Bold Group Brass Explain Industry Expectations for 2021

President Alison Forsythe and Senior Vice Presidents Steve Keefer and Thom Meyer join SSI for an in-depth examination of the year ahead.

What are some top-of-mind security industry issues you expect to remain unresolved, and why?

Keefer: Innovation. The industry has traditionally fought the entrance of “outsiders” without taking into consideration the nature of the changing world. Back in the day, the industry fought the cable companies and the phone companies coming into the market. industry. The industry will have to learn that the Amazons and Googles aren’t going away, and we need to find a way to work with them. This will remain a problem in the future as there will be few companies in this market that are prepared for the next wave of changes in the industry.

Meyer: Standards and regulation. Dealing with remote workforce versus in-house operations, and the necessary standards associated with this change in the way businesses are evolving. Standards will have to be developed and these are typically slow to come to the forefront. Governing bodies may not be poised for the growth and change as it is rapidly evolving. There is a need to evaluate, advise, and regulate this landscape faster than it currently is.

Forsythe: Economy. Because of the slow demand and the other impacts the economy has faced, money will be tight. Capital requirements will be necessary for growth and preparation for the future. Where this funding will come from for traditional companies could still be a problem.

Meyer: Dispatch. Law enforcement will be — and somewhat already is — forced to change and respond to calls from our industry. The false alarm rate remains such that law enforcement is forced to prioritize calls on an alarm system toward the bottom of their queue. This again opens the door for security response companies to close the gap and we are already starting to see this shift.

What might surprise security professionals, good and bad? How can they be best prepared?

Keefer: Security professionals might be surprised at how quickly this industry is changing in a variety of ways including technology, privacy, interactions with clients, responses to incidents and consolidation and/or mergers in the security field. Many industry professionals seem to be surprised at what’s sitting in front of them. They need to realize what they see isn’t really a surprise.

For example, they knew that 3G was going to go away for several years and yet even up until the last minute they decided to fight it. They need to be looking for ways to change, stop being afraid of what’s to come and instead embrace it. How can we stop looking at what currently is being monitored and look at everything that can be monitored?

It takes resources to take a step back and look at where it will be in a few years and try to figure it out. It’s been difficult to get the industry to change by leading them. They’ve changed as a result of pressure or a forced shift such as someone else coming into the market. Our industry can be more proactive about its evolution in this era of rapid change and look to companies that are catalysts for change on how we drive the future of the security industry.

We see many customers who are surprised they don’t need to completely replace an old legacy system. At Bold Group, we often integrate legacy systems and new technology for customers and implement software solutions that provide immediate data, reduce data entry and decrease labor costs. With all the changes going on in the industry, Bold Group is working closely with our customers to help support their business in this changing time and help solve the new challenges that they may be facing.

Name a couple reasons why the security industry is better off today than a year or two ago.

Forsythe: The security industry has been growing at an exponential pace year over year with $282 billion being spent in the private sector alone, and another $69 billion being spent by the federal government (Building Security). Threats from foreign and domestic sources are leading to more spending in the security industry. This has also resulted in advancements in technology, operations, and services. Another reason for so much growth in the private sector is the steady change of how criminal activity is investigated and pursued. As a result, there is more interest from new and large players in the security space. We are seeing investments by large, innovative companies such as Amazon and Google who realize there is a huge market in security.

2020 forced us all to look differently at how we manage our workforce, and how we deliver our products and services. For example, remote/cloud-based access to security systems and monitoring tools will grow as buildings require less personnel to guard in-person. The security industry has an opportunity to grow by becoming a trusted advisor to customers who need to feel safe by adapting to change.

Conversely, give 1-3 ways the industry could be worse off than it was a year or two ago.

Keefer: At times, the security industry can lag when it comes to evolving and adapting to change. If it doesn’t adapt to the rapid changes happening in technology and the workplace changes that COVID has forced, it will be behind in addressing what its customers need.

As video and other new technology becomes more and more prevalent in security and monitoring, older customers may lament the loss of their privacy. We tend to see younger generations being more comfortable with video technology and less concerned with their privacy.

The increase in new technology and surveillance is potentially creating a problem that hasn’t been identified yet and we may not quite know the implications or how to harness that. With new privacy issues, concerns and laws starting to be enforced, when does surveillance become too much or unsafe? For example, on video you may not be able to tell the difference between a broom and a long rifle. People doing harmless acts caught on video may not even realize that it could be used against them.

When do you want a central station tapping into your camera to determine if it’s an intruder or just your teenager coming home late? We are behind in regulations and haven’t put guidelines in place to make a clear decision on whether we are okay with having a stranger, monitoring these alarms, make those types of decisions. Video may have opened a can of worms that the industry hasn’t taken the time to deal with yet or see the potential problems that it could provoke.

Finish this sentence: 2021 will be remembered as the year the electronic security industry …

Meyer: 2021 will be remembered as the year the electronic security industry showed it resilience, thrived under a changing landscape and reinvented itself for the foreseeable future ahead.

About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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