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SSI’s 2013 Industry Forecast: ESA’s Merlin Guilbeau

Electronic Security Association (ESA) Executive Director Merlin Guilbeau offers his predictions on where the industry is headed in 2013.

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The January edition of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION includes our annual industry forecast as a cornerstone of our special 2013 Industry Forecast Issue. For the piece, I interviewed 20 of the industry’s most knowledgeable market analysts, business experts, systems integrators, manufacturer representatives and trade association directors. Some of their perspectives can be found in the magazine article, with the balance of their assessments appearing in separate Under Surveillance blog posts.

Featured in this installment: Merlin Guilbeau, Executive Director, Electronic Security Association (ESA).

What do you expect will be the biggest changes, challenges and/or opportunities as they relate to electronic/physical security technology, markets and business & operations?

Merlin Guilbeau: We expect to see continued expansion of home automation services, with lifestyle enhancement playing a major role as an additional offering to home safety and security. ESA launched its SECURE+ Initiative this year to raise awareness and understanding about enhanced digital services offered by ESA member companies and how these services are making their customers’ lives not only safer and more secure, but simpler, more energy efficient and more convenient. Because lifestyle enhancement services are such a hot button, training and certification will continue to be important factors as the industry keeps pace with rapidly evolving technology. Additionally, as high-end technology continues to expand, older technologies will become more difficult to support. As they plan for the future, security industry companies have to effectively deal with the challenges presented by AT&T’s 2G sunset, as well the continuing degradation of the POTS network.

Regarding markets, nontraditional companies such as cable providers and telecoms will continue to enter the electronic security space. In order to compete, smaller companies will need to work to ensure a level playing field from a regulatory standpoint and will need to emphasize their strengths, including knowledge of the industry, recognition and assessment of customer needs, familiarity with local markets, and grass-roots level customer service. ESA members also need to make sure their customers know that they not only provide security but also interactive solutions for homes and businesses. The growing popularity of tablets and smartphones will fuel the growth of remote monitoring and control of home services. ESA members should tout their knowledge of sophisticated functionality of security systems, which will attract customers to a comprehensive offering of services.

Looking at business and operations, our Member Profile Survey fielded this fall indicates ESA members are projecting 16% growth in the total number of systems they will install in 2012 vs. 2011. Security companies are well positioned to take advantage of growth trends. As the economy improves, companies that plan for the future and react accordingly will be poised to capitalize on these trends and grow stronger, even in the face of increased competition from new players.

What are some nagging or pressing security industry issues you expect to remain unresolved? Any ideas/thoughts about how to address or improve these situations?

Guilbeau: Given the continued growth in technology, it’s important to identify the workforce of the future, and to ensure the availability of well-trained employees who will provide the highest standards of customer service and support. Existing employees require new skills and certification, while security providers are always on the lookout for the next wave of employees who can fuel business growth during a time of rapid change.

What are some things that might surprise or catch people off-guard in the security industry? Any ideas/thoughts about how they can be best prepared to handle?

Guilbeau: Technology dominates this discussion as well. We are stressing the importance of being ahead of the game. Whether it’s the 2G sunset, the disappearance of POTS, or the continued rise of home automation as a source of RMR, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive. Even though none of the three issues is a surprise to anyone, what remains to be seen is how security integrators and businesses can turn these trends to their advantage.

Scott Goldfine

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About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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