Helping yourself by helping your customer

Thursday, May 1, 2008

In May, the Security Business Development Forum (SBDF) will take place in Baltimore. In my opinion, this is an important event in our industry. Security Systems News and PSA have once again taken a leadership position in developing the competence and professionalism of the industry. Their leadership is no coincidence, since both organizations are adept at creating forums for our industry to learn and to develop. Three key benefits emerge from a forum such as SBDF. First, it is a valuable forum for the participating organization’s customers. Second, the forum creates value in our industry. Third, the forum creates value for the participating companies, both internally and externally. In all cases, it will be the end-user that will benefit from those services provided by the exhibiting and attending companies. It can be argued that our industry is divided into two broad segments: Those that provide remote services on smaller systems and those that provide high-end technical management on integration. The alarm industry has typically taken the lead on remote services and the integration industry has taken the lead on the high-end project management and integration. Customers need to get the benefits of both of these market approaches. Customers need high-end integration with service providers that take a long-term view of their solution. The SBDF will showcase products and services to take care of the customer for the long term. The security industry has a unique responsibility to our customers. We are here to assist our customers in deploying risk-management strategies that will safeguard their property, people, information, reputation and integrity. If we understand the gravity of our responsibility and the complex environments within which we need to perform this mission, our challenge is daunting. To be successful, we need to be knowledgeable, resourceful, competent, and well organized. It is not good enough to respond to a desired need. It is requisite that we understand our customer and their drivers. By bringing these solutions back to the customer, companies can provide customer value. Our industry needs to have forums where concepts can be discussed and solutions can be sourced for the end users. Our industry is very fragmented, with a lot of players. By bringing those remote and state-of-the-art technologies and services to the end user, many companies can compete with larger players by using third-party fulfillment such as a monitoring center. By holding on to the customer relationship, smaller companies can bring more value back the customer. If they do not embrace this future, the smaller players will find themselves “squeezed” by faster or larger competitors. Innovation and the ability to scale knowledge have become key competitive advantages for those successful companies in our industry. You always need to be different to stay ahead. By focusing on the long-term relationship with an end user, services can be provided that maximize the return of the initial investment and the overall performance of the systems deployed. By taking care of the system through a service program and by providing services and enabling technologies to the original investment, the end user will receive more business benefits and performance strengths. Companies who grow by providing services instead of just products and installation are better to do business with and are more interesting to work for. They are more valuable in their customers’ eyes since they have created a service level and expectation that is difficult to compete against. They are also more valuable when and if the owners decide to sell their companies, as recurring revenue is highly valued by acquisition-minded companies. The Security Business Development Forum is an important forum in developing our industry. The benefits will be derived by those who understand its opportunities. Martin Guay is the chief operating officer at Niscayah, formerly Securitas Systems. He can be reached at