing director, Keen Yao fielded questions about cyber breaches the company has suffered. They also talked about their efforts to correct problems and instill cybersecurity best practices internally.  Hu said the company has partnered with international cybersecurity companies and professional hackers to proactivley test products, protocols and processes associated with cybersecurity.

Hikvision has a Security Center section on its website, which includes information about any current problems with its products, a location to report security issues, advice and best practices for end users and integrators on cybersecurity. Hikvision has also spoken about cybersecurity at ISC West, PSA-TEC and it will speak at ISC East next week as well. The goal, according to Hikvision North Amercian marketing director Alex Asnovich, is to share cybersecurity knowledge and best practices with the entire industry.

Yesterday at the Axis event, Sal D'Agostino, CEO of IDmachines, who has been working with Axis on cybersecurity, and John Bartolac, who heads up cyber strategy for Axis in North America,  led a break-out session about cybersecurity and the threat landscape. They introduced Axis's new "hardening guide", a 25-page document of cybersecurity best practices and protocols. Bartolac said Axis has been working on the cybersecurity issue for six years (most notably with its government customers). It is now expanding its efforts to educate its integrators and other partners about cybersecurity.

I've heard lots of cybersecurity statistics, and they're always chilling, but D'Agostino showed a live map of cyberattacks yesterday. Check it out here.

D'Agostino said the guide includes many "easily actionable items" for systems integrators.

“We’re supposed to be installing a security solution, not introducing a vulnerability,” D’Agostino said. “We want to help our [end users] meet their corporate goals. … It’s not acceptable anymore to say, ‘I didn’t know [about potential cyberthreats],’” he added.

The threat continues to evolve, he said. Not only do integrators have to worry about safeguarding the video that comes out of the camera, they need to be concerned about cameras being “taken over and used as a weapon.”

D'Agostino pointed out that using cybersecurity best practices and helping end users understand protocol is a great way for systems integrators to  "have a conversation with the IT side of the shop."

“As cameras are used not just as a security device, but as a business-enablement tool, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you’ll be talking to the chief marketing officer or the IT department itself,” D’Agostino said.

Integrators who have cybersecurity knowhow can help IT department understand the value of their video data to the corporation, he said.

Bartolac said that Axis has a roadmap of cybersecurity tools that it will be offering to integrators. The hardening guide is just the beginning, he said. Axis also has plans to share cybersecurity best practices with the industry at large.

At TechSec, we've been talking about cybersecurity for a few years. Here's a link to a story about a TechSec educational session led by Diebold's Jeremy Brecher that we did in 2014 about cyber attacks and the potential problems for physical security devices. We'll be talking about cybersecurity in the cloud at our Cloud+ conference Dec. 7-8. Rodney Thayer, who's an expert in designing network security systems and hacking, is doing a not-to-be-missed educational session at Cloud+. Check out the educational program here.

PSA Security is also taking the lead on educating the industry about cybersecurity. PSA has a wealth of information on its web site. Click here.

Axis to build new HQ in Lund


CHELMSFORD, Mass.—In early 2016, Axis will begin construction of a new headquarters located adjacent to the company’s existing offices in Lund, Sweden. The building is expected to be ready in early 2018 and will accommodate 1,100 employees. Its North American headquarters is based here.

Samsung has new majority owner

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Video surveillance provider Samsung Techwin has a new majority owner, Hanwha Group, a $34 billion conglomerate based in South Korea.

The deal, announced Dec. 5  is "a stock transaction, not an acquisition," Samsung's senior marketing group manager Tom Cook said during a Dec. 8 conference call.

Samsung Electronics announced Dec. 5 that it had entered into an agreement to sell its shares, which amount to a 32 percent stake in Samsung Techwin to Hanwha, which has expressed an interest in increasing its position in the security and defense industry. Samsung's second-largest shareholder is South Korea's government pension plan, according to Cook, the rest of the shareholder hold much smaller stakes.

How will the deal affect the Samsung Techwin's North American operation, which is based in Ridgefield, N.J.? There won't be any immediate changes, Cook said.

Contrary to some earlier published reports, Samsung Techwin will retain the rights to the Samsung name. For how long? Cook said that was "still a negotiating point" but he said it would retain the rights for "many years" and noted that there is precedent for Samsung allowing its brand to be used for extended periods of time. Renault has used the Samsung brand for more than 20 years, he said.

Soon Hong Ann, Samsung Techwin CEO and all management will stay in place, Cook said. All R&D, manufacturing, sales and marketing operations will remain unchanged, he said. Hanwha does not have manufacturing facilities and it does not own any other businesses that manufacture or do R&D of security devices. It does have a systems integration business "which can benefit by selling SamsungTechwin products in the Asian market, but in North America, I do not see any of that occuring," Cook said.

Independent of this deal, Samsung Techwin America is looking into establishing an additional "assembly and manufacturing facility in the U.S. that would allow us to fall under the branding of 'Made in America'," Cook said. Cook said that Samsung Techwin is interested in doing this to increase its business with the U.S. government, which gives preference to domestically produced products.

Cook said Samsung Techwin's North American operation has grown rapidly in recent years. "In 2013 we were up 40 percent over the previous year, and 2014 we will end up 70 percent over 2013."

The company has had several big wins including General Mills and Qualcomm [where Samsung is working with Milestone Systems] and General Motors [where it is working with Genetec].

Asked about additional funds for R&D and other investments, Cook said "Hanwha acquired this stock because they're interested in growing in the security and defense market" and added that Samsung Techwin Americas "has never been held up because of resources in the past."

Cook said that Samsung Techwin will be introducing 5 megapixel and 4K cameras, "an all-in-one IP kit that we believe the market is ready for."

Cook said Samsung Techwin will have a 100-foot by 60-foot booth at ISC West and it will be situated next to the market leader. [Axis Communications] "We are neighbors aond purpose and we're going to take them head-on," Cook said. It will also hold a dealer meeting and an A&E meeting at ISC West.

Samsung Techwin is currently the fourth largest video surveillance provider in North America. Cook believes "by the end of 2015 we will be in the position of second."

"To be number one, that is our goal," Cook said.

Preferred Communication Systems installs at Chicago-area mall

Axis cameras covering general mall areas

TINLEY PARK, Ill.—Preferred Communication Systems, an integrator based here, recommended and installed cameras from Axis Communications to cover the Stratford Square Mall, spanning 1.3 million square-feet, Axis announced Dec. 4.

Two new accolades for Genetec


MONTREAL—Genetec, a provider of unified IP security solutions, has recently received two honors.

Video companies branching out into access control

Watch for more video companies to follow suit

YARMOUTH, Maine—In the past 18 months, three major video surveillance companies have expanded into access control. There are many reasons why Axis Communications, Panasonic and Avigilon made this move, but the main reason, they say, is because of demand.

Axis, Hubbell Lighting, TOTUS debut ‘Active Deterrence fixture’


GREENVILLE, S.C.—An ‘Active Deterrence fixture’ will be shown at the Axis Communications booth (1023) at the Sept. 29-Oct. 1 ASIS show in Atlanta.

PSIM provider sets up shop in DC

UK-based CNL sees potential in North American market

ASHBURN, Va.—Saying its customizable product sets it apart in the PSIM crowd, CNL Software announced Sept. 16 that it has opened its first North American office here, just outside Washington, D.C.