Reborn at the PSA: 2022 TEC Event Tackle’s Industry’s Hot Topics
The biggest topic of conversation among everyone at PSA TEC was supply chain disruption, while technology talk centered on the Cloud, AI and cybersecurity.
Held close to the midpoint of 2022, this year’s PSA TEC reminded me of a halftime locker room where the protagonist team is suffering a beatdown and must overcome imposing forces to rally and find a way to pull out the win.
In this case those forces are not a high-powered offense or a dominating defense, rather for PSA’s team of industry-leading security integrators those daunting challenges are a supply chain crisis, spiraling inflation and a dearth of talent.
Given the organization’s Bill Belichick-caliber guidance and the Aaron Rodgers-like leadership of many of its member companies, I like our odds to emerge victorious.
PSA’s annual conference, now known as TEC, has been one of my favorites among the very busy electronic security industry events calendar ever since I began annually attending it more than 20 years ago.
That is because of its unique combination of outstanding education and unrivaled networking among leaders from the industry’s top security systems integration companies, all in a very relaxed, friendly and professional environment. This year’s installment, held as usual in Denver, this time at the Downtown Sheridan Hotel, was all the more meaningful as everyone continues to rebound from the pandemic.
With an estimated 500 participants, for 2022 the May 16-19 in-person event was staged as a companion to a virtual edition held the following week. The live education program delivered sessions focusing on leadership and next-generation talent, while the virtual sessions centered on professional development across a variety of job functions including sales, marketing, IT networking, operations, procurement and technology partner relations, technicians and project managers.
Among the new wrinkles for the live version was TecTalk Tables, which matched vendors with integrators for direct conversations — or in the popular parlance, speed dating. Both factions told me they enjoyed those meetings that they were very productive.
Easily the biggest topic of conversation among everyone was the supply chain and its enormous disruption to business and operations. During the “Emerging Technology and the Supply Chain” session, Eagle Eye Networks President Ken Francis said the combination of logistics snafus, chip and component shortages, and the NDAA compliance issue have conspired to form “a perfect storm.”
Also prompting deep discussions was soaring costs and personnel recruitment. “We are all learning as we go, facing inflation, supply chain, a talent deficit and world events like Russian storming Ukraine. We are traveling in uncharted waters that are impossible to predict,” added Zenitel President of the Americas Dan Rothrock. The panel agreed that the present climate is having a chilling effect on security products R&D and innovation, although some attendees suggested such challenges would stimulate new solutions.
Speaking of products, on the technology front PSA chatter was predominantly centered on the Cloud, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. “Although Cloud has come along slowly for security, all the manufacturers are now offering those solutions and things are clearly heading that way. That’s why it’s good for our business to be Cloud ready,” advised PSA CEO Matt Barnette during the “State of the Industry” general session.
He added that AI is “definitely coming downstream, but the industry must be careful in its early adoptions.” Regarding cybersecurity, Barnette observed that “it seems to have moved to the back burner during the pandemic, but the industry must remain vigilant in hardening vulnerabilities.”
The conference marked Barnette’s first time presiding over a full-fledged TEC event since succeeding retired PSA CEO and SSI Industry Hall of Famer Bill Bozeman in December 2020. However, Bozeman was still on hand continuing to advocate integrators migrate or at least augment their project-based businesses to ones incorporating recurring monthly revenue (RMR) offerings.
“Video is where the money is,” he said during the “Leveraging Video Managed Services to Create RMR and Build Lasting Success” session, which detailed why proactive video monitoring is among the highest valued RMR sources. “It has low attrition of about just 3% compared to 7%-8% for the alarm business,” added Bozeman.
PSA announced that for one of the only times in its more than 40-year history, next year’s event will take place in Dallas. Apparently, a larger space is needed to accommodate this valuable event.
For more of what transpired at PSA TEC 2022 Live, what’s new with the organization and some general industry perspective, check out my video interviews with Barnette, PSA President Ric McCullough and Past PSA Board of Directors Chairman and SSI Industry Hall of Famer Dan Budinoff of Security Specialists. It’s all part of a special onsite edition of SSI’s Security Speaking.
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