Look to the Cloud for Small Business Security

My Post - 2020-01-22T121522.905.pngHosted video surveillance services can be the perfect fit for small businesses.

If there’s one thing most small business owners have in common, it’s being pressed for time.

After all, running your own business is not for the faint at heart. Small business owners and managers often wear multiple hats, juggling priorities ranging from sales and marketing to operations and even human resource issues.

Managing so many areas of responsibility leaves small businesses with little time to dedicate to any one task. Important decisions – like investments in security – demand time and attention but must also be weighed against what’s realistic for your organization to maintain within its current resource level.

Luckily, there are some really convenient options for small business security that can protect your assets without adding to your already lengthy to-do list.

Hosted video surveillance services, for example, can provide small businesses with reliable video monitoring but with less maintenance than traditional security deployments, and less upfront cost.

What Is Hosted Video Surveillance?

The definition of hosted video surveillance services can vary, but in many arrangements video recording and storage happen on-site at your business through network video recorders (NVRs) or video management software (VMS), but the day-to-day video system maintenance and administration is handled offsite in the cloud by a third-party provider. The provider hosts the central video server that manages your devices. Some providers may also offer backup storage of some of your video files, as well as convenient reporting features that can help you quickly analyze your video, uncover trends and identify suspicious behaviors.

Time-Savings and Peace of Mind

The nice thing about hosted video surveillance services is that, even though the hardware or software recording device is on-site at your business, your provider is taking care of it. They are monitoring all of your recording devices and cameras to ensure proper connectivity and functionality, and also applying regular software or firmware updates to protect your devices against potential vulnerabilities.

This is often the most time-consuming aspect of video surveillance. And for small businesses in particular, which may not have dedicated security or IT departments, being able to rely on a trained provider for maintenance and upkeep is incredibly valuable.

Just think of this scenario: A security camera covering your business’ walkway has gone offline, but because of your busy schedule you didn’t see the notification. Now, a customer claims to have slipped and fallen on the walkway and they are considering litigation. When you go to review the video footage, you find it’s not there.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen a number of times. Without proper monitoring and maintenance, video systems don’t perform as needed and video is lost.

A hosted video surveillance provider can save you from this unfortunate scenario by continually monitoring your system to ensure it is always recording.  They can also remotely apply software or firmware upgrades, as well as report on your product inventory, including device model numbers, age of equipment and warranty status, to help with lifecycle management. In some cases, you can actually access this information yourself, via a web platform.

Tools to Quickly Analyze Video

Aside from the infrastructure maintenance, hosted video solutions can also offer very convenient tools for analyzing surveillance video.

Some hosted providers make this super easy by packaging your video evidence in convenient reports that you can scan in just minutes. For example, reports could range from a series of video thumbnail clips captured throughout the day, to reports on suspicious transactions (in deployments where video is integrated with point-of-sale (POS) transaction data.)

Depending on your provider, your video system could also be configured to send you email alerts when alarms are triggered or unusual activity, like high-dollar voids or refunds, take place.  You can simply click on the email alert to see the associated video.

In retail environments in particular, these reports can greatly assist in reducing shrink by zeroing in on suspect transactions, which in some cases, can be internal theft. I’ve seen businesses recoup thousands of dollars in losses because they’ve been able to prove theft thanks to their video evidence.

Other businesses have been able to improve operations, merchandising and compliance, as well as employee training, because the video has identified a gap in their normal operating procedures. – Read more

IaaS vs. PaaS: What’s the Difference, and How Do Businesses Choose?

My Post - 2020-01-22T121011.088.pngInfrastructure and Platform as a Service options are gaining traction as the cloud matures — but they aren’t the same thing.

SaaS Trends: What’s Coming Up Ahead In 2020

My Post - 2020-01-21T142559.225.pngAs a SaaS company owner and an investor through Ramp Ventures, I’ve always got my ear to the ground when it comes to future trends.

And although there’s no way to predict with 100% accuracy what the upcoming year will bring, the following are a few of the trends I’m keeping an eye on in 2020:

Trend #1: A focus on sustainability

A recent SaaStock article shared the following quote from Hanno Renner, CEO & Co-Founder, Personio:

“I think the biggest trends we’re currently seeing is that while growth remains important (especially at scale) it also gets more and more important to look at your metrics and remain profitable as we grow. Both from a growth margin but also from a customer acquisition perspective.”

I’m thrilled to see this idea gaining traction. I’ve been writing about the need for sustainability in growth since at least 2016, despite huge pressure at that point for companies to focus on scaling at all costs.

That said, given that $100M+ equity financing rounds continue to increase – according to data shared by Sapphire Ventures – it’d be pretty naive to assume that founders and investors are going to suddenly back off on aggressive growth in order to focus on profitability and other sustainability metrics.

But I’d still call it a win if even a small handful of startups take on this trend and decide to run with profitability as a north star in 2020. We’re all better off when growth is built on a strong foundation.

Trend #2: Specialization and differentiation

According to Blissfully’s 2019 Annual SaaS Trends Report, the average company spent $343,000 on SaaS in 2018 – a 78% increase from the previous year.

This kind of dramatic growth has only been possible because so many new products have entered the market in the last few years, and I don’t see that trend slowing down any time soon (barring major changes in the US economy, of course).

The natural response to these increased entries, in my opinion, is going to be specialization and differentiation, in terms of utility, features, audiences or verticals.

When competition gets tougher, only those products that can clearly define a specific value proposition for a single audience and that can differentiate themselves from others are going to thrive.

Trend #3: Platform development (PaaS)

An alternative to serving a tightly-defined audience with a differentiated USP is to become a company’s “go to” platform for multiple needs.

Perhaps that’s why Linchpin SEO predicts growth in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) in 2020, writing that:

“PaaS focuses on allowing clients to create or purchase add-ons to the product that they initially bought. Doing so allows SaaS/PaaS providers to offer clients a much more personalized approach to their client’s needs, which should encourage their growth rate and customer retention.”

The challenge here is that building a platform is harder than building a single solution tool – and it isn’t appropriate for many SaaS startups. If you haven’t hit product-market fit, for example, you’ve got more fundamental underlying issues to resolve before you start worrying about developing platform capabilities. – Read more