ROI Inside

Allen Rude, security manager at Intel, invested more than four years in an ROI study to justify the cost of digital video surveillance.

Way back in 2000, digital video recorders (DVRs) were the next big thing in surveillance, and Intel Security Manager Allen Rude, who had seen some at a trade show, knew it. But as a veteran security executive, Rude also knew something else: Even if the value seemed obvious, it wouldn't be easy to prove.

So, with management on one side of Rude wondering aloud why they'd ever spend money replacing a perfectly good CCTV system, and with eager vendors on the other side wondering aloud how he could not see the benefits of digital, Rude started an ROI study.

"We wanted to jump on it, but we're always challenged to show why it's better than what we've got, in a tangible way," says Rude. "ROI is extremely frustrating, but it's also a reality. If you don't do it, you will not get past the finance hurdle. It's that simple. And if you don't do it centrally, it becomes a game of which department is best at procuring a little bit of funding rather than are we doing the right thing. So managing ROI from the corporate level is key too."

It wasn't until earlier this year that Rude finally proved a positive ROI on the DVR technology that wowed him and his colleagues half a decade ago. Five years of expected and unexpected challenges later, Rude shares his plan and how he and his team brought the next big thing in surveillance to Intel, eventually.

Phase 1: 2000-2001 - Technology Identification and Benchmarking

To start, Rude culled expertise. He talked to members of Intel's Joint Engineering Technical Team (JETT), which documents and implements new technologies and also does Intel's security construction projects. The JETT team subsequently established a digital technology subgroup, which managed site projects and data gathering efforts for the ROI study. Rude also talked to the purchasing folks at integration companies. He researched the technology at trade shows and in trade journals. Finally, he built a list of DVR vendors and then pared this down to a shortlist, based on his newfound expertise. The vendors that made the shortlist had to fit three criteria: [no indent] 1. Have good technology and a technology plan (adopting standards and so on) 2. Be geographically able to support Intel's manifold facilities 3. Have long-term viability as a company

Rude paid special attention to number three. "Especially in surveillance," he says, "where at every trade show there are 20 new vendors and 15 from last year's show are already gone."

Shortlist in hand, Rude got some DVR systems from those vendors and called Intel Architecture Labs. He had the lab benchmark the DVRs versus the time-lapse VCRs he had deployed. This benchmarking, while rigorous, was purely technical. Rude wasn't interested in the real-world issues that would affect performance. He only wanted a lab-controlled horsepower comparison to see if the new technology, in and of itself, was better than the old. And it was.

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