The New Language

Is the convergence trend revolutionizing the fundamental structure of the security industry? Based on everything we know from all the research in the J.P. Freeman Co. 2008 convergence market report, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Looking ahead 10 years, how many changes will have occurred? Will today’s security companies be able to cope with them? What happens to those that are unsuccessful in meeting the growing IP challenges in IT? We’re not counting the ways just yet because there are too many of them. A basic one is whether a company and its sales staff know how to speak the language. Can they “talk convergence?”

Sending Mixed Signals

Most dealers, integrators, consultants, architects and other advisors are currently telling different stories to security users that can confuse, as well as enlighten, them. We previously reported that convergence market penetration is about 32 percent. That estimate of leading manufacturers depends on how those companies define a   convergent system. The definition can be a product of sales force reports, estimates from integrator or middleman advisory councils, or one manufacturer networking with another.

Major market trends often take a long time to develop and 32 percent looks like a fast growing trend, especially when almost all manufacturers say they really need a focused sales training program to deal effectively with the convergence market. In other words, a third of the market has already been penetrated by what is regarded as a low level of convergence sales skill.

This suggests integrators are carrying the responsibility of translating what manufacturers sell them into a conversation that makes sense to a security/IT user buying team.

Creating System Interoperability

One of the prime issues in convergence is the question of system interoperability. Although strides are being made, truly open software that enables security and IT products to seamlessly work with each other has yet to arrive. Thus, convergent systems need proprietary modes of connectivity to successfully commission all the functionality that the security and IT experts design into the system.

For this reason, three of four manufacturers believe any sales training they undergo for convergence selling should relate only to their company’s unique approach to system design. The other one in four companies feels an industry program would suffice.

Judging by the difference between the 32-percent market penetration estimate and the high level of convergence training manufacturers say they need, some of the estimated penetration might really be other forms of integration. Or is the estimate an accurate reflection of convergence customization with integrators investing hours of service callbacks until the system operates as initially conceived?  If it’s the former, manufacturers are overestimating market penetration; if the latter, it’s a very impressive demonstration of a lightly trained solutions industry.

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