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The “other” integrators in the crowd

On June 30 we closed nominations for our third annual Integrator of the Year competition, sponsored by Anixter Canada. It’s always exciting to see who has been nominated and read the details of the projects.


November 24, 2009
By Jennifer Brown

We’ve had some good integration stories come through in the past two years, but this year I think we’re really starting to wake up the industry to this challenge. Past winners have included a big IT integrator implementing a biometric project and a small, regional integrator managing fire and security for a manufacturer.
This year I’m seeing a whole other flicker of interest in one particular nomination. In addition to some great integrator-led projects, there’s an in-house integration team that has nominated itself and its vendor partners. I won’t give away all the details right now because, at the time of writing this, the SP&T News editorial advisory board judges are busy going over the nomination details. They are the ones who will ultimately choose the winner, and they are asking some tough questions.
In general terms, however, a security director of an internal security department nominated his team for an access control project they worked on — a project that brought together multiple players internally and externally. While a GTA software developer and large enterprise building integrator had a role to play in the project, the in-house security team spearheaded drivers of this application. As the nomination outlined, the approach was to “provide the best possible data at the lowest cost possible.”
I know of a handful of large security departments that are also going this route. In many cases they see it as the means to greater control and, more importantly, understanding the increasingly complex electronic security systems that operate in their organizations.
The City of Toronto has its own system experts with project management expertise — a critical component when taking on complex, integrated systems across a large enterprise.  Others, such as Alberta Health, have built a solid systems-strong skill base, providing training to technicians on CCTV and access control systems.


And manufacturers are catching on to this — where once they would only sell to dealers, some are now reconsidering that play.
It certainly begs the question — what is the future of the integrator? They will, no doubt, remain trusted advisers, and perhaps managed services will also become a bigger piece of business, but the degree to which security departments hand over the keys to their environments and ask for end-to-end systems to be designed may well be changing. Too many security directors have gone into integration projects unaware of what they were buying and have learned the lesson that having on-site staff who know systems is of real benefit.
It’s a subject we’ll be exploring at the Canadian Security Association’s Security Canada Central show Oct. 20, when we will bring together a panel of integrators — big and small, traditional and a few with more IT-centric backgrounds — to discuss how they plan to tailor their business as organizations evolve and want a different relationship.
Meanwhile, whether the in-house integration project wins or not will remain a mystery for a few more weeks, but the nomination would be of interest to many. Look for news on the winner Aug. 10, and in our November issue.


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