Many multi-unit companies use outdated commercial video surveillance systems. It’s no wonder – the world of security and video has changed a lot over the years, and multiple generations of systems have evolved in the time it has taken for the outdated ones to die. And, even if your old-school system is difficult to use and limited in what it can do, it may be hard to convince the entire company that it’s worth upgrading to the now-current model. But, I’m here to tell you that video surveillance has come a long way, and it’s worth a fresh look.
Companies that choose not to upgrade to the latest in video technology are missing out on opportunities for increased sales and decreased losses. Modern video systems are no longer just about security and loss prevention. They can also help with operations, sales, marketing, and HR. Plus, they make life easier for your IT and security teams by giving departments across the company direct access to video and business insights in a secure environment.
The Evolution of Commercial Video Surveillance Systems
To truly understand the benefits of modern video technology, let’s consider how we got here. Here’s an overview of the history and evolution of commercial video surveillance systems:
- Old Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) – In the old days, commercial video security systems recorded hours’, days’, and even years’ worth of video, yet the only way to retrieve the video was to physically go to the system’s location and get it. This was time-consuming and pricey for companies with multiple stores or restaurants. The systems were clunky and limited in what they could do, so companies used them to investigate only the security issues with the largest dollar.
- CCTV, The Next Generation – Video systems started to evolve. They incorporated software. Camera quality and resolution improved. Users could retrieve their own video more easily, and even view some video remotely. But, user interfaces (UIs) were difficult to use, so companies continued to focus only on the highest dollar security issues.
- Networked Video – As systems continued to evolve, the network side of video was born. Users could access video remotely, which reduced travel time and costs and increased the number of incidents followed up on. For the first time, corporate offices of multi-unit operations had “eyes” into all of their stores. With better access, the types of things investigated started to grow.
- Video Insight – The idea of using video to gain business insights started to take hold. Companies began to ask, “How can we use our video to learn about our business and make it run better, grow faster, and be more profitable?” Departments other than security started to ask for video for insights on things like operations and sales techniques. But, even with system improvements, users still had to get data or form hypotheses from their business systems and then manually turn to their video system to validate the ideas.
- Video and Data Integration – Systems began to connect video with business data, such as point of sale (POS) data. The big technology leap was in importing the data into the video system where it changed from being a way to see recorded video to a place to get data and extract insights that video could support.
- Today: Video-Driven Business Intelligence (Video-Driven BI) – Where commercial video security systems used to be video with integrated data, they’ve now evolved into video-driven BI systems that are more data analytics systems with video. The focus has shifted to systems that connect with business data sources, leading users directly to business issues and then providing easy access to video clips for the story behind the data. This is having a positive impact on multi-unit operations. Now every department can look at their angle of the data and study supporting video to make decisions and improvements.
- The Not-So-Distant Tomorrow: Intelligent Eyes – Next for our industry is applying technology to cameras so they can “see” and interpret things. It used to be too expensive to manually count traffic, calculate conversion rates, assess demographic populations, study buying behaviors, and uniformly assess employee performance. Now “intelligent eyes” can do it more affordably. Information about queue time, customer flow, dwell times, and customer detection also are now available. In fact, today Envysion offers video-based BI solutions for people counting, and has more “intelligent eyes” solutions that are being explored, implemented, and refined by some of our most innovative clients. We expect to see the trend of “intelligent eyes” quickly grow to adoption by most companies as a must-do practice in multi-unit operations.
For years, traditional commercial video surveillance systems were the go-to solution for security. But they had limits. Today, video-driven BI technology is less about watching hours of security video and more about using data for business insights that video supports. It connects networked video with business systems and adds reporting and intelligence to help your entire company make better business decisions, increase sales, reduce loss, and ultimately increase profits. Where does your company fall in the evolution?