Adapting to the bold new world of network-centric physical security dominated the discussion during the State of the Industry / State of the Integrator panel presentation at PSA-TEC once again held in suburban Denver May 5-9. Security Sales & Integration serves as the Elite Media Sponsor for the annual event, which brings together a few hundred of the country’s leading independent security integrators for training, education, exhibits and networking.
Moderated by SSI Hall of Famer and Editorial Advisory Board member Sandy Jones, the session featured four panelists representing the financial, trade association and standards-making organizations, and another four providing perspective from the security integrator side of the industry. Each participant provided five-minute subject matter overviews and then answered audience questions.
Safeguard Security‘s Mike Bradley talked about his company has tripled its marketing effort the past couple of years to offset an onrush of new competitors . . . and it is paying off. He also spoke of how the firm has to live new technology to remain current. To that end, Safeguard hired a customer’s IT expert to bring the integrator’s technology up to date, from a sales and technician standpoint. “It was an eye-opener to get that outside perspective,” said Bradley. “It has been costly, but we are now walking the walk.” Bradley’s message to those assembled: “Don’t be afraid to reinvent your business.”
Bradley’s sentiments were reflected in what fellow integrator panelists Carey Boethel of Securadyne Systems and Robert Simopoulos of Advance Technology conveyed as well. News that broke during the week that Target’s CEO resigned amid a major and highly publicized cyber-security breach further fueled debate about the shock waves that could ripple and impact physical security’s status in the IT/IP landscape. Some fear was expressed that this could cause the C-level to spend on cyber-security at the expense of physical security, while others see it as elevating overall security awareness that will benefit both sides.
Boethel, featured in SSI’s April issue cover story, addressed the challenges his firm is encountering due to its rapid growth trajectory. “Managing our rapid growth means handling the chaos,” he said. “That is why we are very focused on achieving consistency in what we deliver to our enterprise clients. This has a cost, but it is a key differentiator for us.” Boethel’s message to those assembled: “Invest aggressively in your business.”
Simopoulos delved into the trials and tribulations of transitioning from a project- to managed services-based business model, which Advanced has undertaken the past couple of years. Part of that has been a fresh sales approach as he said clients’ IT managers are increasingly making physical security decisions. “Instead of focusing so much on security industry events, I have been attending managed services events in the IT space, and I learned a lot,” said Simopoulos, whose company won an SSI Installer of the Year Award in 2013. “We are recruiting network trained and educated college students and young people, and showing them how great of a career security can be for them. Simopoulos’ message to those assembled: “Walk the walk and talk the talk with end users’ IT people, and do so at a very high level.”
From the other side of the panel, Security Industry Association (SIA) Executive Director Don Erickson delivered news of three opportunities for security integrators: 1) The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is allocating money for K-12 school security; 2) a physical security standard is due next month that will provide opportunities in securing power grid stations; and 3) because more integrators are joining SIA (which has primarily been known a supplier-based trade group), the association intends to offer more in-depth project management training.