Q&A: FLIR on the acquisition of DVTEL

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Thermal imaging cameras give excellent results when used with video analytics so this merger makes sense technically. Was that the main reason for the acquisition?

DVTEL is strongly positioned in the enterprise market with its United VMS line, high-end cameras and analytics. Added to FLIR’s high-end thermal imaging as well as its SMB visible lines, the company now offers end-to-end solutions covering all market segments.

Technical factors wouldn’t have been the only motivator. The two companies look a good culturally. Tell us about that?

While FLIR is essentially a world leading hardware manufacturer, DVTEL’s DNA originates from being a software provider. Both companies are a great match culturally, and specifically each bring in extensive value from both sides of the equation. Physical Security solutions are composed of a mix of hardware and software solutions that are best of breed. This is now available from FLIR, a single global provider. No reason to shop elsewhere.

We associate FLIR with thermal imaging but you also visible light cameras after acquiring Lorex a few years ago. Combining both types of camera with VMS means a lot of bases are now covered.  Are end-to-end solutions good for the customer?

End-to-end solutions are a key success factor in the physical security industry today. This is due to two main reasons, one is the ability to provide an enhanced user experience and tighter integration between the solution elements given that they are all designed and developed under the same roof. Moreover this allows to customize specific solutions to address the needs of key market verticals.

The second reason is a one stop shop that supports the solution from all ends. This is often referred to with the terms ‘one throat to choke’ or ‘one hand to shake’ depending on your preference.  We can give our partners a frictionless fulfilment experience that they can deliver to end users quickly and reliably by eliminating many sources of integration risk.

What can we look forward to in terms of even better performance from the combined offering?

The consolidated product line is wider than any other offering that exists today. A strong emphasis is put on the tight integration of the various elements brought from each of the companies. As an example, FLIR’s access to energy, utilities and other critical infrastructure end users allows greater exposure of their requirements to the teams responsible for the future development and enhancements of the VMS line, setting the path to an even better stronger positioned software technology addressing their needs. In a similar manner, DVTEL’s well established channels and reach to markets such as city surveillance, law enforcement, healthcare and education set the grounds to continuous innovation of thermal technology that will bring new applications with added value to these prospects.

What excites you most about the merger?

Prior to the merger FLIR had a glass floor for its thermal business and a glass ceiling for its Lorex and SMB offerings. With DVTEL residing in between these two segments, FLIR can now break the glass on both ends and achieve a substantial growth undertaking a leadership position as a solution provider of video innovation for all security segments.

People are demanding more and more of their VMS these days. How will FLIR’s R&D expertise help the new VMS product move forward?

On the broader range, FLIR’s extensive R&D investment and engineering resources across the globe will allow a significant boost to the continuous development of the United VMS product line, moving forward. Additionally, with FLIR’s advanced thermal technology and dedicated applications the VMS offering is expected to be stretched to cover market specific enhancements, one clear example is thermography applications that can utilize the VMS to configure rules, trigger alarms, display the relevant videos and associate actions, corresponding to temperature related scenarios.

FLIR and DVTEL are both associated with the high-end market. Combining two power houses in a climate of increased terrorist threats and problems with border control couldn’t have come at a better time. Was that part of your thinking?

While DVTEL’s product offering is mainly targeting the enterprise grade security market, FLIR’s high-end offering goes further beyond, addressing government and infrastructure segments with border security being a good example for that. DVTEL’s United VMS has always had all the pieces in place to address higher tiers above enterprise, with cyber security and top notch architecture, but it was lacking the channels and focus to achieve that. FLIR will be introducing the DVTEL VMS to its existing tiers. This was definitely a part of the strategy leading to the acquisition.  Additionally, FLIR’s Cameleon PSIM, used currently in high value asset and border protection, has also been tightly integrated with the United VMS and will provide a strong command and control solution for these markets.

The recent acquisitions are broadening FLIR’s customer base. You’re serving enterprise-level clients at mission-critical sites but more and more you’re now working with mid-range commercial customers. How are you reaching out to integration partners with this message?

Technology partnerships have always been key enablers both to FLIR’s and DVTEL’s go-to-market strategies. FLIR is a dominant provider of thermal solutions for Critical Infrastructure Protection which derived its relationships with 3rd party providers of video analytics as well as surveillance software that together enable a complete solution. DVTEL on the other hand has been focusing on 3rd party technologies to enhance its VMS offering accompanied with its high-end cameras forming end-to-end solutions for the enterprise market. This includes integrations with solutions such as access control, LPR, gunshot detection and point of sale, to name a few. The consolidated offering opens up a 3rd party echo-system targeting not only the enterprise-level market but also the small-to-medium businesses, while leveraging the open interfaces that exist in the mid-tier products and the dedicated integration teams that are spread across several geographies.

Tell us how your distribution channels might be changing or widening?

Prior to acquiring DVTEL, FLIR’s offering to its distribution channels was mainly addressing two tiers – the lower-end market with its low-cost visible product line and the high-end market with its thermal offering. DVTEL’s camera and NVR offering for distribution is targeting the mid-high range of the market and as such FLIR now offers a much broader product portfolio to its distribution channels while maintaining a separated fully protected offering to its value added resellers targeting the higher market segments.

What does the merger mean at senior management level within FLIR?

While FLIR operates six separated business units, security is considered to be one of the key contributors to the company’s organic growth due to the rapid and continuous growth of the physical security market worldwide. This has been a key motivator driving the acquisition of DVTEL.

Will there be any relocations – maybe to combine R&D teams under one roof?

FLIR is planning to maintain the existing product lines from both companies with an emphasis on full blown integration of the various products in each of the offerings. The R&D groups are already under the same virtual roof executing the consolidated strategy and roadmap of FLIR’s security business. With that said we continue to maintain the organic groups in their original locations while maintaining the DNAs and cultures of both organizations. 

 ‘Convergence’ is a buzz word. More and more of us are sharing security data with new partners to protect people and the built environment. A merger like FLIR and DVTEL can only help. Tell us how this kind of acquisition and collaboration might make us safer.

Cameras, video surveillance software and analytics are different elements that altogether form into a complete solution addressing various security and safety scenarios. Having these separate elements owned and co-developed by FLIR as a single provider helps to create better solutions that are greater than the sum of all elements. This is achieved due to the fact that we fully control the capabilities and interfaces of all the components which allows us to drive them towards a more complete and robust platform that is better addressing these scenarios.

Vicon has bought IQinVision, Panasonic has bought Video Insight and Canon has bought Milestone. It’s a period of mergers and acquisitions. But there’s still plenty of choice out there. Would you agree that these purchases ultimately help the customer through improved more versatile products?

During the premerger era when the market was completely segmented to single product providers, the main innovation drivers were focusing on the creation of product differentiators in the form of features, to justify buying decisions and price points. This was referred by the term ‘the feature race’ and while it has driven design specifications and market requirements it did not well serve the real needs of the customers as it was mainly addressing the business justifiers of the market players. This has significantly changed with the mergers and acquisitions which helped to reform the objectives of the major players from product providers to becoming solution providers. The competition between solutions offerings as the opposite to products is very positive from a customer standpoint given that it puts the focus and evolution on actual needs and use cases to create differentiation and in turn to better address the real life challenges that are driving the market to begin with.

The DVTEL acquisition shows hardware combining with software in terms of corporate ownership. That’s surely good in terms of the two technologies integrating more closely at a technical level and benefiting the end-user?

Prior to the acquisition FLIR had to put a significant R&D investment to ensure the compatibility of its thermal and visible cameras with the various 3rd party integrated elements, mainly referring to software and video analytics.

Now that FLIR owns both parts of the equation these additional R&D resources are directed and fully devoted to pure technology innovation and new applications to address today’s needs.

That said, FLIR will continue to maintain an open architecture on both the SW and HW sides.  Cameras will continue to be compatible with industry standards and with other VMS products in the market and similarly the United VMS will continue to grow in its support of 3rd party HW and SW components.

As FLIR broadens its activity you’ll be meeting new types of colleagues and new types of customers with a different set of needs and expectations. What are you learning as an individual and as a company?

Customer facing elements of our business have always been key to ensuring that we correctly focus our innovation to address the needs of the end users in the right priorities.  Staying in touch with the daily challenges from our end user community has helped us to better understand the areas where we need to improve our user experience. Now that we have an increased exposure thanks to the newly added channels and greater customer reach we can continue this evolution in our products and services at a greater pace and with a broader view than possible before.

Are there any implications of this acquisition for FLIR’s OEM activity?

We don’t see this impacting our OEM business.  FLIR sells thermal core products to many of our competitors in the security space and will continue to do so.

FLIR broadened out from thermal sensors to daylight cameras and now you’ve acquired a leading provider of VMS with integrated video analytics. So what next?

FLIR is becoming one of the major players in the physical security market, with probably the widest product offering available today. We will continue to strengthen our leadership position, covering all market segments from consumer, small business, mid-size, enterprise and up to infrastructure and beyond.   

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