Integration & intelligence issues: FRAMEWORK HELPS DEALER IDENTIFY GAPS AND EXTEND SERVICES
October 1, 2006
As director for commercial product strategy for ADT, Nick Samanich is involved in developing service offerings. Increasingly those offerings incorporate various levels of integration. Samanich spoke with SDM recently about a new five-level framework that ADT developed to help in discussing, conceptualizing and planning integrated offerings.
SDM: Tell us what your framework is and why you developed it.
Samanich: Itâ€™s a big deal to think about how to embrace the IT [information technology] convergence phenomenon. The big phenomenon is the ability and need to integrate at a deeper and deeper level with technologies that are relevant for the security sector. We began having conversations around integration and realized that it was a fairly complex phenomenon and we found it helpful to think of it in terms of a five-layer framework. Today that framework has been socialized throughout the marketing group and product development and it has helped dramatically in our ability to communicate correctly and in determining how far to delve into various vertical markets.
SDM: What are the five different levels?
Samanich: At the lowest level, which would be Level Zero, there is no integration. Itâ€™s a straightforward implementation of a specific vendorâ€™s product along one security technology such as a video system that uses coaxial cable for analog connectivity.
At Level One, youâ€™re talking about one technology but being able to mix vendor products â€” for example, using a particular vendorâ€™s DVR but mixing and matching cameras from other vendors to support special camera functionality for an installation that requires special features.
Level Two is when security products using multiple technologies are fitted together. An example might be access control that uses video for alarm verification.
At Level Three, traditional security technology rides over IT-purpose solutions. Itâ€™s a network solution for moving alarm data or video files. The security industry has been typified by fairly proprietary closed loop solutions where integration required getting access to an API [application programming interface] for a specific vendor. But here weâ€™re talking about open standards and riding over a general purpose IT network and devices such as local area networks, servers, network-attached storage and storage area networks.
At Level Four, youâ€™re moving in a more significant way toward utilizing security and other technologies to support integrated business solutions. An example might be going beyond security to using video cameras for merchandising solutions or analyzing store traffic in a retail environment. Now youâ€™re getting into the realm where you look more like a subset or a specific application suite within a broader enterprise information environment. At Level Four, you contribute to the overall business application architecture and youâ€˜re playing more in an IT environment.
At Level Five, youâ€™re getting involved in fundamental business process change. Youâ€™re using everything at Level Four and below, but you change how business or security applications are handled. Youâ€™re changing peoplesâ€™ roles or functions and fundamental job responsibilities. Thereâ€™s also a dimension of best practices and counseling around them about how to embody them into your business process solutions and how to determine how technology ties in.
Those are the five levels. Now stepping back, historically the security industry has been involved through Level Two. Level Three is todayâ€™s environment. As you go forward, you will see us doing more at Level Four and Five.
But now that we have the framework, we can go vertical-by-vertical and process-by-process and decide how deep we want our offerings to go and identify current gaps. We may decide that in a certain vertical we want to do Level Five integration. Now since we have the framework and it does a comprehensive job of outlining the specific capabilities needed, we are in a better position to say, â€œWe know whatâ€™s required; letâ€™s look at what we have to do.â€ And where there are gaps, letâ€™s look at getting the tool sets and resources that we need to fill them and to establish a game plan. Now we have a more structured way to think about this.