Market Insight

Do it yourself (DIY) installed alarms and “pay as you go” professional monitoring solutions

February 27, 2018

Anna Sliwon-Stewart Anna Sliwon-Stewart Analyst II, Security

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The year of 2017 saw new players from the technology space increase their share of the intrusion market with DIY offerings, as well as a greater number of traditional intruder alarm providers adding DIY solutions to their portfolios.

In addition to more equipment solutions becoming available, new services are also being offered to address some of the historic limitations of DIY alarm systems. Namely, the lack of professional monitoring. The first generation of “connected DIY systems” that were brought to market from 2012 onwards primarily relied upon push notifications sent to the system owner via the internet to signal an alarm. While this method proved generally effective and is essentially free, huge flaws remained: what happened if the end user was unavailable or their phone was turned off? Without professional monitoring, these DIY systems failed to perform one of the most important functions of an intruder alarm: providing peace of mind.

To address this failure, a small number of DIY intrusion providers are now offering end users the option of professional monitoring for their DIY system without requiring a lengthy contract commitment. These end users can use a mobile application to select certain days or weeks where their system is professionally monitored, or they can choose to subscribe to a rolling contract under which they are free to cancel at any time. To date, this method has proven particularly popular with end users who never would have committed to a long-term monitoring contract in the past, such as those who live in rental properties.

It remains to be seen whether providers of this type of monitoring solution will suffer from high false alarm rates and associated high running costs. Historically, high false alarm rates and their related expenses were one of the main reasons behind large professional monitoring providers insisting on alarms being professionally installed.

DIY intrusion solutions offer several other advantages to end users, including but not limited to:

  • Connected DIY systems are easy to purchase, and they continue to become easier to install due to manufacturers’ efforts to develop plug-and-play systems.
  • For some users, DIY security systems become a hobby, and online forums are used to exchange views and opinions on the best products, as well as to give advice on how to install or improve a system. 
  • DIY solutions offer end users living in countries where the population is widely dispersed a cheaper alternative to professionally installed systems. In such countries, installers need to travel longer distances, which increases costs and limits how many customers can be serviced each day.

Despite the increased interest, several barriers to wider adoption of DIY alarm systems remain:

  • Many DIY solutions lack effective post-sales support, leading to ineffectively installed or faulty systems with high false alarm rates.
  • Upfront equipment costs remain expensive. Professionally installed solutions often discount initial costs because the money will be recouped by subscription fees from a fixed-term contract.
  • DIY intruder alarm suppliers are struggling to break into the physical retail sales channel, largely due to competition from consumer video products.

Additional disruptive influences are affecting the professional security equipment market:

  • Increased exposure of end users to smart speakers like Alexa or Google Home devices will drive interest in the integration of intruder alarm systems and home automation devices. This is changing the way in which residential end users make decisions about purchasing intruder alarm systems; these users are now looking for a lifestyle package, rather than only a security system. This is going to force professional security manufactures to adopt smart home devices into their offerings or find other ways of partnering with their providers.
  • Smart home integration in the residential sector is beginning to rub off on the small commercial sector. End users are looking to add smart lights and other energy management devices to their intruder alarm systems in order to reduce costs. This is going to change the way intruder alarm systems are marketed to emphasise integration opportunities and compatibility with smart device manufacturers’ products.

Research by Market
Security Technology
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