Are integrators up to speed on software's increasing role?

Thursday, September 1, 2005

When it comes to education on the efficiencies of software within the security market, manufacturers in the industry said integrators' and installers' competencies in the arena are a mixed bag.
On one end, some integrators are efficient in software installations--pushed to become educated because of end users requesting such systems. On the other hand, other installers have not had to seek out education options on the IP-product front simply because the IP wave has not hit their customers yet.
Even so, according to a recent survey conducted by Security Systems News, the percentage of companies offering IT education for employees is growing. September's Security Systems NewsPoll showed 62 percent of respondents have implemented new training programs on IP-based products and services over the past year and 57 percent spend more today on IT training then they have in the past.
Alan Lipton, chief technology officer with ObjectVideo, said when the company started its business in intelligent video software, there was a "huge amount of education that had to be done."
Now, the learning curve for integrators and installers is flattening out, to a point.
"It's slow, but it is happening," said Alan Lipton, chief technology officer of ObjectVideo. "Education is getting out there, but they are also understanding the future and the IP-centric nature is not yet being sought out in the market."
Glenn McGonnigle, president and chief executive officer of VistaScape, also said traditional security integrators have to retool for this digital age.
"The good news is most integrators are selling digital video systems and digital access control systems, and that shows that the transformation is well underway in the systems integrator community," he said.
Lipton said the variation in IT training can be seen throughout the segments of the market and may not just rest on whether a company is small or large.
"There are traditionalists out there who need training and then there are some forward-looking resellers and integrators who take it in," Lipton said.
Peter Boriskin, with Software House agreed, and he noted that the level of training really depends on the integrator.
"There are some enterprise-level integrators out there that have not only wealth of security, but they have staff for networking and database management," he said. "And there are some integrators running to catch up."
Available to integrators are a myriad of training programs such as those offered by manufacturers. Industry associations, such as the Security Industry Association, the National Burglar and Fire Association, the Central Station Alarm Association and the National Fire Protection Association, also offer online education.
Nearly 68 percent of NewsPoll respondents said they find manufacturer training programs valuable when it comes to IT training. In-house training and online training tied for the second most valuable training resources at 51 percent.
Boriskin said integrators who are not educated in software and IT applications, will eventually be forced to increase their knowledge as users increasingly demand such systems.
"Some of the smaller integrators are at a point where they are attracted to invest," Boriskin said. "If not, they will be faced with stiff competition that does not have to outsource everything."