Why Today’s Integrator Needs IT Consulting Skills to Truly Succeed
Stanley Security’s Lance Holloway says learning to speak the language of the IT department you are engaging with will gain you immediate credibility.
About 10 years ago, security professionals were predicting a different kind of collaboration between security and IT departments. A newly minted industry term — “convergence” — had piqued the interest of integrators, manufacturers and customers alike.
The newness of the discussions around convergence was light and challenged many strategists to predict how marketing, product design, technical training and customer adaptation would play out over the coming years. In a frenzied rush, numerous manufacturers began the IP-enabled avalanche that aligns with today’s Internet of Things (IoT) craze.
Five years ago, the physical security industry noted that IT departments had begun taking over the procurement process more and more. This shift in customer buying became necessary as the technology competency required to properly plan, implement and support physical security products had forced IT departments to not only be involved, but make their own recommendations and, often, the final decisions.
Most security integrators had not advanced their skills and culture with the progress of technology and relinquished much control over the process. Physical security products could no longer simply be plugged into the customer network and forgotten.
The addition of undocumented Windows boxes, unplanned maintenance requirements and bandwidth consumption had begun to put security teams and integrators in a negative light with IT departments seeking business continuity and audit-ready control.
Today, this culture chasm has culminated in IT and cybersecurity groups often putting a hold on projects until manufacturers can prove cybersecurity readiness of their software and hardware. Today, physical security devices are at the heart of some of the largest hacker breaches in history. Today, “convergence” has ceased to be an idealistic discussion and is now a strategic and mandatory operating procedure.
Understand the Perspective of IT’s Side
IT departments are paid to ensure uptime, data integrity and business efficiency. Their responsibilities include safeguarding their companies from any individual or department’s irresponsible business and data practices. With the addition of aggressive merger and acquisition environments, IT is often called on to reconcile customer data and prepare numerous new locations for digital business sharing while ensuring precious data security.
Additionally, IT departments are asked by legal, HR and risk management to leverage the existing business systems to ensure compliance, safety and secure intellectual property. Discovering that millions of dollars had been invested in security systems that do not pass cyber-vulnerability testing and have gone unmanaged and unpatched for years — with old operating systems still on the network — is a direct threat to their mission statement and daily efforts.
Could that be the possible context of the next security project meeting if an IT leader is leading the way?
What Is Required of the Security Integrator?
Integrators who can walk into a project meeting having prepared for native IT discussions that complement their mission will gain immediate credibility. Disclosing that the products being recommended have already gone through self-attestation and vulnerability testing and that the core PACS and VMS systems have been vetted, and will dovetail correctly with corporate identity management platforms, will garner respect and further discussion.
This should be the new baseline for today’s physical security integrator. While technology selection plays a vital role in this culture transformation, a new chapter in consultative selling and post-sale presence will prove to be a major opportunity within the security industry. While many consulting firms exist to fill this gap, the integrator has an advantage to own the entire process with their hands-on service and knowledge.
Several leading integrators have created in-house consultant roles to assist customers in not only buying the right product, but migrating their internal culture to a successful adoption of the policies and processes required. Professional engineering services teams have taken technology deployment to the next level for years, truly proving a value-add to ensure correct delivery of IP enabled products and provide user training thereafter.
Convergence, however, is equal parts technology and culture. The new security consultant will be the one to lead integrators, end users and IT departments into true convergence.
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