One of the centerpieces of PSA Security Network’s TEC event is the “State of the Industry” panel discussion moderated by PSA President and CEO Bill Bozeman, and this year’s thought-provoking session did not disappoint.
Rather than the time-worn approach of including security integrators and vendors, the interactive discussion during the event, held at the Westin Westminster outside of Denver in early May, instead featured those from emergent fields in 3SE’s David Sylvester, Matthew Rosenquist (also the conference’s keynote speaker) of Intel, eVigilant’s Gunvir Baveja and NSCA’s Chuck Wilson.
An early topic was the matter of security integrators potentially losing business to third party managed services providers that come in after the fact and walk off with a bundle of RMR services from that same client.
“The building automation contractor space in particular is coming in with a managed services-only offering,” said Wilson. “It’s scaring me a bit because our integrators are also pushing that way. My advice is to always get the service contract at the time of the installation.”
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Baveja said his company gives the first year of such a service contract free at the time of installation as an incentive. He said his business has had a 95 percent to 98 percent success rate with that approach and that the ensuing contract years are almost all profit margin.
When the conversation turned to cybersecurity, Rosenquist emphasized how security integrators are ideally positioned to leverage the customer relationship and also provide cybersecurity solutions.
“End users want a trusted provider to protect them from the dragon behind the curtain,” he said.
Sylvester agreed, “Systems integrators have their foot in the door already but have to step up to the challenge where cybersecurity is concerned.”
A poll question to the audience asking who they thought would be held accountable and/or liable for a cyber breach revealed that the majority indicated it would in fact be the security integrator.
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For this and other reasons, Wilson recommended integration firms either have a full-time cybersecurity expert on staff or outsource one on a regular basis. Baveja suggested hiring an IT expert and groom that person to also handle cybersecurity.
Bozeman pointed out that the vast majority of integrators are underinsured where it comes to cybersecurity exposure; “Don’t be,” he warned. Baveja suggested an integrator should budget 10 percent of the average project revenues for cybersecurity and/or insurance.
Rosenquist added, “Expect your customers to ask for it today. It is critical not only to have cybersecurity professionals on staff or as a partner, but also to make sure they are constantly trained because IT and cyber are moving so fast.”
The panel also tackled how CIOs’ roles have dramatically risen where it comes to the procurement of physical security solutions.
“With the onset of networked security systems, the decision-makers and skillsets changed overnight from security directors with law enforcement background to sophisticated IT experts and CIOs,” said Sylvester.
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Rosenquist urged integrators to ask the client what they want rather than pushing what you think they may need or want.
“Security integrators must be adaptable and willing to change. Help customers solve issues with the technology they want,” he said.
As far as the overall industry outlook for security integrators, it is blindingly bright, according to the panelists.
“The general state of the industry is very strong, with lots of money coming in,” said Sylvester.
Wilson agreed, saying the projections are positive for at least the next three-to-five years across the majority of vertical markets. He also sees growing opportunity in commercial A/V. “Security integrators are in a great spot to expand into digital signage, video walls, communications systems and more,” said Wilson.