As part of an effort to more closely align its business model with where the industry is headed, Oncam, a pioneer in 360-degree camera technology, has decided to cease selling its products through the traditional security channel and will focus instead on providing solutions to its strategic alliance vendor partners and select systems integrators.
In an exclusive interview with SecurityInfoWatch on Wednesday explaining the shift in the company’s go-to-market strategy, Oncam COO Scott Brothers said the impetus for the change began last year when the company’s management team was asked by its board to analyze its market strategy and how products were sold globally. Brothers says that Oncam has traditionally sold its products like most other companies in the industry via the channel to large systems integrators, however, six years ago, they created a “strategic alliance model” in which they started to sell products to some of the larger vendors in the market that lacked a 360-degree camera offering.
Although Oncam has seen growth in sales for four consecutive years, Brothers says they’ve recently found that the two business models are increasingly coming into conflict with one another necessitating the change.
“We started to come across more conflict and the conflict was ultimately our direct sales team who was doing their job, by the way, and was very tenacious in getting out there and letting people know about the Oncam brand. But invariably, the more they did that the more the interest started to grow, the projects grew and they started to cross over with the projects our largest strategic alliance partners were also involved in,” Brothers explains. “When we released each new camera we saw this conflict continue to grow.”
Revising the Business Model
While Brothers admits it was a difficult decision to make, the company had to take a step back and ask themselves whether a direct sales approach was still essential and, ultimately, they decided that the advancement of the industry relative to 360-degree camera technology no longer required this business model.
“Eight to ten years ago, 360-degree cameras were almost frowned upon because it was this weird technology that the big boys… were not pushing,” he says. “And due to the lack of adoption in the market and knowledge about it, you had to have a direct sales team out there; you had to get evangelists and advocates basically explaining the pros and the cons of 360 tech. We had to step back and ask, ‘just because we’ve always done it, is it the correct thing to continue to do when we see such substantial growth with our strategic alliance partners, who have a much greater footprint?’”
Brothers emphasizes that the decision was in no way a reflection on the performance of their direct sales team, who he says did an “amazing job.” “Selling a one off product that forms part of an ecosystem of solutions going into a project is a difficult role even when you have as powerful of a niche product as we do,” he adds.
While some in the direct sales team have already begun to transition to other roles in the company, the change in strategy will also result in a modest workforce reduction at Oncam. Specifically, eight people from four different sales regions (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Turkey) have already been laid off from the company.
Brothers also stresses that while they intend to strengthen and grow their strategic alliance partnerships, he stopped short of saying that the company would take on the role of a traditional OEM supplier and that they still intend to leverage their brand cache for the foreseeable future.
“Right now we have a joint branding process that we do with our partners, so it’s not what we would consider a traditional OEM,” Brothers says. “The reason for that is, take March Networks, for example, they strongly feel that their 360-degree offering being co-branded Oncam gives them an edge versus it just being branded March Networks. We will, of course, analyze this over the coming weeks and months and we may take a different approach but right now our partnerships in exercise are not what you would call a pure OEM.”
And while the company is winding down its direct sales efforts globally where many of these aforementioned conflicts with their partners have arisen, Brothers said that they would continue with channel sales of their products in India where these issues simply don’t exist currently.
“Their reaction to our technology reminds me of the reaction we used to see in Europe five or six years ago. So, both with the adopting of that technology and the way the channel works currently, that conflict isn’t there and we will continue to grow our direct sales channel (in India) for the foreseeable future,” Brothers says.
Technology Integration Focus
On the technology side, Brothers says that they will continue to work on integrations with the leading VMS players in the market but he said that they are likely going to narrow their focus on between 10 to 15 integrations moving forward to ensure that the SDKs in each of their new camera iterations are integrated into the platforms they need to be in the countries they’re addressing.
Brothers said they also want to continue to be at the forefront of innovation in fisheye lens technology. “A number of companies, because it is not their focus, will have (fisheye technology) in their portfolio but maybe not improve it,” he says.
Oncam will also continue to provide ongoing support for its existing install base of products and Brothers says any warranties on those products will be fulfilled.
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