Kevin Waterhouse Q&A Interview
Over recent years, VCA has achieved significant success promoting its analytics as an OEM edge based solution, which can be incorporated into other manufacturers’ IP cameras and devices. No less than 250,000 video channels worldwide are utilising the company’s analytics and it continues to grow in popularity because of its ease of use and accuracy.
It will therefore come as a surprise to some to learn that VCA has launched its own brand of IP network devices and software. In this article, Kevin Waterhouse, Executive Vice President, Global Sales for VCA, explains the thinking behind this bold step to introduce a new range in a marketplace that is not short of manufacturers competing for the attention of installers and systems integrators.
Q: Your business model until now has been based on offering the VCA analytics platform as an OEM solution. What has motivated you to change direction?
A: We remain committed to offering our analytics technology as an OEM solution. Customers can be assured that our long-term strategy includes plans to work closely with an increasing number of manufacturers of surveillance cameras and other devices, as well as Video Management Software (VMS) providers to ensure this important part of our business will continue to grow. However, what we have embarked on is a twin track approach, whereby VCA will also directly support systems integrators to help them generate new revenue streams by supplying them with ‘out-of-the-box’ analytics built into the VCA brand of IP network devices.
Q: What are these new revenue streams to which you refer?
A: The new revenue streams relate to the opportunity to provide end-users with intelligent video surveillance solutions that can do so much more than just deter or detect criminal activity. The analytics incorporated into the new VCA range enhances our ability in the video monitoring sector to reduce false alarms and improve detection. It also opens up the opportunity to gather reliable and verifiable data to help a diverse range of businesses and organisations such as banks, casinos, hospitals, educational establishments, retailers and hospitality venues, to achieve a greater understanding of the behaviour of people who work or visit their premises.
The technology is capable of capturing metadata that can be graphically displayed in customisable reports, to provide marketing, health & safety, human resources and other operational departments with the information they need to achieve their business objectives.
By dealing directly with systems integrators, we will be able to ensure that they benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise of our pre and post sales support teams so that they are equipped with the tools and have the confidence to be able to offer the full benefits of VCA analytics to their clients.
Q: Can you give some examples of how this will help your new customers generate new revenue streams?
A: The analytics built into the VCA devices will enable them to offer their clients added value from their investment in video surveillance systems and if they wish, offer the cameras as part of a ‘security as a service’ business model. We intend to work closely with a handpicked network of customers to help them profit from this model and in the process, offer tangible benefits to their clients.
In the retail sector, for example, with training and support from VCA, systems integrators can offer their clients the opportunity to increase productivity with less staff, improve customer satisfaction by minimising delays at check-outs or identify the best times and locations for product promotions. These are just a few goals that can be achieved with very little effort with the help of devices featuring VCA analytics. It also provides security personnel with a powerful tool to detect and combat theft and other criminal activity.
Q: There are now a large number of other analytics solutions available for customers to choose from. How does VCA stand out from the crowd?
A: ‘User friendly’ may be an overused phrase, but it is in fact an accurate description of VCA analytics. The significance of this should not be underrated, as there is a perception in the marketplace that analytics can be difficult to implement and use. We will be adding to the user friendliness of our analytics over the coming months with a new dashboard graphical user interface which will make it even easier for any business to view both real-time and historical business intelligence.
VCA analytics has also established a reputation for being highly accurate and when employed for intruder detection purposes, has a very low rate of false alarms, which is particularly important in outdoor environments. Here, false alarms continue to be a major issue for organisations who need an effective perimeter protection solution to detect intruders. It is now taken for granted that high definition cameras from any reputable manufacturer should be able to capture evidence grade images. However, our on-board video analytics significantly upgrades the capability of VCA cameras, which for this type of application should perhaps be better described as ‘Intelligent Video Detectors’.
In this respect, they provide a great opportunity for VCA, installers, remote monitoring centres and end-users, to all work in harmony to reduce the time consuming and costly impact of false alarms. It is just another excellent example of how VCA can support the supply chain by generating new revenue streams, whilst providing end-users with a robust and reliable solution.
Q: You have spoken about the new devices carrying the VCA brand, but you also mentioned VMS providers, can you expand on this part of your strategy?
A: Sure. In addition to our edge based devices we have developed a server based software tool that will make the integration of our VCA software very quick and with little CPU overhead. The software can be added to either Linux or windows based software. We already have a number of VMS clients embedding VCA and expect many more to follow along with PSIM, Access and Intelligent Building software providers. In addition we will shortly be launching a new device, which will allow VCA to be added to any IP camera providing an RTSP stream.
Q: So is VCA not developing its own VMS?
A: Absolutely not. We have a very good relationship with the World’s leading VMS providers and have worked closely with them to develop our VCA software tool. However, we have now released some application specific software to support our edge devices. Ucountit, for example, is our cloud based Business Intelligence service and Utrack is a unique auto tracking software tool. Both have been introduced because we believe it is important to provide application solutions that fully exploit our analytics technology.
Q: So you have new products and new services, but will you have sufficient resources to directly supply and support these systems integrators?
A: We will not hesitate to continue to invest in human resources to ensure that our pre and post sales services more than match any increase in sales. We already have a strong technical support team in place and have recently recruited three seasoned security professionals to ensure that we can support customers worldwide. Gary Mercer has joined VCA as UK Sales Manager, whilst Ami Paz is our new Business Development Manager for Israel and Çağlan Dilber has been appointed Business Development Manager for the MENA region. Ian Young has also joined the EMEA team to drive the software and applications developments and business. All four have extensive global experience in the design and implementation of analytics applications across many different market sectors. Our US team has also recently been extended and more news on that will soon be released…