Live from the 2005 GE Conference and Workshop

Industry heavyweights weigh in on what the security business holds in store for everyone: dealers, integrators and end users

The 2005 GE Conference and Workshop has kicked off its second day in beautiful Hollywood, Fla., just south of Fort Lauderdale. Held at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, 700-plus dealers, integrators, end users and product partners are here to keep up with what's new at GE and to get product and networking training.

The conference formally launched Tuesday morning with a series of messages from GE Infrastructure, Security's VP Global Sales and Marketing Jim Clark and GE Infrastructure, Security President and CEO Ken Boyda.

Boyda provided the big picture look at what the conference was intended to be, with a focus on how security is changing and what the world of convergence will look like. Boyda stressed that GE's position has become an enabler of security and that the company can't just be fit in a box and labeled a "product manufacturer." Boyda put it this way: "The most important part of being a technology leader is to have the flexibility to be an enabler. Training is becoming the more important part of the business relationship; creating an IT skill set is what GE has to enable." Boyda pointed toward examples of systems that will require the networking skill sets -- systems such as wirelessly meshed networks of sensors, and explained that in the world of commercial and industrial security, the days of the stand-alone system are nearing their end.

"Corporate customers have increasing demands for global networked solutions," explained Boyda. He added that, as the networked nature of security has increased, the decision process on technology and system implementation is moving higher up the corporate food chain, so to speak. So not only is there education needed in the dealer community about networking systems, but the end users are needing additional training on how security systems can get funding and approval inside a company's corporate structure. Of course, it's not just coincidental that Wednesday seminars are being presented on those very topics as I file this report.

If we have to sum up Boyda's overall message, in addressing the conference's attendees, it was that GE's immediate purpose is to enable both end-user and dealers/integrators understanding of technologies and solutions, and to show how the company's solution chain end-user to dealer/integrator to GE is vital to the service of all involved. Indeed that message and that connection between the end-user and the dealer/integrators is perhaps no place better evidenced than in the composition of the attendees, which seems to have a fairly even split between end users and GE's channel partner dealer/integrators.

Strong Advice from Guest Speakers
Jeff Kessler, a security industry analyst from Lehman Brothers, took the stage after Boyda, and addressed financial and growth areas of the industry. While Kessler’s presentation had the full complement of numbers you would expect to come down from Wall Street, his presentation left a handful of take-aways that I’d like to share directly with you:

  • "The industry remains fragmented despite consolidation."
  • "Products mean less and less; instead the companies are looking for solutions."
  • RFID and background screening, while still some distance off, are gaining traction with medium-size companies. ... but, lack of RFID standards will push back RFID implementation from 2006-2007 to 2007-2008.
  • "IT is going to drive the entire security business."
  • Lehman Brothers' analysis is pointing toward a rebound in financials for monitoring companies and guard services companies.
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