Megatrends Predict a Mega Security Future

Dec. 8, 2023

Each year at the Securing New Ground (SNG) conference in New York, the Security Industry Association (SIA) hosts a compelling panel discussion detailing the results of its annual Megatrends research survey. SIA asked hundreds of executives from SIA member companies what factors were shaping their business decisions and what trends they were watching. SIA members, along with current and recent speakers and attendees of SNG were also asked which previous trends were still relevant, which trends were no longer as impactful to the industry and which trends could be identified to be added to the 2023 report.

The report listed the 10 top Megatrends of 2023 as the following:

·         Cybersecurity of physical security

·         Artificial intelligence

·         Workforce development

·         Changing economic conditions

·         Ethical and safe use of data and technology

·         Elimination of industry boundaries

·         Security as a Service (SaaS)

·         Supply chain assurance

·         Autonomous devices

·         Proliferation of sensors

I recently spoke with Tara Dunning, the VP of Sales for Global Security & Infrastructure at Wesco, who was a participant on the Megatrends panel at SNG and is an SIA committee member. Our conversation covered a broad range of topics from the survey. I view SaaS as a driver in our industry as it matures and migrates across different industries. Dunning agrees, saying that SaaS unifies the concept of the sensor, SaaS companies and software companies.

“What we're talking about, and what came out in some of the panels was this notion that integrators and some of the other manufacturers had was that it's not a business model, or OPEX, or Capex to OPEX model or even a SaaS play. It's that end-user customers, because of the complexity of what we're dealing with, need to have an end-to-end solution that is not a disparate proprietary system. They want a solution where everything comes together no matter how small or large,” adds Dunning. “Integrators and practitioners are now having to say, ‘Listen, it's not just about physical security or even staring at (video) monitors. It's about providing a total solution that is more than loss prevention, threat detection or intrusion prevention. Solutions need to be as much about operational efficiency and other business drivers as they are about security and mitigating risk."

The evolving notion of what analytics and AI are and what their collective future was another top-of-mind topic. Many users still don’t understand the subtleties and differences relating to edge computing, AI, predictive analytics, and the ever-expansive IoT universe. For Dunning, the sensorization of the security industry is nothing new. However, today it is all about use-case and proper application.

“It's really about the use cases by vertical, and even by end customers that are most likely to be employed. It’s about the application of technology like the camera and other physical security devices being adapted to become multipurpose tools. That's the exciting thing for our industry,” says Dunning. “That’s where we evolve into this boundaryless technology, where if you were to think about the camera as 1X value when it was an analog camera, then you add some video analytics, it becomes 2X, then you add multiple use cases that expand adoption to other areas by 5X and maybe even 10X. That's where you have this exponentially increasing value of the solutions we as solutions providers can offer.”

The rapid acceleration of technology in the security industry seems to be a double-edged sword as Dunning and other panelists weighed the pace of advanced applications and potential infringement of the norms imposed by man and machine.

“I think the biggest challenge we have today is what took almost a half-century of the industry migrating from analog to an IP platform, has accelerated and is not slowing down any time soon. This time last year, we were learning about Generative AI but not ChatGPT. It wasn't part of our vocabulary,” continues Dunning, saying her SIA colleagues and distributors like Wesco must be stewards of the industry by not only providing technology and service but also helping educate clients and others about our expanding ecosystem and staying abreast of it.

“It's going to be different for residential and small businesses than a global hyperscale customer. Either way, you must understand what are those core use cases and business challenges you can help solve. Only then can you help the customer understand the ROI. It's no longer, ‘I'm just preventing bad things from happening through surveillance. I'm optimizing revenue. I'm saving on business costs, and energy bills; I am avoiding workman comp claims.’ Those are the kinds of things that create a more integrated dialogue with the end-user customer,” Dunning concludes.

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes magazines Security Technology Executive, Security Business and Locksmith Ledger International and the top-rated webportal Steve can be reached at [email protected]