Users Answer ‘How Far Traveled Is the Road to Convergence?’

Every security manufacturer and integrator is engaged in the industry’s transformation from compartmentalized thinking and planning for enterprise protection to the new model of conjoined IT thinking and planning. I recently saw a trade show sign that proclaimed we are becoming the new “securITy” industry.

The question is how far has the “old” security industry marched into this new business model? Are we still in the beginnings of the transformation? Halfway there? Or even further down the road? At security trade shows there are lots of seminars focusing on convergence and what it means to every level of the industry. The problem is if you speak to the sales departments of the industry’s leading manufacturers you can easily be just as uncertain about the real impact when you’re finished asking questions as you were when you started.

Convergence Buying Eclipses 20%

Normally, the security user is the most accurate barometer for questions of this type. So instead of looking at the back end of the sales sequence, where orders arrive without any particular designation as to their purpose, we asked a national panel of users about the portion of their 2007 security orders that are budgeted for deployment into convergent systems.

The picture is widely varied since users are at different levels of convergent planning. It depends on the size of the user (the bigger, the more advanced), the type of user (service companies are more IT advanced), and so forth. The chart below illustrates a picture of actual convergence spending as a frequency distribution. It shows the way in which users answer the question of what percentage of their 2007 security product purchases are for installation in a convergent security/IT system. On a weighted basis, the overall average is 34.7 percent. But as you can see there is a 50-percent cluster of users now spending at least 31 percent of their security budget for convergent security equipment. A disclaimer is necessary: research is only as accurate as its sample in reflecting the true marketplace of respondents. In our view, the sample for this initial research in to the convergence trend is biased toward convergence- interested users, more so than others who are less interested.

Also, there are smaller users not accounted for across the marketplace since every enterprise has some form of security protection, even if the executive in charge holds a nonsecurity title. The 35-percent average is therefore a bit inflated in view of the fact that those less interested do not respond and cannot be accounted for easily.

We estimate the true picture of 2007 convergent-oriented security equipment sales to be more in the 20- to 30- percent range. But even at that level, we have to conclude this trend is no longer in its early stage. In fact, it is well down the road toward the ultimate reshaping of the industry.

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