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Innovations to Ring in the New Year

With each New Year comes the opportunity for trying something entirely new. Well, in truth, one need not wait for the page of a calendar to turn before implementing something innovative, and a few of the companies I met with at the ASIS 58th Annual Seminar and Exhibits are proof of that. Some of their initiatives may become the trends of 2013.

One example is what Honeywell is doing with its end-user committee, which has become a formal endeavor in the last two years and is now showing results. Lots of companies reach out to customers and ask them for feedback, but they don’t always give that feedback the weight end users want it to have. As Ian Johnston of Innovative Security Design (ISD) candidly put it, engineers conceptualize what they believe the end user wants, “then they show it to the customer and say, ‘Hey, how do you like it?’ And the customer says, ‘Well, it’s okay, but if you change this, it would be better.’ And the engineer says, ‘No, no. This is what we made. Do you want it or not?’” ISD is listening to end users but it’s ad hoc.

By contrast, says Rudy Wolter, CPP, one of the end users on the Honeywell committee, the end users who volunteer to be part of this endeavor meet formally and see their ideas incorporated in products. In fact, an astonishing 25 to 35 percent of the features of some products come from end users, he asserts.

But end users don’t all want the same thing. What then? “Cameras are now easier to customize for each user,” says Sony spokesman Carl Lindemann. “We have moved into the era of mass customization,” he notes, “and this [level of choice] is the security version of that.”

Another company with an innovative initiative is Milestone. As cofounder John Blem explains it, the company is taking a page from Silicon Valley and “creating an entity where it can incubate new product lines.” They’ve put the office in Silicon Valley to benefit from the synergies of the technical talent pool there. They hope to “be inspired” and lead the way in incorporating user-friendly functionality from the consumer side of technology. If it works, it may lead to other innovative hubs around the world, he says.

A third company, Protection 1 Security Solutions, is innovating how it handles customer service internally. Often, when you buy a product, whether it’s for your home, yourself, or your company, you will find no communication between the person who sells it to you, the people who install it, and those to whom you will have to direct any questions later. Protection 1 has adopted what it calls a one-pod approach, “so everyone on your account—installation, billing, monitoring, day-to-day operations—are all on the same team,” says a spokesperson.

If your company has initiated an innovative security or management policy or product development strategy that other readers might be able to learn from, let us know what it is.