There are three leading reasons for failure in the electronic security industry — be it as supplier or reseller. The first is lacking fundamental business management skills, which encompasses several disciplines from leadership to marketing to bookkeeping. The second is an ignorance of or disregard for its rich legacy and core mission of protecting people and property. The third, which can be the inverse of the second reason taken to its extreme, is rigidity and not changing with the times. Universally applicable to these factors is striking a balance of best practices, common sense and intuition (a.k.a. the gut check).
Regarding the first fatal flaw, the recession has weeded out many of those who had ridden on the coattails of a booming industry and prospered in spite of their shortcomings. No. 2 spawned out of the post-9/11 world and remains fluid and ongoing. It has manifested in waves of bottom line-obsessed investors and corporations, high technology (bleeding-edge) and IT-based companies, and others arrogant enough to view the security business as easy pickings without fully grasping its unique qualities and nuances. Although they may enter with a splash, many crash before getting swept back out to sea. No. 3 applies to firms that may have achieved substantial success but drop off due to risk aversion and complacency.
Take a moment right now to honestly assess how your company stacks up in these critical areas. Convert them into questions to simplify the process, grading on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best score: 1) Is your company as well managed and professional as it can possibly be?; 2) Throughout your company, is there a knowledge of and respect for our industry’s history and sense of purpose to preserve people’s well-being?; 3) Does your company adjust in accordance with sociological and technological shifts affecting the marketplace?
How did you do? Drop me a line and let me know (I’ll keep it confidential). Sometimes we’re too close to the situation to be truly objective, so also try having others you trust within or familiar with your organization for their takes, urging them to be brutally frank. A highly qualified independent board or committee can be an excellent source of such feedback. I regularly query SSI’s esteemed Editorial Advisory Board whose invaluable input helps make sure this publication remains on target. Routinely “checking in” with both key and random customers provides another essential indicator, so be sure a mechanism is in place to facilitate that.
Even if you scored well in the above analysis, the dynamic nature of business necessitates ongoing monitoring and striving for continuous improvement. As you review the many ideas, opportunities, solutions and research packed into our annual Integration Issue, consider how they can be incorporated into your business within this larger context.
There are many fabulous companies in our vibrant industry that exemplify the characteristics outlined here. One in particular is Diebold, which I recently had the good fortunate to become better acquainted with after being the invited featured speaker for the firm’s first-ever Electronic Security Sales Summit near its North Canton, Ohio, headquarters.
This well-known brand founded by Charles Diebold has remained true to its roots while enduring more than 150 years and blossoming into a $3 billion global operation. Presently, the company is leveraging the world-class infrastructure, logistics and service competencies that have made it the market leader in ATMs and other financial/currency products to grow its electronic security systems design, installation and monitoring business. And a high-profile executive with a vaunted record of success, Tony Byerly (ex-Stanley, HSM, ADT), has been appointed to lead the charge.
So we have an exceedingly well managed provider built on a security-first foundation with a drive to adapt and expand. According to our criteria above, it looks like a home run for Diebold. But even the ebullient Byerly knows you can never take your eye off the ball. Are you just as ready to step into the batter’s box?