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Per Mar expands in Nebraska with latest buy

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Per Mar Security Services, parent company to Midwest Alarm Services and a provider of total security solutions for residential and commercial clients based in Davenport, Iowa, recently acquired NECO Security based in Lincoln, Neb. The deal brings more than a half century’s worth of business and expertise into the Per Mar family.

Founded by Don Nielsen in 1957, NECO Security specializes in residential and commercial burglar and fire alarm systems in the Lincoln area. Nelson said that after 63 years in the Fire Alarm/Security industry, he is excited about “a new season” for the Nielsen family

“After careful thought and consideration, as our customers are of utmost importance, we have selected Per Mar as our successor,” Nielsen said. “Per Mar has a UL Listed, FM Approved, TMA 5 Diamond Certified Central Monitoring Center, and offers an expanded range of services to our customers. In addition, Per Mar’s company, Midwest Alarm Services, is a Premier Notifier Distributor … thus completing the perfect fit.”

Brian Duffy, COO of Per Mar Security Services, is equally excited to continue the tradition that NECO has built over the past 62 years.

“The Nielsen family has built a great company in Lincoln through years of hard work and excellent service,” he said. “We are honored that they are placing their trust in us to be stewards of the business.”

NECO Security’s Project Manager, Bill Thomas, and their technicians will be joining Midwest Alarm Services, serving customers out of Per Mar and Midwest Alarm Services local Lincoln, Neb. office.

“We are excited to have NECO Security join our organization,” said Midwest Alarm Services President Doug Richard. “NECO and Midwest Alarm Services were two of the original Notifier dealers in the U.S. The NECO team will be a great cultural fit as they have been working together for decades and have a customer first mentality. We are looking forward to working with them to continue to deliver the best service in the industry.”

The tale of ‘Black Friday’ plus 9 safety tips

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Did you know the first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was used to describe a financial crisis in the 1800s? How’s that for some Thanksgiving trivia to share with family and friends around the turkey this year? 

History of 'Black Friday'

As the story goes, the gold market crashed on Friday, September 24, 1869 when two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, teamed up to buy as much of the nation’s gold as they possibly could, according to the History Channel. Gould and Fisk hoped it would drive up the price of gold so they could sell it for bewildering profits, but instead, the conspiracy unraveled, sending the stock market into a free-fall, bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers. 

More recently, and more related to the modern-day “Black Friday,” is the story of the Philadelphia police in the 1950s, who used the term to describe the chaos that ensued the day after Thanksgiving when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city prior to the big Army-Navy football game. Philly cops were forced to work extra-long shifts to deal with the additional crowds and traffic, and shoplifters, who would take advantage of the pandemonium in stores to make off with merchandise. 

By the early 1960s, the term “Black Friday” had caught on in Philly, as the city’s merchants tried desperately, but to no avail, to change it to “Big Friday” to remove any negative connotations related to the day. But it was the 1980s to the rescue! Retailers reinvented Black Friday by offering one-day sales, freebies, fun family events, etc. and since, it has morphed into a four-day event, spawning even more shopping-related holiday extravaganzas including “Cyber Monday” and “Small Business Saturday.”  

Shopping safety tips

Needless to say, present-day shoppers have more risk to manage during their retail therapy experiences, not only physically but digitally. Mat Newfield, CISO of Unisys, offers some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while shopping, with added commentary from yours truly: 

  1. Only shop with official retailers and websites you trust. If you haven’t verified that a website is who they portray to be, even if they’re offering the top toy of the year at a whopping 75 percent off, move on to a trusted site. 
  2. Make sure the website shows the security padlock icon in the browser and that the address begins with “https://”. (Remember “s” in the addy means “secure.”) 
  3. If shopping away from home, for example, in a local coffee shop while sipping on your favorite beverage, be sure your mobile device is updated and avoid unsecure Wi-Fi networks. 
  4. Keep your phone charged at all times in case of emergencies. Consider bringing along a portable charger to avoid plugging into a random USB port you may find. 
  5. Check local authorities’ alerts. Sign up to receive updates on traffic or news of any potential disturbances with local news and/or radio stations. 
  6. Where ever you choose to shop, especially if you are going at it alone, let someone you trust know your destination plans. 
  7. As soon as you walk into a store, survey your surroundings and make sure you know the location of all exits. 
  8. Stay alert. Have fun and enjoy, but be vigilant for suspicious activity happening around you. 
  9. In an emergency, stay calm and move to the edges of crowds. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the middle of something unsafe.

What images and color(s) represent the word ‘cybersecurity’?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Some studies have found that the human brain actually processes words by recognizing each word heard through the ears and seen with the eyes as an individual picture. I know when I’m listening to a podcast or lecture, the radio, reading something, etc. and I hear or see a word that is delightful to me, my mind engages, blooming a series of images that represent that word. In other words, I see pictures in my mind related to what I heard or saw.

Let’s say, for example, you just heard the word ‘cybersecurity.” What images popped into your mind? For me, it’s images of hooded people in basements crouched over a laptop, padlocks, computers with data flying out of it as if it’s being stolen, etc. 

Believe it or not, how people “see” the word cybersecurity is a big deal, as images can conjure up false realities of what it actually is and encompasses. And, with digital being such a major part of our lives, pictures/images provide the visual communication we are accustomed to.

The Daylight Security Research Lab, part of the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at U.C. Berkeley, compiled a dataset of the most common cybersecurity-related images used on the Internet during a two-year period of Google Image Search results for 28 terms related to privacy and cyber security. Every week for two years, the research team entered terms, such as cybersecurity, camera surveillance, camera privacy and more (you can see all 28 here) into a custom Google Search Engine (Google CSE). For each term searched, 100 images were scraped using a script, resulting in three sets of search terms each aimed at the following: 

  • Set 1: general technologies, technical themes or topics;
  • Set 2: representations of abstract ideas or practices; and
  • Set 3: Dave Eggar’s book, “The Circle,” which at the time of the study was a best-seller and represented topics of interest related to this study. 

Though the Berkeley researchers are continuing to analyze the seven gigabytes of collected imagery data, preliminary analyzations found that the most common colors used in cybersecurity imagery online are blue, grey, black and red, while padlocks and abstract network diagrams are the most common images. 

In my opinion, fear should not be the driver that encourages people to take action to stay safe. Yet, this research shows that the majority of images and colors related to cybersecurity do just that. Dark colors, in this case, blue, grey and black, are frequently associated with evil, mystery and fear. Red is often associated with danger. Just these four colors alone can communicate and evoke fear, and when used along with padlocks and images of computer networks, the message is clear: cybersecurity = fear. 

People should know the truth about cybersecurity —in words and in pictures — so that they can make educated decisions on how to best protect themselves, not fear mongered into it. Therefore, it’s important to create and use realistic imagery and pictures when it comes to discussing and presenting cybersecurity online. 

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

DIY causing home security disruption

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Research from Parks Associates shows that over the past six years, self-installed home security systems are gaining momentum, slowly, but traction no less, over professionally installed systems. Recent research from Parks found 51 percent of security system owners who acquired their security system in the past 12 months self-installed it. This is up from only 10 percent of security system owners who acquired their system six or more years ago. Additionally, 88 percent of self-installers report the set up was easy or very easy for them.

“New DIY security solutions entering the market are designed from the ground up to be self-installed by the consumer, so they are designed to deliver a smooth, painless experience on installation and setup,” Dina Abdelrazik, senior analyst, Parks Associates explained in the announcement. “These solutions seek to appeal to households unmoved by traditional, self-installed security systems. Value propositions, such as security and peace-of-mind, have always appealed to a broad base of consumers, so as DIY products evolve to deliver an easy, off-the-shelf experience, security adoption will start to crack the 70 percent of households that do not have and do not plan to acquire a security system.”

This discussion will continue at CONNECTIONS Summit at CES, a one-day executive summit that focuses on the best business models and value propositions in the Internet of Things (IoT), the smart home, and connected and mobile CE and services, during the session “Disruption in Home Security: Smart Home Convergence.”

The CONNECTIONS Summit, hosted by Parks Associates, will be held in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2020. Attendees will experience panel discussions, commentaries, insights and debates delivered by leaders from companies in the IoT and smart home space geared toward helping companies build new revenues and innovative business models. Sessions include “Smart Home and IoT: Health and Wellness Applications;” “Smart Home & Interoperability: Expanding Ease of Use;” “Smart Home Platforms: Unlocking Consumer Value,” and more.

The following professionals will be speaking during this session: Naveen Chhangani, VP, product and services, Arlo Technologies; Vera Tzoneva, head of assistant distribution partnerships, Google; Andrew Voyantes, GM of installed solutions, Ring; and Matt Wolf, head of partnerships, SimpliSafe.

“Over the past decade of keeping people’s homes and businesses safe, we’ve seen that more and more consumers want solutions that fit their lives without compromising on security and privacy protections,” Wolf said.

Are you and your company ready for a cyberattack or data breach?

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Kind of like the once elusive sound of a car alarm in a packed parking lot in the 80s to the flooded number of parked cars with car alarms today, as is the discussion of cyberattacks, cybercrimes, data breaches and such. 

I remember being around seven years old and in our local K-Mart parking lot with my mom, when a sound emerged from somewhere among the parked cars. That’s the first time I had ever heard a car alarm. Today, a car alarm is an annoyance at best and not really “heard” by many people anymore. 

Likening that to the cyber world, I remember becoming so intrigued with cybersecurity, cyberattacks, cybercrimes and such about 10 years ago, when I became heavily involved in social media. It was something exciting and different than had ever been seen before in true crime stories that intrigue and whet the public’s palates. Fast-forward to today, and it’s become common-place to see these types of stories throughout all aspects of media reporting — online articles and blogs; social media platforms; TV news stories; documentaries; radio reporting; etc., so much so, that people are already or becoming numb to it, passing it off as just “one of those things we have to deal with in life.” However, especially as a security professional, cyberattacks and data breaches not only shouldn’t be taken lightly, they absolutely cannot be, as they have literally ruined business and people. So, I ask you: “Are you ready and prepared?” 

Sad to say, but if you’re like the majority of the over 800 CISOs and other senior executives across North America, Europe and Asia, surveyed (commissioned by FireEye and delivered by Kantar, an independent market research organization), the answer is unfortunately, “no.” The study found that: 

  • 51 percent of surveyed organizations don’t believe they are ready or would respond appropriately to a cyberattack or data breach; 
  • 29 percent of these organizations with response plans in place haven’t tested or updated them in the last 12 months or more; and
  • 76 percent of the organizations plan to increase their cyber security budget in 2020. 

The survey also highlighted varying global viewpoints. In Asia, Japan plans to prioritize detection capabilities in 2020 and expresses concerns regarding cloud security, while Korea believes nation states are the most likely source of cyberattacks. The U.S. is leading the transition to cloud; Germany is concerned about cloud security and France believes employee training to be a top protection measure. 

I urge you, don’t become a parked car in a sea of cyberattacks and data breaches with your alarm going off and people just walking by like nothing is wrong. Prepare by creating a plan and know/understand exactly how to execute that plan before, during and after a cyberattack or data breach. This is a must. Think about it – it can’t be underestimated just how smart cybercriminals really are; it’s all they focus on day in and day out. They are experts at their craft and we must know how to prevent as must as possible and reciprocate, when necessary, to stay safe.

Industry service trip helps families in need

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

One of the more heartwarming aspects of reporting on security is seeing how much the industry gives back, in a myriad of ways, through individual and company efforts, and through work with organizations like Mission 500, the non-profit charity supported by the security industry and dedicated to serving the needs of children and communities in crisis.

Mission 500 recently completed its fourth service trip within the United States, making this the second trip to Puerto Rico to assist families still struggling from the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

“Unless you have spent time in these communities, it’s hard to understand the enormous impact of these tangible, real actions on the families we help,” George Fletcher, Mission 500 advisory board member, said in the announcement. “We added an 8 by 8 foot addition and a full bathroom to one home, for example. The main breadwinner of that family has been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and will no longer have to use the detached outhouse that the family had been living with. Maybe the best thing about a program like this is that both the families we help and the industry volunteers benefit. Bonding, lifelong friendships, and touching families’ hearts – these intangibles also deliver life-changing impacts.”

Thirty Mission 500 volunteers lent their physical support along with financial assistance to help assist two families this year. One house was essentially rebuilt from the foundation up by reinforcing unstable flooring, installing new siding and a new roof. The second house received a small addition and a new bathroom that replaced an old outhouse. One house received a new washing machine, and the other received a new refrigerator. The team also provided new doors for bedrooms, bedsheets and carpet to provide improved living conditions for the families.

Tom Nolan, director of Strategic Partnerships, Mission 500 said that this year’s Mission 500 service trip was “truly amazing. Every person on the team brought their unique viewpoint and skillset and was ready to help. Even though this particular group had never worked as a unit before, the team dynamic was so unique and special — and we worked so well together — that we were able to accomplish much more than any one of us had imagined possible.”

Volunteer support came from representatives of 11 companies, including ADS Security, Altronix, Axis, Brinks, Core Logics, Five Alarm Security, Galaxy Systems, Gould Alarm Communications, Hikvision, Milestone, Resideo Pro Security and WeSuite.

“We are excited about how the Service Trip brings together security industry professionals who care about helping others,” said Jason Lutz, Industry Affairs at Resideo Pro Security. “The Resideo partners are big supporters in their local communities, and we were happy to make an even bigger impact on this trip by uniting with the extended team.”

Ronnie Pennington, National Sales Engineer at Altronix, added, “The service trip was beyond all expectations. Thirty volunteers started this journey as strangers and left as a family with a bond that will last a lifetime. Our collective ability to provide hands-on assistance to two families in need was both rewarding and very humbling. It is a life experience I urge others to consider should the opportunity present itself.”

To donate or volunteer for this worthy cause to help American families in need, please visit https://www.mission500.org/ or contact Tom Nolan at [email protected], or call 516-903-7291.

Recent ADT and Alarm.com deals making waves

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Recent mega deals — Alarm.com acquiring OpenEye and ADT bringing on I-View Now — couldn’t be timelier as this month’s News Poll looks at the topic of M&A, which seems to be as active as ever with big deals hitting what seems like weekly.

These two deals, which happened within the same week, are making waves in both the residential and commercial markets.

SSN caught up with John Mack, executive vice president and co-head of Investment Banking with Imperial Capital, which represented OpenEye in the Alarm.com deal, who said that the deal makes a lot of sense for Alarm.com.

“Alarm.com has a lot of exposure to the residential alarm business, and while there still is good potential there, to try and continue to show 20- to 25-percent year-over-year growth, diversifying into other channels that are going to show strong performance is going to be important,” Mack said. “Commercial is probably the biggest and most obvious of the areas to move into and this deal is an important enabler for commercial, where video and related information is increasingly critical to success in that sector.”

He continued: “They’ve got the intrusion piece; they have been developing the access control piece; and this OpenEye deal gives them the cloud-managed video piece, so they kind of have the triple play, as well as all of the accouterments that you can add to the triple play, like video analytics, where they have some of the leading engineers and also in software, data analysis and cloud hosting, so they are a pretty formidable competitor.” 

Mack pointed out that this deal is also indicative of the interest there is in cloud and managed services, noting that there is strong M&A activity in this area.

Looking at the ADT deal for I-View Now, George De Marco, ESX chairman/managing partner, DECO Ventures LLC, noted on the phone and in his blog that alarm verification technology, like I-View Now’s, propels monitoring services to the next level.

“With the recent announcement of ADT’s purchase of I-View Now’s technology, this move may finally propel the industry to aggressively adopt and adapt next-gen solutions that use sensors, images and data to effectively determine the threat level from an intrusion or fire alarm activation,” De Marco said. “False alarm dispatches may finally become a thing of the past.”

False alarm dispatches have plagued first responders since the dawn of the alarm industry, he noted. “Always a contention, the common denominator with police departments is that — 98 percent of all dispatched alarms are false and draw valuable resources away from other police priorities.”

Mack noted that Larry Folsom introduced video verification technology that is “critical to the residential alarm business. The professional residential alarm business needs to be much more focused on verification and reducing false alarms and they have been talking about it for years in the industry. This is the technology to kind of make that real and to be serious about solving this problem. This technology is the wave of the future and ADT wants to be out in front and say that it is the point of differentiation for buying an ADT system.”

The importance of customer satisfaction and how to increase it

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Yesterday’s J.D. Power 2019 Home Security Satisfaction Study that includes both professionally (pro) installed and DIY home security systems got me to thinking about the importance of customer satisfaction as it pertains to the security industry. 

The study, based on responses from 5,289 customers, fielded during July and August of 2019, measured customer satisfaction with home security based on the following: billing and payment; customer service; price; professional monitoring; purchase and installation; and quality of the system. 

In the pro installed category, Brinks Home Security ranked highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 858, followed by ADT, scoring 847. The DIY category ranked Ring Alarm highest, with a score of 904, while SimpliSafe was a close second, with a score of 900. 

Other key findings include: 

  • Desire to upgrade: the most common reason customers in pro and DIY install start shopping for a home security system. Pro install customers were spurred to act by special discounts and bundled packages; DIY install customers are motivated by peace-of-mind and protecting their property. 
  • Brand reputation and pricing: Pro install customers are mostly driven by brand reputation while DIY install customers lean more on price in their decision-making process. 
  • DIY install customers are more satisfied than pro install customers: DIYers are especially satisfied with pricing and are more likely to have additional security-related products beyond control panels, keypads, hubs and alarm sensors, such as video doorbells, exterior cameras and alarm sirens. It is critical to provide pricing options that meet customers’ needs and are easily understood by consumers.

In response to this study, I did some research, and while I think there will always be a part of the population who prefers DIY home security systems, there are three key actions home security professionals can take to retain customers, gain new ones and win-over some of the DIY segment of the industry.

Create extraordinary customer experiences. 

  • Each customer is unique, so it’s necessary to use different tactics to delight them. In other words, consumers want a customized experience. 
  • Treat each as a person, rather than a persona; work hard to understand how each customer feels; and appreciate their needs. 
  • Timeliness matters and most customers expect to find whatever they need — pricing, inventory, etc. — from a company in three clicks or less. To solve complex issues, most consumers expect to speak to one person.
  • Use multiple channels to engage with customers and potential customers including email, in-person, phone, online chat/live support, mobile apps, online portals, online knowledge bases, messenger apps, online forms, social media, text messaging, online communities and voice assistants. 

Be innovative.

  • Embrace and become “the expert” in new technologies so you can show savvy consumers you are up-to-date and teach other consumers who may be behind the curve. (Think artificial intelligence and machine learning). 
  • Connectivity is a major trend in security and offering consumers the opportunity to connect their devices — security systems, smart speakers, fitness trackers, smart thermostats, and more — is key. 

Trust is super important. 

  • Honesty is the best policy when earning customer trust. Through the eyes of a consumer, security, reliability, transparency, ethics and authenticity all equal trust.
  • Make sure strong security controls are in play to protect customer data. 
  • Show consumers that their data is being used legitimately.

 

Here’s a few other resources to help you, the pro installer, increase customer satisfaction: 

 

Top 10 security megatrends revealed

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Once again this year, the folks at the Security Industry Association (SIA) — including Don Erickson, Scott Schafer and the rest of the incredible team there — have identified the key “megatrends” that are impacting the security industry as we move into 2020.

Hard to argue with any of the trends on the list, as SIA always has its finger on the pulse of the industry, providing thought leadership and bringing top industry subject matter experts together for education at key industry conferences such as ISC West/East, Securing New Ground and Cyber:Secured, to name just a few.

Drum roll, please … The 2020 Security Megatrends are:
•    Cybersecurity Impact on Physical Security
•    AI
•    Facial Recognition
•    Emphasis on Data Privacy
•    Cloud Computing
•    National Security Concerns
•    Connectivity and IoT Everything
•    Workforce Development
•    Move to Service Models
•    Identity as the New Perimeter

SIA’s signature annual Security Megatrends report defines these top 10 factors influencing both short- and long-term change in the global security industry.

“Cybersecurity resoundingly tops the list of Security Megatrends again for 2020. With the increased risk and frequency of cyberattacks, today’s systems integrators and product developers are working to make sure that security solutions meet or exceed an organization’s cyber-preparedness standards,” Scott Schafer, chairman of the SIA Board of Directors, said in the announcement. “SIA also forecasts that the trends of artificial intelligence and facial recognition will dramatically impact the industry in coming years. Both AI and facial recognition are experiencing clear technology advancements, and SIA will continue to track the industry and consumer tech adoption rates and emerging applications for these dynamic Security Megatrends.”

The selection of 2020’s Security Megatrends was based on fall 2019 focus groups and survey data gathered from top security industry business leaders, association leadership, key volunteers and speakers for the 2019 Securing New Ground (SNG) conference taking place Oct. 29-30 at the Grand Hyatt New York in New York City.

Each year, SIA produces the Security Megatrends report, which is made available to SIA member companies and registered attendees of SNG, the security industry’s executive conference. The Security Megatrends are the top forces at play in security, expected to have far-reaching impacts on businesses across the industry. As such, these trends play an instrumental role in the insights and discussions at SNG, an annual conference bringing together the leading entrepreneurs, luminaries, CEOs and investors in the security industry for top-level information sharing, networking and business analysis.

For the second year in a row, cybersecurity was identified as the predominant trend shaping the security industry and a major concern for C-suite executives, government buyers, enterprise organizations, integrators and more. Moving up the list from being ranked fifth in SIA’s 2019 Security Megatrends report to ranked second for 2020 was the trend of artificial intelligence (AI). Respondents noted AI’s role underlying advancement behind nearly all technology promises.

A resounding number of respondents called for facial recognition to be added as a 2020 Security Megatrend, bringing the newcomer to the number-three position. Also new to the 2020 Megatrends are national security concerns and identity as the new perimeter.

In addition to defining the latest Security Megatrends, the forecast for 2020 also denotes potential disruptors in the security industry and other forces at play that may have a clear impact on some or all businesses.

The official 2020 Security Megatrends report will be published in December 2019 and available online for download and/or purchase.

Heading to Resideo Connect 2019

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

As the weather cools off here in Texas, I’m heading to the desert — Phoenix, Arizona to be exact, for some (more) sun and warmth, but most importantly to join Resideo at the CONNECT 2019 dealer’s conference. It’s here that I’ll learn all about the connected home – security, HVAC, plumbing and more — and bring all that knowledge to you! Below is a description of all that you can look forward to in the coming days. 

The Partner and Innovation Showcase offers the opportunity to meet with the Resideo team to see their latest technologies in action. On Thursday, Oct. 24, I’ll be tweeting about the latest and greatest connected/smart home technologies offered by Resideo @SSN_Ginger, so be sure you’re following me as well as our hashtag #SSNTalks. 

On Friday, Oct. 25, I’ll bring you tid-bits of information via Twitter from Scott Harkins, VP/GM, Connected Home, Resideo, on how energy, water, air and security provide new opportunities to drive additional revenue and how you can become the smart home hero and expert, presented by Quentin Gunther and Rick Desch, both from Resideo. Also, Bruce Kimbrell of the Disney Institute will be presenting on how to inspire employee engagement through a culture of effective feedback and empowerment.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, I’ll be heading back to Texas, but before I do, Resideo VP/GM, Global Pro Security, Alice DeBiasio will talk about the booming smart home market, forecasted to include approximately 1.3 billion devices by 2022. With the majority of consumers saying they’d choose to have their smart devices installed by a professional versus installing themselves, this is must-have information to create your smart home strategy within your business. This will be followed by how-tos from Jen Tagle of Resideo about selling video alarm verification — how to design, demo and price it to stay ahead of your competitors, create a higher RMR and provide priority police response to your customers. 

Again, be sure to follow me on Twitter @SSN_Ginger as well as Security Systems News’ hashtag #SSNTalks to be the first to see what’s going on at Resideo Connect 2019. 

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