Symposium: Opportunities on the horizon for open-minded monitoring firms
By Neil Sutton
The challenges for the professional monitoring industry keep piling up, according to one expert, but the market is poised for growth, and companies with vision could reap the rewards.
Morgan Hertel, vice-president of technology and innovation at U.S.-based Rapid Response, was one of the featured speakers at CANASA’s bi-annual Monitoring Station Symposium, held in Toronto on Oct. 22.
Hertel challenged symposium attendees to think about all the obstacles the industry is currently facing. Staffing monitoring centres continues to be an issue, particularly in a strong economy when unemployment is low and there are many options for entry-level jobs. Customers also have higher and higher expectations of service, requiring staff to be trained to a similarly high level.
Technology issues may present even more pressing concerns as stations not only have to keep up with the pace of equipment updates, but manage cybersecurity and privacy challenges.
The upshot of these challenges is not only providing a cybersecure environment that meets privacy expectations laid out in legislation like PIPEDA in Canada, GDPR in Europe and increasingly stringent U.S. based policies, but staffing central stations with competent, skilled people to mitigate these issues.
Despite all these challenges, Hertel indicated that the industry may soon benefit from a huge uptick in market penetration. “As long as they know how to deal with all that, the opportunities are unbelievable,” he said. The current market penetration rate for home security services of approximately 25 per cent, which hasn’t budged in years, could be as high as 40 per cent by 2025, he said. “Even if we get to 30 per cent, that would be a huge jump.”
Growth could come from multiple sources, said Hertel. DIY, once feared as a serious challenger to established professional monitoring firms, could actually have the opposite effect and push more customers towards the industry. DIY is helping to raise awareness of home security services amongst consumers, he said. Monitoring firms can add DIY-based solutions into their own offerings either through partnership or augmenting their current offerings. Customers are looking for DIY options, so why not provide them? They are also looking for increasing amounts of customization, requiring providers to think outside the box of the conventional customer contract and billing structure.
There are also an increasing number of product opportunities, said Hertel, such as connected health, cloud-based services, IOT (you can talk to practically any device today, from cars to toasters, he said), and even international expansion — providers can explore markets outside those they have traditionally served. The opportunities are real, he added, and the industry is poised to take advantage of them.
The monitoring symposium also featured a presentation from Alan Cavers, engineering manager for the Fire & Security Systems Group at ULC, an AHJ panel discussion comprising the Toronto Police Service, Ottawa Fire Services and guard dispatch firm RSPNDR (the panel was moderated by SP&T News); a session on recruiting and recognizing top talent hosted by professional speaker and coach Sarah McVanel, and a closing session on the latest innovations at Alarm.com, provided by product manager Adam Brandfass.