Security systems integrators will need increased IT expertise in 2018

by Matthew J. Ladd, The Protection Bureau

The security market is very active right now. Business is strong, according to most of the people that I talk to in the industry. In 2017, we at The Protection Bureau had one of our best years ever revenue-wise. Because of a strong economy, businesses are spending money on security.

2017 growing trends

The trends that happened in 2017 vary. One trend that is growing is the national account concept. This is because clients are deploying more and more enterprise-level systems and taking advantage of network-based systems.

Another trend this past year is growth of the IP video market, a strong technology in the market because and where many integrators generate their revenue. We also saw many clients with older surveillance systems invest in updating their technology, such as replacing older IP-based systems with newer versions and taking advantage of analytics and greater recording options and storage solutions. Many of our customers also invested in updating their access control systems by replacing their older Weigand cards with more secure card formats.

Unexpected challenges

One of the unexpected challenges we ran into this past year related to technical roadblocks that integrators hit with products. For example, a camera manufacturer may increase the capabilities of the camera, but the capabilities of the recording systems have not caught up. Or, the access control system has to integrate with other systems, but the application programming interface (API) is not finished. That has perhaps been one of the biggest surprises this year as an integrator.

Looking ahead to 2018

The economy looks like it will be as strong in 2018 as it was in 2017. I expect that cybersecurity will continue to have a strong impact on the security market because there are greater network security issues. It’s important that security systems integrators understand that the cybersecurity impact is going to be huge in 2018.

Some other impacts I expect to take shape involve the IP camera market. There is currently a battle going on as to who can provide the lowest-cost camera. This means that integrators are going to have to watch their margins. For example, if the integrator buys a camera for $500 and sells it for $1,000 that is a good margin. However, if that camera now cost $100, and the mark-up is $200, that will greatly reduce profits.

Strong IT service providers will win

The biggest winners in the market will be those who position their companies to be strong IT service providers. The trends are changing very quickly, and security systems integrators who are geared towards providing a high level of technical expertise are going to be more successful.There is currently a battle going on as to who can provide the lowest-cost camera. This means that integrators are going to have to watch their margins

Business at The Protection Bureau is up 19 percent over last year. We also completed projects in 39 states and one country, so our national accounts business is extremely strong. Our successes have been in the organisation, project management and sales of national accounts. The challenge going forward is to keep up that level of revenue, profitability and manpower. If you talk to any integrator around the country and ask them what is your biggest headache, they will tell you it’s finding good people trained on IT and networks.

Certified Security Project Manager qualifications

2017 was also an extremely strong year for Security-Net, of which The Protection Bureau is a member, especially relating to the national account work we do with each other. Last year we achieved $17.8 million in revenues with national level projects and expect to beat that number in 2018. The quality of the members of Security-Net continues to grow.

We are also really pleased that all of our security project managers are becoming a Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) through the Security Industry Association. This is going to have a positive impact on Security-Net and every member’s business.

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