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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Security Industry Association (SIA) announced this week the establishment of a political action committee (PAC) called the SecurityPAC, which was formed to bolster its advocacy efforts to fully engage within the U.S. political process on matters affecting the security industry.

The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better as it comes a week before the SIA GovSummit, a leading public policy forum for the security industry set for June 28-29 on Capitol Hill and at The Liaison Capitol Hill.

“SecurityPAC was established to strengthen the voice of the security industry on Capitol Hill, by enabling SIA members to support candidates for federal office who will champion issues that are important to the industry,” Joseph Hoellerer, SIA Government Relations manager told Security Systems News. “There are hundreds of trade associations in Washington with robust advocacy efforts and SecurityPAC provides SIA with an additional and important tool to advance the policy priorities of its members.”

The newly formed SecurityPAC will raise funds solely from SIA members to support candidates for federal office who champion important industry issues, and will support matters pertaining but not limited to issues such as homeland security, cybersecurity, federal procurement and critical infrastructure protection.

“The establishment of the SecurityPAC follows the core mission of SIA, which is ‘to be a catalyst for success within the global security industry through information, insight and influence,’” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement. “The Security Industry Association’s political action committee will enable the association to do just that by adding a vital voice to the national dialogue during federal elections. With SecurityPAC, we will support crucial causes for the improved security posture of the entire country.”

Contributions to SecurityPAC are strictly voluntary and in compliance with statutorily defined regulations of the Federal Election Commission. SIA members with user credentials can access the SecurityPAC website at www.siasecuritypac.org. Employees of SIA member companies interested in gaining access to the site should contact Joe Hoellerer at 301-804-4714 or jhoellerer@securityindustry.org.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day One

Excited to be in Nashville for ESX 2017, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, returning to where it all started in the music city.

Started Day One moderating a very interesting session “CounterPoint of the Day: DIY Security - Passing Fad or a Real Opportunity?” featuring two great speakers—Megan MacDonald, vice president of marketing, My Alarm Center, headquartered in Newtown Square, Pa., and John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics, headquartered in Jackson, Mich. 

I want to extend a big thank you to both of them for making my job easy by getting some great conversations and interaction going with the audience.

MacDonald, who was instrumental in launching My Alarm Center’s DIY division LivSecure, started the session by defining DIY.

In the DIY space, she noted, there are two distinctions—professionally monitored and then the systems that are completely DIY, including MIY or monitor-it-yourself.

"Those are the ones you buy on the retail shelf at [big box stores], and it is truly a DIY—you set it up, there is no professional monitoring component, and no integration with a third party provider; it is literally a do-it-yourself,” she explained. “As we refer to DIY in our business, it is a bit of a misnomer, because that is not what we do from a DIY perspective—that is MIY. What I refer to as DIY … is self installed professionally monitored systems, which is a lot of what we are going to talk about today, and that is what we do at LivSecure. So the customer sets the system up themselves but it integrates with our CRM and with our monitoring center just like a professionally installed system does.”

In terms of professionally installed systems vs. DIY, Campau said, “We are a professional installing alarm company going on 60 years, so DIY is not a threat for us; we embrace this.” He made a good analogy to someone who needs to have their house painted. Some will choose to paint it themselves while some will choose to hire someone to come and paint it for them.

In regard to whether DIY sales impact sales of the professionally installed side of the business, MacDonald noted, “LivSecure is a complement to our existing offerings and as a tool to close more sales, not to replace existing sales that we were already making. It is another option for our sales reps, and we will pay them a multiple of RMR, just like we would do on a professionally installed system.”

MacDonald said it is all about closing the sale—“selling the right product to the right person at the right time.”

“If we get a DIY system in the wrong hands, they will eventually deactivate,” noted Campau. “With DIY in particular, we’ve got a very low churn rate in our business; we are hyper-focused on keeping our customers.”

Both pointed out that by just having a DIY option, it opens the conversation and can lead to that potential DIY customer choosing to have the system professionally installed, which “is just a better sale, because that is a stickier customer,” said Campau, one who is more likely to use and add to the system and less likely to attrite.

“If you are getting into the business or launching this, I would be very firm and specific on what the process is and the requirements are for rolling a truck to a self installed system,” MacDonald said, noting that otherwise you are going to put yourself in a difficult situation of rolling a truck much more than you would like.

Campau said that if a customer has a problem and needs assistance, he will roll a truck, but for a $100 fee and a commitment to an additional year on the traditional two-year monitoring contract that he offers. “You'd rather have that convo before the sale, on the front end; don’t rush to get that sale.”

The discussion also covered RMR potential, which is in the $40 to $45 range, as well as branding, marketing and engaging the customer. Both agreed that the more engaged a customer is with their system, the less likely they will cancel the service and much more likely that they will add more services over time.

Day Two

I started Day Two in the session “Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” featuring two highly knowledgeable speakers in Speros Venios, VP of channel sales at Interlogix, and Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, an advisory and consulting firm that specializes in providing financing and acquisition related services to the security alarm industry.

Venios, who he is responsible for the integration of security and smart home devices in the residential and commercial segments through the distribution, MSO and OEM channels, said that 50 billion objects are projected to be connected to the IoT by 2020.

“Connected homes will be the largest sector for IoT technologies,” he said, noting that by 2019 it is estimated to be a $490 billion market. “According to one survey, more than two-thirds of consumers plan to buy IoT technology for their homes by 2019.”

Despite all the disrupters, such as the cable, telecoms and tech companies in the market right now, “The security channel is well positioned to deliver these solutions,” Venios said, noting that they have an opportunity to be that trusted provider of both security and smart home products and services.

Barnes pointed out that over the past year his focus on operating performance and valuation trends in the industry—how product and technology is affecting the industry—has revealed three big trends: Faster product evolution and shorter lifecycles; a broadening array of capabilities and services; and a changing competitive landscape.

“The number of new products coming out each day is much faster than it was before and those products are expected to have shorter lifecycles … not because they’re not manufactured well, but because they’re going to be replaced with something faster, better or cheaper,” Barnes said. 

The broadening array of capabilities and services is “a wonderful thing for consumers and commercial end users of all types,” he said. “But, of course, it puts strains on those of you who are trying to provide those services—how do you pick which ones to offer, how do you package them and how do you price them?”

With all of the disruptors in the industry right now creating a changing competitive landscape, “Clearly technology is enabling some of these new competitors … that previously wouldn't have been a competitor in the industry,” he said.

Despite some of the challenges presented by the abovementioned trends, “This is a great time to be in the business,” Barnes said, noting that he sees nothing in the data that would tell him otherwise. “We look at, and we track hundreds of alarm companies and we try and track every deal that is going on in the industry, every dollar of capital that is being raised to support the growth for all of you.”

Next, I sat in on a spirited discussion, “CounterPoint of the Day: Cable Service Companies Are Here to Stay - What Impact Are They Having on the Industry?” which was moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco, and led by speakers Daniel Herscovici, Comcast's senior VP and general manager, and John Knox, owner and president of Knox Integrated Systems, who was elected as ESA president in 2012.

De Marco noted that the counterpoint forum is new to ESX this year, with the goal of getting everyone in the session involved in an interactive debate. A cushioned square, which had a microphone inside, was available to pass or throw around to anyone who had a comment or question.

De Marco started the discussion by asking Herscovici why Comcast entered into the security industry and how this has helped or challenged traditional companies.

Herscovici pointed out that Comcast is not only a direct-to-consumer home security solution but through the acquisition of Icontrol, it is also a platform provider.

“We entered the industry mostly because we saw a real opportunity to offer a great experience and leverage our current assets,” he said. “Comcast has 27 million household relationships through our Internet, video and voice products.” Plus, the acceleration of the connected home drove that as well, he said.

“More than half of our customers have never had home security before, so it is not that we are out there converting or doing a bunch of takeovers—a lot of our acquisition in new to the category, new to home security,” he said. “Awareness of what the possibilities are with the connected home security product on a broad scale and the awareness that we generate through our reach, through our consumers, kind of lifts all boats, and makes your conversations easier when you are selling.”

Knox said that he hasn’t personally seen any affect. “I don’t think that I have lost any customers to the cable companies,” he said. “I think it is more like what he [Herscovici] says: They are bringing more people into the market that weren’t in the market before.”

He continued, “Since I have been in the business, every five years someone has been putting me out of business. We have been living that our whole lives and we are still here. And if they don’t do a good job of supporting the customer, we are going to benefit off of that.”

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

With the invasion of the telecom companies into the smart home space, security dealers have been faced with new challenges and battles as they try to compete for new business created by this new era of smart home connectivity and automation.

Whereas in the past when customers would turn to their security provider first to ask about smart home products, a new report from research firm Parks Associates shows that there has been a shift in homeowners’ purchase behaviors. Among current smart homeowners, 26 percent purchased their device from a retailer such as Home Depot, Walmart, or Sears, followed closely in second by security dealers, with approximately 20 percent purchasing these products through them.

Homeowners now have “more options, increased personalization, and enhanced value across the full spectrum of IoT experiences,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in the announcement of Parks’ annual report, Global Connected Living Outlook 2017: Building on the IoT. “Following early disruptions, many players are now rising to the challenge to create competitive solutions that better accommodate the needs of the connected consumer.”

Although the big retailers are getting a bigger portion of the pie, they are also raising awareness and educating the public, which is creating additional opportunities for dealers to be the channel through which smart home owners purchase all of these interconnected devices, many of which work in tandem with security systems and services.

For example, additional Parks’ research, which was unveiled at the firm’s 21st-annual CONNECTIONS Conference in May, shows that two-thirds of smart homeowners and shoppers want crossover applications that integrate with their home entertainment devices.

“Key crossover use cases include safety and security alerts popping up on a smart TV and video from networked cameras shared across the connected screens in the home,” Elizabeth Parks, senior vice president, Parks Associates, said in the press release. “In both cases, two-thirds of smart home owners and shoppers find these features appealing.”

Security dealers can also provide homeowners with a better level of interoperability and network security and stability, as Parks found that as more products are purchased standalone and then brought into a connected home, the risk of fragmented consumer IoT experiences increases.

“As consumers become more connected, their digital lives in many ways become more complicated, and solving this potentially fragmented consumer experience, addressing privacy concerns, and crossing traditionally separate boundaries will be the dominant challenges for companies in 2017 and 2018,” Abdelrazik noted.

Security dealers can and should be the ones to solve this problem, and from my conversations with dealers, many already are doing this, providing security as well as support, guidance and options to be that smart home provider as well.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. and SANTA ANA, Calif.—Allied Universal continues to diversify with the acquisition of ALERT Protective Services, a residential community security firm based in Sarasota, Fla.

“This is a company that does most of the high-end residential communities in South Florida,” Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones told Security Systems News. “Not only are they providing the security guard services but they do it differently where they use technology to help augment that, which is what we have been pushing toward and striving toward with our business.”

With a portfolio that consists of 95 percent residential condominiums and communities, ALERT Protective Services owns the homeowners association and residential lifestyle communities’ security space in Southwest and Southeast Florida. Founded in 2005, the company has more than $10 million in revenue and 430 employees, most of which will be joining Allied Universal.

“We are excited to join Allied Universal,” Jeff Haidet, CEO of ALERT Protective Services, said in the announcement. “Both companies embrace combining the use of state-of-the-art technology with manpower to provide an optimal solution to our customers. We also share the same passion and commitment to be the employer of choice for security professionals and provider of choice for security users.”

Similarly to Allied Universal, ALERT Protective Services offers integrated security systems and uniformed security professionals to work in tandem with a complete security program at community gatehouses, concierge desks, or security command centers. Some of these solutions include remote video monitoring, access control and an electronic patrol-reporting program that enables security professionals to report threats in real time and alert authorities if back up is needed.

“This was an opportunity for us to not only expand our footprint in Florida, but to really get a springboard on providing those security officer services along with remote video monitoring and the use of technology for ingress and egress around the community, which is where we want to focus on,” said Jones. “We are excited that we can leverage the technology applications that we feel are changing and enhancing the industry.”

Moving forward, Jones said the company still has a few more acquisitions up its sleeve.

“We’ve got a pretty robust pipeline of deals that we are looking at—some in the technology space and some in the traditional manguarding space—and we hope to announce a few more before the year is over that will help us to diversify our company and bring more value to our clients.”

With headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., and Conshohocken, Pa., Allied Universal has more than 150,000 employees across North America.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Security Industry Association (SIA) recently announced its establishment of the SIA Public Safety Working Group, which will be chaired by Steve Surfaro, industry liaison, Axis Communications.

“This working group has been in the works for quite some time,” Surfaro told Security Systems News. “SIA began working on public safety through some work with the Homeland Security Science and Technology group, and it was thought that one of the best ways to really serve the security industry and public safety industry was to come up with a very agile and focused working group.”

According to SIA CEO Don Erickson, the goal with standing up the SIA Public Safety Working Group is to develop recommendations to improve the safety, security, and sustainability of cities and communities using technology, as well as provide advocacy of public policies in support of the group’s mission.

"As new and developing technologies undergo trial and testing or enter the field in use by public safety agencies, it is critical that the security industry maintain its voice in the appropriate adoption and deployment of these technologies," Erickson said in the announcement. "SIA members are uniquely qualified to provide council alongside active practitioners in police, fire, emergency medical services and other disciplines to maintain the safety and security of our cities and communities."

Erickson is excited to have Surfaro as the inaugural chairperson for the SIA Public Safety Working Group. “His connections throughout the security industry are exemplified by his achievements, for example, as chair of the Security Applied Sciences Council for ASIS International," he said.

The working group will involve a number of different key entities within the security and public safety spaces, including practitioners, solution providers, systems integrators and specialty manufacturers.

“The most important thing to realize is the PSWG is going to have equal representation across all interested parties, by both practitioners and solution providers, especially SIA members,” said Surfaro. “The mission is to provide guidance through education and publications, including special education sessions and events at ISC West and ISC East, for example, as well as a centralized repository of subject matter experts who have already had success overcoming public safety security challenges.”

In addition to looking at emerging technologies, such as autonomous systems and unmanned vehicles, the working group is creating a Tactical Solutions Handbook, a working document that will be the working group’s “first deliverable,” said Surfaro.

“A while ago with Homeland Security Science and Technology we had some great success together with SIA in publishing a Video Quality handbook,” he explained. “But now things are not just about video—they are about access control, acoustic sensing and signal detection, thermal imaging, screening techniques, body worn cameras, license plate technology, explosives detection—to name just a few.”

He continued, “Everything that we are going to put into this handbook is going to be equally used by both public safety and corporations with high risk, which will be able to get guidance for hardening their facilities as well.”

The working group should have four- to five chapters of the handbook ready by the fall, said Surfaro. “Each chapter will have a structure where a SME leads each chapter, and then has contributors,” he explained. “And then each of the contributors for the other chapters are going to be reviewers on the chapters they did not write, which will add to the collaborative nature of the handbook.”

Surfaro said the handbook will benefit greatly from having so many different perspectives. “We need to be agile enough to be able to work with multiple practitioner groups and leverage the SIA membership, which is very far-reaching with a lot of solution providers, and they will have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the working group and to this handbook.”

Another goal with the handbook is to provide a guide for matching the different types of emerging threats today with an appropriate tactical solution. “So it will be a nice use-case method where the security industry will learn more about what is happening in public safety and public safety will learn about how many of the solutions that they need to defend against these emerging threats already exist,” said Surfaro.

Since the announcement, SIA and Surfaro have already gotten a great response from those interested in contributing. “In the past week alone, there are many who have reached out to SIA and myself pledging interest in the working group,” said Surfaro. “And it has been a wide variety of folks—systems integrators, solution providers, as well as those who are involved in law enforcement and fire. Working within a consensus-driven environment is vitally important with a group like this.”

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

As reverberations from last week’s ransomware attack continue to be felt throughout the world and the security industry, the answer to how we can minimize the impact that these types of attacks can have on a company may be found in the cloud. For example, WannaCry ransomware, as it is called, preyed on Microsoft computers that failed to update the latest security patch that was issued in March, an oversight that an IT savvy company operating in the cloud would not fall victim to.

The good news continues to pour in on increased adoption of cloud-based services, including a new report from Intel Security, titled Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The State of Cloud Adoption and Security, which finds that cloud services are now a regular component of IT operations, and are utilized by more than 90 percent of organizations around the world.

Many are working under a “cloud first” philosophy, only choosing to deploy an internal service if there is no suitable cloud variant available, and as a result, IT architectures are rapidly shifting to a hybrid private/public cloud model, with those surveyed expecting 80 percent of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months, according to the report.

For the report, Intel Security surveyed more than 2,000 IT professionals in September 2016 to produce this annual review of the state of cloud adoption, representing a broad set of industries, countries, and organization sizes. In the face of a continuing shortage of skilled security personnel, the impact of this scarcity on cloud adoption was a priority for this year’s report.

“Cloud first. Two simple words, but the approach is now well and truly ensconced into the architecture of many organizations across the world,” Raj Samani, chief technology officer, EMEA, Intel Security, said in the report. “Our initial assumption when designing the survey, that there was a gap between intent and implementation and that the transformation to cloud would take several years, was proven inaccurate. The desire to migrate quickly towards cloud computing appears to be on the agenda for most organizations.”

In the forward to the report, Jim Reavis, CEO, Cloud Security Alliance, said, “This report clearly resonates with the anecdotal information I have received in my travels representing the Cloud Security Alliance this past year. Cloud computing is maturing and broad-based adoption is occurring.”

Overall, the study found that cloud services are widely used in some form, with 93 percent of organizations utilizing software-, infrastructure-, or platform-as-a-service offerings. Cloud architectures also changed significantly, from predominantly private-only in 2015 to increased adoption of public cloud resulting in a predominantly hybrid private/public infrastructure in 2016. Also, the average number of cloud services in use in an organization dropped from 43 in 2015 to 29 in 2016, indicating potential consolidation of cloud providers or solutions.

Interestingly, almost half (49 percent) of the professionals surveyed stated that they had slowed their cloud adoption due to a lack of cybersecurity skills.

The trust and perception of public cloud services continues to improve year-over-year, the report said, and most organizations view cloud services as or more secure than private clouds, and much more likely to deliver lower costs of ownership and overall data visibility. Those who trust public clouds now outnumber those who distrust public clouds by more than 2:1. Overall, 62 percent of organizations reported storing personal customer information in public clouds.

“Improved trust and perception, as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management, is encouraging more organizations to store sensitive data in the public cloud,” the report found.

Virtualization of private data center architectures is progressing, and on average, 52 percent of an organization’s data center servers are virtualized, and most expect to have the conversion to a fully software-defined data center completed within 2 years, according to the findings.

Because businesses are trusting cloud services with a wide range of applications and data, much of it sensitive or business critical, the report stated that this movement of sensitive data to the public cloud may attract cybercriminals.

“Security vendors are delivering tools to address fundamental security concerns, such as protecting data in transit, managing user access, and setting consistent policies across multiple services,” the report concluded. “Attackers will look for the easiest targets, regardless of where they are located. Integrated or unified security solutions are a strong defense against these threats, giving security operations visibility across all of the services the organization is using and what data sets are permitted to traverse them."

The report noted that organizations should ensure that they are using authentication best practices, such as distinct passwords, multi-factor authentication, and even biometrics where available.

“Despite the majority belief that Shadow IT is putting the organization at risk, security technologies such as data loss prevention (DLP), encryption, and cloud access security brokers (CASBs) remain underutilized,” according to the findings. “Integrating these tools with an existing security system increases visibility, enables discovery of shadow services, and provides options for automatic protection of sensitive data at rest and in motion throughout any type of environment. Consider adopting a Cloud First strategy to encourage adoption of cloud services to reduce costs and increase flexibility, and put security operations in a proactive position instead of a reactive one.”

The bottom line: The cost and resource savings of cloud services are real, and the wide variety of offerings makes it possible to choose the best fit for the organization, according to the report.

Click here for the full report.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—PSA TEC, PSA Security Network’s annual conference in support of its integrators, vendors and members—including ProAV professionals following PSA Security Network’s recent acquisition of USAV and CI Edge—provided some valuable education and networking, including some important takeaways for attendees.

In addition to training and certification opportunities from manufacturers as well as from SIA, ASIS and CompTIA, this year’s educational program touched on many of the top trends in the industry today, from the cloud, biometrics and IoT to robots, drones and data analytics.

One of the big themes for the show this year was cybersecurity, which the PSA Security Network has “taken a leading position on,” according to president and CEO Bill Bozeman, who pointed out that PSA has put a lot of time, effort and money into providing resources, education and support for members on this increasingly important topic. Bozeman noted that PSA Security Network’s cybersecurity committee has made “great strides in just this past year.”

This year’s keynote, Matthew Rosenquist, cybersecurity strategist for Intel Corporation, in his presentation “Cybersecurity Risks and Recommendations—Where Your Focus Needs to Be,” provided a nice launching point for many of the day’s cybersecurity sessions and discussions.

Rosenquist pointed out, “Ten years ago we weren’t having this discussion,” noting that today it is absolutely imperative that the security industry has these cyber discussions, as “physical security and cyber have converged.”

He told integrators in the audience that as much as there are risks as well as challenges in preventing and combatting cyber threats, there are also “opportunities here” to provide services to protect both physical security and cybersecurity. IT professionals, including CIOs and CTOs, he noted, now have great influence over security matters and decisions and have much more in terms of budget and funding, so getting IT at the table with security folks is key.

In the “State of the Industry” session, Bozeman told integrators, “We need to figure out how to sell cyber,” pointing out the goal is to provide—similar to what is available on the physical security side—“a set of services for cyber that integrators can sell.”

The State of the Industry session was moderated by Bozeman with a panel that included keynote speaker Rosenquist as well as Gunvir Baveja, CEO, eVigilant Security, David Sylvester, founder and president, 3SE, and Chuck Wilson, executive director, NSCA.

In addition to cybersecurity, the group looked at the impact of third party managed services businesses on the industry.

“This is a new problem for us,” Wilson said, adding that these companies often come in after the project is done to offer managed services. He noted it is important “to grab that service contract early on” in the project.

Baveja said that his company offers the first year free to ensure that they get the service contract, noting that he has found that by using that approach “95- to 98 percent will sign a monthly maintenance contract.”

“As the integrator on the project, you already have your foot in the door,” added Sylvester, providing integrators with an advantage over third party companies in regard to offering a service contract. “Even cyber, too,” he said.

Getting back to cybersecurity, and ways in which integrators can sell these services, Baveja, whose company has a division devoted to cybersecurity, confirmed what Rosenquist said during his keynote—that more and more security procurement decisions are being made by IT professionals, the CIOs, for example. “It is important to get the CSO and the CIO at the same table during a project,” he said.

This topic of “selling cyber” also came up during the session, “Providing Cyber Ready Solutions and Services for Successful Lifecycle Project Implementation,” which was presented by a PSA Security Network cross-committee panel that included PSA cybersecurity committee chair Andrew Lanning, co-founder, Integrated Security Technologies; PSA project management chair Robert Flynn, senior VP, operations, Aronson Security Group; PSA sales and marketing committee chair Sharon Shaw, client development manager, Tech Systems, Inc.; and PSA technical committee member Chris Peckham, SVP, CTO and special projects, Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions, Inc.

Lanning pointed out that the committee has “come a long way in the past year” creating resources, improving processes, but he asked, “Where is the ROI? How can we monetize the value we can bring?”

He said that the “cross-pollination between committees” is helping to identify the value that integrators can bring to the cyber discussion, including providing guidance and services.

“Where do you want to play?” Lanning asked the packed room. “With the government and military, they require it [cybersecurity],” he noted, pointing out that in many cases, depending on what vertical a company works in, there are compliance standards that are regulated. “The demand is there and many clients are unknowledgeable but open to discuss,” he said, noting that he “bundles cyber with our other services.”

Peckham added, “Offer good, better, best; the value proposition is there—we just need to sell it.”

Peckham pointed out that an often-overlooked aspect in the cyber discussion is employee education and training, which can include mandatory online training courses, in-house discussions and memos, even signs around the office. “Preventive measures are key in the workplace,” he said.

Shaw added that she finds that people often need something they can relate to before it really sinks in. “Storytelling—giving examples and sharing occurrences—is very effective,” she said. “Educate clients on their risks, including offering penetration testing.”

The panel also agreed that the onus is partially on the manufacturers, which “aren’t hardening products the way they should,” said Flynn. He noted that many within the industry have their “head in the sand” on cybersecurity, which “needs to be addressed from sales to service.”

During the State of the Industry, the panel got into the need for insurance on the cybersecurity side of things. Many on the panel agreed that coverage varies greatly from company to company, with Baveja pointing out, “Insurance companies are just trying to figure things out right now.”

Rosenquist noted, “The insurance companies don’t have it figured out because actuary data is not available. There is no predictability as attacks change constantly.” He also said that coverage costs—as well as what is covered for the same project/job—can vary dramatically. “Even the application process varies wildly,” he said, from a one-page application to one that can be upwards of 100 pages.

Bottom line: Expect your customers to ask for it.

The State of the Industry panel also agreed that this is a good time to be in the industry, which will continue to see a 6- to 8 percent annual growth rate moving forward, aided greatly by a booming construction market that includes increased technology infrastructure building and growth in the U.S.

To ensure that integrators continue to stay profitable, PSA Security Network provided an informative panel presentation called “PSA Financial and Operational Metrics.” Nadim Sawaya, principal, EPC, has worked closely with PSA to help provide useful metrics that integrators can take home and start using right away. He went through some of the highlights and important aspects of a 70-page document that the PSA Security Network created as a resource for integrators.

All and all, PSA TEC was a great event, from the educational sessions, training and networking to the vendor awards, sponsor hospitality suites and trade show portion on Wednesday that featured more than 100 exhibitors in an intimate setting.

For those looking to next year, PSA TEC is changing its location and dates. PSA TEC 2018 will be at the Downtown Denver Sheraton from March 11-15.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

At ISC West last month it was nice to meet and catch up with Convergint Technologies' executive chairman and founder Dan Moceri, and president and CEO Ken Lochiatto, who were both kind enough to participate in an ssnTVnews video interview on the Security Systems News' trade show floor stage.

The global systems integration company has been very busy recently—and since its inception in 2001—and just completed an acquisition this week of Operational Security Systems Inc. (OSS), an Atlanta, Ga.-based security integrator with an additional location in Orlando, Fla. Founded in 1972, Operational Security Systems is run by president Jim Coleman, who along with more than 50 colleagues from the company will be joining the Convergint team.

Moceri told SSN that he is excited to have Coleman and his entire team joining the Convergint Technologies family, as the company shares many of the same values as Convergint.

“We have a lot of respect for Jim and his company as he has created a strong culture and team that is very focused on the service side of the business, which is how we have grown our organization,” said Moceri. “In addition to being strong from a service perspective, Jim has developed a very strong engineering company and a solutions provider that brings additional capacity and capabilities to our team.”

“Operational Security Systems and Convergint Technologies share two common core values: looking after the needs of our customers and looking after our fellow colleagues,” Jim Coleman said in the announcement. “Joining the Operational Security Systems team with Convergint Technologies brings deeper resources to our clients and new and exciting opportunities for our colleagues. This acquisition will prove beneficial to all involved.”

Convergint Technologies has seen a steady track record of both organic growth and growth through acquisition since its founding in 2001.

“We continue to grow very aggressively organically, but you can only grow so fast organically, so when we have an opportunity like this to bring in good quality people all at one time, we certainly want to take advantage of that,” he said.

Will Convergint continue to stay active on the acquisition front? “Absolutely—stay tuned,” said Moceri. “As always, we’ve got a nice pipeline of acquisitions and we expect another exciting year on that front. We’ve started off very strong in the first quarter along with very strong organic growth over the last year and we continue to supplement that growth with acquisitions.”

In addition to this acquisition, the company just opened an office in Toronto, which is part of the company’s planned expansion in the greater Toronto area. The new office is strategically located in the Bell Trinity Square beside the Eaton Centre on the PATH system, which is mostly an underground walkway that links about 30 km of shopping, services, and entertainment in downtown Toronto, the company noted.

“This exciting new location enables us to be at the doorstep of the downtown Financial District and to support all of our existing and future clients in the area while delivering our Values & Beliefs to be our best customers’ best service provider,” Greg Taylor, vice president, Eastern Canada Operations for Convergint Technologies, said in the announcement.

Security and building automation technicians, as well as locksmith services, will also be added to this location to provide rapid response for clientele, and the new office will also serve as a satellite learning center. “We plan to host Lunch & Learns at the site with our technology partners to provide our clients with information about the latest trends and technologies in electronic security and building automation solutions,” Eric Heagle, business development manager for Convergint Technologies, said in the announcement.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At ISC West 2017 earlier this month, Galaxy Control Systems solidified its commitment to cloud-based solutions with the announcement of its new Cloud Concierge, a cloud-based access control and monitoring solution. Galaxy also just released a new whitepaper this week entitled, “Understanding Cloud Services for Access Control,” further exemplifying the company’s commitment to its customers by providing education and awareness. 

“Galaxy Control Systems recognized early on that cloud services had the potential to deliver new flexibility and benefits for the security market,” Lukas Le, director of Cloud Services, Galaxy Control Systems, told Security Systems News. Le said that Galaxy has been working with cloud and hosted solutions for years to develop a high level of experience and expertise so the company could provide leadership and strong support for its customers.

“We have also been watching the market to gauge the increasing level of interest, knowledge and acceptance of this new approach,” he explained. “Today, we see that the current mature state of the necessary technologies will let us leverage the recent release of our mobile applications while delivering on a business model that is mutually beneficial for the integrator, end user and Galaxy alike.”

“Security professionals—both channel and end users—are recognizing the operational and cost benefits of a hosted collaborative access control solution,” Rick Caruthers, executive vice president, Galaxy Control Systems, said in the announcement. “With Cloud Concierge, we’ve reduced the complexity to allow resellers to comfortably sell a cost-effective solution to their base without having to assume responsibilities associated with system monitoring and management.”

He continued, “By joining the Cloud Concierge program, integrators who specialize and excel in their specific areas can focus on what they do best rather than trying to provide an end-to-end solution themselves. Best of all, by working with trusted partners to deploy, administer and maintain systems, end users can devote their time and energy to their
core business and operations.”

Unlike a traditional access control system, where door locks and controllers are connected to on-premise access control servers that store the system settings, enrollees and rules, and run the access control software application, with the new Galaxy Control Systems cloud-based access control solution, the access control servers are located remotely.

“Door locks and controllers communicate with the remote cloud servers through an encrypted Internet connection,” said Le. “This arrangement offers security and maintenance advantages, and lets system administrators and service staff access the system from anywhere they can reach the Internet using a standard browser, with no special software required on their devices.”

Le said that there is an up-front cost savings for customers who are installing new systems, and for customers with existing systems “the choice of timing might be dependent on the age of the on-premise hardware, availability of service and maintenance staff, and similar factors,” he noted. “Initially, we will focus our efforts on our current dealers, and we expect that continued education using webinars, workshops and similar hands-on methods will continue to increase adoption.” 

Although there are many customers who understand the cloud, cloud service adoption “is primarily about educating our customers about the benefits.” Le said. “For those already familiar with the benefits of cloud services, it’s an easy discussion—these customers can’t wait to move their access control into the cloud. For those that are less familiar or less comfortable with cloud services, they will need a bit more education to prepare them to make this move.”

A good example of Galaxy’s ongoing commitment to educate and inform is the publishing if its new whitepaper, which provides insights into the growing realm of cloud-based services and how they are changing the way access control systems can be deployed and used. In the paper, readers will find an overview of cloud technology and learn how and where access control cloud services can be applied for maximum economic and security benefits to the organization. The whitepaper also touches on decision factors to assess when considering a move to cloud services, each of which helps inform the decision-making process.

“We recognize that not everyone in the security industry has the time or resources to stay current with new technologies,” Caruthers said in the whitepaper’s release. “We developed our new whitepaper to provide information for our community, to help accelerate their understanding of the benefits of access control cloud services.”

To access the full whitepaper, click here.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

LOWELL, Mass.—Consumers see more clearly how smart home devices can directly benefit their lives, and are planning to purchase more smart home devices in the future, according to a consumer survey commissioned by PlumChoice Inc., a provider of premium technical services for IoT and cloud brands, and the Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of leading global companies deploying Z-Wave.

According to this second annual consumer benchmark survey, titled, “2016: Year of the Smart Device,” 52 percent of all respondents plan to buy a smart device in the next two years, and of those who own smart devices, 84 percent said they may make another smart purchase in the next two years

“It’s clear from our data that not only has the smart home arrived, but the benefits of adding connectivity to the things in our home are finally being realized,” Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, said in the announcement. “It’s exciting to finally see consumers understanding the value of connecting multiple devices together and to see categories like smart security, thermostats and safety grow year over year.”

The report helps device makers and their partners understand current connected and smart home device ownership, interest in future purchases and perceived smart home device benefits. In addition, it outlines the services that brands can tie to these products to drive more revenue and consumer loyalty, and highlights the need for companies to provide consumers a user experience that allows their smart home devices to fit easily into their lives.

With the majority of consumers reporting owning a total of four to six smart home devices (61 percent having interconnected some of those devices), interoperability becomes a key factor as consumers add more connected devices, according to the report.
   
“The smart home industry is thriving, and many companies are recognizing that their success is dependent on a seamless consumer user experience,” Noelani McGadden, vice president of IoT at PlumChoice, said in the press release. “Last year was a pivotal year for the smart home industry, with the number of people who own a smart device increasing by a staggering 259 percent. As smart home device adoption continues to grow, brands must cater to consumers who are expecting support services as part of their purchase, and at the very least provide installation support.”

According to the report, smart appliances (smart refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc.) and smart smoke detectors are among the smart home products with the highest year-over-year growth, with 267 percent and 250 percent respectively
   
All types of services and support expected from brands increased since 2015, with installation support listed as a top need at 68 percent, the report found.

The survey also examined consumer behavior—including purchase drivers and rate of adoption—of homeowners compared to renters, along with comparisons between age, gender and current device owners.

To see the full report, click here.

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