It wasn’t that long ago that the majority of the security industry said they’d never use the Internet because it wasn’t safe and couldn’t be relied upon. Some question its reliability today, yet POTS lines leave your home or commercial locations, go out to the Internet and come back to a POTS line for the final mile, jumping from POTS to the Internet along the route. For all I know they may jump to wireless connections as well. Remember when people thought that wireless systems weren’t safe? Today they’re everywhere.

When IP cameras came along, many said, “We don’t need broadcast quality cameras in security.” Today more and more customers expect clear, quality imagery in their system. Yes, we know that analog cameras still have a strong install base but the percentages of analog and IP cameras in use continue to evolve.

Technology is changing so fast that it can be a challenge to stay up with it. Yet to stay competitive you’ll want to think about the many changes going on around you and how this will impact your customer base both short and long term.

The big companies get bigger and offer more. And it wasn’t that long ago that the industry was sure that AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast, and other providers like them, couldn’t make it here. They’d tried and failed, so they’ll never make it, many said. Today they’re providing security, heating, lighting, and perimeter controls and video to the home marketplace. Technology’s matured to a level that makes it easy for them to enter this market. They have an existing customer base they can sell to and they can add in new customers in new markets with more features. Expanding security’s market penetration is everyone’s growth objective. How might their business impact you? Do you compete, join their team, or what? Last month’s Growth Matters column sat right next to an AT&T ad saying “Become a security dealer for AT&T’s Digital Life.” Might their consumer marketing increase your business opportunities? And if so what will you offer and how will you market yourself?

How well do you understand networks? Are you relying on a customer’s IT department to provide you with the network to run your system? Does its IT group really know what’s needed? Do they understand the bandwidth needed for video, the liability attached to security, what it takes to add in more technology, or other security-related network issues? There’s a significant difference between running email, collecting and storing company data as opposed to managing security, especially when you add in video.

To me, video has substantial growth potential, just like home and small business systems do. Personally I see video everywhere in the future. Sure there are privacy issues but events such as the Boston Marathon bombing, school shootings, children being bullied and beaten in the streets, and other violent crimes combined with the costs of providing safety with guards and police will drive more camera implementations. People are simply more and more open to the use of video. Today kids are growing up in a video prevalent world. Combining video and two-way voice allows us to move from a reactive to a proactive security environment, stopping crimes, not simply defining what happened. I genuinely believe that the world of forensic security is will be left in the past. And proactive security will be everywhere within our lifetimes.

There are competitive opportunities for every company who is looking forward and thinking about what the market will look like in one year, two, five or 10 years. You can cut yourself a sweet piece of the action this way.

 I’ll even go so far that I’ll suggest that you start looking at hosted or cloud-based solutions too! The IT world uses cloud services and has for some time now. Yes, if you are scared of the Internet the cloud will likely bring you to your knees but it’s a very cost effective way to operate; and change is coming. This you can rely on. I’ve heard it said that it’s easier to hack your own IP address than it is the cloud, as your one IP is at one address and the cloud is many IPs in a bucket of IPs. I’m sure we can debate this for a time to come. My suggestion is keep looking forward and thinking with an open mind.