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: Andre Greco, Director of Sales Security & Fire Solutions, Johnson Controls Inc.
What do you expect will be the biggest changes, challenges and/or opportunities as they relate to security technology, markets, and business & operations?
Andre Greco: We’re not likely to see many technology breakthroughs in 2013. Product and solution upgrades will be smaller and incremental in nature. Until the economy significantly improves, manufacturers won’t be willing to take on the added sales and marketing expenses required to grow a new product. But that’s not to say some relatively new products and services won’t continue to gain industry acceptance. For example, the cloud environment has shown itself to be secure and cost-effective for storing and accessing security systems data. As a result, we’ll see an expansion of cloud-based services, including a greater demand for managed services. By allowing an integrator to monitor and store systems data and handle alarm events, end users will be able to reduce or redirect manpower to focus on an organization’s core strengths. For the integrator, managed services are a source of recurring monthly revenue. Also, expect larger end users to continue to move toward the convergence of the security and building automation functions. Providing a single point of control for security, lighting and environmental systems adds convenience and reduces organizational manpower needs. Access control will grow closer to the door as the industry continues to embrace smart, edge-based devices. More systems will be wireless, enabling access control in places that were previously impossible to protect, such as remote sites. The end result will be the same or greater capabilities with less hardware. There will be a new trend in the way recorded video is reviewed. Software can now provide a synopsis of user-defined events. That can save a security team hours of time finding those mission-critical events.
As for markets, three in particular should be top industry performers in 2013. Education will continue to grow as more facilities are built to replace older infrastructure and meet the needs in many areas of a growing population. New laws and regulations taking effect are changing the healthcare market. Hospitals will be pressured to care for more people while maintaining or increasing patient satisfaction. That will help drive demand for security products and services. And utilities, which are critical to a region’s economic health, will look for more video, access and visitor management systems to protect power plants and transmission facilities against criminals ranging from copper thieves to terrorists.
On the operations side, security directors are being asked to do more with continued tight budgets. The successful manufacturers will be those spending time talking with customers, both integrators and corporate security directors, to make sure they are providing products truly in line with end-user needs. For dealers and integrators, the new IT-centric security industry has changed the type of employee – from salesman to technician – integrators require. Finding qualified employees will involve recruiting in new fields such as telephony, software development, IT and related industries. Hiring the right people will become even more important to running a successful business.
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?
Greco: End users will no longer accept standalone technology. Even the standard definition of integration no longer applies. It’s not enough to simply link access control, CCTV and alarm points anymore. In 2013, integration will come to mean security working seamlessly with an organization’s exiting business applications and different operating systems and databases. This much more complex version of integration will create more available data — moving bidirectionally between systems — to create new opportunities and solutions for solving end-user problems. This is a challenge for integrators and manufacturers to stay ahead of the technology curve. Those that show an understanding of how to build and add value to their products, services and operations will be the long-term winners.
Is there anything else you would like to add pertaining to 2013 relative to security or the overall business climate?
Greco: The retail market is one of the more interesting verticals. Probably more than any other, retailers have learned to make the broadest use of its security solutions. That’s particularly true with video. Retailers are monitoring and reviewing their video to help determine staffing needs, customer shopping habits and traffic patterns, product placement and liability issues. By sharing value with the marketing, human resources and legal departments, retail security directors have an easier time asking for larger budgets.