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Security integrators losing ground

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Bill Bozeman
Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of the PSA Security Network, called out the security industry on the “cliché of convergence” at the Securing New Ground Conference held in New York City, Nov. 11-12.


November 18, 2008
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

That was the term he used to describe the lack of readiness in the
security industry for the influx of IT integrators into the business.
Bozeman predicted as many as 25 to 30 per cent of traditional security
installers may have to shut their doors due to increased competition in
the market. “It’s difficult to keep up,” he said.

According to Bozeman, the problems aren’t limited to fundamental
changes in the security business. Installers aren’t receiving
sufficient or appropriate training, he said.

“The education system is broken for the integrator. . . . There’s such
a huge need to bring integrators up to speed,” he said, adding that the
profusion of certificates and designations available to security
professionals has made the training process too confusing. “The
integrator doesn’t know which one to get.”

He also said that the security channel’s relationship with
manufacturers has soured recently due to direct selling and the
perception that installers are now competing with manufacturers for the
same business. “This is conflict I handle on a daily basis.”

Physical security integrators will have to take a cue from their IT
counterparts and adapt to their business model of managed services and
shrinking profit margins, he said. “It isn’t that the technology isn’t
there. The physical security integrators are very slow to adapt but
when their margins are getting smaller, they are going to have to
adapt.”

Bozeman wasn’t the only Securing New Ground speaker to sound the alarm.
“We’re going into the fourth quarter and we’re down by three touchdowns
when it comes to the security guys and IT guys working together,” said
Dan Dunkel, president of New Era Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in IT and physical security convergence.

Steve Walker, vice-president of convergence solutions for Stanley Works
customer service centres, said enterprise end users are already
beginning to adapt to convergence issues, even if integrators aren’t.
“The boundaries are blurring between corporate IT infrastructure and
corporate security infrastructure,” he said. “In the not-too-distant
future, we will see those two organizations come together and managed
as a single entity.”

He also said Stanley has had greater success training IT professionals on physical security requirements than vice-versa.

Jeff Kessler, formerly with Lehman Brothers and now managing director of Imperial Capital,
was more positive about the outlook for security integrators. He said
that the “IT IQ” of security integrators is improving and, despite
Bozeman’s claims, educational opportunities are beginning to open up
for security professionals looking to augment or update their skills.
“With the number of young people entering this industry, I am positive
we are going to get there.”

That said, Kessler warned integrators not to rest on their laurels.
“You don’t have to be a 20 or 25 per cent wire and camera hanger,” he
said. But “if you don’t get your IT IQ up there, you’re going to lose
out to the IT people.”