A name tag can say it all

SSN Staff  - 
Friday, February 1, 2002

Once a year, a great number of people in the electronic security business gather in one place to conduct business, show off and check out the latest new products, and get a general measure of the state of the industry by talking with colleagues and peers. Sometimes the number of booths to investigate is overwhelming; other times, a buzz on the show floor about a particular news item catches peoples attention, rather than a particular product or catchy gimmick at a manufacturer's booth.

What's more interesting to me though, above and beyond all the normal facets of the show, is the people. Who are these strangers, strolling the aisles, taking stock of what company is debuting what product, or perhaps even gauging their interest in the security market in general? The foot traffic on the show floor can be telling in many ways: as a measure of attendance, to gauge interest in what products or product categories are hot by what booths have a constant cluster of people, or measuring people's general interest level by the manner in which they stop at a booth or two to investigate further.

When attendees do wander into a booth, the interaction between vendor and potential buyer is what every vendor at the show likely came there in search of: face-to-face conversation where a buyer can communicate his or her needs and the vendor can try to accommodate them. Without a venue such as the show, this type of opportunity is few and far between.

And although we aren't selling product to dealers in the traditional sense at the Security Systems News booth (No. 2220 at ISC West), the interaction is nonetheless just as invaluable to us. This is also the one time we get the chance to talk personally with dealers, central station operators and many others in the industry about their thoughts regarding recent developments or upcoming trends in the industry.

Foot traffic at our booth can also tell an interesting story about who else is interested in inner machinations of the security industry besides those already involved. From cable companies to electrical contractors to telecoms - it seems like we've seen names tags from them all standing at our booth, with most of them signing up for a subscription to track further developments in the industry. Our interaction with these in-dividuals are equally as valuable in that we can see from what direction outside interest is coming.

I have no doubt that we can expect to hear from many different types of companies in this way at ISC West in March, particularly given the uptick in interest in security in post-Sept. 11 America. Certainly, the current spotlight from both Wall Street and the private investment community is spurring interest, but how this interest will manifest itself remains to be seen.

And judging from the number of calls we've fielded since the terrorist attacks heightened the world's focus on security, interest from outside the industry will only continue to increase, as it becomes clear that increased security concerns and procedures are not temporary but a new way of thinking, of living, and with that, generating profits.

Now, with GE's recently announced plans to purchase Interlogix, three of the country's largest corporations dominate the industry - will there soon be a fourth, or fifth? Perhaps interest of this magnitude isn't as easily judged by a company name on a name tag or subscription card, but it's got to start somewhere, and I bet it's not too farfetched to think that it could happen at an ISC show.

Don't worry, you'll be the first to know if we spot a Berkshire Hathaway, a Westinghouse or Wal-Mart moniker on a name tag.