SDI to design, build new ops center for LAX

$2.3m project is validation of aviation focus
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES—SDI, a systems integrator focusing on the aviation space, has announced a $2.3 million contract with the City of Los Angeles to design and implement a new Airport Response Coordination Center for LAX. The command center will bring together not only a variety of security systems and technologies, but also as many as 26 other disparate systems involved in operating the airport.

“We approach our clients in the airport space from a holistic operations process view,” said Brian Diver, SDI’s executive VP. “Running airport security is just a part of it. To actually run the whole operation, security has to interact with regular operational duties every day—construction and maintenance, facilities, the tenants, the customers, they’re all part of the airport’s space.”

This kind of approach, however, requires a different workforce. “We have a traditional sales force,” he said, “that’s made up of professional service opportunity finders, relationship starters, account executives, and they’re very useful, but they have to be paired with a senior solution guy, who’s maybe lived this role in a previous life, who can really talk about experience and be able to share war stories and best practices.” For example, SDI employs more than one former airport security executive.

“You can’t just rely on the account executive guy to sell that on his own,” Diver said.

This is also because, Diver said, the responsibility for making the purchase at the airport “is moving up closer to the commissioner or executive director level. They’re usually very aware of what’s going on ... They don’t necessarily sit in on sessions too often, but their deputy is pretty hands on.”

Often, he said, the commissioner is concerned about whether “he might spend a lot of money on technology with it having no impact on operations.”

This consultative approach keeps SDI out of the reselling business or having to worry about margin on product sales.

“We as a company have always gone to market as a client advocate,” Diver said. “So what they really hired us to do was lead them through the process of the creation of the airport center, and bring our expertise to bear to make the airport more effectively interoperate.” He said he helps his customers evaluate products based on their needs and budget.

“When you look at all the factors,” Diver said, “the products really just choose themselves.”