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IT critical to using surveillance for business intelligence, study says

The security value of video surveillance cameras in the private sector is well known across industries, as decision-makers continue to adopt the technologies. A recent study of more than 260 companies by the Centre for Retail Research, however, revealed that the benefits of surveillance can extend beyond these traditional boundaries to improve operations on a fundamental level.

The survey found that decision-makers believe surveillance cameras can act as real-time business intelligence tools, providing executives with insight into customer behavior, employee activities and overall operations. But for these benefits to take their full effect, IT departments need to collaborate with security branches so companies can gain a competitive advantage over rival firms.

"With IT departments currently exploring cloud based applications and services, embracing network video today will also ease integration into any future deployments of video-based Cloud applications," said Atul Rajput, retail specialist at Axis Communications. "Network video integrated with cloud-based business intelligence analytics, for example, to analyze consumer behavior and footfall in store enables retailers to deploy video as a business tool and benefit from a hosted service to significantly reduce the upfront capital expenditure on deploying a system."

Multi-functional surveillance cameras
The study noted that more than one-third of respondents said the use of network surveillance cameras enables organizations to integrate security tools with business intelligence offerings. Approximately 80 percent of respondents said having cross-functional video surveillance systems helps them track customers, while more than 60 percent said it boosts the firm's ability to manage wait time.

While these benefits are appealing, they are not necessarily inherent. In fact, roughly half of respondents said IT departments are the key to experiencing these benefits.

"Surveillance is usually seen as the security department’s responsibility, used to protect the premises, staff and customers as well as against theft," Rajput said. "However, as the technology evolves, IP surveillance is capable of so much more than security and safety, offering business intelligence as well as flexibility in the way that footage can be accessed and analyzed."

A separate report by 3VR said implementing surveillance for analytic capabilities is important, as the systems can make more sense of footage than humans can do with the naked eye, meaning retailers can gain an advantage over companies still using surveillance solely for loss prevention purposes.

As surveillance cameras evolve and produce higher quality footage, these benefits will become more apparent to and necessary for businesses today.

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