By Daniel Hunter

Nearly 50% of UK retailers said that the IT department is the key to them being able to harness all the benefits of IP surveillance systems according to a recent survey by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) into current and future use of CCTV by retailers, commissioned by Axis Communications, the global market leader in network video.

The research revealed that a lack of collaboration with IT and a clear return on investment was preventing nearly three-quarters of UK retailers adopting IP cameras and replacing outdated closed circuit analogue cameras.

Axis believe that by adopting a new perspective on the role network video can play as a real time visual business intelligence tool, the logical step would be for IT to manage video as yet another networked application which provides strategic business value.

"Surveillance is usually seen as the security department's responsibility, used to protect the premises, staff and customers as well as against theft," Atul Rajput, retail specialist at Axis Communications 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 analysed."

The theory of cross functional application use is backed up by the research as:

. 37% of UK retailers said that networked video surveillance allows for integration with business intelligence applications
. There is high awareness among retailers that networked video offers more than just loss prevention with nearly 80% of those surveyed understanding the role of surveillance in people counting, 65% for dwell time analysis and over 60% for queue management.

"IT can play a pivotal role in facilitating cross department collaboration between security, marketing and operations, to unleash the true potential of IP surveillance systems and allow retailers to maximise the ROI on video surveillance spend."

"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 (VSaaS). Network video integrated with cloud based business intelligence analytics, for example to analyse consumer behaviour 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."

Although the survey revealed that only 21% of respondents were considering deploying Cloud-based video solutions, as the respondents were primarily from loss prevention, it perhaps reinforces the view that collaboration with IT is the key to unlocking the full potential of IP video surveillance."

With nearly 60% of UK retailers planning to adopt IP systems it is clear that these barriers will need to be overcome. Professor Joshua Bamfield, CRR, added: "The role that business intelligence plays in improving customer service and therefore driving retail sales is key. For this reason, retailers are turning to technologies to make improvements and gain competitive edge. This survey has highlighted how retailers are embracing technology and recognise the role that surveillance can play, but there is still some resistance, due to collaboration between departments, that is hampering the adoption of IP surveillance technologies."

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