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Ready for 5G?

 - 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Central Station Alarm Association name is on its way out. At the CSAA general membership meeting here at the ESX show here in Fort Worth, Texas, members voted to change the name to The Monitoring Association. Here's a story that Spencer wrote about the name change a couple weeks ago.

Jay Hauhn, CSAA executive director, told me that 90 percent of those voting were in favor of changing the name to The Monitoring Association, "and the other 10 percent wanted to change the name, the only discussion was about what exactly the new name should be." 

The new name signals a change in direction for the association, and is among a list of improvements and updates that Hauhn and CSAA president Pam Petrow have outlined over the past year or so.

Hauhn said the new name better reflects what professional monitoring companies do. "Central Station Alarm Association is an old school term that was driven by UL standards," he said.

Today's monitoring companies are monitoring "things that are mobile, people, and more. It's not just the monitoring of fixed assets anymore," Hauhn said.

Petrow said that there are some research and registration tasks that the association will have to complete before the name change is official.

The OpenXchange breakfast on Tuesday morning featured a panel discussion moderated by ESX chair George DeMarco with speakers Nate Williams of August Home and Tim Colleran of Qualcomm, and “special guest Alexa Amazon,” (played with perfect timing by Lauren De Marco.) Please see photo. Alexa was seated in the chair between George De Marco and Tim Colleran.

The theme that emerged was how “new players” such as Qualcomm and August can help foster innovation in the security industry by collaborating with traditional security companies—manufacturers and installers.

Nate Williams  said there are two reasons customers want a smart home: "to save money or for more security." However, the smarthome devices must make the homeowners life better. "No one wants to be CTO of their home," August said.

Tim Colleran predicted that voice will be "the next big thing in smart home," but, he cautioned that devices need a smart filter for anything that's' being stored in the cloud. He talked about smart home features helping raise the historic 20-percent penetration rate of residential security systems, but it's important for security companies to pay attention to demographic data. A smart home consumer in rural Colorado and the smart home consumer in Los Angeles have vastly different reasons for investing in a smart home, he said. 

On the show floor later in the afternoon, I spoke to many of the exhibiting companies including Axis Communications, where I had a chance to catch up with Jennifer Bruce, who's in charge of business develeopment for Axis cloud solutions. Bruce has agreed to be an advisor for Cloud+ and I'm looking forward to working with her on the 2016 educational program.
 

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Day 1

Security Systems News editors have just arrived in Fort Worth to attend ESX 2016.

I'm looking forward to many of the "main stage events" and the exhibit hall, and I'm planning to check out a couple of educational sessions tomorrow including one on cloud technology. It's called "Making Sense of Cloud" and it's at 10 a.m. in room 202A. I'm doing some research as I plan the educational program for Cloud +. What's Cloud+? Here's a link to the website and here's a link to a story about Cloud+.

Even though it's at the same time, I'm also going to check out the "Risky Business" session, which will address what SMBs need to do to survive a cyberbreach. It's 10 a.m., next door in room 202B.

And, as I was winging my way out here today, I read an interesting story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle (from Monday) about AT&T expanding its 5G lab trial to Atlanta. According to the story AT&T's trial is already happening in Austin, Texas. In addition to Atlanta, the trial will also be expanded to Middletown, N.J. and San Ramon, Calif.

This shoud come as a reality check to security companies out there still dealing with 2G sunset. Here's a link to the story.

Doyle buys in Albany

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Doyle Security Systems acquired Albany Protective Services yesterday, adding 1,100 accounts to the company, almost doubling Doyle’s presence in the Albany area.

“It gives us a great expansion in our Albany market—just a much stronger presence,” John Doyle Jr., company president and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to the acquisition, the company had about 1,400 accounts in that area.

Doyle has been working on the deal for about 6 months. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Albany Protective’s account base is mostly commercial, Doyle said. “Their split is about 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential.”

APS had operated its own UL central station, but Doyle is transferring the accounts to its monitoring center in the Rochester, N.Y., area. “They were on the same software platform as we were, which was really helpful—for both their monitoring and their billing,” Doyle said, both companies used Bold Manitou for automation and Sedona for billing. “It’s been a very smooth process. It’s not 100 percent done, but its pretty close.”

Four employees from Albany Protective Services are joining Doyle. Former president and majority owner of APS, Mark Foster, is joining Doyle’s Albany office in a management position, the company announced. Ross Foster, who was part owner of APS, will work in Doyle’s sales, and two service technicians are joining the team from APS.

“Mark Foster—he just has tremendous knowledge about the industry and his customer base. Bringing him on board was very important to us, and likewise with his brother Ross. … Having them on our team is just a huge plus for us,” Doyle said.

The company now has about 27,000 accounts. Doyle said that it is not every day you see two multi-generational family businesses joining forces. APS, a third-generation family business, was founded in 1935, and Doyle is a fourth-generation business, founded in 1919.

Convergint buys fifth company in five months

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.—Convergint Technologies today made it five purchases in five months. And, there will be more, according to Dan Moceri, Convergint executive chairman and co-founder.

Convergint's fifth purchase of 2016 is: Corporate Security Services of Edison, N.J.

Moceri told me the deal expands Convergint’s geographic reach in the N.Y., N.J. and Philadelphia region, brings "really nice integration skills, product expertise across product lines we support, ... and a similar focus on the customer on the service side."  Corporate Security Services also has a "highly visible customer base with a strength in the financial and hospital verticals," according to a Convergint statement. Here's a story about CSS work at MetLife Stadium.

Bob McCabe, president of Corporate Security Services, and all of his 30 staffers are joining Convergint. “Convergint’s commitment to superior customer service was a driving factor in our decision to join their team," McCabe said in a prepared statement.

When will the acquistiions stop? Not in the foreseeable future, Moceri said.

Moceri expects Convergint's 2016 revenue to be about $600 million. He wants to continue to expand the company organically and through acquisitions, and he has the support of PE partner KRG Capital, which Convergint has been working with since September of 2012.

"We think by 2020 we can be a billion dollar organization," Moceri said.

Convergint purchased Dakota Security in January of this year. In April, Convergint acquired H&E Comfort Controls of Windsor, Ontario. and Enion, an integration firm based in Switzerland.  Last month, Convergint bought Total Recall of New York.

 

 

 

Smart home mania or madness?

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

With the flood of new smart home products hitting the market these days, one of the things I look forward to each day is checking my Google Alerts to see what new surprises this wild west of home automation and connectivity is bringing us now.

From smart toasters that tell you when your toast is ready, or if you like, that toasts the past night’s sports scores right onto the bread for you, to a smart-fridge that tells you when you need more milk, the number and volume of new smart home products hitting the market today is staggering. And, to say the least, a little befuddling, like the smart grill that tells you when your steak needs to be flipped, or the smart coffee maker that texts you when your coffee is ready, or … brace yourself … the smart tampon that reminds you when it is time for a change—huh?

As one of my SSN colleagues pointed out, you have to wonder if consumer interest and demand is driving this innovation or if companies are just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We both agree that more often than not, it is the latter.

The latest innovation, and I have to say I am surprised it has taken this long, is the smart home robot named ZenBo, which is basically Amazon Echo’s Alexa on wheels. ZenBo, and other robots like it that will surely flood the market in the coming months, can turn on your lights, walk you through a recipe, remind you to take your medicine or even read a bedtime story to your kids, if that idea doesn’t freak you out as much as it does me.

For every convenience that a product like ZenBo can provide to a family, you have to wonder if we haven’t flipped open the lid on Pandora’s box. When will the madness end, and how are dealers to make sense of all of these new products hitting the market?

For every interesting new product I read about, like the smart go-cart that Tony Fadell, co-creator of Nest, is designing to allow parents to geofence where their kids will be able to drive, there are five to 10 other new products that make you shake your head.

When it comes to sorting through all of this and figuring out what is viable and what is just, hmm, let’s say—insane—it is important for dealers to ask themselves: Will my customers be interested in this or are these companies creating a problem where there isn’t one just to sell another clever smart home product?

 

Answers in Austin

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When I looked at the SIA update this morning, I saw a headline about the cloud and cybersecurity concerns. Want to learn about cybersafety in the cloud? Come to Cloud+ in Austin in November!

Cloud+ is the only conference where you can learn how cloud technology is reshaping the security industry, what the potential is for your business and what steps you can take now to enhance your bottom line with cloud-based technology. Cybersecurity is on the agenda.

Sponsored by Security Systems News, the inaugural Cloud+ took place in Silicon Valley in December 2015. This year we’re thrilled to be holding the event in the high tech hub of Austin, Texas. Cloud+ 2016 will take place at the Lost Pines Resort in Austin on Nov. 29 and 30.

SSN launched this conference because we believe that cloud-based technology is the new frontier in physical security. Just as early adopters jumped on IP a decade ago, early adopters today are moving to the cloud.
We’re looking forward to building on the success of last year’s event, which featured speakers from Google and Microsoft.  

As usual, we'll take a TechSec-style approach to the educational program. Expect interactive educational sessions featuring cloud experts from inside and outside of the security industry.

I’m putting together the conference educational program right now. Have a great idea for a speaker or session topic? Call me.

One of the sessions that's already lined up will address central station capabilities in the cloud. It will include cloud providers and will be moderated by one of the country's leading integrators Jeffrey Nunberg of ISS in Miami. Nunberg will be asking the hard questions that all integrators want answered: How is it done? What are the options? Which integrators will benefit the most from moving monitoring to the cloud? What kind of the front-end investment is required and what kind of ROI should integrators and end users expect?.

Stay tuned for more on the educational program.

One of the coolest things about Cloud+ is the exhibit hall: It’s solely focused on cloud-based technology and it’s the only place you can see physical security cloud technologies side-by-side in one room.

Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo, and one of my Cloud+ advisors, had this to say about Austin: “Austin is perfect because it combines great accessibility for travelers, a very strong tech-focused business community, and lots of local culture for those who want to get out and do something memorable with colleagues or customers.”

Yes! Austin is not your old-school, typical-security-industry-style convention location. In addition to the fact that every important high-tech end user has an office here, I’m convinced you cannot find a bad musician in the town.

It’s also home to a first -class university, restaurant options galore, and there’s easy access to the great outdoors.

Mark your calendar for Cloud+, Nov. 29-30, 2016. Here's a link to the Cloud+ website.

Abode brings professional monitoring to its DIY systems

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Abode, a DIY security company that got crowdfunded last year, is now offering professional monitoring—full time or on-demand—from UCC, and the company is actively looking for partnerships with security companies.

“We always had the plan to introduce [monitoring options], but our goal first was to get the product out in peoples’ hands and really drive some of the early feedback to actually make our product better, before we went down the road of charging people for services,” Chris Carney, abode’s founder and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to starting abode, Carney was in the traditional security space, working with ADT and Tyco.

The company offers its system with three plans. Its “Basic” plan is MIY with professional monitoring on-demand with no monthly fee. The “Connect” plan offers everything in the basic plan with a 3G cellular back up for $10 a month. Abode’s “Connect + Secure” plan gives users all the functionality of its Connect plan with full professional monitoring, for $30 per month.

The company started shipping products to consumers in November and currently has 1,000 users in 27 countries. “Our goal is to hit 10,000 users in our first twelve months,” Carney said. Users outside the U.S. are on the non-monitored option, but the company is currently integrating with foreign central stations to support other plans, he said.

Abode launched its monitoring options last week. The company offers two options for on-demand monitoring: $8 for three days or $15 for one week.

Abode is currently only sold directly to consumer, but that could change. “We do want to look at the security space as a place to partner with companies,” Carney said. This partnership would appeal to companies that want a DIY offering in their portfolio. Partnering companies would have abode accounts monitored through UCC, he said.

“We can get partners up an running on a pilot in a few weeks,” Carney said. “Our goal is to maintain our brand as part of these relationships, we would be willing to discuss other branding solutions with dealers on a case by case basis.”

Dealers would own the accounts and the possible RMR. “Our solution will also provide the dealers the opportunity to become the trusted advisor for the users entire connected home in addition to their security consultant,” Carney said.

The abode system can also verify alarms which can reduce false alarms. “Every system that we send has visual verification of events,” abode co-founder Brent Franks said.

“We’re focused 100 percent on security, but essentially our product is a smart home in a box,” Carney said. “We also have the ability to add other third party devices that are ZigBee or Z-Wave.” 

The insurance space is another area for possible partnerships, according to Carney. This could include a “co–branded solution directly sold by the partner to their customers as a security offering [or] offering the abode branded solution to their customers as way for their policy holders to save money on their insurance. These are still in testing stage, but look to be a very viable channel for our fully integrated solution.”

A 'smart home' snapshot

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Smart Home 360 report, which comes out today from the market research company Argus Insights, provides a snapshot of what is out there in the smart home market today. The study looks at changes in the market from March to April, as well as overall trends Argus researchers are seeing within the quickly emerging and maturing market.

I caught up with Argus Insights CEO John Feland, who pointed that because the smart home market is changing so fast, “we are continuously pulling data around the marketplace from consumers on what is working and what is not.”

Overall, Feland said that Argus is seeing “year-over-year growth" within the smart home market, and equally important, the data is showing that security is still vitally important with consumers when it comes to taking that first plunge into smart home offerings.

“Home security is top of mind,” said Feland. “For those who are in the ‘do it for me’ category, the gateway use-case is security, so that is still what is selling and driving [smart home] adoption.”

And there is even more good news for traditional security dealers: For the ‘do it for me’ group, which is professional-installer based, the data is showing that when consumers try to do it themselves “they have been frustrated,” said Feland. When they work with a local dealer/installer, the “outcomes have been much better,” he noted.

From an installer’s standpoint, Feland said the key to getting someone to start on that smart home journey is simplifying the initial process for customers while providing a system that can seamlessly integrate smart home connectivity and capabilities without any headaches for the end user.

In the area of home automation, “If they [dealers] are not talking to their customers about Amazon Echo, they are not doing their job,” said Feland. “Amazon Echo is still a leader, and Alexa is still the voice in people’s homes, but we will see what happens when Google launches its product.”

In the DIY space, Feland noted that dealers should pay close attention to consumers’ frustration with the lack of support they are getting on the retail side. “If you look at where they [retailers] are failing right now, that presents an opportunity for traditional dealers to be that second date that leads to marriage.”

The report, which Argus released a sample section of today, is also available for purchase.
 

 

News from Affiliated's Catalyst

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thursday, Day 2

This morning I got to speak with Ron Davis, president of Davis Group, and Adam Matlin, COO of Think Protection and one of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2015.

The first session was presented by Michele Shuster, founding partner at MacMurray Petersen & Shuster, “So You Want to Work with a Telemarketer: 7 Essential Tips.” Regulations around telemarketing are a serious issue, and carry with it large detriments to a company’s bottom line. Avoid assisting and facilitating liability, she said; "You are as responsible for your marketers as if you were doing it yourself." Tips included making sure that telemarketing scripts are compliant with both federal and state regulations and being aware of riskier practices like calling or texting a cellphone or using pre-recorded messages.

“Mobile Mania: Catch the Wave of Mobile PERS,” the day’s second session featured panelists Matt Campbell, Nortek Security and Control SVP of sales and business development, and Jake Chandler, co-founder of LiveFree Emergency Response. The session was moderated by Jesse Rivest, Regional sales manager for Affiliated Monitoring and an SSN “20 under 40” from the Class of 2013.

When Rivest asked about the biggest points to selling mPERS. Chandler said that it’s water resistant, ready for future communications with 3G, and that it can be strapped to the wrist. Campbell said that “really defining the user as someone who's active," helps, along with fall detection technology.

The battery life isn’t a challenge, Campbell said, because now users are more conditioned to know that they have to charge it at night. Chandler said that it’s important to know when a user is best suited for a PERS instead of a mobile PERS. “A lot of seniors should not have mobile PERS," Chandler said, because there are some customers that do not have the capability to remember to charge the system every night.

In the last session, “Executive Spotlight: How I Grew a Multi-Channel PERS Company,” Ritch Haselden, vice president of sales for Essence USA, talked about best practices for developing a PERS business. Before working for Essence, Haselden was with ResponseLink, PERS provider in the U.S., in charge of the company’s revenue creation.

Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim asked Haselden about who the most important first hires for a PERS company would be, “I would have a very strong operational person and a strong marketing person.”

He stressed the importance of finding a person who is in contact with seniors who were potential customers, and believed the system could help them. Haselden said he would take the effort of "Making sure that we knew that they cared about the customer."

Haselden also advised spending time “looking at referrals that were coming in and where they were coming from."

I thought it was a very informative conference, with lots of knowledgeable people in the PERS side of the industry. Catalyst will be in Florida again next year, also in May. It’ll be a special one, Affiliated founder Stanley Oppenheim said, as it will coincide with Affiliated’s 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, Day 1

The first day started off well for me, I got to have breakfast with Keith Jentoft, who is now part of the integration team at Honeywell following the company's acquisition of RSI, and David Stang, founder and president of Stang Capital Alliance. 

Zydor, as the event's emcee, started by giving an overview of the conference, saying that it is now "the largest PERS conference ever." He also underlined the value of networking at Catalyst, "We believe that the relationships that you create over the next few days are just as important as the content." Zydor backed this up by having each attendee in the room introduce themselves.

Zydor then handed the microphone to Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim, who projected a bright future for the PERS industry. He said that in 2030, just 14 years away, there will be 72 million people in the 65+ demographic, and these new seniors might be more tech savvy, given the current 30 percent prevalence of smartphones in the age group. He addressed mPERS. which has an average sign up age of 78, compared to traditional PERS' average age of sign up at 81. "'That is a meaningful reduction in years," he said. "Mobile PERS are bringing in younger users that will stay with us longer."

Oppenheim then announcce CareAlert priority group chat, a new offering exclusive for Affiliated dealers. When a PERS user activates their system, Affiliated's monitoing center sends out a text message to as many as four family or friends of the user. The text message contains a link that opens a group chat between the recipients. The recipeients can then discuss the user's condition, and even hit the 'On My Way' button, to let the other friends or family members know theyr'e headed to check on the user. This software was developed entirely in-house. 

The first session was the conference's first executive spotlight, "The Complete Guide to Building a PERS Company," featuring Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian. He said he focuses on culture and picking the right people. "When you go through the wrong people, you learn how to hire the right people," he said. 

He also spoke about hiring Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, as the company's spokesperson. Gross said that Henderson had some apprehension, not wanting to be portrayed "on the floor crawling around in bad shape." Gross said this was perfect, Medical Guardian wanted to let customers know that not ever PERS user is in failing health.

The second session was "Benchmarking: Is Your Sales Technology Holding You Back?" with Moderator: Matt Solomon, Affiliated director of software solutions, and panelists Nick Delis, Five9 regional VP enterprise sales, and Michael Marks, Perennial Software, co-founder. Solomon introduced the session by saying, "You can't be a successful sales and marketing organization if you don't have the right tools." With phone calls as such a big part of the sales and marketing job, companies need to monitor that activity, and that's one of the things that Five9's cloud-based software does. Marks said that CRM is made up of two components, the initial sales and then keeping the customers happy. Perennial's offerings include AlarmBiller and SedonaOffice.  

For the keynote presentation, "Managing in the Majors: Running a Big League Team," Bobby Valentine, a former professional baseball player and manager, got onstage to discuss his views on forming a team. Valentine first addressed the idea of luck and the role that plays, "If we all think it's about us ... I think we're making a mistake." Being in the moment is crucial, and that means that means to enjoy what you're doing now because you don't know what's going to happen later." And respect is key, "Teams that win understand respect, and the individuals usually respect themselves, respect the competition, and respect their teammates."

Tuesday night

I arrived this afternoon in Naples, Fla., to attend Affiliated's new PERS conference Catalyst, focused on the sales and marketing of PERS systems. The event began with a nice reception, where I got to catch up with Affiliated's managing director Mike Zydor and president Stanley Oppenheim. It's interest to see people gathered from all sections of the industry; PERS manufacturers, PERS dealers, those involved in insurance around the industry, and professionals from the banking world.

I met a lot of people tonight, but want to highlight a few. I enjoyed meeting Cathy Rempel, president of the California Alarm Association. It was nice seeing Yaniv Amir, president for Essence USA—which recently won an ESX Innovation Award. I had a great conversation with Chris Masse, technical sales manager, US corporate accounts for Tyco Security Products. He told me about how the smart home works well for a PERS user, such as automating lights to help users that have difficulty moving. I also got the chance to speak to Scot McGehee, director of operations for Climax. 

Check back here for daily updates on the conference.

What differentiates a PERS central?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I’ve spoken with plenty of monitoring professionals about the difference between monitoring a PERS signal and a more traditional burg or fire alarm. Recently, I spoke with Todd Lindstrom, director of Life Safety Monitoring, about some of the things that differentiate the company's PERS-focused central station. 

Lindstrom said that PERS operators need to be segmented from operators that handle more traditional alarms because the mindset is different. “You tend to be more production orientated when you’re doing the burg/fire, … [focused on] speed, how they handle the call, how many calls they handled,” he said. “Here, we’re on the call a lot longer, because you’ve got patients that may not hear well, [or] they’re a little confused.”

The company has been doing more wellness calls with its users, Lindstrom said. “We call and ask them a few basic questions; if they’ve taken their meds, or how they’re feeling today.” Life Safety Monitoring has been doing these calls for about a year-and-a-half, he said.

Plans for wellness calls could include calls once a week, once a day or twice a day, he said. “It makes a son or daughter more comfortable to know that someone’s calling,” said Lindstrom.

These calls could be linked to activity tracking platforms, “If somebody doesn’t pass down a hallway … Then we’ll call and check, and if we don’t get a response then we’ll send somebody.” The company is currently working on integrating the Numera Libris in the next 30 days, he said. Particularly, the company is interested in the device's fall detection abilities. 

He said that activity monitoring platforms help with the quality of care, such as tracking items users might forget, like how many times they got up during the night.

Lindstrom said that only about 1 percent of the company’s monitored accounts are mPERS devices, but expects this segment will grow to 10 percent in the next year or 18 months. MPERS are good for a segment of users that like to spend the winter months in warmer climates, “Now, they don’t have to drag that stationary device.”

Life Safety Monitoring has 16 operators and monitors about 10,000 accounts, he said. 

PSA-TEC 2016 roundup: M&A trends; The cyber opportunity; Robots

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There was not a free chair in the Lakehouse conference room here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo. yesterday afternoon during two panel discussions that addressed topics such as: M&A, cybersecurity and managed services.

John Mack Imperial Capital said that there’s been “more significant M&A activity in the past year than in the previous 30 years.” He called that “generally good news” and predicted M&A activity will continue. He noted that new entrants into the security industry are not “taking share away” from others. Rather, new entrants are helping the security industry grow, and they’re bringing “new and interesting technology.”

NetOne’s Dave Carter said the flurry of M&A can be a concern to NetOne if a member company (there are 28) is acquired by an outsider (as happened when Safeguard Security was acquired by SAFE)  However, that is not normally the case. “For our companies, in the regions they operate, they are the acquirers," Carter said.

Brent Franklin of Unlimited Technologies looks at all of the M&A activity as an opportunity. “While the big guys are turning the battleship in the dock … [Unlimited can] pop up into that space and serve their customers,” he said.

Carey Boethel of Securadyne agreed: “When big companies are consolidating and merging they focus strategies internally. …They take their eye off the ball.”

Michael Meridith of SEi concurred,  “customers fall through the cracks,” he said. And, there's more good talent looking for jobs, he added.

Jeff Nunberg of ISS pointed out that many of the recent buyers are venture capitalist firms who “expect a return on investment in three- to five years.” As they build a business, he said, they also “suck the live out of it … which makes it hard to deliver service.” In terms of vendor M&A, Nunberg said: “We have zero control over that,” so he does not worry about it.

All of the panelist admitted concern about cybersecurity—keeping their own companies and customers as safe as possible from a breach. A couple speakers also noted that most security installation companies are not taking cybersecurity concerns seriously enough. Those companies likely will not take it seriously until there’s an incident.

Imperial Capital’s Mack and Michael Kaiser National Cyber Security Alliance talked about cybersecurity as a possible money maker for physical security integrators.

Mack said adding cybersecurity services is a “huge opportunity for people in this room.” Small and medium-sized businesses “have a lot to do to better protect their information, data, and networks.” He suggested that security integrators partner with cybersecurity experts. That would make them very valuable to customers.  “When you upgrade physical security systems [for a customer] at the same time talk to them about how to update their information security infrastructure.” Mack said if he were to get back into the operations side of security, this is where he’d focus.

Kaiser agreed that “one of the biggest gaps in cybersecurity right now is the SMB … they’re not making cybersecurity a priority,” he said. They need a provider to help them “secure their network and their security devices.”

How should you educate yourself on cybersecurity? Attend the RSA show in San Francisco, Mack said. Do your homework about companies attending RSA. Many of them really want to know about physical security. “I guarantee you there will be guys who will be incredibly interested in talking to you," Mack said.

PSA Security is also an excellent resource to educate yourself on cybersecurity he said, noting that Andrew Lanning would be presenting the initial PSA Cybersecurity playbook at PSA-TEC on May 12. Here’s information on that presentation.

“Be part of the solution,” Lanning said.

Managed services make your commercial companies more valuable, Mack said. In addition, he said that acquirers are losing their appetite for security companies that derive all of their RMR from residential accounts. Buyers don’t like the high creation costs on the resi side and the “commoditization of residential security."

“There is no question if you show up [to sell your company] with more RMR, you have a higher valuation,” Mack said. “Guys who show up with a mix of RMR with a commercial focused business will be higher valued than the gyu with the same about of RMR from a residential business,” he said.

There is technology out there now that makes managed services much easier, Mack said. And the financing model for managed services is easier to manage than the model on the resi side. “You don’t have to go upside down on the direct labor and materials,” he said. “But the selling proposition to the customer and how you define that customer and sell to them has to be different,” Mack said.

He said it is probably a good idea to create a new division, or even a new company, to do managed services. Other speakers agreed.  

Robots were another topic of discussion at PSA-TEC. Sharp announced its new SRBD. Here’s a link to this story. A key SRBD executive—Mike Kobelin—is well known to PSA Security members and PSA-TEC attendees, as he is a former PSA board president.

One of the first people in the security industry to talk to me about security robotics was Joe Lynch of Minuteman. Here’s a story I wrote a couple years ago where I spoke to 10 top integrators about tech trends.  Scroll to the end to read Lynch’s remarks. One year after I wrote that story, I asked Lynch about aerial drones and he said there were many questions about legislation and regulation, an obstacle that PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman told me will hold back development of that technology for the short term. I ran into Lynch today and asked him about aerial drones. He said he’s been able to figure out the FAA regulations and is optimistic about the possibilities. Minuteman owns an aerial drone and is using it in beta projects currently.

Ray Dean of ASI  was at the Sharp robotics press conference and was eager to know when the company’s product would be available.

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