According to SSI’s 2013 Installation Business Report, security contractors pull 28% of their revenues from intrusion detection, 22% from video surveillance, 14% apiece from access control and fire detection, 8% from integrated systems, 3% from intercom/telephone systems, 2% from home automation/theater and 1% from outdoor detection. However, 8% is derived from “other,” and it is this mysterious area that intrepid security integrators may want to venture. Because as any security firm that fought its way through the recent recession will tell you, diversification can be a great thing.
As part of this issue’s Bright Ideas theme, to push the envelope and possibilities even further SSI turned to its sister publication, Commercial Integrator (CI), which specializes in professional audio/video, digital signage and building automation. The objective was to gain a fresh perspective on increasingly in-demand product categories and services well within the technical grasp of security integrators but unlikely to be a focal point. We’re not just talking video guard tours or hosted access control here — we’re talking entirely virgin territory for all but a select few.
The question is, how far afield and potentially out of your comfort zone are you willing to go for the possibility of discovering a lucrative new revenue stream, one that just might be the differentiator you have been seeking to stand apart from the ever-increasing competition? With that in mind, following are 10 commercial installation categories (presented in alphabetical order) that, according to CI Editor Tom LeBlanc, are well worth investigating because they’re already tracking at a healthy clip.
1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This category has emerged over the past few years as people have become increasingly comfortable, and in many cases prefer, using their own phones, tablets and computers at work and in meetings. Integrators must work with clients’ IT staffs to provide infrastructure to support BYOD and also to protect the organizations against security risks. BYOD has taken hold in the corporate market but is also growing in education venues.
2. Collaboration. Popular among corporate and education customers, collaboration software allows multiple users to connect, share and interact with content on a central video screen via laptops, mobile devices and tablets. It’s a relatively new category that had a coming-out party of sorts at this year’s InfoComm show in Las Vegas.
3. Digital Signage. The quintessential fast-growing commercial integration category, there will be 22 million digital signs in the world this year, according to Intel. The global digital signage market will grow to $4.5 billion in 2016, according to ABI Research. If you want evidence that directly affects integrators, look at Westbury National. The Toronto-based commercial integration firm says digital signage has been around long enough that a good strategy for 2014 is to have conversations with customers about replacing outdated solutions with more robust ones, says systems division sales manager Brock McGinnis.
4. Facility Management Dashboards. Especially of late, preaching how automated technologies can help homeowners be more “green” and save some green in the process has been a priority for security dealers serving the residential market. Perhaps surprisingly, the commercial integration world is just starting to realize how to market energy efficiency. Many security controls and automation systems manufacturers have a utility management dashboard view that can be incorporated into an integrated solution so commercial customers can monitor and make adjustments to their energy usage. The better ones provide metrics on how much money is being saved and offering suggestions for actions that can be taken to save more money. Metrics are the Holy Grail for security integrators that are trying to elevate their relationships with clients to the point where they’re viewed not as a product provider but as a business partner.
5. Interactive Whiteboards. Particularly in the K-12 and higher-education markets, dynamic, connected whiteboards can be a centerpiece of what an integrator provides. An instructor can do a heck of a lot more than write on these; they can pull up documents, images and Web content. Certain interactive whiteboards are also platforms for collaboration, allowing students to display content on the screen.
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