Education and Trend Reading 101

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

In focusing my consulting practice on the security convergence marketplace, I read a ton of press releases and web sites from both IT and physical security firms. What I often wonder is just how many of these respective firms read the industry magazines specializing in the "other side" of the convergence model? Do IT manufacturers and their channel partners read Security Magazine? Do the physical security industry players subscribe to InformationWeek? In the majority of cases on both sides of the convergence model, I think the answer is probably bno'. That's a shame, and at the same time shortsighted. A little education goes a long way toward having a meaningful business discussion, especially considering the opportunity that partnering provides your respective revenues.

So let me make it easy for my physical security readers by providing the following web site link to InformationWeek. This free subscription comes in magazine and electronic formats. Bookmark this informative website, the subscription is half way down the page. It is a great magazine for keeping up with the IT industry and also highlights important physical security issues. For example, this week, the cover story is bTech Tactics for Uncertain Times; Exploring New Technology for Airport Security'. There is also a small article titled bCan't Place A Face? Ask Google,' regarding the search engine company's recent purchase of start-up firm Neven Vision. This deal could lead to a product strategy for image-based search on cell phones. I don't know about you, but I believe that product category may have an impact on the future of mobile security surveillance.

Another important consideration is that opening your thinking to the larger market view provides insight into the "unshakeable trends" that will affect security convergence solutions moving forward. When you consider trends like search technologies, IP networking and wireless, laptop and handheld sales, and the incredible popularity of Linux for open system development, you start to understand how security solutions will advance. Thankfully, innovative firms from both the IT and physical security markets are now partnering to lead the way.

My humble advice is to take an hour or two out of your week to educate yourself on both the "other side" of the convergence model and to be on the forefront of major trends impacting your future. To support this statement I am going to highlight a quote from Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel Corporation, who said:

I'm a great believer in particularly being alert to changes that change something, anything, by an order of magnitude, and nothing operates with the factors of ten as profoundly as the Internet."

As a quick example, IDC research tells us that today worldwide Web hosting revenues are over $20 billion annually, wireless is $46 billion plus, and the Linux market will grow from $15 billion in 2006 to over $37 billion in 2008! We also know that last quarter laptop sales surpassed PCs for the first time. These are a few of the "Big" changes that will change something "Big" in your business.

The key is to decide how you embrace these trends and position your firm for the best possible results. The issue with any opportunity is timing. One way to leverage time to market is through partnering. Find a partner with a complementary product or service that capitalizes on these fundamental changes to the business model and execute a strategy whereby you both win. This formula might not be the easiest thing in the world and you might need a few new skill sets in your organization. Of course, the alternative is to do nothing or pretend the trends are just a flash in the pan...and after a year or two, where will you be then?

Good luck and position wisely. The trend is your friend!