Finding our way...

Friday, August 1, 2003

Publisher, Security Systems News

A few weeks back, I was
chatting with Joe Freeman of J.P. Freeman and Company, a key industry research firm, in Utah. We were at SecurityXchange, our annual integrator and vendor event that Security Systems News started a couple of years ago with VerticalXchange, our partner on this project.

SecurityXchange is a private event held once a year. Here 40 of the brightest minds in the integration channel get together with 40 of the brightest minds in the technology community. They look closely at how to grow each other’s businesses, and talk intimately about day to day operations issues and the core challenges that we face.

Well-established, top North American integrators come to meet privately with technology vendors to discuss the value of working together. We supply them all with a white paper on the state of the industry, and have a series of formal discussions about industry issues facing all of us. I thought it would be interesting and valuable to share some of the discussion points at this event.

The integration channel is expanding to include consultants from smaller industry driven companies right up to the national consulting firms. National computer companies like IBM, Computer Associates, plus government contractors, new distribution houses for other industries and many others are entering or are poised to enter the security products sales channel. All of this is impacting, or will impact you, the current installing community including the integrators who are out there today.

The installation

Who will install all the products being sold by these new players? Some good news is that it might be you. The need for good subcontractors could be on the rise. But who will fix any problems that arise with these installations? For many with thriving businesses already, there isn’t enough time to manage such projects. Will electricians do it? They do a great deal in the fire systems business already. But they simply install and don’t specify anything. If you are to take on some of these jobs, who will be responsible for any problems that arise? Or is subcontracting a great way to develop new business, because you’ll end up being the service provider and future product resource?

Of course, the discussion of the IT market and the convergence of technologies, security and information technology and where the IT person falls in all of this was a part of our discussions. It’s the industry buzz right now! There were few, if any integrators, who are not working directly with IT professionals in an enterprise or commercial industrial sale of security products.

Bandwidth control

Basically the world is going digital. Digital products disseminate information and go on networks. And if it’s going on a network, then the IT person, who is ultimately the network manager, will have “some say” in how much bandwidth there is available to use for our products. You know this! Nearly 81 percent of you are upgrading your network skills and 61.8 percent plan a company upgrade, our research said.

The integrators at  SecurityXchange said that the IT professionals involvement in current product sales is limited to whether the products will or won’t fit on the network. After this decision is made, they don’t manage the products, the data or the system! They manage the network - period!

A direct push

Manufacturers have made a strong push to move sales or drive product out to the end users and IT professionals. Are end users and IT professionals technically savvy enough to decide what products should be used in security applications? One integrator said that they thought they’d be coming to us to learn this. They’ll need to because there are significant risk factors and liability issues that they will face.


With this came the discussions of standards, standards being the mandated practices you must follow...and herein lie your liability issues. There are dozen of standards, set by dozens of groups, in dozens of industries, that security professionals need to deal with. But you should know that the Security Industry Association is very active in setting all sorts of security standards right now. Might be worth taking a stroll through their website,, to see if you agree or disagree with the standards being set.

There was considerable frustration that too often when integrators were given security systems designs from contractors, architects, consultants or the like, the systems were poorly designed, incomplete, not truly functional, or simply didn’t provide the basic safety elements that any system should provide.

Heartfelt discussions developed on what truly are “best practices.” How can they educate customers on what they need to know to insure they get a workable, safe system that protects them?