26 Jul 2017

Editor Introduction

A busy trade show abounds with new products and expanded features, colorful signage and blinking video screens, all competing for attention from busy attendees. It’s a microcosm of how the security marketplace – or any market, for that matter – sells its products. But what happens if the reality turns out different to the sales pitch? What happens when product or system performance doesn’t quite live up to the claims? Some would call that hype, and it can lead to disillusioned and frustrated customers. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the negative impact of hype in the security marketplace?

Simon Lambert Lambert & Associates

Confidence is something the security industry should build. Suppliers want trust from their customers. The purchase is just that. However, if it was ill-judged, then disappointment will follow. Confidence, in either the buyer or supplier, should rely on truth. Hype is exaggeration or lies. Danger follows for the buyer who may be unaware. Danger too for the supplier, who may be unaware or willfully misleading. This may cost them dearly in recompense and hurt reputation. After years of hype about VCA, AI, VR, IoT, etc., so many of us are jaded by constant noise. Does a hyping salesperson win in the short term over his or her “realistic” competitor? How about in the long term? Disney movies would have us believe they don’t win. However, despite our protestations, and with dismay, many of us suspect they often do. Our attention and trust are undermined.

The security industry can be just as guilty of hype as any other sector! When it comes to new technology, it is understandable that we all get very enthusiastic and want to tell the market, but unfortunately that enthusiasm can turn to confusion for the audience. While it is important to warm up the market when a new technology or development is imminent (both for providers and consumers), we must be mindful that many customers will be looking for business benefits without necessarily having a depth of technical knowledge. It is very easy to convince the audience that a new technology is the panacea they are waiting for. When it becomes clear this is inaccurate, it doesn’t instill trust in our sector. It is far better to set realistic expectations on what will actually be possible and to educate the market accordingly on the real benefits they can enjoy.

Setting high expectations that lead to hype about your security product can be problematic if, when the product is launched, you don't live up to those promises. For example, if a product promises real-time analysis and is unable to deliver due to lag time in software, this could have a negative impact on your product launch. It is critical for startups and emerging manufacturers to do their due diligence to ensure products being launched are tested through pilot programs in an effort to work out any issues or know where to focus new innovation. Integrators and end users should be mindful of "hype" and pay attention to products that have proven results, not just those that are talked about often or with hyperbole.

Robert Lydic ISONAS, Inc.

In the access control market, there is not a tremendous amount of “hype” without commercially available products to back up the marketing due to the technology functionally locking and unlocking doors and other entrance / exit points. Today’s access control marketing of cloud products, mobile credentials, open platforms, and all-in-one edge devices are all proven, tested, and commercially available products. Integrators and end users that feel that they are being subject to “hype” from manufacturers should demand onsite demonstrations and 30-day full evaluations of the products to test. These tests should fully eviscerate all concerns or validate the customer’s concerns of being misled and allow for a well-educated decision their access control product and service.

It’s always a delicate balance when marketers seek to sell the “sizzle” before the steak is quite done. The reality of lengthy product development cycles may be at odds with a need to wow the industry with the latest-and-greatest. The situation translates into a gap between what’s promised and what’s delivered. Sometimes it’s a time gap, and sometimes a promising sizzle presages an unsatisfactory steak. I don’t think the intent is to create hype, but rather to create (hopefully warranted) excitement and eventual demand in the market. New technologies need time to be embraced and adopted, and the first step is awareness. Unfortunately, when technologies don’t live up to their promise, the earlier claims come into question. In retrospect, we often call that hype.

Editor Summary

What some would call hype, others would call a marketing message. Manufacturers should be held accountable to their product claims, and the market rewards those whose products most closely deliver on the high expectations set by marketers. Integrators and end users must remain vigilant and on the lookout for bombastic or unrealistic product claims. It’s part of the everyday challenge to evaluate the best products and systems for an application. Hype – for better or worse, intentional or not – is here to stay in the security market, as well as the business world in general.