If you’re a security systems integrator, it’s one thing to think two to three years ahead, but what about ten? What will you be selling? How will people buy your security solutions and who will control the budget? Who will be the trusted advisors? Who are your new competitors likely to be? What role will the web play? I recently had an opportunity to pose these questions to three tenured veterans of the security industry who shared their insights on this very compelling topic at ISC East. Read below to see what they have to say about the future of the security industry.
Paul Cronin, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Atrion
To envision the longer term future of the security industry, we need to challenge our thinking and imagine what the world will look like ten years out. Think human-free manufacturing, bionic smart hands (no surgery required), nano technology in clothes, mobile device as king, virtual keyboards where you type in the air based on what you see in your smart glasses, retinal scanning and bionic hand scanning/processing as a replacement for card swipes and fobs.
We are on the brink of something spectacular with the Internet of Things. In the not too distant future, more data will be collected in one day from Internet of Things (IoT) devices than is collected in a single year today.
The Internet of Things is everywhere – in our homes and businesses, even in our cars – in the form of sensors, environmental controls. But we can imagine far more intelligence out at the edge. In the future we will see more integrated threat intelligence. For example, say someone enters a restricted zone, it won’t only be the video camera feeding information back to alert – it could also be sensors detecting an increase in temperature, movement in light controls, a person touching ‘intelligent paint,’ the pressure of feet on a smart carpet. Or in the case of home security, the system might just be intelligent enough to discern a person’s identity based on verbal answers to questions.
As much as the IoT will bring intelligence to security, it will also introduce new physical and cyber security vulnerabilities and demands. The bad guys will target these IoT devices to gain access to information and to sabotage the connected network. They will load viruses, malware and even find ways to manipulate the information these IoT devices provide to create new vulnerabilities.
Another connected trend I see is security analytics as a service. This will be the high ground for integrators who will call themselves consultants and threat management firms. From the end user perspective, security will be part of one federated approach – the CSO will own operational security and information security as well.
While the future as I’ve defined it above is some years out, systems integrators need to begin investing today. Here are three things they can do right now.
- Make innovation a priority. Invest in creating an innovation ‘office’ in the organization. Define and create your own new services to stay one step ahead of your competition.
- Understand Cyber Security and its relevancy to the market. Know where you fit in and the impact to the devices you support.
- Invest in training your sales personnel in consultative selling. Make sure they don’t just understand what it is – make sure they become practitioners and your sales model engages around it.
All of these things are critical if they want to be successful in the future.
What do systems integrators need to know in order to survive in the security industry in next ten years?
First of all, just as it is today, customer experience will determine success in the future, in terms of just how well a systems integrator is able to apply technology toward that end.
Security customers will become better informed. Traditional B2B expectations will morph into more of a B2C expectation model as a more informed security customer will have access to a wealth of technology knowledge through investigation of the Internet (“knowledge on demand”), anytime, anywhere.
Integrators will need to add value added services delivered in new ways to keep ahead of attrition rates resulting from disruptive technologies.
Consultative selling and digital marketing will be the key means by which integrators are able to successfully sell business value enabled by technology.
All of these factors will distinguish integrators who barely survive from those who thrive in the next ten years. Integrators will need to overcome the status quo, develop tactical plans, and then execute flawlessly and fearlessly.
Integrators who understand the concept of return on security investment, who do their homework, ask the right questions, and above all listen – those who engage decision-makers with all of these things in mind – will win in the next ten years.
Where do I see the security industry heading over the next 10 years?
First of all, the commoditization of equipment will keep margins and revenues down. With a more connected world, I also foresee that monitoring services will move abroad where it’s cheaper to have someone do video verification 24×7.
In ten years’ time, security products will be unimaginably different. In the past decade, we’ve seen a thousand-fold increase from 512 MB to 512 GB SD cards. In another ten years, we have to assume we’ll see 512 TB SD cards. With virtually unlimited storage in each camera, or distributed across all cameras (just like video is striped across multiple drives), we will see a fundamental transformation in NVRs, maybe even their elimination. There will be unlimited storage and bandwidth. What we call ‘security’ today will be a cheap commodity that can be got anywhere. That also implies it will be easy to install and maintain.
Another point of difference over the next decade will be who owns the budget. Today, Security owns the security budget. But, as traditional security solutions expand into new areas, then new budgets will come into play. In some instances, the benefits to operations could even potentially dwarf conventional security reasons to fund the technology. In such cases, one could imagine a ‘security’ system being entirely funded from the Operations budget.
Skills sets have also changed over the years and will continue to evolve dramatically. Back in the old days, a tech’s primary tool of the trade was a screwdriver. Then came the need for software skills. Today, networking skills are in demand. In the future, consulting skills will be what differentiates the most valued people. There will be a need for individuals who understand value selling based on customer needs. This will be critical to system integrator success. Why? Because for a customer, finding a trusted advisor is not something they’ll likely outsource to a foreign entity, or the cloud.
In the future security landscape, knowledge, consultative selling and customer engagement will rule.
One group that has already demonstrated success in this area are business process reengineering/management consulting firms. They are aligned much more around ensuring business continuity and streamlining business processes for clients, not just focused on the minutia of physical security as we know it today.