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Managing Customer Expectations For Video Content Analysis

The VCA Europe 2011 Conference was held on June 27th & 28th at the Hilton Paddington Hotel in London, UK. The objective of the conference was to provide a forum for senior executives, technical managers, and marketing personnel from leading VCA companies to meet with end-users, integrators and other industry players to examine the market potential, technical barriers and new opportunities that video content analysis brings.

A common topic of conversation was how suppliers can do a better job of promoting the capabilities and success stories of VCA in security. My impression was of an industry with a communication problem: its products can deliver real value but it is struggling to demonstrate how to end-users. To be honest, VCA suppliers aren’t completely blameless for this situation. Many of them will admit that when VCA was first introduced, they were sometimes guilty of overselling its capabilities. This led to end-users becoming disillusioned.

Delegates at the conference I attended generally recognized they need to better manage customer expectations. VCA is not 100% accurate in all situations and false alarms are sometimes inevitable. However, this does not mean that VCA is not a useful aid to manned surveillance in these situations. It is still often a more effective solution than competing alternatives. This is a key point: when end-users compare VCA to their existing solution, the response is usually favourable.

IMS Research has analyzed many case studies in the VCA market. One of these case studies involved using VCA to aid manned surveillance at a number of leading European airports. There was some initial scepticism from the customer over what the solution could offer. Benchmarking was an important step in the process of setting clear expectations. Integrators spent time benchmarking VCA against the existing solution and explaining its limitations. In one airport, the decision was taken to stop using VCA as it appeared to be not working properly. However, when the solution was reviewed, employees were leaving a door open for their own convenience and the system was picking this up.

The supply base for VCA remains fragmented and includes many small suppliers. Marketing messages from these companies often get lost. Suppliers need to better educate integrators and end-users about the benefits of VCA. More importantly, they need to show the benefits of VCA compared to other detection technologies. If this happens, there is potential for high market growth. IMS Research has recently commenced work on a report on the global market for VCA in security and business intelligence applications. Initial findings from this research suggest that the market will grow at an average rate of over 30% over the next few years.

About the Author
Jon Cropley is a principal analyst in IMS Research's video surveillance and VCA research group. Before this time he was the director of its Automotive & Transport group. Jon joined IMS Research in 2001 and is a highly experienced analyst, having authoured numerous syndicated research reports. Jon worked for TRW Automotive in Germany before joining IMS Research and holds a BSc from Lancaster University. He is based in IMS Research’s headquarters in Wellingborough, UK and may be contacted at jon.cropley@imsresearch.com.