Security Feast Served Up at ISC East

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as were just about all the exhibitors, with the turnout of last week’s (Oct. 27-28) ISC East at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. The fact that the first game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium coincided with the opening of the show added to the buzz. Granted, the floor space had been wisely consolidated some to account for fewer exhibitors and smaller booths but the activity was nonetheless healthy despite crummy, rainy weather. What’s more is that, as was the case with ASIS in Anaheim, Calif.

, this past September, vendors lauded the quality of the leads and contacts they made at ISC East. From my perspective, this event the past two years has become a terrific venue for catching up with industry professionals throughout the supply channel in a much more manageable environment than the somewhat overwhelming ASIS or ISC West shows. Readers of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in print and online will benefit from the many exciting articles and other content I lined up as a result of ISC East.

Eager security professionals begin filing in for the start of ISC East 2009.

One of the unique facets of ISC East this year, and another stroke of genius to make things busier on the floor, was the deployment of several presentation areas throughout the hall where vendors demonstrated their goods and industry professionals provided educational sessions. There were only a handful of presentations off the show floor, which was a good thing because the rooms were quite a haul from the exhibit hall.

One of the sessions was sort of the keynote, featuring Bill Bozeman, president and CEO, PSA Security Network; Gordon Hope, senior vice president and general manager, AlarmNet, Honeywell; Mike Miller, president, Electronic Security Association (formerly NBFAA); and Lynn Mattice, chairman, board of advisors, Security Executive Council in a presentation titled “State of the Industry: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We’re Going.” Bozeman sits on SSI‘s Editorial Advisory Board and is a member of SSI‘s Industry

Hall of Fame

; Miller also sits on the SSI Board. The panel was moderated by Bob Berkowitz, a 35-year veteran broadcaster and news reporter. Although he brought a certain Tom Brokaw-like presence to the session I think it would have been better served with a moderator possessing more intimate knowledge of the security industry. Nevertheless, the strong lineup of panelists provided high caliber insight.

The first topic was providing security as a service, or SaaS. “Security as a service is the way integrators need to go,” said Bozeman. “Integrators today are where alarm dealers were 25 years ago when digital dialers came on the scene. They need to adapt to and embrace the recurring revenue model.” Hope chimed in that the main driver paving the way for SaaS is a paradigm shift in communications, with wireless and Internet connectivity changing the face of the industry. “One of the top challenges is how to maintain the value of customer accounts amid these communications, economic and other changes,” he said. “You have to make smart choices about where things will be five years from now.”

(l-r) Bob Berkowitz, Bill Bozeman, Gordon Hope, Lynn Mattice and Mike Miller.

On the topic of industry standards, Mattice cautioned security providers to be extremely diligent because the new presidential administration is on a mission to enforce regulations and acceptable business practices more than ever. “We will see a ramping up of standards because the government is going to drive us that way,” said Hope. “Security providers will have to comply in order to remain competitive.” Bozeman noted that government business is helping integrators get by during these tough times. “I think CFATS is great!” he said. “It’s going to generate business for us. You have to get certified, but it is not hard to do so. These standards apply to any facility containing certain chemicals.” However, said Miller, many standards contain too much gray area. “I fear inconsistencies in standards enforcement, such as how AHJs will interpret these standards,” he said. “That’s why companies have to become educated in these areas so they can in turn educate enforcers on compliance. ESA has committees following and staying on top of these standards and legislation.” Mattice agreed that there is often a disconnect between what regulations say, what they were intended to accomplish and how they are enforced.

The panel then discussed the challenge of meeting end users’ fondness for using mobile devices and networks with the security vulnerabilities inherent in using those communication methods. “The question is,” said Hope, “how do we balance the risk with customer demand? We have to give them what they want but remain vigilant in doing everything possible to seek security in software and applications.” To further illustate the magnitude of this issue, Mattice offered some startling numbers. He said the Chinese government has 50,000 dedicated hackers on its payroll, and that hackers cost U.S. businesses $1 trillion in intellectual property in 2008. “There are no software security standards today. Cyber security is a huge issue,” he said. “This is part of the reason chief security officers don’t have the time to cover all the bases for their organizations alone. They need integrators to serve as partners to manage the risk and maximize the return on investment. Do that and you can’t help but win.”

Finally, Berkowitz queried the panel on what they see on the horizon for the security industry. “More regulations, more terrorism, residential will improve and there will be more manufacturer consolidation as the economy improves,” said Bozeman. “This is one of the best industries to be in,” said Hope. “POTS is going away and communication is changing. That presents opportunities if you know how to take advantage of it, but it requires lots of training and education. Those that understand it will gain handsomely.” Mattice tempered his optimism with a foreboding message. “This is a time of huge, huge opportunity but training and really understanding the customer’s environment is key,” he said. “The IT industry is a sleeping giant that could take it over if security does not step up. It is ours to seize or lose.” Miller offered one last piece of advice. “Get involved with the trade associations because they have committees that touch the issues central to your business,” he said. “And you better really take the time to take a hard, honest look at how you conduct your business.”

Although smaller booths prevailed in the exhibit hall, floor traffic was generally high at ISC East.

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