Dr. Steffen Berns, the Managing Director of Bosch Limited and President Bosch Group India, has been associated with the Bosch Group since 1990. From 1996 to 1999 he had his first stint in India as General Manager of R&D and Technical Sales at Bosch Limited (then MICO) Bangalore, and as first Managing Director of Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Limited (then Robert Bosch India). After his tenure in India, he returned to Stuttgart and headed the Diesel Systems Electronics for around seven years, before he was nominated to the Board of Gasoline Systems as Executive Vice-President Engineering, looking after gasoline, transmission control and electrification.
SECURITY TODAY met up with Dr Berns and Mr. Sudhir Tiku Senior General Manager & Country Head, Bosch Security Systems to find out Bosch’s plans for India and the current scenario of security system in the country.
Is the growth of Bosch in India in sync with the growth internationally?
No, I would say we are growing faster here than what we are internationally. Because in all Asia and the Indian market the growth is still fast whereas in other markets there is a saturation level that has been reached. It’s also because we are expanding our businesses in different dimensions.
How would you rate Bosch’s growth in India and how do you view the future?
We have been in the business for ten years in India and the growth has been extraordinary, which of course is easier if you start small. But of course we are not small anymore especially if you take, for example, the last three years where the growth rate is around 24%. That’s a strong double digit growth and that is also the plan for the future. Although I cannot disclose the growth for 2013 yet, it is also a strong double digit. So that’s quite healthy in an overall difficult market environment.
Is 24 % growth largely contributed by CCTV?
In terms of broad based split, video surveillance would be our largest split in the market followed by the communication products. Bosch is known for quality video surveillance products so your assessment would be correct.
What about access control and alarm systems or intrusion and fire safety?
Well, intrusion we are not very big in, but we are seeing some explosive growth in fire products. Fire products would be growing at a rate of 50%, which is also because of regulations that warrant mandatory fire systems in place, which have helped. Plus the fact that Bosch has some products which architects like. For example most of the detectors protrude from the ceiling while our detectors are flush mount and merge with the ceiling. Most new hotels like this concept for aesthetic reasons and hence there is good growth in fire safety systems. Intrusion… we just don’t sell in the market. But next year we intend pushing it harder in the market.
Is that because of any pointers that the market will be ready for that next year…?
Yes, studies indicated that market will be ready for it next year and we had discussions with top end builders who have expressed a desire for them. See, if you sell it as a product it would be hard but if you package it as a part of a flat, then there would be value seen in it. We are working on it.
Is intrusion a complicated market?
Most of the companies who ventured into it did not have a good time in this market, for some reasons big companies have not enjoyed this market although it looks very attractive and lucrative.
Lately, we have seen that there has been a concentration on tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India. How does that translate into business for Bosch?
Yes, we are also into tier 2, tier 3 cities now and we are seeing good growth in them. What is very important is that you offer the right products to this market. For that
we have had some additions to our product portfolio. So now we have products for India that are made in India which is an advantage.
You are talking about communications?
Yes, I am talking about communications and we are making good progress in tier 2 and 3 cities.
In Video, are some products being produced here in India?
Well they will be …very soon! We hear that the Department of Electronics is backing local manufacturing… This is actually in all kinds of electronics. Also automotive electronics and we have a plant near Bangalore where we do produce electronic automotives. And of course we are fully aware of the moves in the governments on this.
So when is the local manufacturing of security systems like CCTV likely to commence?
Well, in communications we have already started. We have launched a series this year and more next year. I think in video… it should be by middle of 2014.
With more multinationals coming how is the market for security equipment likely to react especially when there are local players too?
Overall we are very positive about the security market in India. The market is going to continue developing so it can accommodate several players. As far as how competitive are we with respect to local manufacturers, there we have two approaches. One is having local products as I mentioned earlier. And second we are trying to hub up local engineering as we have a big engineering set up in Bangalore where we have over 50 engineers working dedicatedly on security technology.
This of course helps a lot. We have the second biggest R&D unit outside Germany here in India where a lot of work is done to study the market.
Is this more into software or hardware?
Well, the main focus in the beginning is always software because that is the strength of India but we also have strong mechanical concentration so it’s not confined to software only.
Do your research centres also assess the kind of innovations that you need to suit local conditions?
The basic work is to understand what kind of technology is needed for local conditions and market requirements. That’s where product development comes into play. Then we decide. Yes, a lot of assessment does go into innovation for local markets.
In how many airports is Bosh present in India?
I would say we are present in every airport with some product or the other in India. The airports run by Airport Authority of India are all with Bosch. It’s the same with banks and financial institution where most of the banks will have some or the other Bosch product in operation. In some cases it would be video, in others it would be communication or public address, or both in several cases. Let’s say it’s a balanced mix.
Internationally the transition has been from intrusion and alarm systems to video. Do you think video stands ahead globally now?
I would agree with that. In most commercial establishments it is now video that has moved ahead. In India as time passes video is becoming a prime component for any solution. So it’s the same trend across the globe and India when it comes to video. But having said that, trends do change as they have been in several countries. In Australia, it is still a lot of intrusion that is talked about. In China, it is entirely video. Every market has a different culture.
Tell us about your training and education programmes?
We have a training centre in Bangalore where we conduct a large number of seminars. This is to generate awareness about what one can do with security systems and communications systems. This has been well received.
The other programme is going to different cities and making special programmes for architects and builders and getting a good feedback and reach. We have done
this on a large scale this year and we will continue to do so next time. The response has been very good and you get good feedback also.
There is a lot of talk of city surveillance projects in India. What is Bosch’s role in that area?
We are a player in this market and we are present in several of these projects but we are not advertising it because most projects are confidential in nature. Details are thus not disclosed. We are not at liberty to disclose this. Last year Bosch had launched a lot of entry level products.
What has been the market response to that?
The response has been great. Because the major market is price sensitive. We have the Advantage line of products which were for tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This was a new concept for us but it went very well. We have actually settled down on this so we are doing well in the segment. We also have a target of having something new in Advantage line every quarter. It’s not just for India it’s a global Bosch brand.
What are you bullish about in the next one year or so?
I think we are not concentrating only on one vertical and we are looking at different segments and different verticals. We are growing overall and things are looking good ahead.