This month, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss several newsworthy topics with Linn Storang, Axis Communications’ Regional Director across Northern Europe, including the UK and Ireland.
Linn is responsible for a large team focused on supporting Axis partners across the region. She herself lives and works in Trelleborg, Sweden and is no stranger to large international corporates, previously spending her career in construction before joining Axis in 2017.
This affords Linn a fresh and different perspective on how to approach the goals that Axis Communications has set itself for 2021 and the next few years. Linn says this is typical of the business, who look to recruit from across other sectors when necessary to ensure they have the right skills to drive forward a ‘competent organisation’.
Linn and her team are not alone in feeling that 2021 is still a strange year for businesses across all sectors and she made the point that it is more important than ever to work smart, with close partner collaboration. One of her messages to her group has been, “How can we support our partners in delivering a Smarter and Safer World”.
Just as other organisations have found, the pandemic has brought new opportunities. Covid challenges have required new solutions to be created along with the re-purposing of old ones. demanding a level of innovation that’s core to the Axis ethos and highlighting the importance of working closely with partners to meet the changing market conditions. “Agile and flexible” were how Linn described the key requirements right now for businesses to survive and thrive.
Here’s an insight into a handful of the key focus areas for Axis which Linn and I discussed:
1.A unified platform for video surveillance and access control: What does this truly mean and what’s the benefit to the integrator and end customer?
A unified solution means that the different aspects of the system have been designed and built using the same protocol and language. Where a solution combines elements from different manufacturers, this can cause complexity and challenges with deployment or when carrying out upgrades, for both the integrator and the customer.
A unified solution can offer huge benefits to the end customer and Integrator, including only having one interface or type of interface to work with and a single licence cost. Linn says there is a lot of interest in the security marketplace for unified solutions, to which Axis is well placed to respond.
It’s not difficult to understand why Axis believe there is huge growth potential in this approach; customers and Integrators have less and less time to spend on complexity in today’s fast paced world, and they want clear support channels with simplicity too.
Axis are also seeing increasing interest in Audio as an integrated part of a security system. This spans across all segments. It’s an area that Axis are constantly working on, to incorporate feedback and refine what they offer to the market. The journey for audio started in retail, but it’s no longer segment orientated with relevance across many verticals.
2. Axis takes a strong position on Product Sustainability and responsible business practices, tell us more including why this should interest the end customer?
Linn explained that Axis Communications actually see innovation and technological development as a key opportunity for the organisation to be ‘an enabler’ – i.e., impact their customers positively and help them to improve how they live. A refreshing approach from a large multi-national corporate, working hard to put their promises into action.
The ongoing dialogue the organisation has with its customers shows that increasingly sustainability and an ethical and responsible approach to business are key. Businesses expect their suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and ethics. Axis have taken this responsibility to the core of how they function, their mission statement proclaims, “Innovating for a Smarter, Safer World”
In 2007, Axis signed up for the UN Global Compact, which has 17 goals for organisations to work towards. Axis are working towards all of these and frequently update on their progress in their annual sustainability report.
Another area that Axis are exploring is the topic of transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. This is all about reusing and refurbishing existing solutions, repairing faulty products, exchanging components rather than replacing a whole unit and reducing waste. Ultimately the upside here is that this saves money for customers.
Axis are always looking at how they can reduce energy consumption in their production and design. Modern CCTV cameras are becoming progressively smarter, needing more power. Axis continuously assess how they can refine their designs to reduce that element. Linn is extremely proud of the approach the company takes and the progress they have made.
Linn highlighted that there is work to do to educate some corners of the market who are still focused primarily on product purchase price as a general rule for security solutions. Axis encourage all of their partners to look at the Total Cost of Ownership and have published a number of research papers and tools to help with this. The ongoing operating costs, maintenance requirements of a product over its product lifetime are a significant part in the total cost of ownership and as such need to be taken into consideration.
As Linn says, “Designing a cost-effective video surveillance system is a challenging task. With a wide variety of costs to consider, and also a lot of savings and benefits that can be hard to estimate. Using a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model can help capture all the costs associated with a video surveillance system over its complete lifecycle. Whether it be operating costs, maintenance costs or even the cost decommissioning, all of these areas need to be considered. Axis have worked to provide our partners with the tools and information to be able to make these calculations.”
3. Why do Axis believe that Edge Analytics are the way forward for Artificial Intelligence within the security industry and how does this compare with other manufacturers?
Axis has a large team working on developing AI within the cameras themselves – out on the ‘edge’ of a security solution. They believe that base analytics will be an intrinsic part of security cameras in the future.
The fundamental reason for this is because video data leaving the camera is encoded. Then the DVR, NVR or whatever you’re using to download your data to has to decode it again. This burns up a lot of power for doing nothing of use for the end customer. So, if the analytics are actually placed within the camera in the first place this saves electricity and also reduces the risk of the system or switches not coping with the power needed to run the security solution.
Coupled with this, traditionally the cost of server hardware is high. An AI empowered chip within a camera is much cheaper. When you enable AI at the ‘Edge’, you can process management information there, so your user experience is improved, with reduced costs, complexity and bandwidth requirements. Cyber security becomes extremely important with edge analytics – you have to be able to trust the data and Axis models are updated regularly to handle data requirements.
4. Robust solutions are required more than ever to protect businesses against cyber security risks. How are Axis encouraging the industry to protect themselves against such threats?
Axis Communications have been very vocal in this area, educating customers about how they must take responsibility for carrying out due diligence prior to a security solution investment. Linn stressed how important it is to identify who is actually manufacturing a product you are interested in and then investigating whether that manufacturer has the correct polices, processes and maintenance capabilities in place.
What security features and technologies are included in the product itself, what warranty can you get, firmware updates and aftersales support? Axis operate a Device Manager across many of their solutions, allowing firmware to be updated quickly and efficiently.
There’s no doubt that cyber criminals are active and a constant threat. So, for a manufacturer such as Axis, offering Secure by Default within the product design is imperative. Axis is one of the few manufacturers in the international security solutions marketplace to be able to offer certification of Secure by Default across its entire camera range.
Axis Communications do a very good job of educating the customer at the same time as being open and honest when they make a mistake, looking to correct any vulnerabilities quickly.
Linn demonstrated the company’s real passion for innovation, combining this drive with a robust approach to customer services, a key pillar in supporting all the topics we choose to talk about – Unification, Product Sustainability and Ethics, Edge Analytics and Cyber Security.
It was a pleasure to catch up with Linn and find out more about a corporate who are getting a lot of what they do right, investing time and money to build awareness of their core values and striving to truly live them.