Skunk Baxter's idea for a value-add service

Are you teaching your customers situational awareness?
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Monday, June 14, 2010

CHICAGO—At what is by many measures a successful PSA-TEC 2010 here, perhaps one of the more anticipated elements of the show was the keynote address by Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter, a Grammy-winning guitarist and producer and now highly trusted national defense consultant. Just what was this guy going to talk about?

Those who attended February’s Barnes Buchanan conference had some idea, as Baxter also keynoted that event (it’s where PSA CEO Bill Bozeman heard him speak), but few of the PSA Security integrators attended that show. Was he going to talk songwriting with Steely Dan? Missile defense theory? Aegis weapons systems? Anti-terrorism?

In fact, he covered all of these topics in a wide-ranging and fast-moving talk (he had a plane to catch to see a general on an Air Force base), but focused primarily on the idea of situational awareness.

Referencing the oft-run Broadview commercial, where a woman is attacked by an ex-boyfriend and a Broadview alarm chases him off while an operator assures the woman of her safety, Baxter found that what the woman in the commercial truly lacked was situational awareness: “She should have noticed her ex-boyfriend’s car, or what was that guy doing sitting there in the rain? But she didn’t.”

That, he said, could be the value-added piece that alarm companies add to residential system installation: a course in situational awareness free with every system sale. Where do you find the guys to lead such a course? Call Baxter. He’ll give you some leads.

Further, for business customers, “that’s what surveillance gives you,” Baxter argued, “situational awareness. It’s an extension of the human senses.” Does your customer have a sense of the threat situation occurring on a regular basis?

Could you be monitoring, Baxter asked, the data traffic coming out of a building to make sure sensitive information isn’t being downloaded en masse? Could you be advising during a new-build that the customer employ curved hallways, which are easier to defend? Can you tell your customer if someone’s left a bluetooth device up and running?

“Those that advertise and supply this service will raise their bottom line,” Baxter theorized. “People these days are uneasy—that’s what the ubiquity of that commercial tells me.”

But Baxter’s idea-spawning keynote address was just the end of a full day of a show floor that featured roughly 175 booths (a 40 percent increase in show-floor space) and two days of training attended by some 1050 registered attendees, a significant increase over last year’s roughly 700. Much of this increase can be attributed to the opening of the show floor to non PSA Security vendors and increased marketing to non-members of PSA Security. Plus, PSA-TEC last year entered into a partnership with Reed Exhibitions, proprietors of ISC West and ISC Solutions, and this was the first full year of their involvement in show sales and marketing.

Further, the event was moved from the Pheasant Run resort, some 40 miles outside of Chicago, to the Rosemont Convention Center here, which is just minutes from the O’Hare Airport and the Blue Line subway that takes people into downtown Chicago.

For additional coverage of the show, visit the On the Editor’s Desk blog.