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 experienceOne 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.

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Arjan Bouter Sales Director, Nedap Security Management

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

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