Help Me Help You

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in Today's Systems Integrator

Many of you may recall the movie Jerry McGuire,  in which Tom Cruise's character is a sports agent for an NFL star played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. During an emotional negotiation with his client, McGuire repeatedly pleads “Help me help you.” This was a message that was relayed by one of the nations leading CSO’s to a group of executives representing both the physical security and IT industries at a meeting I attended during the ISC East conference in NYC last week.

The SIA ( ) is the leading security association on the forefront of industry issues and government regulations effecting security practitioners worldwide. Executive director Richard Chace and incoming president, Wendy Diddell, hosted an outstanding open forum to discuss priorities facing vendors in the era of security convergence and collaboration. Seventeen companies and one university were represented including Fortune 500 firms (IBM, Cisco, Diebold, Bosch), regional security vendors, startup companies and associations representing domestic IT and physical security integrators. Lynn Mattice, VP and CSO of Boston Scientific, and an advisory board member to the CSO Executive Council (, provided the memorable quote for this article title, as well as sound advice to the group.

Mattice was describing the fact that his executive dialogues (and budget) are focused increasingly upon regulatory and compliance management directives. The CSO Executive Council has developed a detailed matrix in the industry to assist his team in understanding and addressing these business requirements. Understanding how RoCM (Regulatory and Compliance Management) issues affect the CSO in end-user organizations is one key to a successful sales campaign for vendors and integrator channels. Mattice wholeheartedly endorses the extensive research materials made available to the industry. These materials include everything from power points to dashboard graphics and metrics for measuring project management goals. They are also valuable sales and educational tools.

Mattice’s advice of “help me help you” expressed the underlying need for our industry (the new security industry) to “understand the issues” and prioritize them into a context where vendor solutions align with and answer these industry regulations facing executive staffs in end-user organizations. Project management skills for integrators are high on the expectation list for customers and CSO’s alike. This may mean an upgrade to your business model.

The definition of “risk” has changed and so has the way our industry must position and sell its solutions and services if we are to be successful moving forward. Speeds and feeds, low ball pricing and the good old network will not cut it in the future. Understanding how security policy is viewed, positioned and sold to the highest levels of the organization is critical to who wins and who loses. A prevailing and often repeated industry priority during the meeting was education. As in any time of industry transition and change, an early grasp of the new strategies is required to win, and an open mind toward learning new ways of doing business is the recipe for success. In a couple of “e” words, it’s all about “education” and “execution.”

Mattice also mentioned the importance of a good book. This was music to my ears. To a sales professional, I believe there is no better window into a person’s character then their office space. The pictures, organization of the desk and especially the books, can speak volumes. Mattice recommended a book called Blue Ocean Strategy . One issue the book discusses is how successful businesses find new ways to compete in new markets, a blue ocean, rather than bloody the water with killing each other selling the same solutions. Take some advice from a leading CSO and read it, then pass it on to another like minded “change agent” in your organization.

One of the nice things about writing this column is that some folks who read it actually leverage some information in their businesses. Paul Cronin, and executive VP with Atrion ( ), a Cisco Gold Certified IT integrator, is one example. Cronin read an earlier TSI column highlighting that Bill Bozeman, CEO of PSA Security (, a nationwide association of physical security integrators, was looking for IT integrator partners to collaborate with. Cronin also plays a leading role in 1NService (, a similar nationwide association of IT integrators. Cronin contacted Bozeman directly and today their respective nationwide associations are partnering on business opportunities.

Both Cronin and Bozeman were at ISC East in NYC and provided background on their business collaboration, as well as insight into the future of security collaboration and partnerships. It is an example that companies large and small must emulate a.s.a.p.

“Help me help you” also works when end-users need the services of both IT and physical security product vendors and service integrators to succeed. Both of these executives and their organization members understand that business as they have known it is changing quickly, and there are numerous new opportunities to pursue with new partners.

There also exists an attitude of “help me help you.” In the convergence world this means together we are better. Contact me with other examples of the New Security Collaborators out there. A blue ocean awaits people who educate and execute!

Good Luck.