Cisco in the Security Market
Part II - Lead, Partner, or Get out of the WAN

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

Read Part I: Get ready to change your sales cycles in the April 17 issue of Today's Systems Integrator

My guess is that was the first and last time they will be meeting with the network administrator. The IT (IP) credibility test is over and the window of opportunity just closed. Without his buy-in your chances of forcing product onto the network infrastructure are very limited. By the way, many IT vendors and their channel partners are only too happy to provide additional questions to their network administrator customers - as if they needed them.

If the physical security manufacturers and their channel integrators don't wake up fast and realize that the IP world changes product and sales cycles both, they will walk into selling and support problems. If you have not done so already, I suggest you open up your thinking (and your wallets), and hire technical and sales expertise to drive your sales revenues.

As my lovely wife always reminds me whenever we shop together: 'You get what you pay for.' In the case of IT sales and support talent she couldn't be more correct.

The investment in a competent technical team will complement your physical security expertise and payoff in increased revenues. Of course I also encourage you to go the IT partner route, but in order to be taken seriously as a credible partner you still need IT sales and technical expertise. Those of you that realize this today will have a first-mover advantage in the physical security market.

I don't mean to be alarmist or a fear-monger but look at the facts. Technology is changing quickly and Cisco and IBM are already at the dance. IT companies (and their channels) don't get much bigger or better than those two. The rest of the IT industry will quickly follow their lead.

But they can't partner with everyone and are counting on many of you to take yourselves out of the game. Proprietary product lines, lack of interoperability standards and inaccurate product performance claims will be their favored methods to discredit you. Once that happens another window closes within enterprise accounts. At the end of the day the really BIG sales opportunities will be within commercial and government accounts, where IT vendors have the inside track with network administrators and senior management. Face it: like it or not this is a very good long-term strategy.

As I write this column I am sitting in the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles waiting for a seminar here tomorrow morning. It is sponsored by Cisco, Broadware, ARINC, and PLANT*CML. The session is titled: Safety and Security Solutions. The keynote is Roger Cressey, president of Good Harbor consulting and former National Security Council member and current NBC news counterterrorism analyst. He will be a good draw.

Cisco is stressing "network centric interoperability using a converged IP infrastructure incorporating radio, data, voice, video and wireless solutions in new life-saving ways." It is a mouthful, but it is also a total solution, not a point product.

These solutions work today and they are being aggressively sold by these firms. This is your sales reality today, not five years out. The answer for the physical security market can be found in the old saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery": IP networks, interoperability, partnerships, and solution selling. He who gets the security applications deployed across the WAN fastest gets the gold. Good luck and good selling.