Many small systems integration or dealer companies are not able to hire an IT guy. So they know the security technology, but they need an IT guy to work with the client since the client wants to talk about how it affects the network, so they subcontract to an IT guy. But then the problem is that the subcontracted IT guy does not know the product. He knows the network, but he doesn't know the physical security products. If I put a networking guy in front of a bank, is that guy capable of not only understanding the bank's network, but also understanding what a bank needs in terms of security and integration? Again, the role of the integrators is changing, as much as we the manufacturers are changing.
One of the challenges in our industry is that guys are out there putting this technology on the network and installing software and they often don't have the training. Dealers of today will be relegated only to basic commercial and residential if they don't get the IT training. Just because you know a computer doesn't mean you know the difference between a route and a switch. It's very important that people in our industry know what they don't know.
What does the change in security technology mean for the guard services industry?
It's happening today and it's happening throughout the whole industry. Instead of four guards in the past, maybe we now have two. What I think is happening is that technology is a means to better the ability of the guards. If an alarm is going off on a pumping station in the middle of nowhere, security and sensor technologies can tell you what's happening out there. Then you can analyze what you do, and then the guard becomes the response team rather than just serving as a human sensor.
Are we going to eliminate the guard? No. With today's technologies, guards are going to be required to be more technology savvy. They are going to be equipped with more technology, and they are going to be more adept at using technologically coordinated responses.
Leon, to close up this interview and to think about 2006 and beyond, what are your predictions for how the IT world will change physical security?
-- Number one is intelligence at the edge.
-- Secondly, I think we'll see a changing and higher use of smart card technology.
-- We'll see the creation of software that is not just for physical security, but it becomes software that allows other business uses.
-- Fourth, the IT world is going to run anything to do with software and data storage.
-- The physical security will remain in charge of the hardware.
-- Finally, I think we're going to see a single "box" at the edge that does everything â€“ it's fully intelligent, and you can plug in anything you want and use the intelligence algorithms on that sensor.