IT even with CSOs as final decision makers

Saturday, August 1, 2009

WELLINGBOROUGH, UK--A new survey of security installers and integrators by IMS Research finds that IT managers are involved in roughly 60 percent of IP-based security systems sales. Just 50 percent of respondents said a chief security officer was involved.

While a wide variety of installers and integrators were involved in the research, working with a wide variety of customers, the results point to a major role by IT managers in the security space, said Niall Jenkins, a market analyst at IMS.

The role of the CSO got larger as the projects got larger, Jenkins said, but self-identified “integrators” still only had a CSO involved 60 percent of the time. “Personally, I would have thought that was going to be higher,” Jenkins said.

In terms of naming a “final decision maker,” IMS found that the IT manager and CSO were tied at roughly 25 percent of responses, mixed in with a number of other titles, including consultants, contractor, wholesaler, and general manager.

Self-identified “installers tend to see the GMs or IT managers more often,” Jenkins said, “as a fairly small installation might not have a CSO in the organization.”

IMS’s findings jibe with the experience of John Smith, channel marketing manager for Access Systems at Honeywell, and because of IT’s increasing role, the company is designing products that IT managers will feel comfortable with. “They’re worried about network security, denial of service, things like that,” Smith said, “and they’re also worried about bandwidth.” Because of these concerns, for example, Honeywell’s access panels have gone from an initial design where they required a number of open ports in the firewall to a design where they now “reverse initiate,” “meaning that it’s a trusted link and it’s only open for that information that needs to go through there; it’s not open to the rest of the world,” Smith said. “We’ve found with a lot of the IT people that’s seen as a huge benefit.”

These details are important, Jenkins said, as IT’s role tends to be one of approval or disapproval. “I would very much doubt that decisions about which products to buy are being made by the IT guys,” he said. “It’s much more likely that the security guy says it’s going to do this and that, and the IT guy says, ‘We don’t really have the space for that,’ or, ‘Okay, that’s fine.’ That would be my feeling.”