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IFSEC awards

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Not sure if anyone cares or not, but here are the annual IFSEC award winners. No link, so see below:
Last night, the IFSEC Security Industry Awards 2009 were handed out to the deserved winners at a black-tie gala dinner at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. Organised in association with the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the awards acknowledge the people, products and technological advancements that have played a big part in the security industry over the past year. The winners of the 2009 awards are as follows: Access Control Product of the Year, sponsored by Info4security.com smarti ELECTRA - TAB Systems Inc. CCTV Product of the Year, sponsored by Norbain VCC-HD4000P - SANYO Europe Communication Product of the Year, sponsored by IFSEC SA DualCom DigiPlus - CSL DualCom Intruder Alarm Product of the Year, sponsored by TAB Systems RLS-3060 Redscan - Optex (Europe) Physical Security Product of the Year, sponsored by Genie CCTV Guardian Smoke Screen and Securi-Dock - Concept Smoke Screen in partnership with G4S Integrated Security Product of the Year Emergency Messaging and Mass Notification System - Dedicated Micros Security Project or Installation of the Year Heathrow terminal 5 Car Park Solution - Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions Guarding Service Delivery to Customer Merseyrail Electrics Security Team - Carlisle Security AND V&A Museum of Childhood, Activity Assistants - Wilson James Policing Partnership of the Year Docklands Light Railway Travel Safe Officer Team - Carlisle Security
Of all of those, I guess I'd say most cool for Dedicated Micros. I don't think many people think of them for mass notification, but they've obviously delivered a quality product.

IFSEC, Day 1

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Ah, lovely Birmingham... Okay, no, I'm not at IFSEC. But Steven Sachoff, our European editor, is. Check out his fancy new blog. Lots of good stuff about Norbain, Basler, Saab, and more.

SIA denounces president's budget proposal

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Monday, May 11, 2009
The Security Industry Association today blasted President Obama’s budget proposal, saying it "includes ill-advised and disappointing reductions in funding for crucial physical security programs."   Obama's proposed fiscal year 2010 budget would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from transit, port and school security programs and provide them with much less money than the amount authorized by Congress or recommended in recent legislation, a release from SIA said. Here's more:
Obama seeks to reduce funding for both the Transit Security Grant Program and the Port Security Grant Program from the current $388.6 million each to $250 million each for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Congress authorized $900 million for the transit program and $400 million for the port program for fiscal 2010.   Obama would keep funding for the Secure Our Schools program at the current level of $16 million, but this is well below the $50 million authorization level recommended in the School Safety Enhancements Act that was unanimously passed in September by the House of Representatives.   “President Obama is looking for cuts in all the wrong places,” SIA Director of Government Relations Don Erickson said. “We understand and support efforts to be fiscally responsible, but taking money away from programs that protect children in the classroom and the millions of Americans traveling on our mass transit systems or conducting business at our nations’ ports is not in any way responsible. It is a misguided step in the wrong direction.”   The Transit Security Grant Program provides federal money to regional transit systems to help them protect critical infrastructure from terrorism. The Port Security Grant Program provides financial assistance to port areas for the same purpose. The Secure Our Schools program funds the development of school safety resources and security improvements at schools.   SIA will work to secure full funding for all three programs, Erickson said.   “Funding these programs at their authorized levels would total just over $1.3 billion,” he noted. “For transit systems, ports and schools, that is a significant amount of money that can go a long way toward stopping people who wish to do us harm. For the federal government, though, it represents less than one-half of one-tenth of one percent of the annual budget. These cuts are supposed to represent fiscal restraint, but they will lessen national security much more than they reduce federal spending.”

Brink's Home Security Q1 looks fine

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Friday, May 8, 2009
We're busy putting out our June issue today, but here's some good Q1 news from Brink's Home Security. Looks like the stock is up over $30 for the first time in a while. Did you buy it at $15?

PSA-TEC, Day 3

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Thursday, May 7, 2009
8:15 - Grabbed a donut and an orange juice and made it to the presentation on video monitoring being given by Doug Marman from VideoIQ and Mike Hanlon from ViewpointCRM. I've seen this from Doug before, but I haven't seen him teamed up with Mike, who can provide the perspective of what goes on at the video monitoring station when the VideoIQ analytics sound an alarm. Mike: Wackenhut and Securitas are both doing this themselves, and they're two of the largest guard companies out there. They believe in this as well. It's not about bad-mouthing the guards, saying they fall asleep, it's about telling customers what can be done and solving the problems they're having. I was at a water treatment plant, they've got a security guy they're paying to make sure the seals aren't cracking and the water's at the right levels, and they pay for a port-a-potty, and a trailer, and a dumpster, just for him. The first thing the guy tells me is that he came out here at 11 at night, and the guy has three time clocks sitting on his trailer's desk - he'd bought time clocks from the manufacturer so he didn't have to patrol the area and punch in at the clocks that were at fixed locations. That was an easy sale. Doug: But you actually have to be able to replace that - how can you do it? You need intelligent cameras or you're just going to have the same problem of bored guards sitting in your facility. No one can watch cameras all the time. Mike: Multi-family housing is a great market. You can voice down to people who are drunk on the property and say, hey, go drink on someone else's property down the street. Just don't do it here. You're not telling them to be saints, you're just telling them to be derelicts somewhere else. Doesn't have to be IP audio either. We can do POTS, whatever. We could do a whole class on audio. But basically it's almost all voice down. You can have voice up as well, but that's that often used right now. (I spoke with Doug yesterday and he said they have the technology on the VidoeIQ cameras to do voice up, but they haven't "turned it on yet.") Doug: Love the story about Mike being led around a property by a guard, just finishing an installation, and kids jump the fence, run through the property, and the guard didn't say a word. Then, after they leave, he says, "that's why we're hiring you guys." Mike: And it's not about bullying people. Most of the time, it's about being polite on the voice down and just suggesting they go somewhere else. Doug: Most of the time, you're doing motion sensors, etc., and because of the false alarms, you end up putting in video anyway to figure out what's tripping the alarms. With video analytics, you get the video without the false alarms. Over 60 percent of the crime happening for colleges and retail is happening in parking lots. We have good solutions for indoors, but the industry hasn't come up with a good solution for outdoors. This is a good solution for outdoors, especially where there can't be a fence. 8:40 - Great point by Mike here: This is not about arresting people. Sonitrol is great at dispatching and catching people and it makes great video and stories when you get the guy in the middle of the crime. But what if you could stop the guy before anything gets smashed or broken into? Wouldn't that make the client ultimately happier? Nothing had to get fixed and there wasn't a big brou-ha-ha with the cops tramping through the store and making a big mess. Some numbers from Doug: Guard services are maybe $40 billion in the U.S., and 15 percent of that, give or take, could be done better with video analytics. New market created by this is somewhere like $6 to $8 billion. Mike: Used to be when we saw they had their own command center, we'd be like, darn, nothing for us here. Now that's low-hanging fruit for us. They're struggling to staff the center, to operate it correctly. We say, shut that down, let us use your infrastructure, and we'll do it for half the cost. Replacing one body, three shifts, is saving $157,000, which is the average cost of three shifts of a security officer in the United States. Some regions are much more expensive. Though sometimes the cheaper guy is a lot easier to replace. (By the way, an integrator said, "Say that number again," when Mike talked about the cost of one guard.) And don't slander the guard, by the way, because he has value, maybe he did CPR on an employee or customer, but you can augment what he does, you can let the client check on that customer. Doug: The cost of the equipment should be made up in the first six months to a year. And then going forward they can save 50 percent on their guarding costs. Team with a guard firm. They're often good at HR and labor, but they're not good at technology. And often they're bidding super low, trying to compete on pennies, and they have huge turnover. So if you can let them bid lower and hire fewer people, they'll get you in the door for the installation and you'll share the customer. Doug: My guess is that in 10 years, video monitoring will be the most significant change that happened in the security industry this decade. Auto dealerships: We have deployments at more than 50 car lots. 60-70 percent of them had on-site guards previously. Remote guarding reduced costs by 75 percent. Average pay back time was seven months. But it's not just security for the auto dealers. You can invite customers to browse, alert sales people when customers arrive, maybe you don't need a fence, don't have the cost of moving the cars all the time to bring them closer to the lot. Mike: Most exciting growth we're seeing is in management tools, a concierge service, letting them know what's going on at their property. Making sure they're not the last guy that got plowed when it snows, keeping track of other vendors, when they show up and how they perform. 8:55 - Here's where Mike talks about the cool thing they're doing with LL Bean in Freeport: Basically, they have these information kiosks, outdoors, you walk up to it, push one button for emergency, another for information. You push the button, a uniformed officer answers in live two-way video, "welcome to Freeport, how can I help you?" They like it so much they've put one at the State House to help drive people to the shops at Freeport. Doug: Or how about a remote chaperone. An employee feels unsafe walking through the parking lot. They call the monitoring station, say they're about to walk out, and the operator says they'll watch them and maybe even play a message in the parking lot: "Hello everyone, just reassuring you that this parking lot is monitored by a live video operator. Have a nice day." Or replace the doorman. 9:05 - City surveillance - City of Birmingham, population 230,000, ION (an integrator - you'll see a story on this in our June issue, actually) is working as a force multiplier for their police department. There's another city in New Hampshire who are working with a private integrator to provide video surveillance for their police department. There are municipal funds available for this kind of service. 9:20 - All of the Viewpoint CRM services can be white labeled, so that the customer doesn't know this isn't your video monitoring station if you don't want them to. They have a number of white papers and videos that you can throw your logo on. Now lots of stuff about how cool the VideoIQ camera is. I'll let you go to their Web site or something for that (we've written about their iCVR - use our cool new search engine to find it - or go here). 9:30 - Admittedly, the object search thing that VideoIQ can do is pretty cool. They can track an individual person as they travel throughout the surveillance system, and then can go back and search the storage for when that person was recorded before, when they came into the building and how. If that works in real time, that's pretty cool. 9:45 - Reminder to check out www.remoteguarding.org, the alliance Viewpoint and VideoIQ formed to create some remote guarding standards. Session done. Not as many questions as I thought there would be. But there's general grumbling that this is pretty interesting when Doug asks if it's interesting. I think people are just a little sleepy still.

PSA-TEC day 2, part 2

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Thursday, May 7, 2009
To try to shake things up a bit, PSA-TEC decided this year to forgo the formal dinner they usually have and to instead allow manufacturers to host hospitality suites, each with a different kind of nosh, which in total comprised dinner. Except for vegetarians. We got some crackers and cheese and some fruit, but that's another matter. Basically, each manufacturer took rooms of varying sizes on the second floor of the hotel, so that the entire floor was consumed. This was slightly disorienting, due to the circular nature of the floor, and I never quite knew where I was after the third drink or so, but I think it basically worked. To get people to visit all of the suites, they had this "Face by Facebook" game (that may not have actually been the exact name) where you had to get a sticker from each suite with the manufacturer's logo on it, then had to hand in the piece of paper so that it could be entered into a drawing for things like TVs, iPods, etc. I did not participate in the "Facebook" thing (more on that later), but I did throw a ball in the Pelco Wii bowling set-up, where strikes got you entered into some kind of drawing. I nailed the strike with a lovely bending ball that slammed right into the pocket, showing that hours and hours in front of my TV at home have not gone to waste (anybody sporting a bowling rating better than 1683?), but there weren't a whole lot of security guys familiar with the Wii's operation, which was pretty dang entertaining. There's a kind of general reluctance in this industry to participate in popular culture, except that everyone's rocking an iPhone or a Blackberry nowadays. If popular culture and technology helps you make money, they're all about it. And I think pop culture and technology could help the security industry make more money if the industry embraced them. Tracy Larson at WeSuite (she's been all over the industry, starting as an end user at CA, then getting into integration) made a good point yesterday: Security is always being treated as IT's bastard step-child, as though security guys don't know technology, when, in reality, there are a ton of talented tech guys in security, it's just that you can't go protecting people's property with beta versions of stuff because, you know, it sort of has to definitely work. So, while IT gets away with things like, oh, I don't know, selling publications beta versions of vertical search engines that don't really work and they know it (cough, cough, that totally never happens, I'm sure, cough, cough), the security industry has long been pretty conservative about the technology it brings to market. This is changing now, obviously. Some of these IP cameras maybe shouldn't be out in the field as "security" cameras. Some of this PSIM software is maybe a little buggy, I'm hearing. It's interesting that when I talked to the guys at CelAccess yesterday, they made a big point of saying they weren't a "security" company. They just did access control. Not security. Is there a way to marry these two ideas: conservatively keeping people and property safe while using high technology that's been vetted and tested? I think some of it's just the messaging and marketing. A security installer who can marry these two ideas I think could move forward considerably, and I think some of that is just taking advantage of web tools and social networking and reaching people where they live, work, and play. On Facebook this morning, I was served an ad for this web site. I feel a little dirty linking to it, but it seems relatively legitimate (okay, no it doesn't - the text is filled with typos and it's clearly just optimized for search in a cheesy way - but you'll see my point). Where else are people going to see and be asked to think about putting a security system in their home? Young people don't think about security systems. No one thinks about security systems until they actually have something to protect. But young people get robbed all the time (trust me, I know a lot of musicians who've had their gear ripped off). If you tell them, on Facebook or somewhere else they frequent, that you can give them a totally wireless security system that will allow them to protect their apartment and it's only going to cost them a cheap monthly fee, they'd be all over that. Christ, they pay $80 a month for their iPhone and data plan. Probably more. What's $40 a month to make sure no one steals their XBox? But here we are at PSA-TEC playing a Facebook game and no one's actually on Facebook. PSA certainly isn't. And maybe they shouldn't be, as they don't really have consumer exposure. But they should have a LinkedIn group, probably, which they don't (entertaining PSA groups on LinkedIn: Pakistan Student Association, Phycological Society of America (a professional society for research on algae), Persian Student Association, Professional Sports Authenticators (they make sure your baseball cards are real), Preferred Sandals Agency), though a number of the PSA staff are on LinkedIn. Maybe LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter (especially) are actually a waste of time and worthless for a security installer to deal with. I'm willing to grant you that argument, at least, but some of this is just about impressions. How can you be protecting my family with the latest technology if your web site sucks? I don't believe you. If you can't email me a quote via a pdf file, I don't believe you can come up with a high technology way of protecting my business. If I can't find you on the first page of google when I'm trying to find your phone number, you don't exist. This is the way people really think nowadays, and while some of it might be irrational, you can't argue with irrationality. It just is. So, yeah, my advice for the security industry as a whole, as formulated after a night of networking with security integrators: Get more web-savvy, maybe listen to some music that was created after the Johnson administration, and maybe, just maybe, stop telling loud jokes about being at strip clubs so that more women will want to actually work in the industry. But I think the hospitality suites thing worked really well, actually. Good flow of people for networking and much better than sitting at a table with the same eight people for three hours at dinner. Off now to see a presentation on municipal security (if I get there in time).

Cool new PERS, security stuff

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Thursday, May 7, 2009
I have to admit, I'm pretty fond of gadgets. I just like reading about new innovations and new technologies. I've been a longtime reader of scifi.com's DVICE. I'm talking back in the day, before the neat new branding and the upside-down "i" in the name. Actually, I recently found out that DVICE covered one of my most recent stories about Vaica Medical's SimpleMed for SSN before I did. Anyway, I received some press releases recently about some new PERS and security gadgets that I thought were pretty cool. First up is a new edition to the PERS market, LogicMark's FreedomAlert pendant. The small pendant functions just like a monitored personal emergency response system, except the owner of the device doesn't have to pay monthly monitoring fees. Basically, the device consists of a programmable base unit one plugs into their phone line. The base unit is connected wirelessly to the pendant (which looks like a little cell phone, complete with antenna). When the end user pushes the panic button, the base unit calls a call list of 3 numbers and then, if no one on the call list answers, dials 911. The pendant itself is a two-way voice communicator, and is unique, according to LogicMark president Mark Gottlieb, in that it takes advantage of a loophole in federal regulations on autodialer systems and is, in fact, the only autodial system in existence expressly permitted to dial 911. "We’re the only company in the industry allowed to call NENA, the National Emergency Number Association ... NENA does not allow automatic dialers to call 911 because they can never figure out what the problem is," Gottlieb said. "That's where the role of the monitoring center comes into play. It is actually illegal for an automatic dialer to call 911. We have an exception. We're the only company with a written exception to call 911, because the person who pushes the button is speaking through the pendant to the dispatch." So, basically, imagine it as a cordless phone handset that has been wicked shrunk down so you can wear it around your neck like a necklace, and it also only takes the push of one button to automatically cycle through a call list of 4 preprogrammed numbers. According to Gottlieb, "It has a range of--line of sight--almost 600 feet" from the unit base. Kind of a neat idea to give seniors a sense of security and freedom to roam about the house unfettered to their PERS base unit or by a phone handset they'll have to utilize and dial if they run into trouble. Next is the Silent Touch Watch from SilentCall Communications. The Silent Touch Watch acts as a bridge between end users with vision or hearing impairments and their environment, including their doorbell, phone, and intrusion or fire alarm. According to the release:
The Silent Touch Watch, the alerting tool developed by SilentCall Communications of Waterford, Michigan, will alert the wearer within 300 feet that the doorbell or phone is ringing, or that a smoke detector, fire alarm, or burglar alarm has been activated. The wearer is alerted by both a vibration and by a visual icon symbol lighting up on the display.
I like the way the industry is going with making security and lifestyle applications portable. Innovations by Alarm.com, Xanboo, and now SilentCall are really changing the focus of traditional security from protecting a fixed address to giving people on the go 24/7 interaction with all of their lifestyle needs.

Cersosimo's Home Technologies division takes top spot in CE Pro listing

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Our friends over at CE Pro Magazine came out with their CE Pro 100, a list of the top 100 custom installation companies recently, and Guardian Home Technologies, is again at number one. Guardian Home Technologies is a division of Guardian Protection Service, a super regional run by Russ Cersosimo, and one which we report on frequently. Here's the CE Pro story.

PSA, day 2

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I'll keep these updates all in one post, and time-stamp them, so your RSS feeds don't get slammed with a bunch of posts: 9:45 - The show floor is picking up here. I might have underestimated the booth count. It's more full on the back side than I thought. Something like 100 booths, which may be even with last year or a touch more. Hard to say. Had a good conversation with the guys at CelAccess, which is basically cellular-based access control you can control from anywhere. It's all web-based, with no software necessary, and they sell hardware, too, though they'll integrate with other hardware and OEM as well. Plus, you can white label the web interface that end users see, so you can resell the wireless access control as a service if you want. Their pitch is cost, too, as you can install one wirelessly controlled access control device for about $1500, instead of having to install a panel, etc., for one door or one gate. Plus, they'll manage all the cellular service stuff for you, buying the service in bulk and managing the cell contracts, etc. Not a solution for every door in a 50-story high-rise, but pretty good for a remote location, that's for sure. 10:15 - Have you heard of PDS? Apparently, they're the 11th largest PC manufacturer in the country, do about $150 million in revenue, and in November they bought a company called Vision Controls, a DVR manufacturer. So, in addition to all of their IT systems building business, they're not looking at being the server of choice, and maybe the system of choice, for the video surveillance industry. Essentially, why buy Dell, who don't necessarily understand video surveillance, when you can buy PDS. That's the pitch. Now they've also hooked up with NUUO, a Taiwanese NVR manufacturer I've written about a couple times that's really making a lot of noise. They're everywhere all of a sudden. The PDS guys say NUUO's "capture hardware is awesome," and that they integrate with more cameras than Milestone. I'm not taking that as gospel, but it's interesting, nonetheless. 11:30 - Heading over for the vendor appreciation lunch - they're kicking us out of the call - but I've been doing some great eavesdropping on integrators today. Just a quick selection - do these correlate with what you're thinking about your integration business? "We go in with the access and then sell the video, usually, not the other way around, so if your camera doesn't work with the access it's not really going to happen." "IP cameras are basically great indoor cameras, but they suck outside. They just focus on the back-end, they don't worry enough about the front end, the lens and the iris." "We're here looking for an RMR generator." "A video camera is worthless if no one's watching it." 1:10 - The awards luncheon wasn't half-bad, actually. The corporate entertainer guy they hired was a little too amped up for the crowd (he had us all standing up and high-fiving the rest of the table), but it sure went a lot quicker than the dinner they usually have and no one got sloppily drunk. I don't know how important the awards are, but I guess the ones that stood out for me were Samsung Techwin and Exacq winning the awards for new and rising vendors. That seems to jibe with my impression that the former is making a huge marketing push this year and the latter almost doesn't have to because people really like their video management software and how open it is. The exhibits open back up in five minutes. We'll see if everyone just goes and play golf or what. 2:15 - Talked with Frank Abram about how his new gig with Vitek is going. He said, going along with my postulation in the UTC post earlier, that they didn't see the slow-down until late 4Q, but then saw a major slowdown in 1Q. However, in March, he said they were at 95 percent of goal and April was gangbusters. Also, he said he keeps up with a lot of recruiters in the industry just because he's been in it so long, and he's seeing more people asking for good tech people than he's seen in at least 12 months. Definitely a good sign. He also theorized that the slowdown has been good for the industry as it's weeded out the camera companies, for example, that were just looking to dump cheap product on the market and weren't ready to support that product. 2:35 - Be on the lookout for iluminar if you need some IR illumination products or license plate capture help. They're brand-new and owned by Eddie Reynolds, who has been repping for another company for 14 years and decided to open her own business. She's got a small, compact product line, sourcing out of Russia and the UK. 2:40 - Do you know Aboundi? Essentially, they allow you to run IP over AC wiring, eliminating the need for switchers and what-not in the middle. Need to switch out some monitors and go IP digital signage with it? Give them a call. They're based in Nashua, NH, too, so I've got to give them credit for being fellow New Englanders. Also, they recently bought WebEyeAlert (here's Chelsie editorializing about them back in 2002, though they've been quiet recently), and so now they've got a packaged solution for Web-based hosted video management software. According to Hong Yu, the CEO and president, they create "one big happy family of LAN all running on AC." 5:15 - So, the last couple hours of the exhibit floor were a bit sloooowww, but nobody seemed pissy about it. There was a bit of tossing the football around (ScanSource has a whole box of footballs - if you're hear at the show and want to donate them to a preschool or something, I bet they'd give you a deal...), packing up early, and raffle giveaways that needed to call a few names, but I think that's pretty normal. I took the opportunity to watch a few integrators get a tour of WeSuite's WeEstimate software package. Maybe you remember me writing about this last May, but, if not, let me tell you that I can really see why this would help integrators who are struggling with bad estimates from sales people, are having trouble tracking the status of bids and jobs, or are just generally having a hard time getting good numbers on how they're sales people are performing. For example, if there's a certain type of job you do all the time, like a two-door access control system for a retail operation, you can package all the parts, materials, labor, etc., into a standard "job," and then use that as your starting point, with the ability to adjust the cost of the labor, the travel distance, etc., and be constantly seeing the exact gross profit that would come with an accepted bid or estimate. You can set bottoms on gross profit for specific items, specific subcontractors. You can allow some sales people to bid at lower gross margins than others. You can make it so no job is allowed to be estimated before an engineer takes a look at it. You can track when an engineer was sent a job, when it was sent back, and when the sales person actually sent it out. You can track not only jobs won, but jobs lost, and why those jobs were lost. Further, they're working with Sedona Office to make the two software packages compatible, so you're pulling pricing information from the one to the other. "This is great," said one integrator. "You can't screw it up." Finally, you hit a button and it generates a Word document for the proposal and even calls up your Outlook withe client's email already inserted if you want to simply email it off as a pdf document. You can monitor every salesperson's closing percentage, jobs in the pipeline, average gross margin per job bid, whatever you want. The guys I sat with were eating it up. That's probably because it's designed and programmed by former integrators, people who worked at SST and Antarcom, largely, so they feel your pain. Do you have salespeople who are using Excel templates they brought over from a former company with 5-year-old pricing on parts that don't exist anymore to do their estimating? You should call WeSuite. The only flaw I can see is the salespeople not going back after the fact to update the job status, especially on jobs they don't get. I could see there being lots and lots of jobs "in progress" that never go to sold or not sold because after a job is lost, who's going to go in an deal with that account anymore? Then you're constantly hounding sales people to update job status, etc., and they end up resenting the tool. Still, if it's top-down from management that it has to be done, it'll probably happen. It's a little like the way we track story status here at SSN. Basically, our process is great if everyone actually updates where a story stands, but when even I never do that until right before a meeting where we're going to talk about story status, what's the point of even using the story status tracker? It's never accurate until the meeting where you talk about where everything stands anyway...

Good signs for the economy

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I don't want to be too bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but attendance here at PSA-TEC is better than I expected, with maybe 10 fewer booths than last year, and all of a sudden all of the noise coming out of the corporate world isn't bad. This (can't remember if you have to register to see that link) might seem like non-news, but UTC's simple reaffirmation that it's not going to do worse than it thought in 2009, is good news to me. The last time I wrote about them, it was because things were worse than they expected and they were forced to change course. Now, things haven't gotten worse, they think they've got a handle on it, and there's going to be earnings per share of $4 or better. It wouldn't shock me if they didn't even cut all of the jobs they were expecting to cut. With other reports about how the housing and construction markets are thinking about turning around, and Bernanke talking about "hopeful signs," it seems like 2009 might not be a total wash. Maybe the credit crisis made 4Q 2008 tank, the super bad 4Q made 1Q 2009 totally bottom out, but people saw that they were just being irrational, they're watching the stock market creep back up, and they're opening their wallets a bit now. That's the theory I'm going with in the short term. Oops, show floor just opened here - better go talk to people.

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