Despite the nation’s fiscal belt-tightening and immense economic uncertainty, security systems integrators appear to be doing better than most. As the first part of SSI’s fourth annual Systems Integrator Study shows, the number of access control and video system installations, project sizes and gross profits are up across the board. Much of this success is being fueled by rises in networked systems and those featuring IP cameras.
To look beyond the numbers, I recently probed the minds of three proven and trusted industry veterans who are out there “in the trenches” each and every day to get their perspective on the current state of the security systems integration business. My thanks to Jim Henry, chairman and CEO of Henry Bros. Electronics, Keith Ladd, CEO of The Protection Bureau and Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of the PSA Security Network for sharing their insights.
What Are The Most Exciting Trends In The Security Systems Integration Industry Right Now?
Ladd: Obviously convergence, but sometimes I feel convergence has not progressed very far from the early days of the ‘integrated burglar/fire alarm panel.’ Those panels truly brought the intrusion detection and fire detection areas into one system, interrelated, controlled by a single operating system, and using one signaling component to sound/show both alarms. We are still just beginning to experience convergence.
Right now we are experiencing the trends of IP cameras and video security management, analytical video security, access and visitor control. These all give us access to markets where we can vend high-tech services, database creation and management, and cost-effective solutions to security needs. One way this is accomplished is by coordination with the IT operations of clients — a new and exciting challenge.
Bozeman: The most exciting trends are the recent releases in video analytics and intelligent video. I believe analytics will be the next big thing in the electronic security industry. They will bring video surveillance to the next level as far as acceptability by the general public. Instead of being a passive tool, video surveillance will become an active deterrent and management tool. PSA is seeing a significant upswing in demand for our video surveillance products and services with these new trends.
What Is The Greatest Challenge Your Company Currently Faces, And How Is It Being Dealt With?
Ladd: We must be more effective in providing security services and solutions to clients. They expect four-hour response and the problem rectified on that first call. They require higher and higher standards of installation. We have to be better and quicker at what we do.
The second challenge is to be efficient — to use our resources well and to the best advantage. We need to have more billable hours for each day. We have to make sure our activities are measurable so we can better manage them. We need better and more efficient bookkeeping and management systems. We need to train and educate far beyond what was needed in the old ‘relay panel’ days.
What Do You Envision This Industry Looking Like 10 Years From Now? Will You Be Able To Keep Up?
Henry: I envision that the majority of security systems sold into both the public and private sectors will be managed via ‘situational awareness software’ that will ‘knit together’ the disparate products and technologies we use in today’s security systems. Also, I anticipate IT and physical security will converge to provide a total security solution. The ability to keep up with those changes begins with understanding where the industry is going before it gets there and making the necessary commitment to training, staffing and partnerships.