SIA Member Exchange: Providing Business Solutions with Panasonic

Andre Greco, Michelle Chapin and Paul Schomburg of Panasonic visit the Security Industry Association.

In only eight years, Panasonic underwent an exciting transformation. In 2008, the company once known for its televisions and telephones sold 51 percent to consumers and 49 percent to business. Last year, Panasonic was 95 percent a business-to-business company and only 5 percent consumer.

The change occurred because in part Panasonic began to look at businesses like video surveillance in terms of solutions and not products, explained Andre Greco, Director of Sales and Marketing at Panasonic North America, during a recent visit to SIA Headquarters.

Greco is breaking new ground in Panasonic as the company makes this historic transformation.

A 28-year veteran of the electronic security business, Greco began his career in a regional company before eventually joining Siemens and then Ingersoll Rand. Eventually, he joined Johnson Controls and then landed at Panasonic.

As Greco has not been an executive who specializes in products, he arrives at Panasonic at the right time for a company seeking to become more a business solutions provider and partner to its clients rather than a business that moves products.

“With surveillance in today’s day and age, you cannot survive just selling cameras,” Greco said. “It’s tough to be highly profitable and sustainable.

“So, there has been an enormous change in the philosophy of the company and the go-to market strategies,” he commented. “When you change a model that significantly, things are going to happen.”

The change for Panasonic sprung partly from its acquisition of a Houston-based company called Video Insights several years ago. That acquisition completed Panasonic’s capabilities to provide end-to-end solutions in video surveillance. After integrating the company fully, Panasonic could offer a complete line of video cameras, video management software, encoders, and other devices for any environment.

While Panasonic still concerns itself deeply with the quality of its cameras and other products, it is less focused on selling those individual items and instead seeks to provide complete solutions.

“Because we now have an end-to-end solution, our mindset can change a bit,” Greco said. “The conversation has now turned to a business-level conversation.”

Panasonic sales representatives now want to hold dialogues about the top concerns of their partners. What are your challenges? What’s going well? What’s not going well? What would you like to see? What are risks to your business?

From its North American headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Panasonic remains a top 10 surveillance systems provider as it maintains its other businesses, where it spends a considerable amount of time and energy in energy mobility and connectivity solutions.

For example, Panasonic is the #1 global provider of electronic vehicle batteries, thanks in part to its partnership with Tesla. Panasonic provides every battery that goes into a Tesla car.

Panasonic is also investing in smart cities solutions. It has a significant smart city project in Denver, where it supports solar energy, energy storage, smart lighting, and other offerings to optimize energy use in the city.

The company’s top verticals for its security business are K-12 education and municipal government. But it also has very specialized business in safe cities and transportation, specifically airports, seaports and mass transit systems.

“We are moving away from simply selling product to helping people to improve their lives,” Greco said.

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