The Alarm Industry Has Come a Long Way

Throughout the years, the alarm industry and many of its dealers have broadened to full security largely on the premise that the industry consists of more than just monitored alarm systems. Now, alarm, security and home automation dealers, along with electrical contractors, systems integrators and mass marketers, are serving the security client in different ways. And they live together in a tenuous relationship, steadily redefining the boundaries of the industry.

Dealers Break Out of Their Shells

The initial separation between between those who wanted to remain alarm dealers and those who wanted to become full security systems contractors began in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the popularity of residential mass marketers and commercial access control systems began to take off. The home automation industry emerged in the mid-1990s and drew the security industry’s attention with very strong projected growth rates. Some security and alarm dealers tossed their hats into that ring and took a run at an expected boom industry, becoming full-fledged home automation dealers and integrators.

In the mid- to late 1990s, digital technology began to revolutionize the CCTV market with digital video recorders, networking and object tracking. Commercial systems integrators, some of whom were alarm dealers, became the field agents of choice for large users wanting to replace old tape systems and start piggybacking their digital video on the organization’s information technology (IT) network.

A number of alarm and security dealers have sold out. Others have opted to participate in the digital systems world while staying rooted in the burglary/fire monitoring industry for recurring income purposes. But there is clearly a definite separation from their earlier business model.

Others have totally “moved on” to the automation and/or systems integration field with little concern for monitoring contracts.  Living together is no longer an option for them, separation is not permanent enough; divorce is the only answer.

Big Players to Increase Their Roles

We can expect more to come as security becomes increasingly integrated, both commercially and residentially, like another electronic system with a bridge to or from another electronic system. Commercial security is on the radar screen of GE, Honeywell, Siemens, Bosch and other large international firms. And the residential market is the focus of every large consumer electronics company, including retail chains that provide automation and home systems contractors for shoppers who prefer not to deal with custom installers.

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