Axis CommunicationsFeatured Vendor
The video surveillance market has been evolving quickly from a hardware-centric space to one that is dependent on software. The reason for this is simple: basic video surveillance has traditionally been based on human operators sitting before video monitors watching an analog video stream. When only a few cameras were involved, this was a sustainable approach. However, when many cameras are involved, this approach works less well. For video to scale, humans needed help.
Enter video management systems (VMSs). Using a VMS console, one human operator could manage many cameras and, although human observation was still required, video feeds could be selectively accessed, providing a force multiplication factor that increased the reach of video observation. For video to grow even further, and for video data to be utilized by business applications, more automation was required. This is where video surveillance analytics come in.
Video surveillance analytics utilize advanced algorithms, some involving artificial intelligence (AI) functionality, to offload the observation overhead from human operators. Automation can now detect threats, predict activity, track personnel, and perform other activities that previously required human interaction.
In this IDC MarketScape, IDC approached the market players from the perspective of the enterprise user. While it is tempting to compare vendors in some sort of absolute sense — treating this research exercise as a beauty contest of sorts — that is not the intent of this exercise. This research, instead, views the market players from the perspective of the enterprise customer. Based on survey data, IDC evaluated each vendor participant in terms of its ability to meet enterprise expectations for video surveillance analytics solutions. As a result, a company that might be a market leader when it comes to videocameras might not be evaluated as high when it comes to analytics. A company that has very advanced analytics capabilities might still be evaluated lower when viewed through the perspective of providing a complete continuum — VMS through analytics — of video capabilities. Ultimately, each vendor selected for this study is evaluated in terms of the user’s needs.
One thing that will become instantly apparent is that the market is heavily skewed toward Major Players, with only a few Contenders and Market Leaders. The Market Leaders are not strongly in the lead, and the Contenders are very close to Major Players. The reason for this is simple: the video surveillance analytics market is relatively new and, from the perspective of technology buyers, there are no perfect solutions. This is both bad news and good news for technology vendors. On the negative side, it means that positions will change over time as technology buyers become more sophisticated.
On the positive side, however, it means that there is abundant opportunity in the market for both established companies and new entrants. IDC plans to revisit this market in two years with an updated IDC MarketScape. It is expected that the next iteration will see major progress from the vendors featured in this study. Of course, user expectations will likely become more demanding between now and then as well.
This study is not a beauty contest. It is an evaluation of technology providers with respect to user needs, as ascertained through market surveys. This approach tends to focus on market averages rather than market verticals. As a result, not every technology buyer’s needs will be satisfied by any particular vendor. In fact, the video surveillance analytics market is characterized by integration, where various vendors’ offerings are utilized to form a complete solution for a specific application. This means that this study graphic should only be used as a guide and then the specific vendors reviewed to determine the relevance of their offerings to the problem being addressed.
In spite of this approach, technology buyers can be assured that the vendors selected for review in this study are all capable of providing an end-to-end video analytics solution, some completely within their own product portfolio or through integration with other vendor offerings. It bears noting, though, that the more integration required, the more potential overhead associated with the analytics solution. Ultimately, this is a decision that is based on the acuity of the user need, with an eye toward the operational overhead to operate and maintain an analytic solution.
This section provides profiles of the participant vendors. In each case, IDC wrote an initial profile and then invited the vendor in question to review the write-up and offer suggestions and comments. The intent here is to provide a brief overview of the vendor so that interested technology buyers can assess the vendor in relation to their needs. These profiles are not intended to be marketing collateral but are intended to give the vendor an opportunity to define its strengths and frankly identify weaknesses. Once again, these strengths and weaknesses are not absolute and must be assessed by the technology buyer in relation to specific needs.
Axis Communications is positioned in the Major Players category in the 2021 IDC MarketScape for worldwide video surveillance analytics.
Axis Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon Group and operates independently as a major global provider of network videocamera technology, analytics, access control, intercom, audio systems, and recorders.
Axis has traditionally been perceived as a videocamera provider and not necessarily as a player in the video management software or video analytics market. However, Axis offers several VMS solutions, AXIS Companion and AXIS Camera Station, and increasingly also offers integrated analytics capabilities. In addition to its portfolio of native and licensed analytics, Axis offers integration with third-party analytics since its products and solutions are based on an open application platform. Axis encourages application development through its developer community and partner programs that include BriefCam analytics, another Canon company, to offer more advanced analytics capabilities.
On the VMS side, AXIS Companion is a downloadable application that enables the command control of up to 16 cameras. For more extensive constellations, Axis offers the AXIS Camera Station. This enables Axis to scale to any level of camera deployment.
Axis is an early entrant into the video surveillance market and has provided analytics from nearly the beginning. This makes Axis a solid solution with a great deal of market experience. Recent advancements in its system on a chip with deep learning processing and its application development platform have signaled Axis’ commitment to advancing video analytics. Moreover, with its analytics offering augmented by third-party applications through its open AXIS Camera Application Platform (ACAP), Axis makes a credible case that it provides access to extensive analytics capabilities.
Axis, principally because it has been in the market as long as it has, may not be the first company that comes to mind with regard to advanced analytics. However, Axis has taken steps to correct this impression and is investing substantially in improving its capabilities and therefore recognition within the video surveillance analytics market. Nevertheless, the market is progressing rapidly, and while Axis currently seems poised to take on the challenge, it will need to remain vigilant in order to address the evolving nature of the industry.
Axis camera installations are virtually ubiquitous and span all market verticals. This makes the adoption of video analytics straightforward for enterprises. While the Axis analytic offerings are not as extensive as some vendors’ offerings, they are sufficient to address the current requirements associated with safety and security. That said, Axis appears focused on the quality of its analytics as well as making offerings easy to configure and instinctive to use. Further, ACAP and Axis’ development partners help broaden Axis’ ability to fulfill end-user needs. Finally, as Axis improves its analytics suite, enterprises can be assured that, as their needs evolve, Axis will be able to address them.
One question that arises is why are only a few of the vendors for video surveillance analytics included? IDC currently tracks over 100 market players: trying to include all of them would have produced an ungainly analysis. Instead, IDC attempted to select the prominent players in this market — ones that satisfied the following criteria:
In addition, vendors were invited to participate, based on the criteria. Those included did so voluntarily and were instrumental in providing briefings, essential company information, and customer references. Ultimately, IDC believes that it received the support of the influential market participants and wishes to thank them for their assistance in preparing this study.
It does bear noting that there are several participants that IDC included but who never responded to requests for information or review. Because these players feature prominently in IDC research and since they are major influencers of the market, they were included, but the information utilized is primarily of a secondary nature. In these cases, however, intermediate analysis and evaluation results were provided to them for review.
For the purposes of this analysis, IDC divided potential key measures for success into two primary categories: capabilities and strategies.
Positioning on the y-axis reflects the vendor’s current capabilities and menu of services and how well aligned the vendor is to customer needs. The capabilities category focuses on the capabilities of the company and product today, here and now. Under this category, IDC analysts will look at how well a vendor is building/delivering capabilities that enable it to execute its chosen strategy in the market.
Positioning on the x-axis, or strategies axis, indicates how well the vendor’s future strategy aligns with what customers will require in three to five years. The strategies category focuses on high-level decisions and underlying assumptions about offerings, customer segments, and business and go-to-market plans for the next three to five years.
The size of the individual vendor markers in the IDC MarketScape represents the market share of each individual vendor within the specific market segment being assessed. These are somewhat subjective as many vendors cannot share their specific product revenues.
As will be noted, the graph segregates technology vendors into several broad nonlinear categories: Market Leaders, Major Players, Contenders, and Participants. These categories reflect the way in which video surveillance analytics vendors meet user needs in both the VMS and analytics continuum. As a result of this, vendors that are Major Players in aligned discrete markets — video analytics is an example — might not score as high in a space that looks at both VMS and video analytics.
IDC MarketScape criteria selection, weightings, and vendor scores represent well-researched IDC judgment about the market and specific vendors. IDC analysts tailor the range of standard characteristics by which vendors are measured through structured discussions, surveys, and interviews with market leaders, participants, and end users. Market weightings are based on user interviews, buyer surveys, and the input of IDC experts in each market. IDC analysts base individual vendor scores, and ultimately vendor positions on the IDC MarketScape, on detailed surveys and interviews with the vendors, publicly available information, and end-user experiences in an effort to provide an accurate and consistent assessment of each vendor’s characteristics, behavior, and capability.
Generally, this form of research is characterized as neither qualitative nor quantitative since it incorporates both, as well as the judgement of the analyst. This form of research is known as qualitative quasi-deductive (QQD) and depends on the triangulation of multiple data sources.
It is also important to note that, in this analysis, IDC takes the position of a representative technology customer. An important part of the analysis, therefore, is the ability of the vendor to succinctly state and defend a value proposition. This can be challenging, especially in a technology-heavy product; however, if a customer is making a technology purchase decision, it is often the simplest proposal that wins. Vendors that require the customer to conduct extensive research into their product offerings typically find themselves at a disadvantage simply because of decision-maker time and resource constraints.
This IDC MarketScape reviews the video surveillance analytics market. Video surveillance analytics are those products that enable the command and control of video surveillance camera constellations as well as the reduction of data from those cameras to actionable information. These products include video management systems (VMSs) and video analytics applications that interface with such systems. Video management enables such capabilities as video data collection, setting video recording settings, retrieval of video surveillance data, motion detection, and enabling camera control features such as pan, tilt, and zoom. Video analytics applications can include object recognition, object counting and perimeter intrusion detection, smoke and fire detection, shape recognition, and facial recognition. Video analytics can also enable postrecording forensic analysis as well as people and vehicle tracking.