Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
August 21, 2017

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JOhn DAVIES

TDSi Q&A: “The security industry confuses customers with jargon and acronyms”

TDSi launched the successor to its EXgarde platform, GARDiS, at IFSEC International in June.

IFSEC Global got in touch with John Davies, the company’s managing director, to discuss the latest software, TDSi’s international growth, trying a new approach at IFSEC and the industry’s use of the terms ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’.

IG: Did TDSi launch anything new this year?

JD: Within the technology showcase we launched our new GARDiS software. That will be released to the market later in the year.

Part of this approach was to reaffirm to our integration partners and distribution partners what this new software is all about. It’s a complete departure from the current EXgarde platform. It’s a true web-based platform. It’s designed to be ONVIF compliant and it’s architecture is for use in the cloud or as a hybrid on-premise and hosted system.

IG: Where is TDSi as a business?

JD: We’ve seen export sales grow at a faster rate than UK sales over the last 12 months. I see that continuing to grow.

We’ve had a lot of initiatives in Southeast Asia and China over the last 3-5 years, particularly in Southeast Asia, that are coming to fruition. A lot of that is down to partnerships with other manufacturers.

We’re noticing now that the likes of Samsung and Panasonic are coming to TDSi and saying “we need to integrate our systems with yours”. In the past we were going to the big manufacturers and saying: “We would like to integrate your kit with ours”. We’re now seeing the shoe on the other foot.

“We want to go to the North American market with something new and different rather than offering a ‘me too’ proposition”

This is being driven by market opportunities, particularly in the UK and Southeast Asia and China.

So that’s something we’re going to concentrate on a lot over the next 12 months. I’ve done another mega tour of the Far East and we’re doing more work in Australia. We exhibited at the Australia Security Show in Sydney for the first time at the end of July.

These are exciting times!

IG: So does TDSi have a presence on every continent now?

JD: Apart from North and South America. Saying that, it’s part of our strategic intent around the new GARDiS platform.

We want to go to the North American market with something new and different rather than offering a ‘me too’ proposition. That’s what GARDiS will allow us to do. Over the next couple of years we’ll be looking hard at the US marketplace.

IG: How did IFSEC go?

John Davies: It was different for us this year. We wanted to try something new, so we didn’t have a traditional stand on the main floor.

We had products and people on the Anixter stand because TDSi are a technology alliance partner of Anixter in EMEA for access control and have a great working relationship with them that’s grown over the last few years.

We are also doing a lot of integration with Suprema, particularly out in the Far East, so we had products on their stand. They wanted to demonstrate the integration between their readers and our software.

We sponsored the Tavcom Theatre, because one of my pet things is education. The industry is changing so quickly, and if manufacturers don’t get involved in educating our installer customers… I feel that some of our customers may be less aware of the latest technology innovations,  so it’s important that they don’t get left behind.

The event went very well for us. We had a speaking slot every day.  I was conscious however, that we shouldn’t just talk about TDSi, but about issues people need to be aware of: open protocols such as ONVIF profiles A and C and what they mean to the access control industry, who is driving those changes…

“I think AI and machine learning is sometimes overdone, or not always completely understood as to how it’s going to be used and how it should be applied to delivering solutions”

Then we had another session talking about wireless locking technologies and how that is changing the face of the access control industry and what installers and end users need to be aware of.

Our third presentation discussed access control as a service – going into the cloud. It’s not the  be-all and end-all for every application, but it’s happening.

We talked about what it is and when and where it should be applied. We also discussed what behavioural and business changes are going to drive customers, manufacturers, installers, and how we need to be a bit more aware of the end user’s needs.

We also had our technology showcase area in a meeting room upstairs, which worked well for us.

Next year we may look to turn one of the days into an updated training session with our regular partners and the other days we’ll showcase new technologies.

We also joined our usual Harmony Alliance evening with Texecom, GJD and Elmdene and a party on the Wednesday night, which was very successful.

So all in all we are very happy with the change of focus we had this year and we are considering emulating that for 2018.

IG: Any other observations about the show in general?

JD: I did notice that all the educational theatres were full most of the time. That tells me that there’s a thirst for knowledge amongst our customers – not just about technology but about solutions.

Nobody was banging the integration drum to death; people were talking about interoperability and delivering solutions.

There was also an indication that there is a far more ‘smart’ approach towards cameras at the edge of networks, more storage capabilities in cameras, and developers are putting facial recognition algorithms into the camera itself. Cameras are becoming smarter, systems are becoming smarter.

But it’s not just ‘smart’; it’s using information and data correctly to deliver a solution rather than delivering technology for technology’s sake.

IG: You hear terms like ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ thrown around a lot nowadays. Is all that overdone?

JD: I think it’s sometimes overdone, or not always completely understood as to how it’s going to be used and how it should be applied to delivering solutions.

I think sometimes we confuse end users with acronyms and terms that we in the industry understand, but people outside don’t: “Well OK, what does that mean for me? What does it deliver?” [an end user might say].

We need to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and think the way they do.

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