A different kind of integration business

March 2, 2012
Carey Boethel's tips on security systems integration business strategy

After we announced yesterday morning that two industry veterans Carey Boethel and Ken Francis had formed a new integration service firm called Securadyne and made their first acquisition, I sent the firm's president, Boethel, a note to congratulate him and to ask how they would be different. He wrote back to tell me that he saw three key differentiators for their business, and I'm going to share them here. This story is about Securadyne, but it's also about your own systems integration business, because even if your business is 5, 10, 15 or 50 years old, you can always reshape it. Here's what Boethel said were the differentiators: "The first is how we go to market; second is how we view and structure customer relationships; and third is the extent to which we will leverage cloud-based technologies."

"Our go-to-market strategy will focus heavily on commercial and industrial market segments that are receptive to business productivity solutions enabled by security technology, as well as those segments that face regulatory compliance challenges. Examples include energy, healthcare, higher education and municipal critical infrastructure applications."

Boethel and Francis worked with some of the largest firms in our industry -- Siemens, UTC and GE – and I think they know that it's tough to be all things to all people, so instead they focused their business on a niche that you can "own". When times are tough, you may have to bid on every project, but I think it's good advice to be a master of select vertical market security needs rather than be the "jack of all, master of none".

Boethel continued: "With respect to how we approach customer relationships, we will focus on creating value and delivering ROI—we are not interested in competing for work based on price, which unfortunately is rare in this business. We'll look for long-lifecycle relationship opportunities where we can create real, tangible value and where the customer is willing to pay for it because of our commitment to providing a return on their investment."

I love this idea, and it's gaining steam in our industry. I hear leading security end-users mention how they are not just providing business security; they're providing business services. Mike Howard, the CSO for Microsoft, echoed this same exact sentiment to SD&I magazine contributor Ron Worman just last month when he said: "In today's business environment anything that does not drive value to the business will be questioned, scrutinized or ignored. We need the integrators to step up, understand this, act like an advisor and help drive the value premise." You've heard it again: You're not in the business of hanging electronics on the ceiling; you're in the business of creating value for your customers.

"Lastly, we will look to leverage some degree of cloud-enabled technology in the majority of solutions we provide. Historically, the cloud has been embraced by small and medium-size businesses because of its economic benefits, but our focus will be deploying it in the enterprise-class space based on a broader value proposition that includes resiliency, scalability and enhanced QOS. Generating RMR in the high-end of the marketplace is absolutely core to our strategy."

The cloud's adoption is based on need. I use cloud services all the time. Amazon and iTunes back up my music. Google runs my calendar remotely. I don't need to back up my music or my calendar data on my portable hard drive anymore. I don't want to "own" the process of protecting that data. The cloud scales to my needs, giving me just the amount of storage I need. For enterprise businesses, where data needs can change much more rapidly than those of small businesses and personal users, the instant scalability of cloud services makes even more sense. Smart integrators are recognizing this.

It's not often you get free business tips from someone like Boethel. What companies like Seucradyne Systems are doing (and I'd argue that others like Aronson Security Group are doing the same thing), is a mindset shift for systems integration. And if you want to dive deeper into this topic, read this column: "The Business of Security is Business."

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