This article began with the search for a metaphor. In what industries have the Value Added Resellers (VAR’s) been “forced” to seek additional revenue? The best historic example comes from our very own security industry.
It was not long ago that one segment of our industry first became crowded with new entrants only to fall prey to the ills of the economic meltdown—not our most recent recession but the collapse of the “dot.coms” in 2001.
The security dealer saw their business impacted and the savviest of them realized that there was more to the home than alarms. Those companies began offering home automation, audiovisual systems and even whole house vacuums—broadening their offerings while taking advantage of their market presence and their organizational competencies.
Today, the security integrator’s product and business expansion has been restricted to the existing solution space. The integrators expanded their business (albeit slowly) with new integrated software packages and new peripheral equipment. More options were sold to the end user but were limited to the security space. The value add was meager.
Deciding to broaden your market
Consider the security dealer and then the systems integrator approaches to expanding their offering, one main difference in their approaches. The dealers left their comfort zone and entered a new market space while the integrators chose to stay within their current market space by extending existing product offerings to the same solutions. This is not meant as an indictment of systems integrators. Many have ventured outside that comfort zone and have entered into new markets; and the size of the commercial and enterprise markets have made that space more forgiving (in the short term) than the one served by the dealers.
The integrator community already possesses the technical competence to pursue additional opportunities within their existing customer base. These include add-ons to current systems and differentiators to that competition that chooses to stay purely in the security space.
In today’s economic climate it is imperative that Integrators offer solutions that increase efficiency and translate to sound ROI’s and TCO’s (fancy terms we have had to learn). But there is no standard how measure these and each company has a different method and assigns different weights to each financial component. The expansion oriented Integrator is left to learning these by experience.
Technology drifts. It drifts into the security industry later than most industries but it brings opportunity with it. Today, the following technologies present themselves to an Integrator community that is ready in terms of technical competence.
Manage Customer Assets: Cost conscious organizations are deeply concerned with the management of the assets within their facilities. The most basic security integrator offering is access control. Nearly all integrators have been asked about locating assets and immediately think RTLS (Real Time Location Systems).
There is a simpler and more profitable way to provide customers with the ability to manage the location of their assets within their current access control systems. This is “asset tagging;” begin with the creation of choke points using receivers (readers) and active tags (transponders/credentials) which are enrolled in the software as users. The receivers send events every time a transponder is detected so that a report shows where the asset (user) is; this is the same as checking the last door a user opened. This type of asset management is designed for (a) equipment that is not meant to be moved often and (b) for equipment that is meant to move to prescribed locations (additional receivers may be required to track direction).
Based on existing software additional tracking capabilities can be added by associating an asset to an individual. This allows a laptop or a piece of medical equipment to leave an area only if accompanied by an approved user.