You Can’t Spell Security Without IT
By now, most of you have probably accepted that the convergence of physical security and information technology (IT) is not just the latest hype but is actually an immutable fact. By the same token, hopefully most of you have also realized that it does not mean the sky is falling or that your livelihoods are in jeopardy. Quite the contrary, it represents a new era rife with possibilities and opportunities.
Just about every facet of communications, electronics and technology is either on the brink of, presently is or has already completed converging with computerization and network-based connectivity. The truth is we have — due to the inherent nature of security itself, high degree of legacy systems in the field and conservative mentality — arrived later to this dance than a lot of industries. It’s time to stop dragging our heels and embrace this new paradigm.
This does not mean you have to begin ripping out all your existing systems or that you should only recommend, sell and install cutting-edge devices. This transition is not an overnight flip, but instead a steady migration toward microchip-based, software-centric, network-ready devices and systems.
For example, take surveillance cameras. Today only about 10 percent are deployed on networks — but credible projections promise huge growth. After all, the user benefits of mining managerial data from security systems and tying together intrusion, video, access control, HVAC, building automation, lighting, HR databases, etc. into a unified interface accessible almost anywhere are staggering. Issues about network security and who has access to what notwithstanding, no wonder convergence is all the rage.
Convergence is not confined to commercial/industrial enterprises. The residential sector is undergoing a similar transformation as phone landlines and hardwired devices give way to cellular and VoIP communications and wireless connectivity. At the same time, homeowners are showing keen interest in folding security functions into a converged, “intelligent” home.
That’s why it is critical for security dealers and integrators to keep abreast of this shifting marketplace. Read up, attend expos/conferences and partake in training/education.
SSI is serious about helping readers take on the challenges of convergence. Last month, we featured some of the industry’s foremost experts (see “Convergent Thoughts Changing Security Thinking”), and we continue in this issue with “Keep an Open Mind About Interoperability”. And I am pleased to introduce our new column, “Convergence Channel”. This month’s “By the Numbers” finds research guru Joe Freeman also addressing convergence. Joe tells me this trend is going to have a major affect on the industry’s business models and roles of the various players, including:
Product managers in nonsecurity companies are creating their own new product ideas … CFOs in IT, video, lock and conglomerate manufacturers are scouring physical security for acquisition candidates … Trade associations are rushing to adapt services to convergence needs of members … Manufacturer and integrator marketing departments are designing sales presentations to accommodate IT in user meetings … Guard companies are trying to determine their role in this newly networked environment … IT distributors are planning security industry penetration strategies … Users are seeking to raise productivity by integrating their organization’s physical security into a converged security/IT network … IT managers are scurrying to figure out new employee authorization procedures and data rights, and how to deploy staff to coordinate physical security responsibilities.
Although convergence will be an evolution rather than a revolution, the net result is going to be a fairly radical swing. I find it incredibly exciting an industry that just a few years ago seemed to be reaching maturity is being renewed and reenergized.
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