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IT IQ vs security IQ

Jennifer BrownFor a couple of years now, IT companies have been sniffing around the security industry looking to see if the market is ready for them yet. The first couple of years I attended Securing New Ground, IBM and Cisco were the hot topics of conversation.

December 16, 2009  By  Jennifer Brown

IBM’s VP of Global Technology, Julie Donahue delivered the keynote in 2007 and Cisco’s senior manager of physical security sat on a panel about Tech Trends in the 21st Century, but neither have been back since.
While we don’t hear much anymore about IBM on the physical security side here in Canada, it is still very present in the U.S. security market with an advanced integrated network video monitoring system announced this past June for Chicago’s Navy Pier. At the heart of the system is a network of cameras from Axis Communications, and Omnicast, an IP-based video recording and monitoring system from Genetec.
This fall at Securing New Ground it was an announcement made the week before by tech distributor Ingram Micro that had some asking distributors like Anixter if they felt threatened. Ingram had announced it was creating a physical security division. Anixter president Bob Eck confidently brushed the question aside, suggesting the IT integrators don’t have the ability to service the security industry in the same way they do.
According to industry analyst Jeff Kessler of Imperial Capital (formerly of Lehman Bros.) IT services will continue to play an increased role with security projects and physical security providers with the right “IT IQ” will continue to grab market share. It was Kessler who first referenced the importance of IT IQ in 2007 at Securing New Ground.
In fact, speakers at the conference this year emphasized the point that now it’s the IT companies that have to get up to speed on their security IQ to better understand the problems security department managers and facilities operators need to address.
Kessler actually thinks IT integrators and distributors won’t gain ground as easily as some might fear. Simply put, the requirements of the security customer are different — so much so that the IT players would have to radically change how they go to market to really gain significant traction.
For example, for the most part, IT players don’t have the desire to get involved in the work of setting up and positioning cameras. They also underestimate how tight physical security budgets can be compared to what he calls “liberal IT budgets.” Especially in these recessionary times when the sales cycle in some verticals has become painfully slow for security integrators, IT players may decide it’s not worth their time and investment to try and broaden their business, especially as the recession continues to give them concern.
Also, IT integrators may find the pace of change in the security industry too slow. Just look at analogue cameras, for example. Analogue’s cheaper upfront cost has prevented many from migrating to new IP cameras. Although the security industry itself may feel like it’s in the biggest growth period for adoption of technology it has ever seen, compared to the rate of change that occurs in IT, it’s just not the same.
To be certain, the presence of new players will impact the share of business that traditional security suppliers of products and services have had, and big IT integrators will always be able to partner with other security suppliers to deliver a solution to their client base. But knowing there are proactive things traditional security providers can do to hang on to their share of the business — such as training of staff in new technologies and after-purchase support and service — means it’s not a foregone conclusion that IT will take over the industry.

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