How can security system integrators not just survive but thrive in today’s IT-led market? The key seems to be in training. As increasingly more clients look to integrate access control with IT environments, they want integrators with the specialist skills to achieve this.

For integrators that don’t invest in training, the risk is being left behind. Because many security system integrators aren’t providing specialist IT support, manufacturers are now offering services to make implementations and integrations easier. This isn’t a scalable or desirable option for many manufacturers though, they don’t want to become integrators.

The result? Manufacturers will be pushed into developing products that can be integrated with IT networks off the shelf. And this isn’t necessarily the best option for end user, manufacturer or integrator. With a growing number of cloud-based security solutions, integrators also face the threat of clients opting for installation-only services.

How security system integrators can survive and thrive today

It’s not all doom and gloom for security system integrators though. To avoid becoming redundant, or being downgraded to simple access control installers, there’s lots you can do to strengthen your position.

Listen carefully

Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experience

One of the first ways you can distinguish yourself from your competitors is by really listening to what your clients want and need. You can then translate this into a security or access control application tailored carefully to them. Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experience and product knowledge. It’s far superior to carrying out a standard implementation, which can leave clients feeling they’ve not been listened to or given good value.

Up your IT knowledge

TCP/IP has become the standard for communication between devices and central server applications in access control and security in general. So every technician now needs to know how to connect IP devices to networks and configure them in the central application.

This is only the tip of the iceberg though, there’s so much more that integrators now need to be proficient in when it comes to IT. From understanding a client’s WAN, LAN and VPN networks to back-up systems, encryption technologies, key management and transparent communication. It’s also important to know how to integrate applications at server level, whether you’re integrating two or more security systems or a HR database.

Most integrators have begun to invest in one or two IT experts, but this usually isn’t enough to meet clients’ needs. To really stay ahead, it’s crucial to invest more heavily in IT training and expertise.

Choose your portfolio carefully

When considering your portfolio, ensure you check the background of each product’s manufacturer

Ideally, your portfolio should be small but rich, which is more difficult than it sounds. Choosing products that will scale easily is complex, and you need to consider the potential for increased functionality or connectivity as well as scalability.

When considering your portfolio, make sure you check the background and outlook of each product’s manufacturer. You don’t want to select items that are likely to be discontinued in the near future, which can often happen after a manufacturer is acquired, for example.

Get in the cloud

In the security market, the mid and low segments are already shifting to cloud-based solutions that need neither integration nor IT skills. This leaves you with opportunities for just installation and maintenance services, where profit opportunities are reduced. An alternative is to begin selling cloud-based security services yourself to help you attract and retain clients for the long-term.

Give clients added commercial value

As competition increases and budgets shrink, offering added value, to new and existing clients, is a vital way to differentiate your business. This will help you to not just defend against competitors but to grow your business and increase your profitability.

Configuring access control reports for clients is just one example. It’s relatively straightforward to do but provides really valuable insight into visitor flow. This can then enable them to, for example, staff reception adequately and provide sufficient catering, which all improves the experience for visitors and employees. Providing this kind of consultative service, instantly pushes you up the value chain.

Stay agile and well informed

To survive and grow as a security system integrator today, the upshot is that it’s crucial to keep pace with the market’s ever-changing trends, technology and client needs. And, to make sure you’re ready to adapt and give clients the services they want, it’s vital to give your people the in-depth training they need.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Arjan Bouter Sales Director, Nedap Security Management

Since taking up office in April 2001 at Nedap, Arjan Bouter has guided the Nedap Security Management organization from a direct business model into an indirect model.

In case you missed it

How Does Audio Enhance Security System Performance?
How Does Audio Enhance Security System Performance?

Video is widely embraced as an essential element of physical security systems. However, surveillance footage is often recorded without sound, even though many cameras are capable of capturing audio as well as video. Beyond the capabilities of cameras, there is a range of other audio products on the market that can improve system performance and/or expand capabilities (e.g., gunshot detection.) We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does audio enhance the performance of security and/or video systems? 

What Are The Mainstream Uses For Thermal Cameras?
What Are The Mainstream Uses For Thermal Cameras?

The high cost of thermal imaging cameras historically made their use more likely in specialized law enforcement and military applications. However, lower pricing of thermal imaging technologies has opened up a new and expanding market for thermal cameras in the mainstream. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the new opportunities for thermal cameras in mainstream physical security?

Identiv Unveils Cloud Access Control and Frictionless Mobile Solution
Identiv Unveils Cloud Access Control and Frictionless Mobile Solution

Even though ISC West 2020 was canceled, many of the product introductions planned for the trade show still happened. For example, physical security and secure identification company Identiv introduced the Hirsch Velocity Cirrus and MobilisID. Hirsch Velocity Cirrus is a cloud-based Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) solution. It is an optimal solution for both end-users and integrators, with lower upfront costs, reduced maintenance, enhanced portability, and the future-proof assurance of automatic security updates and feature sets. Smart mobile physical access control solution Identiv’s MobilisID is a smart mobile physical access control solution that uses Bluetooth and capacitive technologies to allow frictionless access to a controlled environment without the need to present a credential. We caught up with Jason Spielfogel, Identiv’s Director of Product Management, to discuss the new products and other topics. Q: How is Identiv positioned in the market as a whole? What philosophy drives your product offerings? What vertical markets do you target? Every customer needs every one of these components Spielfogel: Identiv provides a total solution. Our platforms provide access control hardware and software, video surveillance and analytics, door access readers, and ID credentials, both cards and mobile, for a variety of vertical markets: Federal government, state, local and education government agencies (SLED), healthcare, schools, banks/financial services, retail, airports and transportation, and infrastructure. Every customer needs every one of these components in every physical security deployment, and we ensure that all parts are working together at all times, even as technology continues to evolve. With that said, our philosophy is very customer-centric, and we position ourselves as a trusted partner. Our products and technology platform always strive to reflect and anticipate the environment our customers are facing, both in terms of technical requirements and functional capabilities. Q: How does the MobilisID system eliminate "friction?" Spielfogel: Identiv’s MobilisID eliminates the “friction” of access control by forgiving the user from presenting a physical credential to the reader. A simple wave of their hand over the MobilisID reader establishes a connection, and the reader reads their mobile device’s credential from the MobilisID app.  No badge or access card to read, and no contact with the reader, makes this a frictionless access control experience. Administrative friction is also eliminated because there is no physical credential to issue or withdraw; it’s all done via the MobilisID Manager. Q: Discuss the advantages of Bluetooth over competing technologies. Bluetooth offers a blend of reliability and specificity Spielfogel: There are two primary competing technologies: WiFi and Near Field Communication (NFC). The problem with WiFi is that it’s not location-specific. In other words, the WiFi router can’t tell which door the user is near. NFC has the opposite problem in that it’s impossible to get credential reads unless the phone is presented within an inch or two of the reader. Bluetooth offers a blend of reliability and specificity to create frictionless access. Q: "Touchless" has always been a big selling point. Doesn't the coronavirus improve the outlook for these systems even more? Spielfogel: The coronavirus certainly highlights the value of frictionless access. But the vast majority of access systems today use proximity which was already touchless. But for systems using touchpads or contact-based credentialing, certainly frictionless is offering some alternatives that would help keep employees and visitors safer in the current climate. Q: How else might the current pandemic change the security market forever (i.e., more teleworking?) Spielfogel: Permanent changes are not likely, but it does force security directors to rethink how their employees interact physically with systems for both physical and logical access. As a result, we might see accelerated adoption of some emerging technologies, such as greater use of mobile logical access solutions, as well as frictionless physical access control. We’ve already seen an uptick in our smart card reader and token line and our Thursby enterprise and personal mobility offering during the coronavirus pandemic. Q: There are a lot of cloud systems in the access control space. How is your Cirrus cloud product different? Velocity already has all those features Spielfogel: Cirrus is different from many others in that it’s built on one of the most mature, feature-rich, secure physical access solutions available today – Hirsch hardware and Velocity Software. While many competitors are scrambling to add features to their relatively new ACaaS platforms, Velocity already has all those features. While they are building up their encryption capabilities and cybersecurity testing, we’ve already been doing that for two decades. We certainly have some more development ahead of us for Cirrus, but most of it is just surfacing features we already have into the Cirrus interface. Q: How do you guide customers as their needs change? Spielfogel: Whether users want solutions that are on-prem, in the cloud, or anything in between, Identiv’s full architecture ensures that customers can adopt and migrate to new solutions as they see fit. No two customers are alike, so providing the flexibility to gradually update or change systems is a real differentiator. Our competitors either want customers to jump all at once to the cloud or push to keep everything on-prem/legacy. CSOs and CISOs live in a different world: They've got it all to deal with.  We're there with them across all of it, because that's the true reality.