Do we really need the ‘IP Security’ label?

If you give something a label to imply that it represents the latest cutting technology, it’s probably important to ensure that the identifier is only used when it’s of some use. Overdoing it, or hanging on to it for too long, can have the opposite effect, and ultimately can be a sign that you’re out of touch.

Sometimes it can be helpful to know straight away what you’re looking at. Nothing is more annoying than having to read through specifications or listings to try and find out what something is … or isn’t. That’s why manufacturers of certain products ensure that their packaging contains a clear and obvious visual if the product can’t be seen. A tin of peas might not sell so well if it had a picture of a dog on the label!

Of course, things become a little more difficult when it comes to technology. Not only do things change very quickly, but demand from legacy consumers often means that products are available simultaneously using different technologies. If an existing customer is alienated, then it’d odds on that they’ll soon become an ex-customer.

If you look at the market leaders in consumer technology, for example, they take great pains to ensure that their products exist in sub-brands, or family groups. This ensures that the consumer understands what they’re buying, and what other devices it will or will not be compatible with.

In the security market, things aren’t always so clear cut. It’s not unusual for a product to be available in a number of variations, usually to do with connectivity. If Manufacturer X launches a new camera with breakthrough technology, they’ll probably be an analogue version, a HD-SDI or HD-CVI version, an IP version, etc.. Admittedly they’ll all have some differentiation in the product code, but who – manufacturers aside – understands those?

I’m happy for them to them identify product Y as an ‘IP widget’ or an ‘analogue widget’ or an ‘RS232 widget’. It makes life simpler for all concerned.

So there you have it; in principle I do appreciate a label that differentiates when there is the potential for confusion. However, what really makes me cringe is when people introduce the ‘IP’ label in order to imply that something or some business or other is associated with high technology. Every time I see that I smell a whole bunch of something, and it ain’t bananas!

IP is simply a communication protocol. It’s not new; it has been around since the 1970s. It doesn’t denote cutting edge innovation; there are some terrible and pointless IP products out there. It certainly doesn’t qualify some of the truly innovative and beneficial solutions that the security industry can deliver, and it harks back to an issue that still exists in our industry. We have a history of selling on the specs of a product, rather than the benefits it will deliver to the end user.

Here’s a fact: the end user doesn’t care if the solution is connected via copper, IP or string! All they want the system to do is deliver the benefits and value they have invested in. If it does that reliably and efficiently, then they’re happy.

Also, in a world which is increasingly networked (and expects to be so), highlighting the ‘IP’ tag as some waypoint of how far in front we are merely illustrates that we’re still lagging behind a bit!

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