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INSIGHTS

Resilience and innovation: overcoming challenges in the Asian security market

Resilience and innovation: overcoming challenges in the Asian security market
Physical security companies in Asia are required to be agile, continually adapting their strategies to overcome these challenges.
In the sprawling and multifaceted Asian security market, companies face a myriad of challenges that test their resilience and adaptability. This sector is shaped by a diverse range of economic environments, technological advancements, and regulatory standards that differ significantly from country to country. The impact of recent global events, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, has further complicated the landscape, affecting economic recovery rates and shifting the demands within the industry.
 
Physical security companies in Asia are required to be agile, continually adapting their strategies to overcome these challenges. From navigating protectionist policies and local competition to embracing rapid technological changes and addressing the unique needs of a vast customer base, the industry’s response is a testament to its innovative spirit and commitment to growth. This story aims to explore the depth and breadth of these challenges, the creative solutions companies are employing, and the emerging trends that are shaping the future of physical security in Asia.

Diverse market challenges

The Asian market, with its vast expanse, presents a patchwork of challenges steeped in diversity. Physical security companies operating in this region confront a spectrum of regulatory standards that are as varied as the cultures and governments that institute them. Navigating these disparate frameworks requires a nuanced understanding of local laws and an ability to adapt products and services to comply with each jurisdiction's unique specifications.
 
“Asia has very diverse regulatory standards, and navigating these varying regulatory frameworks, different economic conditions, and different levels of technological readiness across the markets in Asia are top challenges,” explained David Thean, General Manager for Asia at Gallagher Security. “Big markets in Asia (like China) are also becoming more protective of locally made products and are setting up higher barriers against foreign brands. At Gallagher, we adapt our strategy to meet these regional challenges by establishing local partnerships. For example, we research the different regulatory frameworks established by local government agencies and offer products that can cater to these different requirements by different markets in Asia.”
 
As they address these challenges, companies are also tasked with keeping pace with the technological readiness of each market. This can range from advanced markets where the latest technologies are expected to less developed ones where basic functionality may be the priority. The varying levels of technological adoption and the speed at which different markets embrace new tech define the strategies companies must adopt to stay relevant and competitive.

Economic and competitive pressures

In the Asian security market, economic and competitive pressures are formidable forces shaping the strategies and operations of physical security companies. The prolonged recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by lengthier lockdowns and travel restrictions, particularly affecting economies reliant on sectors like tourism. Countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, which are popular tourist destinations, have felt these impacts acutely, with the resultant economic slowdown influencing spending on security infrastructure.
 
“The Asian market took longer to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic due to lengthier lockdowns and travel restrictions,” said Alex Lee, Senior Sales Manager at IDIS MEA & Asia. “The economic bounce back in some countries hasn’t been as fast as in the U.S. The tourism sector in Thailand and Vietnam is one example, and some countries are still facing the threat of recession caused by increased energy prices and inflation.”
 
 But despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economy overall is now improving. One of the biggest challenges in Asian countries is that they remain price-driven, meaning surveillance manufacturers need to combat the threat of cheap competition coming from China. One strategy is to focus on large government and conglomerate enterprise customers, which are far less price-sensitive.
 
“These institutions are more focused on NDAA compliance, cybersecurity, proven end-to-end solutions, high-performance and robust hardware, and a low total cost of ownership,” Lee added. “On the flip side, manufacturers also need entry-level IP cameras with rapid plug-and-play installation capabilities that allow them to compete in the lower end market to win run rate business.”
 
To withstand economic and competitive pressures, companies are thus adopting a dual approach: targeting high-end markets with comprehensive, compliant, and technologically advanced offerings while also capturing the lower end of the market with affordable and user-friendly products. This balanced strategy aims to safeguard market share and revenue streams across different segments in the face of ever-present economic challenges.

Technological advancements and misconceptions

The Asian security market is at the forefront of technological innovation, yet it grapples with widespread misconceptions about the capabilities and applications of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). Companies often encounter customers who hold inflated expectations of AI's functionality or misunderstand its practical uses within the security sector. This gap between perception and reality can lead to dissatisfaction and hesitancy to adopt new technologies that could otherwise significantly enhance security and operational efficiency.
 
“First, there are misconceptions about AI analysis capabilities,” said Alex Kuo, APAC regional business head of VIVOTEK. “VIVOTEK addresses this by offering powerful AI products, clarifying customer needs, and providing education. We customize AI solutions to meet our customers' requirements. Second, there is intense price competition in the IP camera industry. VIVOTEK enhances product education, local support, and after-sales service, thereby increasing brand competitiveness and fostering customer loyalty.”
 
Through a combination of education, tailored solutions, and exceptional support services, companies in the Asian security market are working to dispel misconceptions and leverage technological advancements as a means of delivering superior security solutions and gaining a competitive edge.

Pandemic-induced trends and adaptations

The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably acted as a catalyst for change within the Asian security market, accelerating certain trends and necessitating swift adaptations by companies. One of the most significant shifts has been the increased demand for contactless technologies. As health and safety concerns rose to the forefront, businesses and consumers alike sought security solutions that minimized physical contact. This led to a surge in the development and deployment of contactless biometric systems, such as facial recognition and iris scanning, which have continued to gain traction even as the immediate threat of the pandemic wanes.
 
“Covid-19 is now almost finished; however, it made changes to the physical security industry,” Hanchul Kim, CEO of Suprema, said. “There was increased demand for contactless biometric systems during the COVID-19, and now it is a continuous trend. Most vendors have launched new contactless solutions, i.e., face authentication, Iris & mobile. Even after Covid-19, not all workers returned to their offices. Most traditional companies, manufacturing plants, and construction sites still require people to work at the office or sites. Work from Home is also well adapted to some companies. It has lowered demand for time & attendance solutions with physical devices.”
 
In response to these changes, security companies have pivoted to accommodate the new landscape. They have accelerated the introduction of contactless solutions, adapting their offerings to cater to a more health-conscious market. Furthermore, recognizing the reduced need for certain types of security in a remote work era, companies are exploring alternative applications for their technologies and seeking to innovate in areas that align with the new normal, such as home security and remote surveillance capabilities.
 
The pandemic has thus reshaped the security market in Asia, with companies adapting to the emergent trends by rethinking their product lines, investing in new technologies, and redefining their value propositions to meet the changing demands of a post-pandemic world.

The rapid technological pace and market differentiation

The Asian security market is characterized by a rapid pace of technological evolution, challenging companies to stay abreast of the latest advancements to remain competitive. This technological race propels the market forward but also necessitates constant vigilance and agility from security firms. The necessity to regularly update skills, knowledge, and products can be demanding, especially when paired with the need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
 
“I think one major challenge is the rapid pace of technological advancements, which requires companies to constantly update their skills and knowledge to stay competitive,” said Vivianna Wang, GM of Marketing & Channel Development at Hikvision. “In the face of such immense competition, businesses are also finding it increasingly challenging to differentiate their offerings and impress the market. To overcome these challenges, we can see that companies in the industry are adapting their strategies in several ways, such as investing in R&D to create more advanced and comprehensive solutions, collaborating with technology partners and industry associations to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices, and focusing on providing more customized solutions that address specific customer needs. For Hikvision, we see it as an opportunity to innovate our technologies and improve our solutions to offer more value to customers, pushing the boundaries of our businesses.”
 
The rapid pace of technological change in the Asian security market, therefore, demands a multifaceted response. Companies must innovate relentlessly, customize intelligently, and educate continually to differentiate themselves and succeed in this dynamic landscape.

Conclusion

The Asian security market, characterized by its complexity, has compelled companies to adapt with agility and innovation. Balancing cost-effectiveness with technological sophistication, firms have navigated diverse regulations, economic variances, and a post-pandemic world’s demand. Strategies have included heavy investment in R&D, local partnerships, customer education, and tailored solutions.
 
Despite various challenges, the market is growing, with companies continuously evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing landscape. The future success hinges on the ability to not only adapt to current conditions but also to anticipate and influence emerging trends. The resilience and forward-thinking approaches of these companies underscore a narrative of endurance and ingenuity.
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