By the Numbers: The Gathering of the Clans

There is great speculation in the traditional physical security industry as to just how much the current industry structure will resemble itself in the next five to 10 years. The convergence trend is now discussed in numerous languages across the globe. Software has become a more vital component in security systems and the user’s IT executive is exerting more influence on the physical security executive. And now IBM and Cisco are members of the Security Industry Association (SIA). Who woulda thought?!

The security industry continues to undergo at least a small metamorphosis in the “ITization” of the products it sells, the organizations to which those products are sold, the words used in the sales pitch, the people present at the pitch, the multidepartmental user discussions that ensue, and the committee approach to making product and service buying decisions.

Lots of people are now involved in the buying process. And the marketing/selling process is changing in response as the days of analog security equipment are now numbered. To give you an idea of the dimension of this metamorphosis, we asked security integrators all across the United States how they do business.

As shown in the graphic, more than half of all security integrators are now partnering with IT integrators. Four out of every 10 are buying IP video products from IT distributors, while six out of 10 are competing with IT integrators for IP video business. Additionally, nearly half are competing with IT distributors for IP video business.

So what we have in today’s security industry is twice as many integrators competing for their share of the IP video pie as there were only five years ago. Add to that a number of powerful IT distributors — which are known to sell to users directly — now competing with established security distributors. The user has an opportunity like never before to see all the presentations and flog each competitor for the sharpest tech approach at the lowest price. This is what occasions a great deal of the partnering (and what I’m calling The Gathering of the Clan).

The reason for the gathering may play itself out as the security and IT industries reform themselves in the interest of reduced competition for IT-based security orders holding the promise of higher prices. The almighty digit is the magnet that’s drawing an ever-closer relationship between the two industries. Axis Communications is a perfect example of a manufacturer that successfully invaded the physical security industry with a flanking rather than a head-on attack through the IT channels. And now that IT is here, how long will it be before partnerships become joint ventures and even mergers?

If you’re connected with the systems integration business in any way and have a point of view on what’s likely to happen in this “clan gathering,” drop me a line any time.

Joe Freeman is founder and president of J.P. Freeman Co., a company widely known for its security market reports and business consulting since 1983. In 1995, he founded J.P. Freeman Laboratories LLC, which provides technical services to clients worldwide. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

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