Technology traditionally deployed to reduce crime also can offer a vast amount of business intelligence.

Many of my friends and family own small businesses and I appreciate hearing about their successes and failures, their opportunities and challenges. Since the recession, things have been different for them. They hustle harder for the business they get, and they never take for granted how they find new customers or how customers find them.

One such example is my friend who owns a small music store in a busy suburban town. He mostly caters to young musicians, offering lessons, instrument rental or purchase, sheet music and music accessories. On most days, his store opens at 2:00 p.m. and closes at 9:00 p.m., because many of his customers are students who are otherwise in school until that time.

It was business as usual for many years, until one day my friend considered that he might be losing sales by not opening earlier in the day. To find out if his theory was correct, he parked across the street from his store practically every day for about four weeks and just watched activity around the store. He was surprised at what he saw: nearly each day, at least one person walked up to entrance, checked the hours and walked away. Did these people represent lost sales? My friend thought so, so he eventually hired someone to work mornings. This turned out to be a mixed bag, as some of these “customers” were just stopping by during a lunch break to try out the expensive guitars they never intended to buy or inquire about prices for music lessons — something they could have learned by visiting the website.

Because I didn’t hear my friend’s story until months after it happened, it was too late for me to suggest he get a video camera installed — not only for security purposes, but to gather the business intelligence he sought about his operating hours. It would have saved him the time spent spying from his car, and he would have benefitted from better security as well.

This is just an example — on the very low end of the scale — of how technology traditionally deployed to reduce crime also can offer a vast amount of “intelligence.” From the small music store to the nationwide chain of hundreds of stores, and even to public applications such as monitoring shorelines as described in this month’s cover story — the opportunities to provide BI for your customers are endless. And why not? As IP-based security systems become more prevalent, the industry evolves by engineering more ways in which security integrators can serve their customers. BI is one of the most interesting solutions to come along in a long time.

In the article, “Today’s Business Intelligence Environment,” SDM Senior Editor Heather Klotz-Young quotes Arecont Vision’s Jason Schimpf about this new opportunity. “With megapixel video enabling the video side of ‘intelligence,’ end users are making business cases that reduce shrink, which ultimately increases their bottom line, and the video allows them to improve people flow, product placement, manufacturing layout, warehouse transport efficiencies, etc., which directly affects their top line. Now, the benefit is coming from the top and bottom line,” Schimpf describes in the article, beginning on page 60.

Megapixel video certainly is not the only enabling technology, notes Aaron Kuzmeskus from Schneider Electric. “One corporation uses each morning’s access control data to determine how many meals to prepare in its own company cafeteria. Since this practice has come into play, the company has reduced a significant amount of waste and hence reduced food costs,” he describes.

PSA Security Network’s Bill Bozeman details the various technologies that can be utilized to facilitate business intelligence. “Analytics, storage, access control databases and other security control devices provide a goldmine of data for improving and providing business BI…A strong case could be made that security decision-makers on both sides of the fence are often at fault for underutilizing the power of the collected security data,” he says.

You can translate underutilizing to mean opportunity. Security technology-based BI applications represent a vast opportunity for savvy security integrators. Start by getting to know the professionals and the companies that are already providing BI — and thus improve your business intelligence.


Audio Interview  with Todd Pedersen

SDM’s 2011 Dealer of the Year, Vivint, announced an agreement to be acquired for more than $2 billion by the Blackstone Group. The story is reported on page 17 of this issue. In addition, Todd Pedersen, CEO of Vivint, joined SDM on an exclusive podcast to discuss the details of the company’s acquisition. Find it on the SDM Editors’ Podcasts page at