If you were to plot out the current fortunes of security systems integrators as a chart you would find yourself staring at a bell-shaped line graph. The apex or midpoint would reflect the fact that the highest percentage of those businesses leaned toward breaking even revenue wise during 2011, with approximately equal numbers falling on either side of doing better or worse than that. It’s certainly not the ascending pattern of widespread growth most of us would prefer to see, but nor is it the descending course of extreme market hardships.
SSI’s eighth annual Systems Integration Study shows the most common response when asked to compare 2011’s revenues and gross profit margin to 2010 was “About even (flat, 1% up or down).” Both marked rises from the previous survey and there were fewer integrators reporting revenues or margin improvements. Similarly, fewer companies reported gross sales revenues in excess of $5 million. It’s no wonder more than half the integrators say the recession continues to have a major impact, staffing and salaries remain closely watched, and outlooks are more pessimistic.
Yet there are many rays of light piercing through the data. New systems installations are up 12 percentage points from a year ago, possibly signifying the recession’s end-user spending slowdown is finally subsiding. The residential market is exhibiting gains in both access control and video surveillance business, indicating the housing/construction collapse may be waning and a market that may be coming of age for those types of advanced technologies. Also up is the fire/life-safety segment. Furthermore, managed access control, IP video cameras, new systems, video management (VMS) and physical security information management (PSIM) solutions, analytics and, especially, megapixel cameras are riding upward trajectories.
That’s just a snapshot of the wealth of information presented within the 2012 Systems Integration Study. Initiated in February by Bobit Business Media’s Research Department with support from PSA Security Network, the survey was distributed to thousands of security integrators nationwide. Of the 399 completed surveys submitted, 177 met the systems integrator criteria as installing primarily integrated video surveillance and/or access control systems, and the majority of accounts not being monitored burglary/fire alarm systems.
Looking at the overall thrust of this year’s study, if the bell mentioned at the outset was real, its ring would resonate the need for integrators to continue implementing efficiencies and pursuing opportunities with the same take-no-prisoners fervor they did at the peak of the recession. The greatest success will come to those with both the smarts and stomach it takes to persevere these challenging times. The fortitude of the latter is up to the individual, the intelligence of the former is greatly enhanced with the research that follows.
Click here to view SSI’s eighth annual Systems Integration Study.
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 12 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.