PSA Security Network President, SSI Editorial Advisory Board member and Hall of Famer Bill Bozeman tells the story of how the CEO of the Fortune 500 company his attorney son-in-law works for was eager to meet with Bozeman after learning he was in the security industry. Feeling honored by the request, Bozeman’s elevated sense of importance was quickly dashed as the CEO’s keen interest evaporated upon discovering his expertise was in physical electronic security rather than logical IT/network/cyber security. In an era where chief executives fear their heads being handed to them in breached network scenarios like that of Target’s CEO, cybersecurity has never been more top of mind among corporate end-user decision makers. So where does physical security fit into this new world order?
It’s no wonder adapting to network-centric security dominated discussion at the State of the Industry presentation at PSA-TEC, held outside Denver May 5-9. It was at that panel session where Bozeman shared that cold slap of corporate client reality. Having attended all PSA’s annual conferences since the late-1990s, I have witnessed firsthand the progression of security systems integrators from being strictly focused on projects, hardware and electronics to evermore deeply involved with services, software and networks. Clearly, those trends are only accelerating.
My belief, as well as sentiments conveyed to me during PSA-TEC, is that for those embracing the changing landscape and adjusting their business models, personnel skillsets and technology offerings accordingly, there is no need to panic. Integrators positioning themselves in such a fashion are justifiably confident of their continued relevance and future success, with many already reaping the rewards. Smart managers are proceeding with an eyes-wide-open approach that favors lean, nimble and responsive operations.
In an era where CEOs fear their heads being handed to them in breached network scenarios like that of Target, cybersecurity has never been more top of mind. So where does physical security fit into this new world order?
Moderated by SSI Hall of Famer and Editorial Advisory Board member Sandy Jones, PSA-TEC’s State of the Industry session featured four panelists representing the financial, trade association and standards-making organizations, and another four (Bozeman among them) providing perspective from the security integrator side of the industry. The latter included three executives familiar to SSI readers: Safeguard Security’s Mike Bradley, Securadyne Systems’ Carey Boethel and Advance Technology’s Rob Simopoulos.
Bradley talked about how 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 parting message: “Don’t be afraid to reinvent your business.”
Boethel 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 parting message: “Invest aggressively in your business.”
Simopoulos delved into the challenges 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,” he said. Simopoulos’ parting message: “Walk the walk and talk the talk with end users’ IT people, and do so at a very high level.”
While some industry professionals are understandably concerned C-level end users’ cybersecurity vigilance and spending could come at the expense of physical security, most believe the heightened awareness will prove beneficial for everyone. Those integrators tell me one of their primary missions is helping their clients’ IT managers be heroes within their organizations. That level of partnering is going to propel security integration businesses forward as indispensable pieces of the commercial marketplace.