One of the biggest trends in security over the past year has been the adoption of cloud-based services, spearheaded mainly by an increasing number of video-surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS) offerings on the market.
While most video surveillance deployments still primarily consist of on-premise solutions, the benefits of the cloud are too appealing for some users to ignore. Chief among these users are retailers since so many have multiple geographically dispersed locations, limited loss prevention (LP) staff, often disparate surveillance equipment. These elements make retailers ideal candidates for cloud-based video architectures, however retail decision-makers require compelling business benefits for why the organization needs to invest in a new business.
Making a move to the cloud is not quite the same as buying a piece of video hardware with a few new bells and whistles: it marks a fundamental shift in how retailers approach loss prevention and security. Among these paradigm-altering changes:
1. Reduced Up-Front Infrastructure Costs
The most common argument for switching from a traditional, on-premise video system to a cloud offering is the ability to eliminate significant up-front capital investment in hardware and software. Cloud technology removes these costs and replaces them with predictable and affordable operational expenses in the form of a subscription fee paid yearly, quarterly, or monthly. The true cost benefit for users is flexibility: organizations only pay for what storage they use, which means they don’t need to invest in or house oversized on-site storage solutions.
Though cutting costs is a goal of many organizations regardless of industry, it’s especially common in the retail sector where shrink has unfortunately become accepted as the cost of doing business. Whether your budget is going up, declining, or stagnant, these funds need to be invested wisely, and the cloud provides much-needed financial flexibility on that front.
2. Worry-Free Maintenance
In addition to the enormous amounts of money organizations spend to get their video networks up and running, significant funds are paid toward the ongoing maintenance of these systems. Hardware failures are a common occurrence in video surveillance; so much so that businesses often enter into a maintenance contract with their integrator to ensure they’re covered in the event of a camera outage or drive failure. Consideration must also be given to the cybersecurity of those systems to ensure known vulnerabilities do not compromise them.
With a cloud-based video solution, these tasks are handled and monitored by the service provider 24/7 – often before the end user even notices there is a problem. In most configurations, the health of cameras and other equipment are continuously monitored and can be fixed rapidly, reducing the chance of lost footage/evidence. Historically manual tasks like applying software patches or updates are automatically completed through the cloud, reducing long periods of downtime.
3. Scalability Made Easy
If your business wants to expand, and you need to increase your surveillance coverage to account for the growth, a traditional model would require you to evaluate new hardware, determine how much additional storage space is necessary, add licenses for your video management system, and pay for everything up-front. Data storage is no longer an issue within the cloud since it can scale up or down as needed, and additional cameras can be added easily for an incremental cost.
4. Advanced Analytics
Despite debate in the industry as to whether today’s analytics solutions constitute true artificial intelligence (AI), there’s little doubt they influence how end users use their video surveillance systems. Unless you plan on running the high-powered servers necessary for analytics on every business site, the cloud is your best option to take advantage of this next-gen functionality.
Beyond some obvious LP use cases such as facial recognition to spot known shoplifters or those suspected of engaging in return fraud, analytics also hold enormous potential for retail marketing and customer service departments. Imagine using heat mapping to determine what end-cap merchandise attracts the highest amount of customer foot traffic or allocating staff resources more efficiently because the surveillance system can recognize excessively long checkout lines.
Despite these significant benefits, the security industry remains notoriously resistant to change. Many businesses – retailers included – are on the fence about migrating to relatively new technology to physical security. Nevertheless, just as the industry moved away from analog toward IP, the same shift will gradually and inevitably occur for the cloud. Modern businesses that lean in and embrace cloud adoption now will only benefit from the evolving technology as it grows in popularity.