Incoming TMA Prez Talks Central Station Challenges, New Initiatives
Industry veteran Ivan Spector delves into market disruption, plus The Monitoring Association’s goal to broaden its membership well beyond traditional security and fire/life-safety players.
Spector is president of Montreal-based Sentinel Alarm Co., a full-service security and monitoring provider for more than four decades.
Among a wide breadth of industry participation and volunteer work in Canada and the United States, Spector has served on the board of directors for CANASA and was a founding member of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).
Spector will succeed Pam Petrow as TMA president at the conclusion of the association’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., in mid-October.
SSI spoke with him about his upcoming role and related industry topics.
What do you consider your immediate top objectives as president?
Our top objective is to drive membership consistent with our name change. So, besides pursuing those players in our industry there are other stakeholders which we feel should be engaged. It is up to us to drive value for them.
We will be releasing a refreshed version of our online education course, and continue to offer an over-the-top experience at our Annual Meeting in Scottsdale in October.
Our Five Diamond recognition is an industry benchmark, and our work and investment in ASAP [Automated Secure Alarm Protocol] demonstrates a deep commitment to our clients and partners in law enforcement.
Who are these other players and stakeholders?
When we review, for example, the top players in the industry — although TMA represents an extremely high percentage of monitored systems — there are still companies that are big players but not members.
That is the low-hanging fruit. Reflective of our name change is a desire to go out and get members in areas where perhaps we haven’t really had a presence in the past.
It could be anywhere from pipeline monitoring to environmental monitoring to network monitoring to cyber-attack monitoring. The name change reflects a broader scope in terms of what we feel we can offer.
Take, for example, if you have OnStar in your vehicle. OnStar Corp. is doing monitoring. They run a monitoring center. We’d like them to obviously participate. We have a lot to offer them and they have a lot to offer us.
Any new member always brings something to the table and can contribute, perhaps if not in what they are doing then in the way they see things. Getting in new members and fresh blood and new volunteers and new participants is always healthy for any association.
What do you consider one of your biggest challenges as president?
When we look around we see the market is changing very rapidly. Technology is driving a lot of that change. There are many disruptors in our industry.
We’ve seen more change in the past five years than the previous 50. How we respond to some of those challenges is extremely important.
How are we going to make our traditional companies be able to compete, thrive and prosper during these changing times? As an association we have that responsibility to a good part of our membership.
So technology is a big driver. Third-party monitoring is changing dramatically. A lot of it based on the areas of expertise that are required to run and operate and offer services in a much more technical and IT- and IP-based environment.
Certainly, when people look back on our industry in 15 or 20 years and see there were hundreds, if not thousands, of companies doing duplication of efforts and services, we will shake our heads and say, “Look at the economies of scale that can be generated, the savings, and leveraging the expertise that will be available in order to do a much better, more cost-efficient and effective job.”
Is capital expense a major challenge for TMA members to bring in new technologies to offer new types of monitoring services?
Absolutely. But don’t forget, it’s not only the capital expense. It is also the human capital that has to support those new services, the new customer experience.
Your customer service people need a whole different skillset that they didn’t need 10 years ago. When you combine that with leveraging IT services, leveraging software as a service, interfacing with WiFi networks, helping and assisting clients with app-based services, it is a much wider world.
It requires varied skillsets, which we have to do a better job of being able to deliver to our members in order for them to have continued success. We have driven a lot of change at TMA during Pam Petrow’s term as president.
We have to continue to be able to deliver relevant and potentially profitable education and training so that our members can continue to prosper in this rapidly-changing environment. If we don’t, not only are we doing a disservice to our members but we are doing a disservice to the industry.
If you get a couple of steps behind, before you turn around you are out of the ballgame. You are just not in the game anymore; it’s finished.
Unless companies keep up, keep relevant, stay focused and really participate in the association to get timely, relevant and important data, and do networking with their peers and with leaders in the industry, they shouldn’t even be in business. And we are going to miss them.
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