From Technology to Solutions

How today’s security integrators help bridge the gap

A security systems integrator’s role is evolving to include more than just putting all the components together to make the magic happen. The faltering economy, coupled with the continued rapid advance in IT-enabled security technologies, has created some challenge for end users trying to fill the void between growing threats and the latest technology platforms designed to mitigate these threats.

Staff reductions, budget cuts and reduced government subsidies have tremendously slowed or, in a few cases, totally suspend the advancement of an organization’s security programs. As security practitioners, this trend should make us all very uncomfortable, especially considering the rise in theft, organized retail crime and certain segments of domestic terrorism. The good news is that many systems integrators are paying more attention today to customers’ wants, needs and challenges, and offering solutions that help bridge the gap between keeping your fingers crossed and being ready for anything.

Let’s take a look at a few areas where today’s security integrators are helping fill the gap between technology and solutions:

Disparate technology issues. Reductions in security spending can have a tremendous effort on an end users’ ability to upgrade aging products to newer, more innovative solutions. Security scholars and industry publications alike continue to preach the need to upgrade to the latest and greatest technologies in order to keep enterprises secure. While most end users would gladly purchase the latest and greatest innovations and all of the associated bells and whistles, few have budgets that would allow for such expenditures. Ironically, many of the old analog systems continue to perform flawlessly; the problem arises when you try to add newer IP-ready technology to existing analog platforms.

The real issue is not the equipment’s performance, but rather the lack of a common communication protocol between disparate system components.

Today’s systems integrators are keenly aware of this issue and invest heavily in strategic vendor partnerships and internal software development expertise, which enables them to combine older analog systems with newer, IP-ready platforms through project-specific software integration. By working closely with strategic vendor partners, systems integrators can offer their customers the highest level of support between disparate platforms or newly released upgrades.

In some cases, buyback programs can be negotiated between the end user, the integrator and manufacturer to make the transition more financially feasible. In addition, the more progressive systems integrators are working hard to push the development of open and interoperable standards through such organizations as Security Industry Association and Open Network Video Integration Forum. Ultimately, the end user will benefit by extending the life cycle of existing equipment and reducing the cost of ownership of newer, more innovative technologies that communicate via open and interoperable communication language.

Technology evolution. IP technology is changing the face of the security industry in a major way, which was readily apparent at the 2011 ISC West Expo. One of the major benefits of the IP revolution is that security products as a whole are more intelligent and can be integrated together on a common network for the optimal level of layered protection. This is great news for the end user who has the time and associated staff to do the proper research to match the new technology with the unique challenges of his or her organization. However, while the economy as a whole continues to slowly improve, it continues to wreak havoc on budgets, resulting in significant staffing reductions and deferred security spending, both of which can hinder end users’ ability to implement new technology that will keep them ahead of the pending threats.

Security systems integrators are taking advantage of this trend by helping their customers understand how new and innovative technologies can be integrated, enhancing the existing infrastructure to solve customer-specific security challenges. The more sophisticated integrators are taking advantage of this trend by creating specific segments within their organization that specialize in dealing with the highest level of integration issues their customers face on a daily basis. Furthermore, they align their sales expertise and subject-matter experts with the customer, further differentiating them from competitors via the ability to help vertical-market customers meet everyday challenges.

Unique Offerings. The explosion of IP-enabled technology and cloud computing has provided some untraditional benefits when helping end users deal with shrinking capital budgets, reduction in staffing and the mandate to get the most life out of existing equipment. The evolution of remote security management platforms and hosted video applications could not have come at a better time and should be given strong consideration in certain situations for meeting the growing mandate to do more with less.

Today’s security systems integrators should be well versed in providing their customers with solutions for outsourcing all or part of their security programs. For instance, some integrators provide these services in their own UL-listed, secure facilities using their trained and certified staff to consistently apply security protocols in a cost-effective manner that drives efficiencies.

Financing options offer an additional means to offset capital expenditures, as does leveraging hosted technology. Systems integrators should be able to demonstrate these benefits and savings using their ROI calculators to help their end users determine the best strategy that meets or exceeds the highest level of security assurance.

Going forward. Progressive, competitive security systems integrators have learned that, to stay in business, they must continue to evolve and offer their customers unique services and technologies that will assist them in meeting their challenges in maintaining the highest level of security assurance in tough economic conditions. End users understand that to meet today’s challenges, while preparing themselves for tomorrow, they must find and keep a trusted business partner they can rely on to bridge the gap between technology and solutions. When these two dynamics meet in the marketplace, it’s a beautiful thing.

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Security Today.

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