The January edition of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION includes our annual industry forecast as a cornerstone of our special 2014 Industry Forecast Issue. For the piece, I interviewed 25 of the industry’s most knowledgeable market analysts, business experts, security dealers, systems integrators, supplier 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: Samir Jain, Director of Strategic Marketing, Honeywell Fire Systems, Americas
What markets will be particularly active in 2014?
Samir Jain: Larger numbers of end users, particularly of larger facilities, will continue to take more of an active role in the decision-making process when it comes to deciding on the right life-safety systems for their buildings. They’re doing more market research online before making a purchase, and doing more of their own systems monitoring after installation, both of which I expect we’ll see more of in 2014. When it comes to specific verticals, most analysts are predicting more growth in 2014, but in the same markets. From the data I’ve seen, nonresidential markets will see 7-10% growth in new construction starts, versus the 2-3% for 2013. Education is still a big market, but it’s not growing at the same rate as in the past few years. The government shutdown put a halt to a lot of federal government facilities spending, and the Affordable Care Act is causing some uncertainty in health-care construction. However, vacancy rates for office space and hotels are steadily decreasing, which means more spending on new construction for these markets. As for retail, we’re seeing the same trends as last year where your dollar stores and big-box discount stores continue to grow.
What legislative or standards developments do you anticipate?
Jain:Code requirements mandating carbon monoxide [CO] detection and low frequency sounders for most types of commercial sleeping spaces will definitely have an effect on the sales of those types of devices in markets like hotels, school dormitories, condos and nursing homes.
What type of year are you anticipating for both manufacturers and dealers?
Jain: Life-safety systems manufacturers that tap into those trends that go beyond fire, such as advanced detection and emergency communication systems [ECS], will experience a higher degree of growth in 2014, compared to 2013. And a lot of this growth will come from those growing verticals previously mentioned. Dealers and integrators that can step out of their comfort zones in general fire and leverage these “beyond fire” technologies like ECS and advanced detection will do well for themselves. Past that, with end users doing more research and making more informed decisions, it will come down to those integrators that can differentiate themselves through better service – those are the ones who will see higher growth.
What are some nagging issues that may remain unresolved?
Jain: In the fire alarm industry, new technology adoption has always varied by jurisdiction. As an example, the acceptance of alternative forms of communication like IP and GSM for fire alarm communications was a difficult ideology that many local authorities had a hard time accepting. That thinking around communications has changed in the fire industry, but slowly and there are still many areas that are resistant. The enforcement of codes still lags in countries right over our borders, while farther places continue to slowly adopt life-safety codes. However, we hope to see that change with endeavors like an industry consortium currently working within developing countries to drive new code adoption.
What is something that might surprise people in 2014?
Jain: For security system integrators comfortable in the low-voltage space, getting into fire is not that hard. Newer systems are more intuitive, making them easier to install and maintain, and training is widely available. Manufacturers are doing a much better job at offering up more technical information on their systems through various sources, from hands-on courses to Webinars, online learning modules and even videos on YouTube. Moving into ECS is just an additional step and there’s the same in-person and online training opportunities out there for ECS too.