4 Leaders Ride the Security Integration Wave
Four security integrators explain why the industry needs to pool its resources and send out an SOS to get more able-bodied hands on deck and more.
What is your top operational challenge right now, and do you see light on the horizon?
PROCHNOW: One of the biggest challenges we face is getting top talent in the door. I hear it all the time in the security industry. As you grow, what stymies your growth is you’re not able to continue to do the work because you can’t find the people to keep executing properly. In colleges we don’t have degree programs directly related to security. We don’t have vocational programs for security technicians. I just don’t think we do a good job of marketing it.
The additional challenge is integrating a lot more IT and network specialists into our business, because that’s becoming more and more important in everything we do. Trying to attract those personnel into our marketplace is challenging because the super top talent is going to the Googles and Facebooks and a lot of these real big companies, and focusing on the sexier markets out there. They don’t see security as being that.
BAKER: One of our challenges internally is an aging workforce. How do you keep on top of making sure they’re abreast of all the technologies? At what point do you have to unfortunately say we need to move on, we need a different kind of piece in that position because it’s holding us back from a technology that could make us more effective for our client and our organization?
BONGARD: It is very difficult once you have those people, and you’ve invested thousands of dollars and hours keeping them. It’s generational too because, as Dan said, a lot of these people are going to Google. It’s the younger generation, a generation that if they did a good job in college they’ve got job offers when they step out the door. Their average stay is two years. They’re bouncing from job to job and expect to be able to wear what they want and be themselves. Most of us as contractors and integrators have a bit stricter guidelines. We don’t have the kind of resources to do that.
KARTOZ: We sometimes find the worst thing you can do is look to your competitors and think that their people are better than yours. You’re better off growing your own. We tend to grow our own talent. We expect that if you come in from another field you’re not going to understand for a while, and we give room for that. It’s worked a lot better than trying to hire from competition.
BONGARD: Everything is becoming specialized. Oftentimes, we have to have almost a job by committee. You’ll go in and have the guys who will pull the cable, then your guys who go in and device it. Then they may not be the same guys that actually install the software and get it working. It’s become very specialized and the challenge is to have the hybrid person who can do it all, because obviously it’s more efficient.
BAKER: One of our challenges has been migrating a technician from a wire-puller, then graduating him to wire-pulling and devicing, and then getting him watching how head-ends are designed and built, and then getting him wiring up panels with supervision. There’s this path, and it is one of our challenges being disciplined enough to identify the people as they’re on that path, and make sure we move them. Otherwise you run into the retention problem.
BONGARD: On top of that, if you end up with everybody’s top talent, it’s going to cost you. Then you’re paying everybody top wages, and now your costs are driven up. You have to have segregated workforce. Retention is good but then you have to have some kind of turnover, otherwise you become very complacent, stale, top heavy and expensive.
PROCHNOW: Another big challenge is there’s such a wealth of products out there, different manufacturers, and it’s easy for customers to see things and be told things. There’s a lot of customization still in our marketplace that we have to do because people see a lot of
things in the movies or television and they think this is going to be easy. Then when you really get into it you need those experienced people who understand the pitfalls, what you can really rely on and where are these products going to fall short. A lot of that challenge is in the sale upfront, when you agree to what you’re going to do. If you agree to too much, no matter how great your people are you’re going to be hard pressed to end up with a profitable job.
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