The annual ASIS show in Chicago last week was reasonably well attended and seems to be looked upon as a success by its organizers and most of the participants. However, some were using last year’s disappointing Philadelphia event for comparison. I have not yet heard the reported final numbers. From my perspective, although it fell short of ISC West 2013 for packed aisles and commotion, it was a good convention and by most accounts produced high quality if not high quantity leads.
For sure — apart from confusing booth numbering in the exhibit hall — from the first-rate McCormick Place convention center to the convenient hotel shuttle service, it was an exceptionally well organized event. However, to me, ASIS has become a strong complementary event to ISC West rather than competing for show supremacy. And although the lines have blurred, with more integrators attending ASIS than in the past and a higher number of end users partaking in ISC West, the former remains the No. 1 end-user show and the latter the No. 1 dealer show (and No. 1 overall).
As is always the case, my experience was dominated by nonstop appointments, meetings and events. It’s an excellent opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues, establish relationships with new ones and see some new products. And as a venue, how can you not like a town like Chicago where sports and blues music are pervasive? Have to admit while it seems to draw the masses, ISC West’s Las Vegas location holds no allure for me.
What follows is an overview of my breakneck three days in the Windy City — during show hours only and not including evening functions I attended such as Altronix hosting a Wrigley Field gathering and Samsung’s House of Blues party. SSI Managing Editor Rodney Bosch has provided his own account of the proceedings as well. I have broken out each of the three ASIS show days into separate blog posts. There are also some other related and linked items as you will see. Here is my ASIS 2013 experience, Day 1:
Started things off meeting with Avaya’s Lorraine Cleary, director data product management, advanced technologies; Joanne Lennon, networking product marketing; and William Parkin, director of corporate security. Discussed the company’s innovative network fabric technologies, including multiservice edge device and IP multicast model that aims to improve efficiency, reliability and scalability compared to traditional approaches. The solution, which promises to simplify network configurations for integrators, has attracted Pelco by Schneider Electric’s interest, among others.
Going from A to U, my next stop was to Ubiquiti Networks. There I caught up with Ben Moore, Ubiquiti vice president of business development. He talked about how the firm’s airVision product line is streamlining the deployment of IP video surveillance by providing advanced capabilities in a fully integrated, disruptively-priced system. He showed me how the airCam cameras have been equipped with upgraded software and a new NVR appliance. They must be doing something right as Ubiquiti currently holds the ninth fastest-growing stock on NASDAQ.
Onward and upward, actually upstairs off the show floor to a meeting room to hear the latest installation and service wisdom from Protection 1 CEO Tim Whall and CMO Jamie Haenggi. They explained how now that they got everyone’s attention and grown P1’s national accounts business 800% in three years’ time, the focus is on providing those customers even more personalized and direct communications. Whall stressed the importance of strong word-of-mouth in the tightly knit national account end-user community. A highlight is P1’s “Installer Seal Team,” which is traveling the country to quickly and seamlessly takeover Rite Aid drugstores nationwide.
I then sat in on ASSA ABLOY’s press conference, where the access control leader announced several product and technology developments. Among them, Martin Huddart, president of the Access and Egress Hardware Group, reviewed the Securitron M380 Series Magnalock. The product’s advanced features include an optional embedded surveillance camera and motion detector. It was also great to catch up with access control veteran Lester LaPierre, director of business development, Electronic Access Control, at the ASSA ABLOY booth.
Had the pleasure to then spend some quality time over lunch with longtime industry friend Guy Apple, vice president, marketing and sales, for Network Video Technologies (NVT). In addition to catching up on the latest in networked video, enjoyed hearing about the latest adventures undertaken by the avid cycling enthusiast. Be sure to look to SSI’s November issue for Apple’s bylined article on analog-to-IP migration.
The quality one-on-one time continued into the afternoon with an interview of Tyco Integrated Security President Mark VanDover. It was a nice follow-up of my extensive interview of him in the March issue of SSI. The firm, which won SSI’s 2013 Installer of the Year (Large Company), is continuing to establish its new branding and using ex-NFL QB Steve Young, who made an appearance at ASIS, to spread the word through broadcast and print marketing. Click on this link for the new VanDover Q&A.
I then got up to speed on Galaxy Control Systems (GCS), meeting with President Robert Laughlin and Executive Vice President Rick Caruthers. Although the access control specialist has been around for 40 years it has been somewhat of a niche, mostly government and industrial, equipment supplier. They are now looking to change that, seeking to go beyond word-of-mouth with more marketing and branding initiatives. Laughlin says the firm has earned its stripes with fair prices and exceptional customer service. Recently, GCS has realized booming growth in the Middle East as Caruthers shared with me some entertaining tales from the region including Sheik clients.
Next was the latest from access control management specialist Quantum Secure. Rochelle Thompson, director, corporate marketing, told me how the company’s SAFE Software Suite now has a simpler, faster reporting engine to provide security management with insights needed to make better business security decisions, while new out-of-the-box templates automate a wide range of security operations. She also mentioned SAFE for Mobile Solutions has been introduced to improve productivity and increase end-user satisfaction.
My first day on the ASIS show floor ended with a briefing from Ingersoll Rand (IR) Security Technologies PR specialist and longtime industry friend, Tom Brigham. He updated me on IR’s aptiQmobile Web-based key management system that allows near-field communications (NFC)-enabled smartphones to be used as ID badges to gain access to buildings and other ID card uses. Previous NFC pilot programs at Villanova University and the University of San Francisco involved iPhones, but Android phones can now be used as well. Is this the future of access control? Only time will tell.
Read more about ASIS 2013 with my Day 2 report.