We’re in the age of advanced analytics, but it’s still just the dawn.
Big data is the big buzz phrase—so much so it’s often referred to in the capitalized form Big Data, almost like the Big Bang.
Appropriately enough, seemingly every industry is trying to figure out how to use today’s information glut to its advantage and ignite some relative growth.
Just look at Google—arguably the biggest big data player—and its $3.2 billion purchase of a “learning thermostat” manufacturer, Nest, which provides an inroad to the exploding automation market.
Or look at Major League Baseball, where every team now has a Bill James-type stats geek in the hopes of replicating the success that the Boston Red Sox have achieved. Or ESPN, whose next branch of its ever-expanding empire will center around analytics wunderkind Nate Silver and a staff of number-crunching writers for the FiveThirtyEight endeavor that’s embracing the changing paradigm of online journalism.
So what does all this have to do with the commercial integration industry?
As publications like ours and organizations like NSCA and InfoComm have touted over the last several years, integrators need to shift their thinking. Selling boxes and specs can’t cut it alone anymore. Selling solutions is the future, and that involves information—whatever information might be pertinent to that particular client, and then figuring out how to analyze it and sculpt it into a technologically sophisticated or automated system that can help that customer’s business achieve higher levels of success and relevance.
Once you’ve started selling solutions, it can help toward another matter that’s been elusive to many in the integration world but very beneficial to those who have figured it out — selling services. Solutions often lend themselves to recurring revenue opportunities that black boxes may not: monitoring, upkeep, upgrades… ongoing data analysis and delivery to best meet a client’s needs.
Perhaps no integration sector has figured these things out better than those in the security market. We spoke with Protection 1, which last year celebrated its 25th year in business, about how it has fostered such solutions-based integration systems for clients of all sizes, especially since Tim Whall took over as CEO in 2010 and helped solidify the company as one of the nation’s largest full-scale security providers.
Honing Efficiencies at Home First
Protection 1 maintains a national footprint, with more than 75 branch offices, more than 3,000 employees, five monitoring centers and security offerings that include access control, video surveillance, intrusion alarms, monitoring, fire and life safety, installation and maintenance, not to mention residential services that also include energy and automation. The company touches a diverse range of verticals, from retailers to corporate, education, healthcare, restaurant and more.
Simply running a firm of that size requires some operational efficiencies that need to be honed over the years to keep things smooth. In Protection 1’s case, the company talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to offering solutions and services, thanks in part to it being able to look in the mirror and realize how such efficiencies have helped its own cause.
Protection 1 will tell you that the cause is always to deliver the best customer experience possible—but that wouldn’t be possible without creating a well-oiled machine, so to speak, that manages to maintain a high level of personal interaction.
It’s something Whall has been able to guide with the leadership assistance of executives such as chief information officer Donald Young, whom he’s known and worked with over the years in their two decades-plus in the industry, as well as chief marketing and customer experience officer Jamie Haenggi, senior VP of sales Bob Dale, CFO Dan Bresingham and CTO Stephen Hopkins.