The move toward convergence is being driven by the customer or end user. These accelerated demands of the end user are requiring dealers and integrators get up to speed quickly on the latest technology has to offer. The final part of this Roundtable explores the consequences of convergence.GOMPERS:
Vice President, Marketing
PELCO: The move toward convergence is being powered most significantly by the availability and subsequent affordability of IP communication systems and bandwidth. Because of this, we are going to see the entrance of big-name players such as the IBMs, Ciscos and others. Their core competencies in this market space make a move into video security, logical if not expected.
PANASONIC SYSTEM SOLUTIONS COMPANY: Convergence is being driven from two different directions: systems manufacturers looking to further expand the utility of their products to increase sales, and end users looking to consolidate and simplify systems operations.
Manufacturers of systems products are in a very competitive arena since the need and demand for more sophisticated security systems has increased. There are numerous reasons behind the growth in demand that have also been the catalyst for increased competition: established companies in the security industry, new companies looking to capitalize on the industry climate and companies with established roots in previously unrelated industries such as Information Technology and communications.
The same end users that have generated an increased demand for more advanced video and security systems are also driving the demand for higher levels of convergence and integration. The reason is two-fold. Higher levels of integration allow previously unrelated systems to automatically “talk” to each other on the enterprise level. For example, access-control systems can be tied into human resources for employee tracking, and video surveillance systems can be automatically tied into any device (such as a POS station) or area (such as a cash room or warehouse door). And, integrated systems can be operated synergistically on a single software-based platform for centralized control.
Vice President of the Security Division (North America)
CONVERGINT TECHNOLOGIES: The general downward cost of IP cameras and other devices is making it more affordable for end use customers who are also leveraging existing IT network infrastructure investments. Unique compression techniques allow video—once thought of as bandwidth hog—to be run on an existing network.
President and CEO
IPIX CORPORATION: The move toward convergence is being driven by the customer. The massive amounts of data being generated by today’s electronic security systems requires that companies have a strategy for managing and evaluating such data in order to realize the full value of their technology investment. Integrated solutions not only provide a higher level of safety and security, but create more efficient business operations. As the industry moves forward, it will be those companies, new and old, capable of delivering systems that integrate with and enhance the overall solution that will thrive.
GOMPERS: What training or resources do dealers and integrators need to be more effective in managing and implementing the emerging technologies today?
Chief Operating Officer
DVTEL: Products are more sophisticated and installation is more rigorous and complex, even though the systems are becoming simpler to use. The evolution of IT-based security is no different from office automation—going from the typewriter to computers on a network created whole new ways of doing business and whole new departments to support the ways we do business. Video surveillance by entering the “information age” requires resources that are educated and trained to support this transformation.
Many of the security dealers are looking to upgrade their IT knowledge and expertise by deciding whether to build, buy, or partner to obtain these skills. Some of the certifications that are important to harness the power of emerging technologies include the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s important to note that as IT hardware and software evolves, new and different certifications will be required.
Looking at the integrators from the IT side, they too face a “build, buy or partner” decision when it comes to expertise in areas ranging from the functionality of the wide range of security hardware to the different state licensing procedures dealers must comply with when installing and turning over security systems. Both parties face a crucial business decision in filling in knowledge and experience gaps: Are you going buy, build or partner to secure competitive advantage?
TECH SYSTEMS: Based on the pace and sophistication of the changing technology, and growing demands of the end user, at Tech Systems our project managers and system support specialists actively attend training provided by the manufacturers we support. It is our intent to have the entire field operations team certified by these manufacturers. Additionally, our technology support staff holds MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, SQL, A+ and Network+ certifications. This training and knowledge is essential to the successful implementation of today’s security management systems.
It should be noted here that today’s knowledgeable end users are now requesting evidence of training and manufacturer certifications prior to releasing the integrator to work on the system. The technological advancements in security today, coupled with the utilization of the corporate enterprise, demand that the end user be proactive in mitigating risk to the enterprise by selecting only those system integrators truly qualified to work in the environment.
CONVERGINT TECHNOLOGIES: System integrators need to be managing and enhancing their network skills and certification to be able to capitalize on emerging technologies within the security industry.
IPIX: Just as systems and solutions providers who do not adjust to meet new customer demands will fail, those systems integrators that remain mired in the nuts and bolts of traditional CCTV and security system installation will find themselves cut out of an increasingly technology driven marketplace. For new construction and existing businesses seeking to leverage the value inherent in converged, IP-based security solutions, integrators must have a solid foundation in both security and IT.
Integrators must look to vendors and private training institutions to fully verse themselves in the management and installation of emerging technologies. Courses and programs teaching basic network infrastructure and how systems can be integrated within such a network to effectively operate as a single solution are crucial.
MILESTONE SYSTEMS INC: Obviously, the IT skills mentioned earlier, particularly in relation to IP networks and use of the internet. Microsoft’s .NET technology would also be a good direction to go. In England and Wales, there’s a new law requiring all contracted security guards, doormen and surveillance operators to be licensed according to a nationally standardized training course. It is estimated that some 300,000 licenses will be issued across all security sectors by 2007, with renewals required every 3 years. This project may well become a model for other countries in the future.
GOMPERS: What tools, resources and support should vendors be providing to the integrators so they can more effectively compete and deliver greater value and security for end users?
PELCO: Again, training in the IP and IT fields is a must. But this training will be more valuable if it is more general in nature and less focused on specific product. While that training is certainly important and has its place for integrators, general IP/IT training, application engineering, system design and project management are core concepts and competencies that today’s integrators must master.
Senior Business Development Manager
AMAG: Manufacturers will have to continue to provide higher levels of support and training services to the integrator network in order for them to be ultimately successful. This will require the manufacturers to upgrade their skills, as well as, providing the tools to allow the integrators to be self-sufficient and successful. For example, all of the AMAG Tech Support personnel are MCSE and Cisco certified. More and more of the questions we receive from installers involved network configuration and troubleshooting. It will be imperative for the manufacturers to provide focused training and support on networking and computer skills to keep the integrators in a profitable, competitive situation. Additionally, the products will have to be developed to allow for easier implementation on these networks and for diagnosis and troubleshooting for issues that may occur while they are being installed. Ultimately, the manufacturers that provide the best service and support, good products with the proper tools for installation and service, will be the winners of the sale!
President and Founder
PEI SYSTEMS, INC.(A SecurityNet member company): We look to the manufacturers of the products we sell to keep us on the right track. Product training, software training, system troubleshooting and maintenance will be more important than ever. The manufacturers that step up to the plate with the resources to back their products will eventually end up on top. Our clients have one desire…keep our systems running, day and night, and you’ll keep our business. The days of “I’ll get to you soon” are gone. At PEI, we are finding that our clients want service response within the hour…or else!
Certification will be a “must” of the future. The good news for the integrator is that it will limit the number of dealers that can perform to the level required by a specific client. The dealer base available for project specific tasks will be funneled down to those capable of accomplishing a specific task. The dealer who makes the investment will get the opportunity to get the business. One other notable development in the certification arena is the implementation of a Certified Security Project Manager designation by the Security Industry Association. At PEI, we require all of our project managers to attend the course and receive the designation. It helps put all of our project managers “on the same page.”
CAREY P. BOETHEL, CPP
ESS NETVERSANT SOLUTIONS, INC: Much of the value that can be delivered to the customer comes from interoperability between disparate systems, and, more appropriately, true integration. In order to maximize integration value, vendors need to provide better training and better tools to their channels. Most vendors do a good job of making their own resources available to help augment the integrator’s expertise for complex applications, but in the interest of self sufficiency, more training is needed on optimizing the overall solution. For example, access control manufacturers ought to offer XML training if that technology is going to be the integration engine for their products.
President and CEO
PSA SECURITY NETWORK: Yes, there should be certification and, in some cases, some programs already exist for both installation and project management including the CSPM (Certified Security Project Manager), NSCA’s EST certification, which is an excellent four-year program and the new NICET standards for video surveillance. Most recently, NFPA has come out with NFPA 730 and 731. Security integrators are slow to adopt the certifications because currently none are required. Most security integrators are confused as to which ones they should spend their hard-earned money on, and many are taking a “wait-and-see” attitude.
GOMPERS: In your opinion, are most security dealer/integrators skilled enough to implement IP-based security technologies?
PELCO: At this point, the answer is no. And while we may expect that to be the case, recognizing that this is a new marketplace for most, they will need to commit the resources to develop those skills. While training is critical, the first step is changing the mindset and accepting the new direction that the video security industry is taking.
IPIX: The industry is rapidly changing and dealers/integrators are still learning how to use IP technology. Dealers are starting to recognize the benefits associated with IP. IP cameras are cheaper, last longer, offer higher resolution and reduce cabling and installation costs. Reduced cabling is important when a camera must be inconspicuous. Additionally, IP cameras allow users to encrypt data and access live video remotely over the network or Internet.
NETVERSANT: Larger integrators that have been pursuing national customers haven’t had the choice on whether or not to implement IP-based solutions. Smaller dealers, however, can be a different story. Content to work in a local market for small-to-mid-sized customers, these dealers in many instances have not had the exposure to complex IP solutions because they haven’t had to deploy systems over multiple sites via the corporate enterprise. Depending on the market you serve, the demand may or may not be there. In all instances, however, dealers and integrators alike are aware of the emerging trends and are making sound decisions about how to be profitable in the IP space.
TECH SYSTEMS: One of the definite trends emerging in the industry is wireless communications and wireless devices. While these are somewhat available now, the technology requires additional shake-out and maturity. The advent and growth of WiFi, and now “mesh” networking, will decidedly change the way systems are implemented as well as how applications are utilized. Smart-card technology will gain significant prominence within the security industry, allowing systems to interact and comply with global standards.
As global terrorism and the need for security both grow, the security industry itself will strengthen and become more recognized. Mergers and acquisitions will continue to drive and shrink the industry leaders to a few industrial giants. More emphasis will be placed on service and support of these systems than provision and installation. Trained and certified service organizations, keying on the needs of the end user, will prevail even with the industry shrinkage. Client-centric philosophies and service fanaticism will be required for those system integrators choosing to remain independent.
DVTEL: Mergers and acquisitions will be common news over the next six to 12 months as companies continue to jockey for position and take advantage of this transforming market. “Best of Breed” partnerships and collaboration will become more prevalent between IT and security vendors and system integrators.
Taking a more “creative” perspective, observe how science is driven by science fiction on TV and in the movies. For those who saw “Minority Report,” that’s one vision of our security future: Tom Cruise operated a GUI literally out of thin air in front of him and controlled it without hardware, simply with his hands and mind. All the information was at his fingertips, manipulated effortlessly.
Also look to end users. They live their needs every day. Some of our best innovations have come from our customers demanding more from us. It’s like they’re the science fiction writer to our engineers.
Director of Marketing
JOHNSON CONTROLS FIRE & SECURITY SOLUTIONS: Recent M&A activity has significantly consolidated many of the smaller security product suppliers, but little has changed with the fragmented body of installer/integrators. We predict the emergence of one or more global integrators that can bring a wide breadth of technology and service to the market. A credible and reputable global integrator would be a magnet for the latest technologies from both large and small product innovators and combine those technical solutions with a consistent level of high-quality service that has been elusive in the market to date.
SECURITYNET: It’s apparent that network solutions for CCTV, alarms, access control, and voice will continue to expand as the industry continues to mature. Wireless technology will grow exponentially due to cost savings, ease of installation, and freedom of design available through the elimination of traditional wiring requirements. True system integration will continue at an accelerated pace. Equipment performance…megapixel cameras, biometrics, smart cards, will continue to improve and provide security tools that were the stuff of science fiction a short time ago. Big Brother will creep ever closer...
IT companies will accelerate their venture into the world of security. The next round of mergers and acquisitions could be that of network engineering and maintenance organizations acquiring security system integrators.
The large multinational conglomerates venturing into the security world will continue to fight an uphill battle. These so called nationals may be product developers and manufacturers, but the nature of big business works against them when it comes to maintaining personnel skills at the field level.
It looks like we have seen many changes and advancements in security hardware and solution from video surveillance to access control, biometrics to wireless, to analytics and networking. The industry is ready and moving forward. The security dealers and integrators as a whole need to step up to the plate and gain the resources to move into this exciting era of convergence and integration. The customers and end users are ready and waiting for someone to take the initiative. The gain is not only in the over all security aspect but the information and efficiencies we attain.
Standards need to be adopted and certifications defined but this is the future and we are moving forward at a good pace.
GOMPERS: That’s a look at what the movers and shakers in security have to say. Hopefully you read all three parts of this Roundtable Series which covered how the industry got to the digital domain and where security goes from there.
James Gompers is founder and President/CEO of Gompers, Inc., which is made up of Gompers Technologies Design Group (GTD Group), Gompers Technologies Testing and Research Group (GTTR Group) and the Gompers Alliance. The Gompers Alliance pools talent from top consulting firms in the security, communications and data industries to provide total solution plans and services to clients in North America and around the world. Gompers has more than 20 years of experience in the security industry. E-mail questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.