The Boardroom With...
Mr. Kirk MacDowell
SecurityStockWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today,
Kirk. Please give us an overview of your background and your role with
GE’s Residential Security business unit.
Kirk MacDowell: I recently celebrated my 27th year in
the security industry; many of those years as an owner/operator as well
as a professional manager running large regional security alarm companies.
Several years ago, I was recruited by GE Security to head up the Residential
Marketing Team. That team oversees our elite dealer program -- Security
Pro, our Marketing Distribution Team, as well as our GE Home Technologies
and strategic initiatives on the residential side of the business.
SecurityStockWatch.com: One will read in a recent press
release from one of your strategic partners, iControl Networks, that,
“Home Security 2.0 represents a new consumer experience that merges
home security with Web, broadband and cellular technology. “ Please
tell our audience about Home Security 2.0.
Kirk MacDowell: Home Security 2.0 is one part of our
new interactive initiatives that is taking home security and related functionality
to exciting new levels, leveraging the power of the Web to afford homeowners
a range of new capabilities. Now homeowners can go beyond traditional
home alarm system offerings to, not only, remotely monitor their home's
security, but also monitor a whole range of additional functions and activities.
With this interactive initiative, homeowners can now leverage Web accessibility
to determine when the kids get home from school, whether the dog is misbehaving,
see who went into the liquor cabinet, and even address visitors at the
front door as if they were home while they are at another location. This
integrated solution will provide greatly enhanced peace-of-mind and enable
users to stay connected to their homes, families and properties when away.
This is good news for homeowners and our partners.
SecurityStockWatch.com: What are the integration issues
that need to be addressed in implementing Home Security 2.0 and how does
GE Security address those issues?
Kirk MacDowell: Certain things became crystal clear during
our research, which has included conducting focus groups of security users
and non-users. First, homeowners want to stay connected to their homes
while away. Secondly, homeowners confirmed that interactive services are
not only important to security alarm users, but to those not using security,
as well. This means adding connectivity to other devices in the home that
are not part of a traditional security system. The ability to connect
IP cameras for both local and remote viewing of events, and easily configurable
lighting controls are just two examples that stretch the capabilities
of today’s security system.
Every alarm company is interested in penetrating the large percent of
non-security users today. We knew that interactive service had to be made
available to new installs as well as millions of existing homes with current
alarm systems installed.
This retrofit model posed some challenges for us. The first was to embrace
standard technologies that simplify installation. Certainly this means
support for 802.11 b/g, and wireless mesh technologies like Z-Wave and
ZigBee, but we have also been a long-time supporter of advancing power
line communication (PLC) technologies from the HomePlug Powerline Alliance.
Our goal has been to choose the communication technology that provides
the best reliability, simplest installation at the lowest overall cost.
The resulting solution is a combination of these standards-based technologies
that provide a flexible network infrastructure.
Additionally, we are focusing our development efforts on creating intelligent
hardware platforms aimed at simplifying the installation and deployment
of these solutions. The goal is to create a solution so simple to install
that it could be self-installed by a homeowner. Clearly we don’t
advocate that – but the point is we need to help our dealers reduce
labor costs. We can do this in two ways: by cutting the installation time
required for a system, and by simplifying the level of skill required
to complete an installation so dealers can train new installers quickly
– thereby reducing the challenge of keeping and training a team
SecurityStockWatch.com: Please give us an overview of
GE Security’s solutions in this space? What is your wireless strategy?
Kirk MacDowell: Wireless technology has been and continues
to be a key initiative for GE Security. Within the past month we have
launched new and innovative wireless products as part of our new Design
Line wireless family. Wireless products are a key component to our dealer’s
success. Our wireless management team has worked tirelessly on this new
initiative. We're leading the trend with more, better and smaller wireless
sensors and related equipment such as key fobs and other controls. As
demand for installation capabilities can outstretch the operational capabilities
of the dealers, wireless helps to bridge the gap between installation
resources and the need to grow the amount of installations a company can
do in a given month.
Our strategy is to arm our partners with the industry's best wireless
components to help them win and complete more installs in less time and
at the lowest cost possible.
SecurityStockWatch.com: Can you tell us more about GE
Security’s relationship with iControl Networks?
Kirk MacDowell: We currently have a joint development
agreement in place with iControl Networks and our teams work very closely
from both the engineering and marketing perspectives. That said, we have
had and continue to have a long-standing and great working relationship
with alarm.com. We see these two companies as strategic partners, each
with their own capabilities with different go-to-market strategies.
SecurityStockWatch.com: We also understand that there
are other strategic relationships in place with Monitronics and alarm.com,
for example. Care to elaborate? Any other key strategic relationships
you care to mention?
Kirk MacDowell: As a part of our interactive strategy,
we are working with a number of partners to deliver broad-based solutions
that leverage the latest technology to power cutting-edge solutions for
our customers and end users. We gain interactive services from alarm.com
while Monitronics delivers the “Home Security 2.0” offering
in the U.S. "Home Security 2.0" extends the value of Monitronics’
monitored home security services by enabling customers to remotely access
and control their systems. In addition, customers can see live video and
pictures of their home, receive email and/or text message notifications
of events, and control lighting, thermostats and more from anywhere in
the world via their personal Web portal or mobile phone.
SecurityStockWatch.com: What are your key target markets
and what is your perspective on the market drivers for GE Security Residential
solutions at this time?
Kirk MacDowell: Certainly our partner dealers are looking
at ways to penetrate the 80% of the market that has not yet purchased
security today. A security alarm purchase by a consumer is an event-driven
purchase –a burglary or a fire are both examples of this. The security
purchase might also be driven by the purchase of a new home or even someone
going door-to-door selling home alarm systems.
Our market research on this has been very enlightening… Consumers
want more than security -- they want to be connected. At 3 a.m. the homeowner
wants the system to act like an alarm system and be on guard. However,
at 3 p.m., they want the system to advise that their children are home
from high school and that they haven’t invited over the entire cross-country
So, it is clear that we see tremendous opportunity in the residential
space for our dealers. As more families have both parents out of the home
at work with kids coming home to a vacant house, this becomes even more
important than just a few years ago.
Another key driver is the concept that many homeowners have dropped standard
hard-wired telephone service to their homes in favor of mobile phones
or the many Voice over IP solutions available today. We have responded
in kind with IP modules and cellular solutions giving our dealers the
ability to solve this obstacle, thus creating additional recurring revenue
SecurityStockWatch.com: Are there one or two success
stories you’d like to talk about?
Kirk MacDowell: SmartCommand EcoCenter is a magnificent
product and is coming to market during a time when conversations among
family and friends involve topics that often include both the environment
and energy prices and how to better manage both. This innovative connected
home solution involves a true cross-GE play to deliver the benefits of
our broader ecomagination initiative potentially to every homeowner.
For homeowners, SmartCommand EcoCenter will be their home management
portal that will allow them to control and monitor energy consumption
and costs in a variety of new ways. Through energy and water monitoring
within the SmartCommand EcoCenter’s functionality, the homeowner
will be able to directly see their reduced consumption and the benefits
of living in a smart home inspired by GE ecomagination.
SmartCommand EcoCenter offers home security, lighting, HVAC, audio entertainment
and intercom, plus the ability to monitor and measure energy consumption
and savings. The homeowner can look at their color touchscreen and view
these savings at anytime – and they can view this in the time range
they desire – day, week, month or year. This is an important new
development for homeowners interested in being more ecologically aware
SecurityStockWatch.com: What is your perspective on
GE’s competitive advantages in this market?
Kirk MacDowell: We are the leader in the integration
of technologies to give homeowners new and better solutions to manage
their security needs and exercise more control over their home environments.
This includes expansive new remote monitoring and control opportunities
that leverage the Web in ways that have never been available to the homeowner
These are outgrowths of our strategic partner initiatives and GE's research
and development capabilities including the 8,000 scientists at GE's Global
Research Centers and the power of relationships with some of the best
dealers in the business that give us direction, council and guidance.
We recently hosted a Dealer Advisory Meeting at our Global Research Center
in New York. This and myriad similar so-called voice of customer events
form the foundation for everything we do at GE Security.
SecurityStockWatch.com: Thanks again for joining us today,
Kirk. Are there any other subjects you’d like to discuss?
Kirk MacDowell: From a GE perspective we understand the
value of producing quality security products for our dealers, distributors
and ultimately end-users. As we began this interview, I related that I
came from the dealer side of the business-- 25 years of direct-to-consumer
As a former dealer I was always looking for ways to form true partnerships
with the manufacturer – to create ways to grow my business, helping
me do more with less. GE Security has bridged the gap between product,
program and dealers in a way that allows us to work collaboratively, so
our dealers can clearly tell us what they want to see AND help us deliver
Our interactive services model is more than our job -- it’s our
vision and passion for the residential segment. Our Security Pro channel
continues to grow and we have added new products and services exclusive
to our channel partners. Our regional Security Pro training conferences
hosted by GE Security and our dealers, our annual GE Authorized Dealer
trips, have and will continue to be a highlight of our programs.
Additionally, we launched our GE Money initiative, giving our dealer’s
customers access to capital. Since our recent launch of the program, we
have seen a significant number of dealers sign up to offer this valuable
incentive to their customers. Dealers tell us that when they use the program,
their average sale can increase threefold.
We have, in the past communicated to our channel partners that we would
deliver to them the “Power of One GE” and we are all proud
to be a part of the team delivering on that promise.