ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: The Roundtable Discussion Continues …

The top two challenges facing installing security systems integrator companies today are transitioning to new, service-based business models,  and recruiting people with the requisite mindsets and skill sets to make it happen. That’s the gospel according to the wisdom imparted during a recent roundtable discussion among leading integrator executives moderated by SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION.

Those broad-stroke issues contain myriad moving parts and facets, all of which were addressed in revelatory detail by the leadership brain trust, which was brought together during this year’s PSA-TEC event outside Chicago. Taking part in the candid, closed-door session were CEOs Matthew Ladd (The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa.), David Levine (Security Control Integration, Albuquerque, N.M.), Pierre Trapanese (Northland Control Systems, Fremont, Calif.) and Eric Yunag (Dakota Security, Sioux   Falls, S.D.).

Enriching the highly interactive dialog were the facts that not only does each participant head a highly successful operation but together they provide an especially diverse industry perspective given their varying ages and geographies. So expansive were their viewpoints that what follows is only half the story. The first half of the roundtable can be found here.

On the supplier side of delivering managed services, are the solutions out there today that you need to make it happen? What are the challenges?

Ladd: What we found as we went after this concept is we originally hoped we would find five to 10 different manufacturers that provide the whole package and we could then make a decision. What we found in reality is that we didn’t find anybody who had it all. We found that some might be strong in handling video; some might be strong in how they handle the managed access; some might be strong in how they handle alarms or dispatching. We ended up finding that the best way to do it was to try to find who had the best in the different services, find if they would work with another manufacturer and if so team them together. So we’re actually working with three manufacturers that have teamed together what will be a complete package. It was a very aggressive process. It shows that some do things very well and some do not. A central station-type dispatching provider looks at their software in a whole different manner than an access control system because an access control system was done primarily in a single building or a single company. They weren’t doing things partitioned; they weren’t having to call other people. The video is the newer of the beast and they’re finding the best ways to transfer that video, to analyze the video. But then, once they get it, they don’t have the full services of, ‘Oh, how do I use the tool to dispatch or to stop that crime?’ So what started out as a hope for five to 10, we ended up finding just a few that would work together. I am positive in the fact that these manufacturers are willing to work together, that they do see their limitations and they do see the value. Managed services is now, well, ‘integration’ was the big word a few years ago and ‘convergence’ and everything else, but now it’s ‘managed services.’

Levine: Those things didn’t really happen. These things can happen.

Ladd: That’s true. You know, if I could, and this is kind of what Eric was saying, our clients changed too. Clients don’t have the unlimited resources that they seemed to have when businesses where high. They, too, are struggling with tighter margins. So we can come in now and provide a solution and say, ‘Hey, I’ll accept that from you. You won’t have to have a full IT system that you have to have. You go off and do what you’re good at. We’ll go off and do what we’re good at, and we’ll make sure the systems are managed.’ I think that’s one of the real values that we’re going to have to bring to the client – no longer am I going to be schlepping my wares. I’m going to come in and save you money.

Yunag: There is a strong ROI case to be built around this entire model, and this gets out of the comfort zone for a lot of dealers and integrators. It’s really putting a pencil to the numbers, not only creating a strong ROI for the customer, but seeing how that affects their own P and L. This is a different model of delivery and there is money to be made there, and I think it’s starting to be proven a lot on the IT side. The good thing is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, really. We just have to apply security to the model and really adjust our businesses to deliver in a different way. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s going to happen sooner than a lot of people think. I just encourage everybody to look at their business in a little bit different way and try to invest in what goes in that direction.

Trapanese: I hate to invite competition because I’m not ready [laughs all around]. I specifically agree with a lot of the things you were all saying about the hosted services, finding a solution for the small- to medium-sized customer. I think it’s a huge untapped market out there. Some of them don’t even know that they would love this if they were offered it. In our market, we’ve been too busy dealing with the customers that we have. We built command centers for them so we actually know that it’s highly valuable integrating these different sorts of systems that we don’t try to put on one platform, but we tie them all together so it’s just one interface. Us knowing all of that and the folks that have been growing through these companies are customers in our real estate facilities, as well as their entire security departments. Having experienced all of this in the past 10 years, those folks have benefited from the growth of these companies and they’re now going on to the next best thing, which is a small- to medium-sized company within the area. So for every one of our customers of that size there is another 25 lined up behind them. Maybe one or two will make it, but the guys that are running those real estate departments understand security and they know the value of security, and they know what a command center does. They would love to have that kind of service, but they don’t have the budgets. So they have some guy sitting in a cubicle with a computer underneath his desk and that is the 24/7 command center. If I were to show up and say, ‘Hey, I’ll give you this level of services and all you have to do is pay whatever you’re paying this guy,’ it wouldn’t be much of an argument – it wouldn’t be much of a sell at all. We’re just not ready to invite competition because I’m busy dealing with this other customer base that we haven’t really had the time. We’ve had maybe three or four customers that would have been fantastic to start off testing that model with. We’re not ready.

About the Author

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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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