Integrators and end users face off at TechSec

Five of Security Systems News’ ’20 under 40’ discuss the industry
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Leading integrators and end users from Security Systems News “20 under 40” Class of 2015 discussed how to deal with manufacturers, IT staff and each other in the Next Gen educational session, which took place Feb. 2 here at TechSec Solutions.

The “20 under 40” integrator speakers included Scott Ranger, VP of operations for CONTAVA; Henry Hoyne, VP of Professional Services at Northland Control Systems; and Josh Long, manager, technical & services delivery, event monitoring center with Diebold Security.

Matthew Slatoff, VP, global security and content protection for Marvel Studios and Reggy Timothee, manager of facility security, Comcast presented the end user perspective.

Martha Entwistle, editor of Security Systems News, moderated the panel, starting with the question: How do you find talent in this industry?

“It can be a struggle depending on the position you're trying to fill,” Hoyne said. He pointed to project managers as a particularly difficult position, “On the engineering side it's a little more challenging."

Northland Controls handles this, in part, through having an internal recruiter. Hiring individuals with a computer science background and then teaching them about the security industry is easier than the other way around, he said.

Slatoff said it can be frustrating and disruptive for the end user when an integrators’ employee leaves. When the integrator hires a new technician, there’s retraining that the end user need to do, he said.

Sourcing talent can be especially challenging when you have a national company. Timothee supports all of the critical locations for Comcast, "Not only do you have to source the talent, but be consistent with that throughout [the country]."

Marvel Studios faces its own unique difficulties, setting up movie sets around the world. Slattoff said that it depends on the situation, sometimes it’s easier to bring internal talent to production locations than to rely on local professionals.

An attendee asked how each panelist keeps talented employees. Hoyne said, “Everything surrounds our culture and creating a culture that is inviting." Supporting employee’s career growth is also important, he said. The company's biggest threat to losing talent is not to its competitors, but instead to its customers, Hoyne pointed out.

Ranger said employee retention means understanding generations of workers and what each generation is “looking for” in the job.

According to Long, "It takes a special kind of person to working in central stations, fast paced and high-stress at times.” Central stations operators face a unique challenge, Long said: Responding to alarms does allow operators to see an end product of their work.

When issues come up between an end user’s IT department and integrators “you want to stay away from pointing fingers as much as possible," Timothee said. Accountability is key, he said.

Long pointed to a need—from the central station perspective—to communicate with a customers’ IT staff about technical issues. “[If] we can get the end users’ IT staff to open up to us ...  the problem gets solved quicker,” he said.

Hoyne said, “It's important to partner up with an integrator that is IT savvy and isn't just going to throw out buzzwords."

Entwistle asked the panelists about the benefits of forging relationships with manufacturers.

“I think it's important that we have a strong relationship with manufacturers" Ranger said, and using those relationships to support end goals of the customer.

“I think it's useful when you're looking a little more long term" Slattoff said, relationships can provide a way to hear about products coming down the pipeline. Hoyne echoed that, underlining that it’s important to know where manufacturers are headed.

What’s on your technological wish lists?

“What I'm looking into is actually available,” Timothee said; solutions that would allow us converge physical and logical security, such as PSIM.

Ranger said he would most like to see license plate readers that work with non-reflective plates, a difficulty in his area of Alberta, Canada.

An audience member asked the speakers how industry consolidation might affect the relationships among end users and integrators.

"[Being] vendor agnostic would be a good way to tackle that," Timothee said in reference to the consolidation of manufacturers.