Why Integrators Should Up Their Cybersecurity Game

Industry consultant Dan Dunkel talks frankly about pressing need for integrators to evolve their skills sets to become a trusted cybersecurity partner.

DALLAS — As a long-established professional in the converged realm of IT and physical security, Dan Dunkel stands as a plain-speaking evangelist on the topic of cybersecurity and the necessity for installing security contractors to awaken to a new world order, and their place in it.

The end game is simple enough to grasp, says Dunkel, president of New Era Associates, a provider of consultative services. You are either in the business of providing cybersecurity services — or soon to be — or soon you may not be in business at all.

“Many dealers and integrators think that’s not going to happen, but it most certainly will,” cautions Dunkel. “Business today is digital and the threat is cyber. If you don’t want to protect your customers’ businesses anymore that is fine. Somebody else will. If you think you are going to be selling mechanical locks and bolts forever, you are crazy.”

For dealers and integrators, large and small, getting their arms wrapped around a cybersecurity offering should begin with an informal discussion — not a deep dive into the technical weeds. Rather, the conversation can begin generally around crime and espionage, Dunkel suggests. “All you do is put ‘cyber’ in front of each one of those words. Crime has been around forever. Espionage has been around since the Bible. Now it’s happening in a digital format today.”

A more broad understanding of cyber threats can lead dealers and integrators on a path to a more substantive discussion about specific operational and business risks to their end customers. “From the standpoint of securing that IP camera or that access control strike pad or securing mobile devices, that kind of stuff is lot easier than having to worry about reengineering malware,” he says.

Applying Business Development 101

For those dealers and integrators yet to add a cybersecurity offering to their portfolio, aligning with a strategic partner and support resources will be paramount. The opportunity is ripe for just such a thing. Dunkel regularly attends large cybersecurity conferences such as RSA, along with smaller regional events. He often speaks with exhibiting cyber firms of all sizes that struggle to gain market share, largely because they all purse the same distributor model.

“They are all staying on the cyber side and the IT side. They have blinders on, just like the physical security integrator has blinders on and doesn’t think about partnering,” Dunkel says. “We have to get these two industries, these two players, to start meeting in the middle.”

For those physical security companies willing to expand their comfort zone and do the legwork, the strategy to identify a cyber partner is not difficult, Dunkel says. Go to cyber conferences to gain knowledge and to network. Walk the show floors; pass out business cards and make contacts.

“Tell them, ‘I’m a security integrator. We have 2,000 customers and some of them are K-12 and some are retail. They’re asking me about how to secure the cameras and how to secure some of the data. Can you help me?’”

While there may be no shortage of cyber firms with a rock solid portfolio of products and services, oftentimes their organizations utterly lack sales acumen. “They don’t understand the business development end of it,” Dunkel says. “They built the better mouse trap, but the world is not beating a path to their office. When they have extra money they hire more coders, and then they wonder why they aren’t selling anything.”

Installing security contractors must be willing to open the door to their accounts in order to strike a mutually beneficial partnership. Doing so gives them the additional advantage of being able to present themselves as a trusted advisor to current and prospective clients.

Dunkel weaves a scenario in which a security integrator is convened with an end customer, including the IT department. The CSO wants to discuss risk assessment and vulnerabilities involving networked security devices and systems. The CSO called the meeting with the integrator who arrives with the cyber partner, decked out in a golf shirt festooned with integrator’s company logo. The partner proceeds to impress with his cyber literacy.

“Now the integrator is indispensable to the CSO as a business partner, as the security integrator,” Dunkel continues. “It is just business development in its purest form. It’s Business Development 101.”

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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