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: Don Erickson, CEO, Security Industry Association (SIA)
What vertical markets do you see being prominent in 2014?
Don Erickson: First is residential.When I was representing rural phone carriers in the early 2000s, broadband penetration rates were nowhere near where they are today and the death of POTS hardly seemed inevitable. Today, the continued growth of VoIP and broadband penetration rates and advances in wireless/smartphone technology will continue to influence the adopting of security systems by consumers in the residential market. Left unsettled going into 2014 is the regulatory treatment of new entrants into the residential security market and the increasing likelihood of a patchwork of state laws emerging and creating an uncertain landscape governing whether and how non-traditional entrants citing their services as being IP-enabled should be regulated as competitors into this new market. Demand for CO detectors will continue to grow as more and more states enact legislation to encourage the installation of these devices in residences.
Next is the education market.It is no longer about just bulletproof glass or a few cameras or locks on classrooms. In the aftermath of so many senseless tragedies at K-12 and college campuses across the country, school officials have embraced a more holistic approach to school security that includes increase training for personnel and the use of a myriad of security technologies. The rate of adoption for mass notification systems has increased dramatically across main campuses. The two greatest school security challenges today are how to most effectively identify risk at school facilities and how to provide the most effective training for school personnel across various emergency preparedness situations from active shooter to bomb threats and security technology. These challenges provide unique opportunities for integrators.
Lastly is the federal government market.Although the two-year budget agreement being adopted by Congress prior to the New Year gives us hope, the time of relatively predictable sources of funding for homeland security and other critical infrastructure programs is over. The “new normal” is an era of short-term funding cycles and an age of austerity in which suppliers must contend with changing pricing models for services offered through the GSA Schedules Program, inadequate funding levels for grant programs due to sequestration, and uncertainty over the future of federal programs that may serve as market drivers for the security market such as the CFATS program. Savvy integrators who take the time to understand these budget complexities could benefit the most in the immediate months following a budget agreement.
What are some top challenges for the industry for 2014 and how will they pan out?
Erickson: Despite current economic conditions, many suppliers continue to face challenges with identifying qualified positions for their teams in the areas of sales, project management, and installation. That is why Mercer County Community College is working with the Security Industry Association to develop a two-year degree program in physical security that will equip our industry’s future leaders with the skills they need to obtain competitively paid positions in one or more of these disciplines. One of the most significant developments that occurred 2013 was the increased collaboration taking place between leading organizations representing security practitioners such as ASIS and technology leaders within the supplier community like SIA. This collaboration, made possible by Michael Stack at ASIS Int’l, and the volunteer leaders of both organizations, has begun to develop tangible projects that will help to grow the entire security industry in 2014 and beyond.
Although not a new problem, the security industry needs to reinvigorate its efforts to foster greater diversity within the security industry and more proactively advocate for the hiring of women, minorities and disabled veterans. There are several associations and coalitions that have worked to achieve greater diversity, but there needs to be a renewed, larger, and more innovative approach involving a wider circle of stakeholders. Success in this area will certainly increase the business climate for the entire industry.