ISC West 2017 – A Study in Lost Opportunity

Future of Physical Security

Regardless of a forward thinking agenda, how can our largest trade organizations (Security Industry Association (SIA) and the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS)) actually influence the direction of the industry toward relevance and growth? Is a shared vision important to our success? Can a trade that is so fragmented survive in it’s current form? I guess I am old school. I still believe in giving back to an industry that has helped support my family for over 30 years. I have no idea who will listen to me, but here it goes…

ISC West 2017

This was a conference marked by forward thinking education in an industry woefully far behind. There were many speakers presenting Cybersecurity topics, but I could not find even ONE CYBERSECURITY RELATED VENDOR on the show floor. This isn’t the fault of SIA, it is a reflection of an industry in denial. This is a trade where the majority of contractors have virtually no understanding of basic threat analysis and risk assessment, so cannot effectively provide a needs-based approach to their clients. Even worse, is  our failure to catch up to the IP network space. Physical Security is an enormously competitive and fractured space. We have Security Contractors, Burglar Alarm Contractors, Security Integrators, Fire Alarm Contractors, Locksmiths, Door Hardware Dealers, Network Contractors, Structured Cabling Contractors, Building Automation Contractors and A-V Contractors all fighting for their slice of the Video Surveillance, Access Control and Intrusion Alarm markets. Which provider is offering the end-user a preferred value message?

The two hottest topics for end-users today is: Cybersecurity and Integrated System Interoperability. Little was shown on the show floor in either of these categories. How could there be such a disconnect between users and manufacturers? Simple… Information Technology is now driving the future of the Physical Security space and no one is willing to accept this truth.

I presented at ISC West with an educational program that included Integration and Cybersecurity topics. Around 40 attended and by show of hand, roughly 35 were I.T. Directors, or I.T. Department Heads of some kind. This same presentation drew over 200 at the Winter National Bicsi (Structured Cabling) Conference in Tampa earlier this year. An I.T. Director approached me after the ISC West presentation and asked if I could refer a Security Contractor that actually new what the “I” and the “T” in I.T. actually stands for!

The Psychology of Failed Business

I have run businesses before. I understand all to well the critical nature of driving revenue and protecting profitability, but if we don’t stop for a second and look-up and forward… we may find the company we thought was humming along has suddenly lost its legs! I realize these are new influencers affecting buying decisions and we don’t know their world… I get these are scary solutions that hold unforeseen margin loss in their depths, but what happens if we do nothing? I will tell you – Physical Protection Systems will become an IP Network (data) function! The concept of “Physical Security” will become a specialty consulting field working for I.T. Directors!

I have been watching fear destroy businesses for almost 20 years now. I have seen macro-economic forces impact businesses (the Great Recession), but also factors that could be controlled, like: material distribution companies that have failed to transition to installation contracting models, or mechanical solutions companies unable to grasp electronics. The examples are all around us today.

IOT, Cloud Computing and Mobile Data

These issues are not going away! Denial is not a business strategy. We all have personal electronics that make it very clear where this is headed. So, stop for a second… and look-up. Train your sales people in I.T. Infrastructure Hardening strategies and Network Data Security. Pursue consultative relationships with your clients. Lead the industry and keep us relevant. If there is anything I can do to assist, please reach out.

If you would like to discuss this, or other topics, please contact me via LinkedIn. Also, take a look at my LinkedIn Discussion Board Security Convergence, or Twitter feed @DLIPTech.

This site is maintained by Douglas Levin, PSP, AHC, LEED AP. It is intended to be a personal professional blog. The opinions expressed herein reflect my personal viewpoint/ideas and do not in any way represent the position of any other person, organization or company.

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About Doug Levin

Doug is a certified (PSP, AHC, LEED AP), experienced business development professional with a focus on the physical security industry. With a diverse background that includes delivering products & services through multiple channels (manufacturing, distribution, specialty & general contracting), he brings a broad industry perspective that adds greater value for his clients. Having decades of experience with sales engineering and design-build of low-voltage automated systems, he also offers a strong emphasis on technical knowledge and consulting services. His career has included responsibility for: profit & loss, operations and sales management with front-line experience in estimating, sales/marketing, project management and developing security design documents & spec writing.
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