PSA Promotes Relationships, Relevance and Revenues at TEC Event
Top security integration leaders and talent gathered for a weeklong immersion to refine their business and technical skills.
The group then dug into increasing profitability. Rather than getting into financial minutia, the panel could not seem to stress enough the need to know and become a trusted problem-solver for your customer. “We make the most money on customer by partnering with them for deep, long-term relationships,” said Franklin. “We have also found that keeping the same representatives or team members in contact with clients is very helpful. It’s about those relationships. We also try to be proactive rather than reactive by coming up with an offering them solutions they may not have considered. Another differentiator for us is that we engineer all our solutions, which is a big positive and not something a lot of competitors do.” Oetgen added, “It’s about bringing customers thought leadership and trust. This process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
A final thought Bozeman left the audience with was the concept of innovation being not only encouraged but also fully supported at the top of the org chart. Panelists agreed that company leaders must set the example and not penalize employees who try new things and fail, but help they get back up and try again.
Moderated by Sandra Jones & Co. Principal Sandy Jones, who also sits on Security Sales & Integration‘s Editorial Advisory Board and is a member of SSI‘s Industry Hall of Fame, the State of the Industry featured panelists Don Erickson (CEO, Security Industry Association); Randy Gross (CIO, CompTIA); Rob Simopoulus (board member, National Systems Contractors Association); and Allan Wick (council vice president, ASIS Int’l).
Cybersecurity played prominently here, as it did throughout much of TEC. “Cyber and IT security is a $71 billion business that will hit triple digits and never go down. For lack of a better term, you can all prey on that fear,” said Gross. Much of this session’s conversation dwelled on education and training, especially in the cyber realm. “The top challenge is educating the physical security side about cybersecurity. It is now important to expand on the Cybersecurity Congress PSA has launched and to extend that into other industry events and organizations’ education,” said Erickson.
The panel was then asked to assess industry trends and opportunities. “Power substations are a huge opportunity. They are going to soon have to meet new security standards that will include video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection and other security requirements. Billions of dollars are going to be spent during the next three to five years,” said Wick. Erickson urged audience members to keep a close watch on all federal, state and local compliance requirements, for both better and for worse.
Simopoulus, whose company Advance Technology was named an SSI Installer of the Year in 2013, specified three leading industry trends to monitor. First was the new Partnership Alliance for Safe Schools (PASS) propagated by SIA and NSCA that has ratified electronic security recommendations for the K-12 level and according to Simopoulus plans to extend to higher education in the near future. Second, he highlighted the need to address cybersecurity issues in contracts and seek cyber insurance. Thirdly, he said NSCA data indicates margins are continuing to shrink on hardware sales and so integrators must embrace consultative sales and a services-based business model. “Integrators need to become trusted advisors,” added Wick. “Hand-in-hand with that is emphasizing education and credentials.”
Speaking of education and credentials, one of the chief challenges discussed during the session was the industrywide dilemma of recruiting and retaining knowledgeable and/or talented employees. Erickson spoke of how SIA is tackling the issue through a new pilot program set to launch at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J., this fall. It is a comprehensive two-year security degree program that is believed to be the only one of its type in the nation. The hope is it will serve as a model to be adopted by many other institutions in an initiative to professionalize electronic security.
The consensus of the panel was that the industry needs to do a better job of marketing and promoting itself as a viable career path for young people. The Mercer curriculum is a step in that direction.
SSI, an official media sponsor of PSA TEC, conducted its annual integrator roundtable during the event. This year it features Charlie Baker (president, CCS); Bert Bongard (vice president sales and marketing, Low Voltage Contractors); Bart Kartoz (vice president, Dynamic Security); and Dan Prochnow (president, Security Hunter). See SSI‘s August Bright Ideas Issue for the full story.
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