Final thoughts: the pulse of PSA…creating relevance
The pulse of PSA-Tec® was strong and unwaivering, and the conference ended last week with systems integrators learning new ways to garner recurring revenue. Many of the sessions focused on new technologies but there was an overriding message to the audience: systems integrators have to change the way they do business and learn to offer services and not just boxes.
While word was some of the exhibitors were grousing about the lack of traffic on the show floor the second day of the show and the full day of exhibits, I tried to ignore those comments and focus instead on the fact that the quiet show floor game me much more time to talk with exhibitors and learn about their products and services—which can be quite impossible at other shows, such as the fast-paced ISC West or ASIS.
But there’s no denying, at least from my point of view, that the real reason for PSA-TEC is the education and the forward-thinking content that has these systems integrators carving a name for themselves in the vastly changing and rapidly morphing security landscape.
State of the industry unveiled
Top industry leaders in the physical security, network integration, low voltage communications and commercial sound industries gathered for the State of the Industry session as the conference was winding down late last week. Panelists included (left to right below): Brian Hansen, president of Bicsi and a specification engineer with Leviton; Chuck Wilson, executive director of the National Systems Contractors Association; Paul Cronin, CEO of 1nservice; Sandy Jones, principal of Sandra Jones & Co.; Bill Bozeman, CEO of PSA Security; Richard Chace, CEO of the Security Industry Association; and David Carter, managing director of Security Network of America.
The idea behind the session was to bring together different businesses and entities in an effort to talk about mutual ideas and endeavors, according to Bozeman. “This is the core of our industries—this is the cream of the crop,” he said. “Everyone has to back off on the individual positioning. It’s going to take us working together and until we can really do that we may flounder around a bit,” he said.
Sandy Jones, who moderated the discussion, queried participants but first pointed to the session as addressing how once disparate disciplines within the industry are also changing. “This session is more about the convergence of systems and how things are changing,” she said.
Here are highlights from the speakers:
Brian Hansen—“Two of our current issues are the green convergence of technology and educating the U.S. Green Building Council on what it means and also perhaps coming up with some sort of green certification program from Bicsi. The other issue is social media and how we relate to the younger members coming into the industry. From a company’s perspective you have to figure out how to police all that. We have even created a social media policy within Bicsi to see how to work all this.”
Chuck Wilson—“Two of the most pressing issues currently are of course competitive pressures, profitability and how to make more money; and Department of Labor audits. It’s way more complicated to run a business than it used to be. The Department of Labor is conducting audits to look at the misclassification of prevailing wages. Another big issue is the healthcare insurance costs and how they will affect the small business.”
Paul Cronin—“There’s a blurring of the lines between disciplines. This is causing our members to become more of a general contractor. In addition, the advancements in technology have not stopped…even during the recession so many have had to do more with less. We’re also seeing a huge push of companies outside of North America as clients increasingly have global requirements—even smaller companies.” He added that one of the quickest ways to become more relevant is through “strategic partnerships.”
Sandy Jones—“I have called all you in the industry magicians. You take the most divergent products and make them work together.”
Bill Bozeman—“The lack of credit is a definite issue. I met with a large banker recently and I’m worried that the banks aren’t going to lend you money. They just aren’t interested in lending money to a customer who can’t show regular and strong monthly income. But this banker…he also sees the future in managed services. But are the integrators going to make the change in time or are others, even from outside the industry, going to do it first? It’s going to be the smart integrators who will be able to grow their business in an extraordinarily difficult contracting environment. You’ll be more successful if you hire someone who knows the technology, so you can concentrate on the business.”
Richard Chace—The CSI Master Format 25, 27 and 28 are critical for the integrators to understand if they are going to succeed going forward. One of our primary missions at SIA is to bring as many people together across the table so we can so we can do things right. We also need to understand the needs and demands of the customer and how critical it is to maintain that feedback. There’s also demand from the end user for standards and regulatory activities are bearing down on the industry. The network is the holy grail of how they [the end user] is going to grow their business and they know this. Position yourself as the bridge between physical security and IT. You own the space and it’s yours to own. ”
David Carter—“There’s ever-increasing demand for all things video and all things mobile and all things wireless. Our biggest concern is growing RMR, our second biggest concern is technology changes. We have to concentrate on getting more business from the customers we have with GSM radio as a primary and back up and PERs and in the development of additional products and services…this is where we are seeing potential for growth. “ Carter advised the audience to “pick out your peers you know and respect and put together an advisory group and meet once a quarter.”