12 Essential Education Market Tips Shared at Total Tech Summit

The SSI Summit’s umbrella invitational event gathered 400 pros to compare best practices, network and connect with key vendors.

12 Essential Education Market Tips Shared at Total Tech Summit

(l-r) Scott Goldfine moderates a panel featuring Vermillion Systems President David Vermillion, Cam-Tek Systems Consultant Kurt Tadich, Eastern Time Vice President Bryan Rizzo and Geuterbruck USA President and CEO Terry Ottinger.

FORTH WORTH, Texas ― Representatives from some of the electronic security industry’s leading dealers and integrators convened at the convention center here Nov. 4-6 eager to soak up fresh ideas and reinvigorate their companies, network with colleagues from around the country, and strengthen or strike new partnerships with technology and business solutions vendors.

The fourth annual Security Sales & Integration Summit brought those 100 professionals together as part of the ninth Total Tech Summit (TTS), which included another 300 integrators from SSI sister publications CE Pro’s custom home installation and Commercial Integrator’s commercial AV audiences. As in the past, all the attendees were able to interact in a vivid reflection of converging markets.

Combined, those approximately 400 integrators will earn $4.2 billion in 2019 (nearly 9% growth) and perform close to 200,000 installations. Here, they engaged in an itinerary that included educational sessions, keynote, networking events, and vendors expo, presentations and prescheduled one-on-one meetings with attendees.

The SSI Summit featured three panel presentations covering the hot-button topics of managed security as a service, artificial intelligence and analytics, and the education market. The latter of those represents one of the biggest vertical markets for commercial security dealers and integrators.

Held the morning of Nov. 6, “Security School Is in Session to Help You Graduate to Head of the Education Market Class” looked at trends, opportunities and requirements for security in the K-12 and higher education markets. That included: threats to evaluate and address; viable solutions from access control to video surveillance to mass notification; effective system design and compliance considerations; monitoring applications and recurring revenue opportunities; and how to interface with security decision makers.

Moderator Scott Goldfine, editor-in-chief and associate publisher of SSI, told the audience: “It is natural to have mixed feelings about this market. On the one hand, it is among our nation’s great tragedies that students, parents, teachers and faculty have to fear the worst on college and school campuses. On the other hand, the security solutions that all of you can bring to bear to help keep educational institutions safer lies at the heart of what our great industry is all about. And so for us, this market is about both purpose and profitability.”

He shared FBI data showing that in the United States from 1966 to 2018, there were 14 active shooter incidents at K-12 and higher ed campuses, which resulted in nearly 200 deaths and almost another 200 wounded. All but three of those shootings have occurred since the year 2000. “While those incidents grab the headlines, the unique security needs of this market are enormous in many other ways as well,” Goldfine added.

The session’s panelists were Eastern Time Vice President Bryan Rizzo, Vermillion Systems President David Vermillion, Geuterbruck USA President and CEO Terry Ottinger and Cam-Tek Systems Consultant Kurt Tadich. Together, they delivered the following essential 12 takeaways:

  1. There’s no substitute for strong relationships developed over time with key school personnel. Be responsive even to small opportunities. Service makes the difference in who gets chosen when they have the luxury of making decisions based not solely on price (public bid).
  2. The systems need to be easy to use and intuitive. Video surveillance and access control the biggest opportunity, with gunshot detection and video analytics (unusual activity, weapon detection) gaining traction.
  3. In most cases, the role of the integrator/dealer is to educate decision makers on the best technology solutions to address security risks, but we are hands-off when it comes to creating policy for handling specific threats/events.
  4. Be well educated in the wide array of tech-based solutions available. The ability to explain and offer fully integrated solutions including video surveillance, access control, visitor management, video analytics and AI (facial recognition, gun/gunshot detection) are crucial.
  5. Security integrators must manage expectations of these advanced integrated technologies. The educational institution should clearly understand that technology is only one element of an overall security plan.
  6. Due to budgetary constraints, any technology recommendations we make should always be forward-thinking. We must ensure what we offer today is scalable for growth, expansion and will integrate well with other technologies in the future, as budgets allow.
  7. Once you establish your expertise as a business partner, act in gratis (free) as a consultant to all constituents. This includes targeted levels of the customer’s employee base as well as the architects, engineers and construction managers delivering new and renovation work.
  8. Make yourself abundantly available and feed them industry knowledge. Most HE customers and even K-12 pride themselves on being research focused. Stimulate this by offering free pilot programs and involve them in manufacturer’s beta programs when available.
  9. Safety is the No. 1 concern in the K-12 and HE markets. Approach them with both typical and outside-of-the-box solutions. In the age of integration you can typically satisfy 75% of their requests by leveraging various building systems.
  10. Listen to the needs and gather thoughts from several people in the school environment. Each person will be using the surveillance for a different role; talk to each to gain perspective of how that person will use it.
  11. If you can win over the IT department, you can win over anyone. IT feels the most vulnerable and is blamed for any problems or failures of the network. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.
  12. Don’t oversell gadgets, analytics and AI. While they are gaining traction, overpromising leads to disappointment and more work for the integrator.

The SSI and Total Tech Summits are invitation-only events involving those dealers and integrators that are very serious about the success of their organizations. SSI’s parent company — Emerald Expositions ― is taking over as organizer of these events so expect the best editions ever for 2020 when TTS sets down in Cleveland. For more information, visit totaltechsummit.com.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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