WESTMINSTER, Colo - The highlight of the annual PSA-TEC conference is generally its anticipated “State of the Industry” panel. This year, however, conference organizers tackled the state of the industry a bit differently — instead of one eight-person panel and session, it was split into two separate sessions to allow for even more discourse and peer learning.
The first part, the “State of the Industry” panel, was moderated by Sandy Jones and brought together representative of four of the security industry’s top organizations: Randy Gross, CIO of CompTIA; Don Erickson, CEO of the Security Industry Association (SIA); Allan Wick, CPP, PSP, PCI - ASIS Council Vice President and CSO of Tri-State Generation and Transmission; and Rob Simopoulos, president of Advance Technology and newly elected board member of the National Systems Contractors Association.
As you may have expected with CompTIA on board, much of the topic of conversation focused on the world of IT — how integrators can learn more about the technologies, develop resources among staff and recruit more IT-minded individuals to both their sales and tech teams.
Here’s a brief look at some of what was said:
Trends that will have the greatest impact on integrators in the next year:
Gross: “The easiest thing to talk about is data breaches. The market for data security is at $71 billion, and that that number will never go down. Every breach is another opportunity to bring this up with your customers and show why using credentials and IT certifications is stuff that matters.”
Erickson: “The biggest trend is educating the traditional physical security industry in the trends on information security and IT security in general. It’s a real challenge.”
Wick: “In the electric sector, last year NERC was passed — a new standard for physical attacks on substations and control centers. For integrators in that sector, there’s billions for you to go out and get.”
Simopoulos: “Margins continue to erode, so we need to find other ways of making money such as maintenance, etc.”
Wick: “Be that trusted advisor for your customers. You have to have something to fall back on as to why a customer would choose you. My integrator does charge more for consultation, and I’m willing to pay for it.”
Erickson: “The single best thing SIA can do for integrators is to encourage them to leverage the CSPM (Certified Security Project Manager) program. Sit for the exam — it is the only place you can get thorough, qualified professional security management training.”
Threats to Business:
Simopoulos: “We are starting to see sales tax audits growing, along with Department of Labor audits increasing.”
Erickson: “With tragedy comes regulatory activity. You must follow state legislation. There’s a lot of activity around data centers, and more negatively, around license plate readers. Market drivers exist in the states, and there is very little activity on the federal level.”
State of the Integrator
The “State of the Integrator” panel brought together four integrators from varying-sized firms. Moderated by PSA CEO Bill Bozeman, the panel included: Christine Lanning, president of Integrated Security Technologies Inc.; Ron Oetjen, CPP, CSPM, senior vice president of Securadyne; Brent Franklin, president Unlimited Technology; and Jorge Lozano, president of Condortech Servcies Inc.
This year’s panel really focused on the individual experiences and best practices of each integrator on the panel, and how they are adapting and innovating as the tides of change roll into our industry.
“It’s about getting outside of my comfort zone, realizing I don’t know it all, and finding the answers – whether from PSA or outside the industry,” Lanning said. “I’m really big about mentors, and being able to mimic those who have been where I am. Getting out there and talking to other people with different viewpoints is extremely helpful.”
Added Lozano: “I have survived a lot of tsunamis. Looking at the horizon — with a growing economy, we need to adapt. I need to keep the spirit of my company the same, but keep pace with technology.”
Adapting to the changing customer and their needs was another highlighted theme. “We are dealing with educated customers that are smarter than they ever were in the past,” Franklin said. “We need to know how to be more educated than the customer; how to stay up on the education of our people; IT challenges — there are really a lot of challenges.”
Added Oetjen: “In my experience – it is about thought leadership and trust. Have you talked to your customers about a global GSOC or outsourcing it in the future? It’s about educating and consulting your customer over time.”
In all, the topics created a wide debate on the trends and issues that integrators face, along with how to overcome them, and next year’s conference promises more of the same. To learn more about PSA-TEC, visit www.psa-tec.com.
Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine (www.secdealer.com).