In 2021 Hikvision celebrated 20 years in the security industry. Originally from China, the company went public in May 2010 and is listed on SMEs Board at Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
We interview Gary Harmer, Sales Director, Hikvision UK and Ireland to talk about Hikvision’s trajectory so far. We discussed the company’s culture with regards to the East/West amalgamation and Hikvision’s investment in R&D. Gary also describes how Hikvision supports its partners with the VASP programme for installers, tells us about the impact Brexit has had and gives us his opinion on what are the key things to look out for.
Gary has been with Hikvision for over fours years and He sees his role as “developing and empowering great teams around me in order to provide a focused customer experience. It’s an approach that I think is very successful and delivers consistent growth in revenue and profit. I’m involved in strategic planning and delivery supporting our Country Manager.”
He’s been involved in the security industry for more than 30 years, first at Norbain for 20 years, then he joined Mayflex as director of sales, before joining Hikvision in 2017.
Benchmark Magazine: Can you provide a short introduction to your company?
Gary Harmer: Hikvision was founded 20 years ago, in 2001. We are an IoT solution provider with our video as its core competency. Our ethos is continual sustainable innovation, providing the market with cutting edge technology and products that solve real problems in the security realm and increasingly beyond. Our aim is to meet the diverse requirements of the widest range of vertical markets.
BM: Can you describe Hikvision in three words?
GH: Innovative. Knowledgeable. Comprehensive.
BM: How many people do you employ today?
GH: Globally, Hikvision now has more than 40,000 employees, over 19,000 of which are R&D engineers. Locally we are circa 150 staff.
BM: How have your methods for doing business changed since the inception of Hikvision in the UK?
GH: From a very basic viewpoint, Hikvision’s presence in the UK has coincided with the rise of the internet as a business and communication tool. That has, of course, had an impact on all areas of business, from networked systems and hybrid products to the ubiquity of webinars and YouTube demos and tutorials. Even just the way that we can provide apps to control products or maintain systems remotely. But we’ve been careful to ensure that the digital side of things is balanced with an in-person approach, which is why we host our Insight events and have introduced our new demo vans, so that we can take our new products and solutions directly to our customers and on to their clients as well, helping them to win more business.
BM: What are the company’s flagship products?
GH: Our core products are our network and Turbo analogue cameras and recorders, our ColorVu and AcuSense technologies, and our HikCentral management software platform. We’re also increasingly active in access control, video intercom and alarm systems. In some ways, it’s the combination of these products in our vertical solutions which are our new flagships.
BM: What is the company’s greatest strength?
GM: Our greatest strength lies in our research and development capabilities. With more than 20,000 R&D engineers, Hikvision invested over 10% of its annual sales revenue in 2020 in the research and development of continued product innovation. This investment allows us to rapidly introduce new products and solutions to the market, incorporating the latest technology, and developing powerful cost-effective customisations to suit every size of project and user.
On a more local basis, our strength lies in having the right people on the team. We have great people with hundreds of years of experience in the industry between them. They understand the relationships in the channel which are key to developing long term partnerships, built on trust.
BM: What is its most significant problem or weakness, and what’s the solution?
GH: The company’s sheer size means that there’s the potential for local issues to get lost. The solution is the local focus of the UK & Ireland operation, which really operates exactly like a local business but with the backing of the world leader in video security.
BM: What do you think will be the most significant security trends by the end of 2021?
GH: We think there will be a rise in what we are calling ‘multi-dimensional perception’ – that is, the integration of additional perception capabilities, such as radar detection, multispectral imagery, humidity and temperature measurement, and gas pressure detection, with video cameras and systems.
Gary Harmer, behind the scenes
Gary Harmer, behind the scenes
What's a typical day at the office for you? There isn’t one which is why I think I enjoy the job so much. I have a varied mix of customer engagement, team interaction, strategy planning and assisting others in the team to deliver a customer-centric focus. Describe your training, your interests, your hobbies. Other than standard academic qualifications on leaving school, I have achieved an ONC in Business Studies. I have completed a full course of Sales Leadership and Sales Management by Objectives via Mercuri International. My main interests outside of family are people. I like to be part of an organisation that helps to develop their own people and promote from within if possible. It is rewarding to see somebody grow in their own personal skills and progress. I’m a Livery Member of The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, and I try to play an active role in the development of industry best practices and standards; I was involved in developing the ‘Secure By Default’ initiative. In terms of interests and hobbies, I ride a Harley Davidson and enjoy ‘social riding’ with like-minded people! What do you do when you're not at the office? When we’re allowed to do it, I love socialising with friends and family. I’ve been married for over 36 years, and I’m extremely proud of my grown-up sons: with one a solicitor and the other a chartered accountant, professional advice is available as needed (at very competitive rates!). If you had chosen a different career path, what would that be? Never been asked that question before and never really given it any thought, so the answer is that I don’t really know…. But it would have to involve being able to engage with people! I could not ever see myself doing a job where there was no team engagement. What is your most outstanding life achievement? Seeing my two sons grow into the people that they are today.