Away from the box
Integrators in the education market also see a savvier buyer who knows about technology and how it might work within their school. “The purchasing decision has definitely become more sophisticated in the vertical market, especially higher institutions of learning, according to Niscayah’s Jeff Gewedik, area manager based in Minneapolis who is also charged with overseeing the education vertical market.
Gewedik said there is a focus on the total solution, the overall security strategy at the school, and not just installing hardware.
“The strategy is not so much about dollars, but about the complete solution,” he continued. “We look at what the long-term solution is for the customer and we make it part of their culture, in order to be successful. In year’s past, security was commoditized, and it was just an overhead cost. In the heightened level of awareness, security has become part of the package and an important part of what universities offer to students.”
Gewedik said in the past IT personnel became involved at the 11th hour, but now they are involved much earlier, consulting and working with security integrators on things such as network drops, switches, etc.
“The security integrator creates the conceptual outline for the system but there’s collaboration very early on between all parties—the stakeholders,” he continued. “You have to know the user’s pain points, their risks and really understand and become an expert in their business. You have to know what other schools are doing and what the overall trends are. You have to bring a value proposition to them.”
Integrators are finding they have to be well-versed in a variety of solutions for education customers. According to Tom Giannini CPP and director of Security and Emergency Communications Marketing for SimplexGrinnell, Westminster, Mass., the needs of the K-12 market are generally different from the institutions of higher learning.
“The big trend in the K-12 market continues to be video, and that includes the entire spectrum from the smallest installation up to full IP video and networked systems, including analytics and some pretty sophisticated storage,” he said. “The higher education institutions, especially where you have a large resident population, need to be able to react to all types of crisis. Bottom line: the entire school population has to be informed in all types of emergency.”
Giannini said that in the K-12 market integrators consult to provide safety and security during hours when children are dropped off or picked up, for example, making sure that non-custodial parents don’t pick up children unauthorized. Vandalism is also a top concern at these locations. Visitor management and access control is critical.
Layered approach to security
“The end-user knows there’s not one single solution to fit their security needs,” said Giannini. “They’ve come to realize they need a layered approach to security.”
The layered approach to security boils down to consultative selling. But in the education market in particular, the school end-user wants to know how the technology will fit them now, what they can do with it, and how they can easily scale it up in the future when they need to without starting over again from scratch, according to Christopher Kieta, national busines manager, Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions Business Unit, San Diego.
“There’s much more focus on collaboration and planning with the security integrator, end-user and IT specialist and a holistic approach to security,” said Kieta. “End-users have found that many of their systems from resident life to the academia or physical property were not aligned physically and in theory. Now, in the wake of Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University and others, schools and universities have begun to take a much more practical approach to planning and want a single point of command and control,” he said.