UK Security: Industry in Flux

UK Security: Industry in Flux

The U.K. is one of the most mature markets in the world, with more new players making their mark. John Shi, Editorial Director of a&s magazines, examines key trends in the channel and in technology.

The U.K. is a major security force to be reckoned with. However, national austerity measures and an anemic economy have slowed growth.

At the May IFSEC exhibition, the number of exhibitors held steady. However, more of the exhibitors were new. While the UK remains stable, the influx of new players is shaking up a stagnant industry.

Overall, more Asian companies were represented, introducing serious price competition. Major players were forced to reevaluate their positioning and price point. Some examples included Norbain's launch of SupaVu, its ultra no-frills offering. While the Vista lines will maintain the same levels of support, SupaVu is purely mature analog products that do not require additional service. The product will be distributed through mail-order and online sales.

Market consolidation is expected to grow. “We see more Asian players enter the market,” said Paul Wong, MD of Bosch Security Systems. “Some single-line manufacturers have suffered with smaller portfolios.”

Long-term players are adjusting their playbook to deal with new competition. Bosch has launched a complete midrange product lineup as a more cost-effective alternative. “Our customers want to be aligned with a known brand,” Wong said. “Most of the mid-end products are not known brands. Brand recognition has Industry in Flux UK Security been positive, with a competitive price point.”

Companies will have to redefine their value, from manufacturers to channel players. Canon diversified its surveillance offering with a new IP line. “The future of IP security lies with intelligent cameras and HD quality images; Canon's technology will keep us at the cutting edge of the network camera sector, while allowing us to continue to offer our customers the highest quality security solutions,” said Anand Subbiah, GM of Ubiqz, Canon's UK distributor.

The migration to IP has resulted in rapid development of new players channel players. Mayflex, Ubiqz and CCTV42 are among the start-ups emphasizing IP video. CCTV42 was founded by two users who were exasperated with existing options and decided to build their own “real-world” solution. Even traditional players such as Norbain are taking note of IP, recruiting a managing director with 30 years experience from the IT world.

From Norbain's point of view, analog forms the base of the technology pyramid, said Barry Shakespeare, MD of Norbain. It has the largest market volume and continues to see development in analog solutions. The midmarket will migrate to hybrid solutions mixing IP with analog, but demands compatibility with existing hardware. IP will be embraced by early adopters at the top of the pyramid, who seek comprehensive solutions that will integrate with their IT infrastructure.

Nearly all new players promote IP solutions, while some analog manufacturers are nowhere to be seen, Shakespeare said. While currently few security installers work with Microsoft, the IT world practically requires Microsoft certification. As more companies move into the IP space, holistic solutions are set to become more common.

Overall, the UK market has slowed. “I would say the market generally has seen a CAGR reduction of 10 percent for the last three years,” Wong said. “The UK government is trying to reduce the deficit, so the spending is down. That's mostly in infrastructure: Rail, roads, bridges. However, that's being countered by the antiterrorism initiatives.”

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