IT Security Dominates PSA State of the Industry Panel

While many topics were discussed, cyber security ruled the day at PSA-TEC

With topics like building RMR, managed services, standardization, continuing education, finding financial support, growing a business and competing on a national scale, there was plenty to talk about at PSA Security Network’s annual state of the industry/state of the integrator panel today at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Co.; however, one topic seemed to rise above the others to create the most lively discussion.  

Perhaps it was the resignation of Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel amid rumors that the massive data breach cost him his job; but more likely it was the poignant comments of panelist Rob Simopoulos that shifted the tide of the conversation to the challenges that integrators are experience in dealing with IT security — both from a customer’s and an internal perspective.

“The trend I see happening is a change in the decision maker,” said Simopoulos, who is the President of Advance Technology of Scarborough, Me. “When I started we seemed to be dealing with the security director, but now the trend is that IT is making the decisions. More often, our sales team is sitting in front of a 26 year-old IT person who is reviewing the technology and picking the solutions.

“We have to accommodate that change in customers,” he told a standing-room only crowd. “The key is, if we are selling to a different type of decision maker, we better walk the walk and talk to talk. If your customers are talking IP addresses and VLANs, they want your sales team to be talking at that high level.”

Will Schmidt, managing director of Capital Source’s security lending group, actually kicked off the panel by talking about the major impact IT is having on the security marketplace. “You can draw corollaries from the impact in the IT world to the integration space,” he explained. “(Customers) have gone from a purchase mentality to one of a total cost of ownership, which in the IT world, has been a very common practice. We are seeing IT more involved and the continued migration to solutions rather than products.”

Safeguard Security’s President and GM Mike Bradley, agreed that IT is having a major impact on even the most established security integrators. “We have to adopt IT technology,” he said. “Our techs have to use the technologies our customers are using."

Simopoulos went on to point out how this change in customer needs to be reflected with similar changes to the security integrator’s sales strategy and infrastructure. He talked about studying the IT services community, and the need to put the security industry on the radars of current students who are specializing in networking. “We need to start investing in our sales folks,” he said. “IT administrators understand RMR and software service agreements and proactive monitoring.

“I am going to colleges and universities to meet and recruit network students for internships, and they have no idea that the security industry is a path that is open to them,” he concluded. “Unfortunately, we can’t live in the security silo anymore. I challenge all of you to go out and make this industry better by embracing IT and educating those young students about the security industry.”

Simopoulos’s comments sparked a wide discussion of what the security integrator community can and should do on most of these fronts. “It’s a great opportunity, but we have to educate ourselves before anyone else,” one integrator in attendance commented.

Of course, there was a lot more to the state of the industry panel. In addition to Simopoulos, Bradley and Schmidt, the other participants were:

  • Don Erickson, Security Industry Association;
  • Stuart Rawling, ONVIF;
  • Dave Bunzel, PSIA;
  • Carey Boethel, Securadyne Systems; and
  • Bill Bozeman, PSA Security Network.

With the many topics discussed, here’s a brief look at the trend or issue that each one highlighted.

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