Security 50: Growth has returned to security industry
Most of the companies on the Security 50 list achieved significant growth in 2021. However, 2022 ends with the security industry beginning to address issues that point to major challenges in 2023.
In last year’s Security 50, something unprecedented happened, with more companies – 28 – reporting revenue declines than growth in the height of the pandemic. Things are different this year: a large majority of companies reported year-over-year growth in 2021 revenue, reflecting what the industry was like pre-pandemic.
“We have experienced phenomenal growth in EMEA both last year and in 2022. Still, it has been a relief for all of us in the security industry to come out of two years of COVID lockdown. Being able to meet partners and customers face to face has been vital for Milestone and our sales in the first half of the year,” said Jos Beernink, VP for EMEA at Milestone Systems.
The same sentiment is shared at Identiv. “Our growth and profitability are accelerating right into 2022, reflecting our continued leadership in specialty RFID applications for the IoT sector. We’re growing substantially faster than any of our segments which means we’re taking share from other companies,” said Steve Humphreys, CEO of Identiv. “Last quarter our RFID revenue grew 41 percent year-over-year. Our premises business grew 20 percent year-over-year. And our total revenue increase grew 16 percent year-over-year.”
Top 10 Companies
Looking at this year’s Security 50, we can see the Top 10 companies remain somewhat consistent. The top 10 biggest manufacturers in video surveillance and access control (based on 2021 revenue of security product sales) is Hikvision Digital Technology, Dahua Technology, ASSA ABLOY, Axis Communications, Motorola Solutions, Uniview Technologies, Tiandy Technologies, Allegion, Hanwha Techwin and Aiphone.
Hikvision’s revenue in 2021 has crossed the ten billion US dollar mark, an increase of 16.9 percent compared to 2020’s US$8.64 billion.
“We believe that technological innovation is the key element for successful development of a tech company. Our innovative technologies, products and solutions are creating values for customers, and helping many different people and types of organizations increase safety, operational efficiency and sustainability. We are glad to see that customers demonstrate long-term trust in us in return, which supports growth of the company,” said Frank Zhang, VP of Hikvision Digital Technology.
He points out that some external uncertainties emerged over the past two years since inflation, interest rate hike, and exchange rate changes are now affecting growth of different economies. “Yet, Hikvision has successfully maintained product delivery efficiencies. And we have kept consistent investment in technology research and development, with the R&D spending accounting over 10 percent of our total revenue in 2021. All these efforts ensured continued positive development of the company”, says Zhang.
New companies on the list
Six companies are new entrants to Security 50 this year. They are: Dnake (intercom), Jovision (video) and EVETAR (lens), all from China; as well as Evolv, a U.S.-based screening solutions provider; Ava Group, an Australian risk management solutions provider; and Webgate, a Korea-based video surveillance company.
Chinese manufacturers are most represented
For Chinese companies, a total of 15 are in Security 50 this year. Among them, Hikvision, Dahua, Uniview and Tiandy are within Top 10. Most Chinese companies reported 2021 growth, indicating impacts from U.S.-led trade sanctions on Chinese goods were limited.
It’s interesting to note, however, that a lot of Chinese companies reported year-over-year revenue declines in the first half of this year. Hikvision, meanwhile, posted a total net profit of $848.6 million in the first half of 2022, down 11.14 percent from the first half of 2021, though its 2022 H1 revenue increased 9.9 percent y-o-y.
Yet this has more to do with China’s own domestic COVID and other issues, rather than the trade conflict itself. “Much of this is down to conditions in the Chinese domestic market rather than tariffs and trade restrictions in the US. The first half of 2022 has seen restrictions on movement in several major Chinese cities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government spending has therefore been diverted away from other areas and towards battling COVID-19 and supporting its economy during lockdowns,” said Josh Woodhouse, Lead analyst and Founder, and Jon Cropley, Principal Analyst, of Novaira Insights.
Speaking of U.S.-China trade conflict, all eyes are watching whether Taiwan security makers have benefited. Upon an initial look, this is indeed the case as certain Taiwan companies, including Dynacolor, Hi Sharp and GeoVision, reported good growth in 2021. Yet given Taiwan manufacturers’ smaller scale and capacity, whether they can continue to benefit from OEM orders transferred from China remains to be seen. In fact, most Taiwan manufacturers have re-strategized to make niche, value-added solutions in, for example, smart transportation, and that has been one of the contributing factors to their successes.
Recovery as a result of mitigating the effects of the pandemic
Looking back at 2021 and 2022, indeed growth returned to security due to an easing of the pandemic. “With more availability of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, many businesses were able to start pivoting their business strategies towards creating a safe environment for employees and customers to return to physical spaces, while also maintaining (and even expanding) the remote solutions implemented during the height of the pandemic,” said Danielle VanZandt, Senior Industry Analyst for Security at Frost & Sullivan. “For many security technology markets, spending and investment opportunities returned back to their pre-pandemic levels, with some technologies witnessing further gains due to ongoing digitalization initiatives—markets like biometrics, access control, video analytics, and digital intelligence all witnessed significant growth this year.”
“Across the global markets there is a solid underlying market growth … One driver for that is the overall increasing interest in security and network video solutions. Another driver is that of technology development. The demand for our products increases as we develop new and more innovative products and solutions to address customer demands,” said Ray Mauritsson, CEO at Axis Communications.
In total, 40 companies in this year’s Security 50 reported growth last year, with 28 growing by double to triple digit. The Top 10 companies in video surveillance and access control that grew the most in 2021 were: Evolv Technologies, CP Plus, DynaColor, Webgate, Intelbras, Dongguan Yutong Optical Technology, Motorola Solutions, Gallagher, Hanwha Techwin and TVT Digital Technology.
It should be noted that Evolv, a provider of security solutions for weapons detection, reported revenue of US$21.77 million in 2021, compared to US$3.92 million in 2020. That’s a 455.98 percent year-over-year increase, primarily due to their efforts to add new customers and expand into key verticals and geographies.
These figures show the growth, strength and resilience of security companies during the various challenges brought by the pandemic. How did they achieve this?
Staying nimble and responsive
Staying nimble and responsive amid adversity is critical. “All told, it’s been a very interesting past couple of years, first dealing through Phase 1 of the pandemic in 2020, and then phase 2 in 2021. It was our supply chain that got us through these years. We were able to get ahead of the shutdown and pre-order 4x our general monthly orders for our main suppliers once we heard the World Health Organization was in Wuhan, China, knowing how quickly China closes when needed. Two days after our orders were placed, the shutdown happened. So having inventory was certainly a major factor, as much as having production teams willing to be in our headquarters building products for customer orders,” said Jeff Burgess, Founder and CEO of BCDVideo.
Value creation for customers
Another key to growth is value creation for customers who can continue to stick to the supplier.
“With the growth of Dahua’s AI implementation ability and its continuous effort in exploring data value, the company has gradually expanded its business from traditional security to enterprise operation and management. By helping enterprises reduce costs and increase efficiency, the value of each client has been greatly improved. The company’s arduous effort in business has promoted the continuous improvement of each client’s value, which is a significant factor that drives performance growth,” said Fu Liquan, Chairman of Dahua Technology.
According to Humphreys, a commitment to value creation is exactly the reason why the company achieved growth even amid the biggest global supply chain crisis seen in a generation.
“The reality is that supply chain shortages haven’t been this bad since 1972. The RFID industry has predominantly been dominated by companies that just want to get a simple design and then crank them out in the hundreds of millions. From a business perspective that’s never been our position, partly because that’s not where the margins are,” he said. “When we go to market, the entire arc of the whole business platform is going in the direction of higher value add solutions. We are comfortable with long sales cycles. We understand customers aren’t even necessarily going to know what they can accomplish when they start out. We introduce a highly collaborative and educational selling process with customers,” says CEO of Identivo.
Commitment to technology innovation
Closely related to value creation is technology innovation, which allows companies to deliver products/solutions required by users. “Identiv is designing and delivering next-generation solutions that are enabling the future of the IoT. We’re a technically deep company, which is helping us to get more market share. Technology touches people every day and it’s at our core and that drives across the premises business and the identity business, especially in RFID,” says Humphreys.
Respecting local laws and policies
For multinationals, respecting local laws and policies is key to ensuring growth in overseas business. “In the face of the current complex and changeable global political and economic environment, Dahua respects the laws, policies and customs of various countries and adopts the approach of ‘one country, one policy’ to meet the requirements of globalization compliance. The company continues to strengthen the strategy for the localization of overseas employees by building an international marketing and management team as well as localized marketing and service centers to further explore the global market. Globalization and the continuous growth in overseas market will also contribute to future business growth of the company,” says Fu Liquan.
Growth expected to continue in 2023…
Looking into 2023, most companies expressed optimism growth will continue. “We are very bullish about the security market because AI and Machine Learning open a whole new scale of possibilities, solutions, and integrations in and beyond security. At, for example transportation clients like airports, we see that our clients are enormously challenged to keep their operations running whilst challenged on employees and being confronted with much higher passenger quantity. This as an example drives a demand for clever VMS security solutions. Security managers in our markets are challenged to do more with less resources. We at Milestone Systems have great solutions to fulfil that market trend,” says Beernink.
“Over the past twenty years, we have been through tsunamis, memory factory fires in Japan, recessions, and presidential elections. As we continue to challenge ourselves to deliver more platforms to the market, such as the Q4 2022 release of our All-in-One NVR and Deepstor high-availability external storage, it will allow us to widen our brand globally,” Burgess said.
… with some corrections in the market
Despite the fact that the security industry is back on the path of growth, many still believe that in the coming years a series of challenges will ultimately cause some corrections that will affect this growth in the market.
“The world market for video surveillance hardware and software is forecast to grow 11.7 percent in 2022. It is forecast that economic problems will impact both public and private spending on video surveillance equipment in 2023. At the same time, inflationary pressures will persist. The world market for video surveillance hardware and software is forecast to grow 6.4 percent in 2023,” Woodhouse and Cropley said.
“In the first half of the year, our overseas business still maintained a rapid growth, thanks to the company’s years of deep-rooted overseas efforts. It also continued to promote business localization strategies, and improved the global supply chain and various supporting systems. Business opportunities in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East are relatively optimistic; but there are also regions with relatively weak growthOverseas businesses will continue to face regional factors, inflation and other objective conditions, but the global market is vast, with opportunities and challenges coexisting, and there is still growth potential in the long run,” says Fu Liquan, Chairman of Dahua Technology.
Challenges ahead of us
Inflation concerns, supply chain challenges, and instability in global energy markets is all causing businesses to pause many new security investments until they can see what the final impacts could be to their budgets and bottom lines. This does offer opportunities for security vendors to work that much closer with their existing customers in order to identify ways that they can augment existing solutions already in use.
A surge in demand, as well as the aftermath of regional conflicts, have triggered a major supply chain crisis. This has also partially contributed to out-of-control, across-the-board inflation in a range of areas, from energy to food to consumer products. To curb inflation, interest rates have been hiked to the highest in years, raising the spectre of recession. Indeed, the world we knew pre-COVID has changed, and, despite a return to growth in security, the above-mentioned challenges bode not so favorably for the industry in the coming year.
Supply chain issues
As mentioned, the security industry is now faced with certain challenges, one being the worst supply chain crisis in decades. “As with many other companies, we have been affected by supply chain issues. Longer lead times led to slower growth than expected in 2020 and 2021. As we now are starting to see improvements in our supply chain, we are expecting to return to double-digit growth,” Mauritsson said.
Of all the component shortages, semiconductor shortages were particularly severe. This, then, has produced ramifications for security players. “Restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in demand for consumer electronics. People required laptops to work from home and for home-schooling and spent more of their income on home entertainment. All this equipment required semiconductors causing huge growth in demand for them. Video surveillance equipment vendors were just one group competing for supply of semiconductors,” Woodhouse and Cropley said.
“As far as components, one of the hardest hit technologies was in chips for any type of processor for analytics, intelligence functions, or edge capabilities. These were high in-demand solutions from all customers, so securing components in a timely manner became a key differentiator for projects pitched and won over the last year. Security vendors who were able to diversify their supply chains to secure these components and not feel the impact of adjusted logistical routes globally found themselves to be the ultimate winners,” VanZandt said.
Inflation is also now affecting a range of industries including security. “The price of video surveillance equipment is now being impacted by inflationary pressures in the wider economy. With utility prices, labor costs and raw material costs all rising quickly, video surveillance vendors will be forced to pass on cost increases to their customers in the form of equipment price increases. The average price of a network camera is forecast to increase in 2023,” Woodhouse and Cropley said.
Amid the price increase, security players had to re-strategize and think of ways to retain customers. “Inflation has caused costs to raise across the board and security technology components were not an exception to this. Many vendors and integrators did have to increase their prices in order to counter this, but they turned towards offering more flexible payment models for customers, as many projects did have longer timelines than they typically would,” VanZandt said, adding much of the industry focus has turned towards enhancing the overall customer experience including offering more personalized service models.
Data protection regulations
Geopolitical conflicts in certain parts of the world have also taken a toll on security players. “The ongoing geopolitical issues that we see is of course causing concern and uncertainty. For instance, we have, as did many other companies, suspended our business operations in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine,” Mauritsson said.
The specter of potential new data privacy regulations globally also continues to impact many new analysis and intelligence capabilities across the security industry. Because of this, vendors must build any new solutions with the inherent privacy features already mandated in other regions or countries or have the inherent flexibility in their solution design that they can make quick changes in order to meet any new requirements put before them.
As for security trends for next year, AI, edge computing, cloud and cybersecurity will continue to dominate. Meanwhile, multi-dimensional perception will be another development to look for.
“From Hikvision’s perspective, multi-dimensional perception will be another big trend that will enable the security industry going to the next level. Beyond visible light imaging, we see more perception capabilities, like radar, thermal imaging, x-ray screening, temperature measuring, humidity sensing, and gas leak detection that are being added to security devices and systems, making them more powerful. We are extending our machine perception technologies to the full electromagnetic spectrum, and have developed innovative products and applications that pick up X-rays, infrared rays, millimeter radar waves, sound waves, and temperature variations,” says Zhang.