Graham Swallow, Axis Communications, speaks to Security on Screen about the importance of establishing Total Cost of Ownership to help the retail industry ascertain the true value of its surveillance products.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a well-established concept across many industries, offering buyers a mechanism to consider all of the aspects involved when purchasing, setting up and operating a new system. Without full transparency across every element, it can become very difficult to evidence the complete cost and subsequent end-to-end value of a solution across its entire lifespan.
When it comes to physical security within the retail environment, businesses need to be sure of the integrity of the systems deployed and the pedigree of the vendors behind those technologies. Indeed more and more retailers are now proactively looking to source equipment only from reliable, trustworthy manufacturers whose values better fit their sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) agendas.
But what are the steps that retailers should be taking to fully evaluate any prospective new solution, and how can greater product insight reveal its true value?
Complete solution transparency
Total Cost of Ownership enables customers to evaluate many hidden aspects of a prospective solution, including considerations around its integration with existing systems as well as requirements for ongoing maintenance and improvement, all prior to making a long-term commitment.
TCO effectively places more power into the hands of the customer, helping them gain a better understanding of how to unlock the full potential of the technology while providing all of the information needed to make a balanced, fully informed decision.
Information about factors such as power consumption and the ability to scale to meet the objectives of a volatile retail climate are key to sourcing a solution that can support the business over the longer term, whatever changes and challenges it encounters along the way.
A detailed overview of the life span of the entire system enables a customer to scrutinize price and guarantee the best return on investment, while also facilitating internal discussion with IT teams to understand how any new acquisition will fit into existing infrastructure.
Ongoing vendor partnership and support, and other additional elements that make up the full offering, are also to be considered. With Axis’ own solutions, a 5 year warranty is standard, while free tools such as AXIS Device Manager and licenses for AXIS Camera Station, which is free for the lifetime of the system, add to a full package that’s designed to help managers and security teams get the most from the technology.
Cybersecurity: a critical consideration
Risk assessment is an important factor, not only in terms of how capable a physical security solution is when it comes to mitigating a perceived threat to the retail business, but also in minimising the risk associated with the technology itself.
Of the industries most under threat from cybercrime, retail ranks as one of the most targeted, with the sheer volume of stored credit card data alone presenting an irresistible target for cyber attacks’, and data stored both on premise and in the cloud equally susceptible to attack.
Unsecured IoT technologies, such as a network surveillance camera, can prove to be a relatively easy target for an attacker, becoming a weak link in any system, and providing a backdoor through which a criminal could gain access to the network.
The cybersecurity of retail systems is therefore of the utmost importance. It should be a major consideration in any TCO evaluation and is critical to avoiding the financial impact, and damage to business and brand, caused by a data breach.
Buyers should be looking for companies that hold cyber security credentials and can demonstrate a commitment to the highest cybersecurity principles, evidencing that products have been built with cybersecurity considerations at the forefront.
An ongoing rollout of software updates and firmware upgrades will provide assurances that a product is covered for its entire lifecycle from a cybersecurity perspective.
Innovative solutions unlock greater value
Taking ownership of a truly smart and technologically innovative solution will place the business in good stead for the years to come. Innovations, such as edge computing, can also help to keep costs down.
Axis network cameras can run analytics that process data on the edge of the network, removing the need to send video data back and forth across a network to a server for analysis. This saves energy and reduces the requirement for both additional bandwidth and increased storage, which could be costly and represent an additional burden.
And as the sheer volume of video data grows, solutions such as Axis Zipstream technology preserves important forensic detail while lowering bandwidth and storage requirements by an average of 50%.
TCO will offer assurances and peace of mind that the technologies selected will deliver optimal ROI throughout their lifetime. Working closely with a trusted provider and carefully analysing the products on offer will ensure selection and deployment of a solution that meets evolving business requirements, is cybersecure and competitively priced.
While the temptation is always there to look for cheap off-the-shelf technology, this represents a ‘false economy’, offering no guarantees as to its effectiveness and zero transparency into the real costs associated with its ongoing operation and maintenance.
TCO is about accurately meeting customer expectation, satisfying demand and delivering a high-quality solution to help retailers operate smarter and safer.
Learn more about Axis’ solutions for retail: https://www.axis.com/solutions/retail