3 Steps to a Brave New World

Last month we talked about the power of brand names in an entrepreneurial, solutions-oriented, and only partially standardized industry like security (see “More to Branding Than Size”).

In other words, is it who you are that creates market power? We concluded that you can’t always depend on your brand to do the trick because the brand is only as important as your “what” — as in what needs to be done to make things happen? At the consuming end of the industry, the what is becoming terribly important to users struggling to understand a converged security/IT world. However, they will work their way through the challenge because they’ve got IT colleagues who can answer networking questions.

But what about the security dealers/integrators, consultants, specifiers, electrical contractors, distributors and locksmiths that face the same question? How do they make things happen in this brave new world?

It is one thing to forecast next year’s sales when you have the confidence to meet your payroll in a stable environment. It’s another to watch your friends and colleagues withdraw their 401K money, buy bonds, get completely out of the stock market, and then wonder how their forecast for next year will change.

But the other part of the question has a more direct answer. How does a middleman forecast his business when his brand name is not as powerful as those big manufacturers? His brand might be strong locally, but larger, nationally operating integrators need to know the what, too.

What Is Really Important?

There are three top answers from integrators as to what they need today. They make no secret of their need to work toward a higher understanding of IT. Customizing an electronic security solution is one thing, but customizing it into an enterprise-wide information network is a different matter, and IT knowledge is indispensable.

The second answer in achieving a higher level of what relates to the first step. The reason that a higher understanding of IT is critical is that IT technology can reek of complexity. So what integrators would like to have in their sample case is a convergence “package,” a supplier-designed system that can be deployed in an off-the-shelf manner for clients stepping up to an IP network.

The third answer is a natural offshoot of both No. 1 and No. 2. If an integrator bones up and becomes a neo-IT security expert to have a stronger what, how do you widen the industry’s awareness of that? In the case of integrators, there is a great deal of reliance on word-of-mouth buzz to build reputations and market awareness. But this has to be established with the people who have a natural tendency to be skeptical about your newfound expertise: the IT buyer.

These are the three most important steps to success in the changing world of security. Right from integrators themselves, knowledge, packaged complexity, and letting the right people see what you really do is the what needed for success in this brave new world.

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