Here we go again: Hello, IBM

Friday, December 1, 2006

The problem with being a successful and growing industry is that big companies that are in the business of making billions of dollars start to pay attention. So, as physical security integrators have gone about the business of being successful in capitalizing on new technology that can not only make people safer in these dangerous times, but also improve their business efficiency, big names like Cisco, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and now IBM (see related story, page 1) are taking hard looks at the market and offering products and services they claim are better, faster, more intelligent and unique.
The time to pay attention is now. If Cisco's entry into the market with the purchase of SyPixx earlier this year was a "shot across the bow," as we headlined in April, then IBM's new Digital Video Surveillance services offering is a full-on port-side ramming. IBM is offering end users the opportunity to basically make their surveillance needs evaporate, by not only designing and installing the system, but also managing it and upgrading it after the fact. They've done it in IT services, they'll do it here.
Of course, there's no reason you shouldn't capitalize on that happenstance. IBM is going to need partners in the security field who have feet on the street and real knowledge to offer about camera placement, product limitations, access control integration and everything else that goes into real physical security and actually keeping people safe. ADT, for one, is already such a partner. But IBM will not partner with people who just want to sell a pantload of DVRs and cameras and count the money they make on the margins. IBM is going to look to partner with people who understand how to make network systems more efficient, how video surveillance can exist on the same network as people watching YouTube videos at their desk, how to transform legacy analog systems into modern IP-based networks without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It's time to invest in training the people you have and hiring the people you don't have. It's time to find IT-minded partners and to take advantage of the growing number of national accounts programs out there. It's time to plan for a future five years from now where even NVRs are passe and people simply buy more hard drives for their network attached storage.
Or it's time to put together an exit strategy. Your call.