Out of security and into the realm of what people want

Look at how much the industry has changed in the last two years. Some of you are still struggling with new concepts and technologies. Our research bears out that the biggest challenge you have (some 97 percent) is keeping up with new technologies. It's OK; it's going to get easier once you know the vision and can work toward the end result.

It's a new model, top to bottom, side to side, and the industry understands this and is beginning to embrace the future. Everyone is feeling it. From the larger companies to the smaller integration firms, change is in the air. Tim Whall, president and chief executive officer, Protection 1 Security Solutions, recently engaged the audience at the Barnes Buchanan conference in February. Whall was witty and fluid as he spoke of the last big change for the security industry-the advent of the digital dialer! He spoke of how the digital dialer transformed the industry-and now, this one groundbreaking differentiator, was going away with hardwired phone lines.

"The digital dialer transformed our industry and now the phone lines are going away," Whall said.

He was flat-out candid when he spoke of security systems and the goals and aspirations of Protection 1. "We are selling a product (security) that consumers need, but they don't necessarily want," he said. "People want cell phones and we are selling a product they need, but they don't want. We have to get security to be something they want. We have to think of other things we can provide to give them more of what they want. Protection 1 is thinking of new services. The communication path is changing and that's how we have to change. What is the communication path going to be in the future? How long is the carrier going to have a certain technology? Those are the questions we need to ask. The game is changing and we're going to have to change."

So, what does an integrator do? Well, there are many things and as you can read from Whall's comments it doesn't matter if you're a large residential company, mix resi and commercial, focus on commercial or are a central monitoring station or distributor-you have to embrace change and work with it to add value to everything you do. It's a new model, but it truly fits everyone-unless you're satisfied with installing oodles of hardware day to day to bring in meager profits and even under the best circumstances break even. For mass marketers and resi-centric integrators, the emphasis is on convenience, automation, interactive controls and cost savings in HVAC and lighting. For traditional integrators in the middle market, the sky's the limit and you have the flexibility to bring value to everything from intrusion, to video to personal emergency response and medical systems. For the high end residential and commercial customers, the focus is on managed services, cloud computing, biometrics, convergence of logical and physical access and integration with security, building and energy systems and fire safety and mass communication solutions. In other facets-home theatre, sound systems, audio, etc., the network is the infrastructure that's critical to your success, as well as everywhere else in our business.

For the central station companies: Wow! Here you are at the core of all the services but it's your job to add the value and enhanced solutions integrators can sell. You have to upgrade your monitoring services, software, add technical prowess such as video, audio and PERS monitoring and keep your eyes and ears on the market.

No one likes to change. It's hard work and it takes a business plan and a commitment. Do your research, attend manufacturer training, network with your peers at industry events such as PSA-TEC (see more on the May event on page 12) and ESX in June, ask questions, get versed on IT or hire IT folks. Take a cue from Protection 1's Tim Whall: learn what your customers "want" and deliver it.