When most people discuss the benefits of cloud for video surveillance, they tend to do so from the lens of enterprise end users. Enterprise investments in camera technology can run into tens of millions of dollars depending on the size of the organization and converting this massive upfront cost into an ongoing operational expense is one of the biggest opportunities for surveillance vendors.
However, SMBs account for many organizations globally as well as in the U.S. As of 2018, there were more than 30 million small businesses — defined as companies that have fewer than 500 employees — spread across the nation accounting for 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and employing 47.5% of all workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
Considering the obvious market opportunity, it is somewhat surprising that more consideration isn’t given to the SMB space by the surveillance industry and cloud providers. However, the proliferation of IoT devices, including connected surveillance cameras, means that there is a wealth of data now available to end users of all sizes.
More than 130 million surveillance cameras were expected to be shipped globally in 2018, a 10-fold increase from the less than 10 million that shipped in 2006, according to IHS Markit. Approximately 70 % of the cameras shipped last year were IP-enabled, further adding to the prevalence of video in IoT.
Taking advantage of untapped potential and cost savings
You may be thinking: “Why is it important for me, as a small business owner who has already invested in on-premise video hardware and software, to consider migrating my surveillance system to the cloud? What good is all this additional video data going to do for my business?”
These are valid questions and should be asked by anyone prior to making a significant change in the architecture of their security system. But just as enterprises can realize tremendous efficiencies from shifting management of their video network to the cloud, the same can also be said for SMBs. Aside from the shift from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure, a cloud-based video system would enable SMBs to benefit from the automatic update capabilities of cloud-based services.
Unlike large organizations that enter into maintenance agreements with their systems integrators to take care of things like camera and server failures that are commonplace throughout the lifecycle of a video system, SMBs are often take care of these issues as they arise either with the help of in-house IT staff, or by paying an integrator for a service call. These headaches are eliminated with a cloud solution because software patches and firmware updates are pushed automatically as they are needed, often without any interruption to the end user.
Another area where the cloud can benefit a SMB greatly is video retention and system scalability. It wasn’t long ago that organizations had to purchase racks of DVRs to achieve the right levels of storage, often limited by physical storage space. Today, video can be retained for as long as needed since physical storage space is not needed with the cloud.
Additionally, the cloud provides a high level of flexibility, providing SMBs with the ability to scale their business as needs change without additional physical storage space. And rather than being forced to purge video due to lack of space — which could contain valuable insights for business managers or used as evidence for criminal prosecution or insurance liability claims — it can now be retained indefinitely.
Leveraging next-gen video analytics
SMBs could also see immediate benefits from a cloud video solution when using video analytics to improve business operations. Driven by advances in AI and machine learning technology, video analytics now goes well tripwires and can detect and classify people and objects with accuracy that is continuously improving.
Some SMBs are already exploring how they can use video data to garner additional insights into their organizations and improve efficiencies. For example, restaurants are now leveraging systems that use cameras in lobbies and other areas of a restaurant to track staff and guests, which is generating information that can subsequently provide feedback on things such as host availability, customer wait times and customer bounce rates.
However, leveraging these types of advanced analytics simply isn’t possible without the aid of the cloud for most businesses as deploying the hardware necessary to run them is cost-prohibitive. As video data continues to grow in importance in the years to come, SMBs will need to look to cloud solutions if they want to keep pace with ever-evolving surveillance landscape and maintain a competitive advantage.
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