Security Integration: New IT Partners in 2006?

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator - January, 2006

Last February I attended the inaugural event for TechSec at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. TechSec bills itself the premier conference on IP - ready security technology and provides a glimpse into the future for security integrators. During one panel session several hundred business people discussed the changes required to embrace physical security and IT convergence. The issues ranged from hiring Cisco certified technicians to specific application solution expertise. I was amazed that not one question related to either hiring experienced IT sales people or to partnering with IT VARS. The fact is that these partnerships can accelerate sales through mutual business credibility.

The dirty little convergence secret is that IT departments do not want additional vendor relationships, They are also experts at both denying entry to new vendors and in delaying new projects, The other barrier is dealing with the competitive landmines existing IT manufacturers (and their channel partners) will make sure you must maneuver during your initial selling. This typically involves explanation of IT standards and infrastructure processes a security integrator is least familiar with. Fail the first solo test within the IT department and that IT talent you hired and/or re-trained will never get to a revenue generating opportunity.

A security integrators best option for timely and effective convergence campaigns is to partner with key IT vendors, or more importantly their channel providers in your area. Find a firm with similar values, growth expectations, and customer support, and follow an initial process to determine your partnering potential:

  1. Educate: Detail the dual business opportunity security convergence provides. (Hint: Market growth to 22 Billion by 2010)
  2. Explain: how a security convergence strategy can provide them value add. Many VARS are looking for differentiation between themselves and competing firms offering similar products. (Cisco VARS would be one example)
  3. Evaluate: Examine your complementary expertise. Physical security integrators need IP networking and IT skills, while IT integrators have no experience in areas like video surveillance or access control systems. Neither firm wants to hire expertise.
  4. Explore: Create a solution(s) that answers a visible business problem and provides integration and ongoing support. Each partner provides the other with respective end user contacts, instant business credibility, and a first mover advantage in a large and growing "security convergence" market segment.

Finally, you just might have a complementary business plan and exit strategy in a market heavy in merger and acquisition activity.