The New Breed of Security Integrator
Part II: Understanding IT History

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

Read Part I: The Integrator and the Installer in the March 10 issue of Today's Systems Integrator

The undeniable fact is that the market is IP. Today there are examples of mission critical applications deployed over IP everywhere. The question is when will your business shift? What the physical security industry really needs to do to prepare competitively is study the history of the computer industry. Success and failure many times is the result of or lack of interoperability.

Look back over 20 years and you see the minicomputer industry dominating Hwy. 128 in Massachusetts. Today those billion dollar firms are out of business. Why? No interoperability outside of their own proprietary operating systems. Look at IBM. Once a huge dominating mainframe company, in the 1980s it lost its way. An industry outsider, but most importantly a customer, Lou Gerstner from RJR Nabisco took over as CEO and brought IBM a customer perspective.

He wanted to know why (as a customer spending 10s of millions with IBM annually) the product line had interoperability issues both internally and externally. He demanded it be fixed. IBM Global Services were born, and now it is a division larger in annual revenues then the entire physical security market. Interoperability. Open standards. Services. Enterprise accounts.

And all the sales objections you hear about "not enough network capacity" have been repeated for 20 years. I heard them in 1983 selling 3D engineering software to aerospace manufacturers and again in 1993 selling 3D seismic solutions to oil companies. Cisco heard it from financial departments wanting separate dedicated networks, so they started a company and become an industry powerhouse - which today, by the way, is focused on video over IP in a big way. Yes folks, Cisco can handle your issues regarding bandwidth for data, voice, and video across your IP network, ass can their many competitors.

History also shows you how major companies evolve their technology deployments and how they select new products and vendors. The first thing you need is it technical credibility. These folks won't wait for you to get up to speed over the next few years. I recommend that the best way to solve this issue from a timing standpoint is to partner with an it vendor of their integrator channel. If not by the time your organization is up to speed you may not have much market left to sell in to. Find a solution provider with it skills and package your combined security solutions. Get creative. Get it knowledge to complement your physical security expertise. It's a win/win strategy.

The other important issue is that an understanding of it history tracks the evolution of the VP of IT (technologist) to the CIO (executive) position. This is critical to understand because as the position changed, so did the selling strategy, from bits and bytes to ROI and standards deployments. If you continued to stress speeds and feeds over business issues and did not understand the open IT infrastructure, you missed your sales numbers. The politics of the position also became more powerful and today CIOs are becoming CEOs based on the fact they are integrated into and understand every global business operation in the company. Only the current CEO shares as deep a visibility into these departments. What great business experience if you want to run the company someday.

The new breed of security integrator understands these issues. The new technical skills sets are evolving, the new competitive landscape has changed, partnering is a new credibility strategy, and new executive level selling is the key to enterprise account wins and more revenue opportunity.

"Sometimes you can observe a lot just by watching" - Yogi Berra