Trends in Security Integration: A Wake-up Call

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Security Magazine - January, 2006

In December I spoke at the SecureWorld show in Arlington, Texas. This conference focuses on security convergence issues, attracts an IT end user audience as well as security practitioners, and tours six U.S. cities during the year. I highly recommend the show. During one session I observed a telling exchange between a VP of Systems for a multi-billion dollar security manufacturer and the Director of IT for a Fortune 500 convenience store chain. Essentially, the security VP wanted advice on getting product development feedback from this enterprise end user. The IT Director suggested they consider adding another layer of management between their headquarters and their channel to gather this information. Think about this statement a moment. It defines the future of the physical security integrator in corporate accounts.

First, the IT department is calling the shots for security product purchases in this corporate environment. This means the security manufacturers sales channel (integrator) must first understand and then align their solution(s) within the IT infrastructure. Second, there is no relationship between this IT client and the security integrator, (or the integrator and the manufacturer for that matter). This communication and support disconnect is very serious on both ends. Conclusion, the end user decision process for enterprises resides with IT and this channel integrator has little, if any experience selling and supporting an IT organization. The bottom line, this account is ripe for an existing IT vendor (HP, IBM,) or their channel partner to take the business.

“One of the leaders in today’s video network market sells it’s products predominately through IT integrators, not security integrators. Are we starting to see the next step in the evolution from dealer to security integrator to security/IT integrator?" Joe Freeman, CEO, Freeman Reports

When an experienced business leader and security expert makes a statement like the one above, I tend to listen. Security convergence is more then a passing trend; it is a fact of life that will fundamentally change the security business. “ Do you recognize the reality of the future security environment?” or are you thinking, “ I’ve heard about convergence but I haven’t seen it yet”, as one Vice President of Sales at a major physical security vendor told me recently. The problem is that if you wait until convergence is on top of you, (or more appropriately in your accounts), it is too late. Short of hoping a major IT vendor buys you out, this thinking is anchored in the past.

Remember the old saying “Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Way”. As for the physical security integrators in the age of convergence you might consider: “Partner, Sell, or get out of the enterprise.”