By Scott Goldfine
WESTMINSTER, Colo.—“There will always be a place for the physical security systems integrator, we just need to figure out where that is,” Bill Bozeman, PSA Security Network president and CEO, told an audience here Monday evening to kickoff the annual PSA-TEC. Some 800 of the co-op’s members, manufacturers and other security professionals are participating in the training, exhibits and networking opportunities being held through Friday at The Westin Westminster hotel.
Highlighting last night’s gathering was a keynote address, titled “The Future of the Independent Security Integrator,” by Schneider Electric Executive Vice President of Buildings Business Dean Meyer.
Meyer, who has a varied background in the industry dating back to 1993, outlined six “mega trends” affecting the industry and top of mind for Schneider Electric. He distilled them into three major ramifications and then brought it home with how these machinations impact security suppliers and installing integrators. The trends are:
1) A greener world that will include a greater need than ever before to secure utilities.
2) Smart cities with high-tech infrastructures where capabilities like integration and mobility are key.
3) A safer world in which both physical and logical threats must be given equal attention, and a world in which government regulation will play an evermore critical role.
4) A simpler world where end users will demand and expect an overload of data manageable, easy and useful.
5) An emerging world where global economies are all intertwined, and where debt challenges will reshape business models.
6) A world of service where just about everything can be delivered as a service, and where the cloud will play big.
The three principal ramifications of these trends, according to Meyer, are:
1) Business model disruption, making it imperative to strike key partnerships and always be adding value.
2) Competencies and skill sets of your people will be more critical than ever before, especially adapting to an accelerating speed of change.
3) Segmentation where end-user solutions will increasingly need to be customized and personalized, making it wise to focus on specific niches.
Meyer went on to talk about some pressing challenges for manufacturers in general, and Schneider Electric in particular. He said the commoditization of hardware will continue and the better margins will be on software and, especially, services. In this new landscape, he mentioned the difficulty for a manufacturer to unravel where it fits in with cloud-based solutions and whether it is best to partner with other manufacturers or focus on delivering end-to-end products. He added that moving forward it will be imperative for integrators to have tighter relationships with their suppliers than ever before.
“You need to know your manufacturer beyond products,” he said. “You need to know where they are going and what their vision is. You need to know what their outlook and their approach to the future.”
Finally, Meyer addressed the 800-pound gorilla in the room to broach his employer’s technology and channel issues. Telling the audience he favors a transparent approach, he openly acknowledged some of the bumps in the road the Pelco brand encountered after being acquired by Schneider Electric in 2007 amid a global recession and the security industry’s rush from analog to IP video surveillance.
Meyer conceded the transitional obstacles that had to be contended with regarding Pelco, but firmly stated that those issues have been solved and the corner turned. “One-hundred percent of the wrong answer is always doing things the same way. We had to change, and we have. This is the first year our IP sales will surpass our analog sales.”
Meyer also attempted to set PSA members’ minds at ease regarding Schneider Electric’s own integration and installation businesses. He assured the audience that it does not have a material impact on the supply channel and that Schneider is not looking to compete with independent integrators in that way. “I cannot speak for other manufacturers out there, but we have no plans to increase what we do in this area and are able to and desire to coexist with independent integrators.” Meyer said his responsibilities are split 60% on the integration side, 40% on the manufacturing side.
Meyer pointed out that the change sweeping through the industry can be scary but also thrilling in the opportunity it represents. He then concluded his speech with a few closing points. “Our industry is going to remain strong but we have to be able to change quickly,” he said. “It is important to take on hosted services as a learning experience, and look hard at specialization and how customers are likely to evolve. Try experimenting with new cash flow and business models. Make sure you can move forward with your installed base.”
In keeping with PSA’s penchant to mix business with fun (e.g. the long-standing PSA-TEC Jam Session), Meyer was introduced by barbershop quartet-style singers who recited amusing lyrics created especially for the occasion.
SSI is among more than 50 exhibitors (booth D9 on the show floor) and once again serves as the event’s Elite Media Sponsor.