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PSA-TEC

Women and security technology

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I’m here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo., where today I had a chance to catch up with Christine Lanning, president of systems integration firm IST.

Christine and her husband Andrew (CEO) founded IST, a PSA Security owner, in 1998. Here’s a story I wrote about the company a couple years ago.  This year, Christine was honored as one of this year’s Women’s Security Council 2014 Women of the Year.

IST just finished moving its headquarters to a new facility that they own, (and saving 30 percent owning rather than leasing, thanks mostly to favorable conditions for an SBA loan.)

It was a year-long transition for IST to deal with permits and build out the new headquarters. “That meant we were without a demo or training space [in house] for a year,” she said.

Christine said they didn’t realize how much they missed having those capabilities in house, for business and training, of course, but also because she’s a techy.

I asked Christine why she got interested in technology.

Her interest started early. Technology was something that was promoted and valued in her home as a child, she said. “Our weekend jaunts were to Radio Shack where we’d get circuit boards to solder LED lights to.”

In high school Christine was the only girl in an elective electronics class.

Christine has an undergraduate degree in business and a Master’s degree in IT. At grad school in Hawaii, she was one of three women out of 50 students in the class.

Christine met Andrew when they were both working at an alarm company in Hawaii. They left that alarm company to start IST. Christine ran the business side, until as the company grew, it became clear that the company techs didn’t understand IT—a necessity for IST, which always did systems integration. “In 2004, I took over operations. I still ran administration and accounting, but I was really pushing that IT knowledge to the staff."

She’d sit the staff down for “lunch and learns" regularly. “I’d have discussions with the staff about IT: What does ARP mean? Trace RT? How do you ping a device? We had conversations about how to do things.”

And she’d go out in the field and teach techs to mount cameras, program devices in the field, patch systems, configure servers.

Is her teaching style different from a guy tech? Perhaps. She describes her approach as collaborative. She may be the boss, but “what I’ve found is that people really respond when you talk to them as a peer.”

As I’ve written many times in this space, there’s a dearth of women in the security industry, but only a small percentage of the women in security have either a technical role or work closely with technicians and engineers. That may be starting to change however. Women are beginning to be welcomed—even recruited—into those roles, at least among the smartest integrators.

While Christine and I were talking in the lobby of the Westin Westminster, we saw Bethany Taylor, who I learned from Christine, is the director of operations for Dakota Security. She oversees the engineering group at Dakota. And, after the interview I ran into Kirsten Klokis, who works for Northland Control Systems. Kirsten came to Northland out of college and is learning all aspects of the business, including spending time in the field with the technicians.

SIA is actively working to get young people interested in technical entry level jobs in the security industry. It's launching a security degree program at a community college in New Jersey next year. And, SIA, ISC West and the Women's Security Council are creating a scholarship for a woman to attend the college program. Here's that story. Asked where else the industry should look for women who may be interested in security, Christine Lanning suggested women with a military background.

"They have great training, understand structure, and are used to working in a male-dominated environment," she said.

Cyber security a recurring theme at PSA-TEC

Drako: ‘Where was your DVR made? Is it connected to the Internet?’
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05/07/2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—The data breach that brought down Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel is being used as a cautionary tale here at PSA-TEC.

PSA-TEC State of the Industry: The ‘brave and bold’ who invest in IT will thrive

Bradley, Boethel, Simopoulos share details of their IT investment strategies
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05/07/2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Invest big in IT smarts and do it now. That is what executives from some leading systems integration firms—Securadyne, Advance Technology and Safeguard Security—say they’re working on at their own companies today.

Making managed services work

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05/21/2013

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Once you make the decision at the management level to sell managed services, how do you get your sales staff to follow through?

ISD booth at PSA-TEC draws integrators’ attention

First Windows-based camera launched at ISC West
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05/15/2013

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Innovative Security Design (ISD) launched its netSeries—the first IP camera that uses Microsoft Windows as the base operating system—at ISC West in March, but a lot of PSA Security integrators were taking a good look at the product last week at the PSA-TEC conference.

PSA-TEC to hold educational sessions

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10/03/2012

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—PSA-Tec and PSA Security Network plan to hold a full day of educational sessions at ISC East this year.

M&A and your company

PSA-TEC sessions look at measuring a company's growth and prospects for exiting this year
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05/23/2012

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Thinking about selling your systems integration company this year? What kind of price can you expect for your business?

ISCWest Day 2, some notes

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Friday, March 30, 2012

So much to write about Day 2 at ISC West 2012, but here are some notes from the day:

Stanley held a luncheon reception to introduce the new combined leadership of Stanley CSS and Niscayah. The combined company serves 460,000 customers from 80 North American locations. The team includes: Marty Guay, VP-national accounts and market solutions; Mike Bishop VP-field operations; Pete Straka, VP-human resources; Steve Walker, VP ProtectionNet customer service centers; Damon Kanzler, VP-opeartions support; Joe Richards, VP-infomation technology, Felix Gonzales, VP-Strategic Initiatives& business development; Jim Kopplin, VP-field sales & integration leader; Tony Byerly, president North America; Ina Staris, senior legal counsel; John Nemorofsky, VP market solutions; Raymond Radis, VP-national accounts.

--I did a number of video interviews including ones with Jamie Haenggi, chief marketing and customer experience officer for Protection 1, where we talked about Protection 1's focus on national accounts.

--Sharon Shaw, PSA Security director of education filled me in on what's new at PSA-TEC this year for integrators.

--Kristen Simmons, founder of LiveSmart Security, and a veteran marketing executive of several Fortune 500 companies. Kristen will be delivering the keynote address at ESX this year and talking about the customer experience as the "next battleground" for security companies.

--Jay Hauhn, CTO for the newly named Tyco Integrated Security,  talked about what Tyco International's priorities once it splits into three separately companies and Tyco International becomes a pure play security and fire group for the first time.

I did several booth visits, but one of the most interesting was speaking to Yohav Stern, CEO of DVTEL. Stern talked about the company's new "TruWitness" product which turns a smartphone into a camera on your surveillance network. Stern also talked about how DVTel has changed in the past year since he assumed leadership. The  R& D team now has some simple but firm guidelines. Products being innovative is not enough, he said, they need to be reliable, scalable,  end-to-end solutions that are also open.

What’s PEG?

Why PSA integrators will come back to PEG
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05/26/2011

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Dakota Security president Eric Yunag showed up a day early for the PSA-TEC conference here last week so he could meet with seven other systems integrators for a quarterly meeting of a ‘PEG’.

Advice from PSA-TEC 2011: Embrace change

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05/26/2011

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—What’s the biggest challenge for independent integrators today? According to Bill Bozeman, “it’s not the need to learn the latest and greatest technology,” and it’s not learning how to sell better or more efficiently. Rather, it’s understanding how to run and adapt their business models so they can run profitable businesses.

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