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PSA-TEC and ESX coverage, municipal monitoring in Illinois, more


Two Great Shows: PSA-TEC & ESX
Summer brings travel to best in class shows!

By Deborah L. O'Mara

PSA-TEC recently held its show and conferences at the Westin in Westminster, Colo., with more than 800 in attendance. The conference included dozens of educational sessions and training and two days of exhibits. PSA-TEC decided to go to its home grounds in Westminster in 2011 and will also stake grounds for the 2012 show (May 14 to 18) at the same venue.

"Hosting PSA-TEC 2011 in Denver was so well received we've decided to keep a good thing going," said Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA Security Network.

SD&I magazine and SecurityInfoWatch.com were key media sponsors of the event, with SIW streaming live the "State of the Industry Report," kicking off the first day of educational sessions. The report was the ultimate precursor to many other sessions which focused on the future of the industry, how integrators have to evolve the business into a services model and how business management is just as important as technical prowess in the evolving market.

Moderated by Security Consultant Sandra Jones of Sandra Jones and Company, the panel included: Tony Whaley, chairman of Credentialing, BICSI; Bill Bozeman, CEO and president of PSA Security Network; Dave Carter, managing director of Security Network of America; Paul Cronin, CEO of 1nService; J. Matthew Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau; and Chuck Wilson, executive director of the National Systems Contractors Association.

Panelists gave insights into the integration market, the recession and business practices critical to future profitability. There was an overriding message that not only do systems integrators need to focus on a services model and IT-eccentricities, but need to be able to manage their businesses more effectively and learn how to approach lenders about the idiosyncrasies of the marketplace.

How to survive in a commodity world

"One of the most significant challenges facing integrators today is the financial side of the business," said Bozeman. "Smaller integrators have cash flow issues; and each job has to be profitable," he said. "Banks are unfriendly to the business," he added. "So the issues are not necessarily technical. It's a new business model; this is a technical meeting but business management is important."

Dave Carter of Security Network of America added that protecting and growing the revenue stream in a changing marketplace can be difficult. "Comcast is entering the business with the XFINITY product, clearly coming into our space. Verizon is offering home automation; and AT&T bought Xanboo. Xanboo is cancelling all dealers in July because they want to go direct to market," he said.

Cronin commented that attracting, developing and retaining talent is one of the key challenges he sees in the industry. "Finding the right skill-sets and leadership in sales as well is critical. We are the sum of our people," he said.

J. Matthew Ladd concurred with the panelists that projects are coming in at lower profit margins and customers are continually bidding. "Project management is extremely important. So is the need to have multiple product lines."

Whaley, coming from an architectural and engineering firm, said he sees the market from a different perspective. "It's important to work with a design element to save money and time. Building information modeling (BIM) is becoming extremely important and allows you to visualize everything in a project design. AutoCad is going away to this 3D BIM modeling," he said.

Wilson concurred that the growing use of BIM is something that might blindside integrators who aren't aware of the software. "But the biggest challenge continues to be attaining profitability on every job. Margins are being constantly challenged."

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