Are Outsiders Muscling In?

What are electronic security contractors most concerned about as the year comes to a close? COMPETITION! Perhaps that’s not too surprising, but the sources of that competition may defy your expectations.

If you are a regular subscriber of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), you should have received this issue poly-bagged with our 2004 Buyers’ Guide & Fact Book, which includes many of the findings of our annual Dealer Survey. At the end of that poll, respondents (nearly 700 of them) were asked to rate 13 hot industry issues on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the highest level of concern.

Topping the list, with an average concern rating of 6.3, was a tie between competition from sound/video contractors and competition from network/IT companies. Competition from electricians followed with a rating of 6.0. Meanwhile, respondents said they were less worried about rival security companies (5.2) and manufacturers selling direct (4.8).

It’s difficult to discern the degree to which these results are based on actual market erosion, as opposed to supposition and fear fueled by an upsurge in the attention devoted to security by those industries’ trade press, associations and show organizers. Are these industries legitimate contenders or pretenders ready to fall in line behind the cable and telephone companies, among others?

Undeniably, the landscape of the electronic security industry is shifting. It’s called evolution, and it’s unavoidable. In fact, the convergence of technology in the way products are conceived, developed, manufactured, deployed and used is reshaping the landscape of all electronic- and computer- based industries.

Sure, there will be some changes in the way security solutions are delivered to the end user, but there will always be plenty of demand for well-managed security contracting companies. Darwinism – survival of the fittest – is as true for the electronic security industry as it is for the animal kingdom. Going head to head with other industries might thin the herd a little, but it will also force those left standing to be as professional and proficient as possible.

The bottom line is – whether competitive challenges are real or perceived – security contractors largely control their own fate. Besides, these concerns might be completely different a year from now. After all, none of the top five from the previous survey repeated, and last year’s No. 1 issue – lack of training – came in last this time around! Go figure.

Here’s wishing you and yours the very best holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2004!

To Make Things Perfectly Clear …

In my October column, in talking about a service call where a cordless phone was off the hook (which of course would not affect line seizure), I neglected to mention the main reason for the call was actually a loose red wire into the RJ-31X jack. Sorry for the confusion.

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