“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” -Abraham Lincoln

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

The Atlantic Monthly recently announced its list of “The Top 100” - The Most Influential Figures in American History. It was a compilation of the submissions of ten historians.

Abraham Lincoln won the top honors (saving the Union tends to get one recognized).

I choose to quote Honest Abe above and point out his warning against procrastination. However, I think it is a more appropriate message to the physical security industry (integrator) if we change one word in the quote from “responsibility” to “technology”.

When I attend functions and have the opportunity to hear people like General Colin Powell, Cisco CEO John Chambers or hockey great Wayne Gretsky, I write down their comments made between the slides or while answering questions from the audience. Many times those off the cuff quotes lend more perspective then ten white papers.

With that thought in mind, I was looking over my notes from the recent Securing New Ground Conference and realized I had a lot of excellent points from some of the security industries key players on the subject of convergence. These quotes are from the featured speakers at the event. I thought I would print them out and let you draw your own conclusions as to what they might mean to your business plans in 2007:

“We need integrated, upgradeable security systems - end to end solutions from vendors."
  --George West, Vice President - Siemens

"The industry acquisition strategy is now based on skill sets rather than scale."
“Emerging new competitors are also potential partners.”
  --Dennis Moriarty, Senior Vice President - Diebold

"Our job is to migrate the solution from situational to systemic."
"The industry needs to provide better services content to end users."
  --Marty Quay, Chief Operating Officer - Securitas Systems USA

“Open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits) are critical to this industry’s future.”
“We need to do a better job of getting IT to recognize Security."
  --Scott Schaffer, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing - Pelco

"Video is a data-gathering monster and video analytics is essential”
  --Craig Chambers, CEO - Cernium Corporation

“Big changes are coming; we are moving to a software world.”
  --Jeff Kessler, Senior Vice President - Lehman Brothers

“Companies dealing with IT integration need to deal directly with the vendor, not just the integrator.”
“Ten years ago silos were everywhere in the IT department. Today, the model is IT standards and integration.”
“The days of black box sales are numbered in the enterprise. Don't drop a Dell in my IBM or HP environment.”
“The customer needs three things: software flexibility, open standards for input/output and better tech support. Steal more IT professionals if you have to.”
  --Mike Engle, Corporate Security Vice President - Lehman Brothers

“There are three levels of security investment: compliance level, risk mitigation level and organizational alignment.”
  --Mark McCourt, Publisher BNP Media, citing The 2006 Security 500 Survey.

The bottom line on many of these comments is that 2007 will not be business as usual. “Convergence is real,” according to Jeff Kessler.

The word convergence is confusing to some folks. Think of convergence from a technology perspective. It is nothing more than the platform or vehicle to move security solutions from silo, or standalone installations, to wider enterprise deployments. Technology convergence can involve a combination of IP networks, storage systems and open source applications, all with the intent of establishing interoperability. This provides cost reductions, consolidated administration and ultimately increased personnel productivity. This has been the model that enterprises have used for decades in every department from engineering to finance to sales. The physical security market is simply the last domino to fall into line.

The issue that the industry and our country face today is the need to accelerate security solutions across the company and outward to its supply chain partners. James Canton, PhD, CEO & Chairman of The Institute for Global Futures, describes our new business risk environment: “The risks we face in the future will be new, complicated, widespread, and extreme. In fact, there is an entirely new definition of risk emerging. It is made up of a totality of threat factors, requiring new thinking about what risk is.”

In short, the profession of security has its hands full. The new reality involves a major shift in thinking about how security is positioned and deployed. As much as I would like to think we could stay the conservative curse of decades past, world events and traditional security concerns are escalating. Security it is not going to be the same industry moving forward. This is an unshakeable fact and it will impact businesses of all sizes. Think differently.