Video Surveillance Meets Managed Services, Part III

Back in December, I blogged a bit about video surveillance as a managed service, and the rise of Managed Video Service Providers. Readers sent me plenty of emails and questions about both posts. But it wasn't until last week, when I spoke with Envysion CEO Matt Steinfort, that I began to realize some of the new video opportunities awaiting managed service providers.

At first glance, most people think video surveillance is nothing more than traffic cameras mounted at intersections or video cameras monitoring retail cash registers. That's only part of the story. The real opportunity for managed service providers is to marry video surveillance with business intelligence, point of sale, customer relationship management and other applications.

Here's one powerful concept: A video surveillance managed service married to point of sale cash registers and credit card systems. In this scenario, your customers (for instance, a retail chain) could check the POS system for specific transactions. The video system, in turn, would automatically display a video clip associated with the POS transaction. This would allow merchants to spot fraudulent or questionable transactions, cashier errors, etc. This approach would also allow merchants to monitor customer lines, the quality of customer service during specific employee shifts, and so forth.

The video system could also be designed to monitor specific events. For instance, every time the door to a retail store opens, the video system would automatically create a record of the event. Rather than searching through hours of endless video, retailers could quickly review specific events based on time of day and other parameters.

Sure, much of this technology is common in high-end retailer chains that have deep IT budgets. But now, managed service providers and aggressive startups are bringing this video surveillance technology to the masses.

Which brings me back to my conversation with Steinfort from Envysion. Granted, he's in the business of selling video applications. But in this case, he really doesn't have to do any selling. When he demonstrated Envysion's product to me over the Web last week, I immediately understood the true power -- and potential -- of managed video surveillance.

No, I'm not endorsing Envysion's product (I haven't spoken to the company's customers nor have I tested Envysion on my own). However, it's safe to say Steinfort has found a hot market niche for MSPs. And this is more than a retail solution. Higher education, state and local government, financial services, and plenty of other verticals are embracing video surveillance.

A case in point: Hundreds of cities across the globe are rolling out public WiFi networks. This municipal broadband movement, documented by MuniWireless.com, has hit a few bumps because cities needed to cost-justify WiFi, mesh, fiber and other network investments. In many cases, video surveillance has emerged as the killer application that allows municipalities to move forward with wireless broadband projects.

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