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2024: The year of the AI dragon

February 26, 2024 by Alistair Enser

As we get back to work, I hope you and your families had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you the best for 2024 – the Chinese Year of the Dragon. It could be an exciting year!

LinkedIn, the news media and trade publications are awash with predictions about what lies ahead. It’s often difficult to separate the guesswork from the predictions based on fact. For my part, I will share one prediction only, but one that I am confident to share.

Reading the runes

The context behind my prediction is important. As we enter a new year, things are in flux. Who would have imagined five years ago that a war on the very edge of Europe would be entering its gruelling second year, or that the situation in the Middle East would have become so worrying over a matter of months?

Closer to home, a general election is highly likely in the second half of the year and, while inflation continues to fall and there are indications that interest rates might fall accordingly, it is certainly true that businesses continue to operate in a challenging economic climate.

I am pleased to say that, at Reliance High-Tech and Reliance Protect, we face the new year with optimism, thanks to the efforts of a highly dedicated team that puts the customer at the heart of what we do.

More widely, however, the security sector faces challenges including a shortage of skills and cyber security risks. Supply chains are once again under pressure, this time from terrorist attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Then there is how businesses manage change brought about by technological advances and changing customer expectations…

The year that AI will go mainstream

On that basis, here’s my prediction: I think 2024 will be the year that AI and analytics will go mainstream, and in doing so, will accelerate the adoption of cloud-based or hybrid cloud solutions in the electronic security industry.

I have been flagging this shift for the last three years and over that time there has been lots of debate around ‘could you’ and ‘should you’; but I get the feeling those debates are now concluded and that wider adoption of the technology will start accelerating at scale in 2024.

For those of you ‘old enough’ to remember the shift from Multiplexers and VCRs to Digital Recorders in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this too was a slow burn to begin with, taking a good few years to gain traction, but when the ‘big change’ happened it was like flipping a switch. The same can be said for Digital Cameras and Film, or Video Rental versus Streaming Services.

It will have major implications for the industry: end users will gain real ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) benefits, and financial benefits by not having to invest in infrastructure or dedicate the management time needed to administer and maintain on-premise systems. They will be able to better assess risk, reduce false alarms and identify and act on situations before they become a threat, all thanks to AI and analytics. They will be using these technologies to provide behaviour analysis, data mining or the automation of event responses and business outcomes, all through leveraging the power of their security systems.

A shifting landscape

As a result, the power base and supplier landscape may also change: large established manufacturers are, of course, embracing the cloud, but many new and rapidly growing competitors such as Eagle Eye, Brivo and Verkada are emerging, much like the revolution we are seeing in the EV market.

Eagle Eye reported growth of 36% in the 2023 financial year. Brivo and Eagle Eye announced a $192M investment in cloud physical security in 2023, reportedly one of the largest investments in the field. Four-year old Verkada, meanwhile, grew its team by 68% and nearly doubled its revenues in 2023.

I don’t believe more established manufacturers should see their emergence as a threat, with the huge wealth of knowledge they can harness from years of learning – the considerable work that will emerge from users’ demand for AI, analytics and the cloud represents an opportunity for everyone to share. Think of the shift towards the cloud and the adoption of AI that the cloud makes possible as a business replacement programme, an evolution rather than an extinction event – an opportunity to refresh and update legacy systems to gain more end-user benefit.

Of course, these changes present challenges to manufacturers, installers and users alike. There are still challenges in terms of the acceptance of the cloud among end users, including IT departments and ‘old school’ security teams, as well as privacy concerns to navigate, but at Reliance High Tech we are used to these conversations. We look forward to supporting you on this journey, as one of the most exciting developments of the year takes shape.