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Years of transformation

The security industry is not without its challenges and technology is moving rapidly, but there is also much to appreciate


April 6, 2021
By Ivan Spector

Topics

It was five years ago that I was asked to write about the Canadian security industry for SP&T’s 20th anniversary.

Then, I wrote about false alarms as an ongoing problem, the three T’s (Training, Training and Training), education, free alarms, competition and new technologies. While these issues are just as relevant today, it seems that five years was a long, long time ago.

On this, SP&T’s 25th anniversary, everything that I will comment on below fits into these categories:

  • Attrition during the pandemic has increased as more people are economizing due to job losses and are staying at, and working from, home.
  • In an increasingly complex installation, design and customer support world, many small/medium-sized full-service companies are taking a long, hard look at the value proposition of continuing to provide in-house monitoring services. Infrastructure costs, technology improvements and human resources are on-going and burdensome expenses and detract from focusing on and staying abreast of new technologies. Large and state-of-the-art third-party monitoring facilities are providing monitoring services in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
  • While many monitoring contracts represent a higher gross revenue, the fact is the app providers account for a percentage of that revenue, which goes to them. So, while the gross revenues may be up, net revenues tell a deeper story.
  • Work from home (WFH) will continue to impact the economy and the way we work. Kudos to UL/ULC for moving so quickly to address this reality. It will be of great interest to see what the new WFH standard will look like.
  • Increasing pressure from telecommunication companies and disruptors entering our space allows for the consumers to see who can race to the bottom.
  • Encroachment from DIY and MIY companies will continue to have a downward pressure on some segments of the industry.
  • It is a continuing struggle to find skilled, willing and able younger installers and service people. Many top people in the field are having increasing demands put on them regarding IP connectivity and network connections. Training in this critical area needs to be emphasized.
  • Front line customer service people are bearing the brunt of client IP and app-related problems.
  • Certain sectors have been decimated. Retail, travel, restaurant and hospitality are just a few that will take years to recover. Those who have focused on these verticals will need to shift.
  • There are also bright spots in the industry. Access control systems are gaining more acceptance. Much-promoted COVID prevention/detection technologies are prevalent. In spite of commoditization of the camera market, it still remains robust in commercial and industrial applications and the customer benefits not only from better technologies but by much lower hardware prices.
  • AI will have a great impact on the industry, particularly once it can be unleashed at the consumer level.
  • Industry disruptors will continue to have an impact — think Google’s investment in ADT in the U.S., Telus buying ADT in Canada, the subsequent strategic alliance between Google and Telus and Telus continuing on its acquisition spree.
  • Big data and privacy concerns will become a very large issue. It is not a question of if something will happen.
  • Cloud-based managed services will continue to move forward and gain more traction.

In closing, these are interesting times and the pace of change has certainly not diminished (nor will it). But at least I am not talking about false alarms!

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One last comment: SP&T and Paul Grossinger have been a great strategic partner for the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) and the entire Canadian security industry. I applaud their commitment and we should all appreciate their support. Thanks to Neil Sutton as well for continuing that important relationship.

Congratulations to SP&T News and here is to the next 25 years! Stay well and be well. There appears to be light at the end of the tun-nel during these turbulent times.

Ivan Spector is the president of Alarme Sentinelle/Sentinel Alarm, past-president of TMA and past-president of CANASA.