Greg Stuttle, Chairman of the BSIA’s Export Council looks at the growing Middle East Focus for UK Security Solutions

Greg-Stuttle-BSIA-Export-Council-Section-Chairman (Custom)

Greg Stuttle, BSIA Export Council Chairman

With Intersec 2014 in Dubai just days away, Greg Stuttle, Chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s Export Council, takes a closer look at the growing appetite for solutions from its member companies targeting the Middle East region and, crucially, the wider technology and business trends evident on the ground with key technologies like biometrics for access control, and HD CCTV, taking centre stage.

When dealing with overseas customers there continues to be a widespread appreciation of the high level of expertise and technology that UK businesses can bring to the security arena and the Middle East is no exception to this positive reception. Added to this is the reassurance for those dealing, specifically, with BSIA members that companies have gone through rigorous accreditation and credentials checks and work to relevant industry standards.

Certainly our new Export Council research, which we are unveiling at Intersec 2014, serves to underline the phenomenal demand in the region for the best that British security solutions can offer. These findings also tie-in with the results of our annual ‘State of the Nation’ survey published last November. In fact the Middle East is the single most important target market, globally, for BSIA members over the next 12 months. This signals a real strategic shift as only a year ago it was Western Europe that dominated member’s thinking.

Strong Demand

Driving ahead, this heightened focus on the Middle East is reinforced by the fact that the vast majority of the Export Council’s member companies (89%), who responded to the survey, are active in this pivotal region. Of those questioned, an impressive 50% also reported that they had witnessed a notable increase in revenues derived from the Middle East over the past 12 months. Significantly, the outlook for the coming year is shaping up to be even stronger with all members questioned saying they anticipate a rise in orders.

Of course the Middle East is certainly not one homogeneous area, there are variations in local requirements and overall demand. Discussing the parts of the region that are generating the most sales for our member companies, the two countries heading-up the list are, respectively, Saudi Arabia and UAE – both on 29%. Other geographical areas making a strong impression over the past year, according to the member companies surveyed, were Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait.

Technology Matters

When surveyed regarding the approach to security technology which they felt had made the largest impact in the Middle East over the past 12 months, ‘biometrics for access control’ came out well ahead of everything else, in fact it was singled out by half of all of those surveyed. Also featuring strongly in the research were, once again, HD and Mega-pixel CCTV; PSIM (Physical Security and Information Management), and switch mode power supplies, each one being selected by 17% of the respondents. Looking more closely at the strong push to have biometrics integrated into access control solutions, this serves to underline the increasing recognition amongst BSIA member’s customers across the Middle East of the enhanced security, and day-to-day management of sites, that can be delivered by building in the ability to uniquely identify individuals from their physical characteristics.

Alongside this, the roll-out of HD and Mega-pixel CCTV cameras is proving a popular choice thanks to the ability to provide additional detail in security critical applications, such as banks and hotel lobbies. The rise of PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) – which also stood out in last year’s survey – is in line with expectations given the surge of interest in bringing together, and operating, a wide range of security elements, especially where larger projects are concerned. When it comes to switch mode PSUs (Power Supply Units) the strong showing in the Export Council’s research can, in part, be attributed to the much greater efficiency levels that can be realised compared to traditional linear models, allowing them to run significantly cooler and to offer enhanced reliability. Of course as with any research there were a couple of surprises, specifically the fact that hybrid security solutions and VCA (Video Content Analysis) did not feature in the rankings this time around, both of which have scored highly in previous years.

biometrics for access control is having a big impact in the Middle East (Custom)

Biometrics for access control is having a big impact in the Middle East (Custom)

Drilling down to what is influencing customer buying decisions in the region, our research investigated the leading factors which Export Council members were finding on the ground. It was discovered, encouragingly, that compliance with industry standards was ranked as the most important decision-making factor by a third of respondents (33.3%) when dealing with Middle East customers, something that has always been a key consideration for BSIA membership. Government requirements were also singled out by a similar proportion of respondents. This reinforces the importance for Export Council members of working with partners who have strong local knowledge of the region. Other subsidiary factors mentioned included: ease of use/operation and technological innovation.

Beyond this, the survey sought to discover which vertical markets were leading the way in taking up solutions offered by BSIA Export Council member companies. It was reported, not surprisingly, that the top market sector was oil and gas on 50%, confirming the economically vital role the industry continues to play. Following on from this in second place – on 33.3% – was office developments/prestigious buildings. Other markets of note were government and residential. BSIA members are also active in sectors such as transport, hotel/leisure, retail and banking.

BSIA Export Council members are looking to build strong business links in the Middle East (Custom)

BSIA Export Council members are looking to build strong business links in the Middle East

The Best of British

So to conclude, the results from our research, and the individual experiences of members working in the region, bring into sharp relief the tremendous opportunities that the Middle East presents for UK companies that are able to offer innovative, best practice, solutions that can readily satisfy local requirements from sector-specific applications, like oil and gas, to key technology demands such as biometrics for access control or HD CCTV. The confidence that is out there amongst British vendors about their future prospects in the region is reflected very much in the large-scale BSIA presence at Intersec 2014, and the fact that the UK Pavilion is around 40% bigger than for last year’s event.

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