What is the biggest missed opportunity of security systems integration?
There are many benefits of security systems, and some may be more obvious than others. Certainly, when choosing security systems to be installed, end users have goals and expectations for the systems in mind. But are there other benefits or opportunities that customers may not have thought of? It’s an interesting question, so we asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: Considering security systems integration, what is the biggest (or most common) missed opportunity?
A common security systems integration missed opportunity is failing to make full use of the abilities available. This is actually a lot more common with larger organisations, where the complexities involved mean that the scope of integration can be considerable and yet often goes significantly underused. For example, a large business may have a considerable estate (perhaps over a number of sites) and numerous buildings control systems in place. Integrated security management solutions work very well with these systems (such as fire control or environmental controls), but often this will be confined to a limited number of sites or internal locations. This is a shame as integrated security systems offer considerable benefits and cost savings – for example, automatically monitoring and controlling heating and ventilation usage by occupancy needs. Equally, if this works well over a single site, why not use it across an entire organisation and reap the full benefits?
It may sound simple, but more often than not, the biggest missed opportunity for security systems integration is the potential for more effective, streamlined integrations among subsystems. Customers are increasingly becoming solutions-focused and are looking to unify disparate installations through software-based platforms that foster open integration as their businesses grow. These centralised systems are also useful for making connections beyond security, such as lighting or climate control in building management. Open-platform video management solutions that facilitate installations through proactive technology partnerships are making access to joint solutions much easier for integrators, and end users in many industries will continue to see a return on investment of these solutions, thus continuing to drive integrators to meet the needs of their diverse customer base.
Systems integrators historically have built their businesses on selling, installing, and servicing large-scale, complex enterprise security solutions. The missed opportunity when executing these deals has largely been not tying customers to a service contract that includes monitoring installed equipment, which generates a recurring monthly revenue (RMR) revenue stream. Consequently, systems integrators start every new year hunting for new customers and trying to sell additional equipment to existing customers in order to achieve their financial goals. In contrast, their colleagues in the related alarm monitoring industry have built their revenue structure heavily on an RMR model. These RMR-fuelled businesses start each year with a solid book of high-gross-margin RMR revenue. Further, they’re not relying on a large net number of new customers. With growing acceptance of Cloud-based services and a breadth of available value-add services, there’s no excuse integration companies should not have an aggressive RMR focus.
There are significant opportunities to provide clients with exceptional service while also engaging in recurring monthly revenue for the integrator. For example, maintenance agreements, or hosted access control solutions, allow security systems integrators the ability to provide fully managed security to clients. Another missed opportunity can be furthering training and continuing education on the products they're selling. Many manufacturers have both online and in-person training programmes in place for end users. Not only do these training opportunities give systems integrators the opportunity to learn the platforms inside and out, they are actively creating value for customers by delivering the best possible knowledge base for educating end users on the functionality of the products they sell.
Oftentimes, integrators are still too focused on selling technology rather than selling solutions. In today’s market, the word “security” encompasses the protection of corporate networks, personnel, and sensitive data. Integrators need to understand this trend as well as the specific business and security challenges their customers face. Executive leaders recognise the potential of costly and damaging disruptions if risk is not appropriately controlled. It is obvious the lines are blurring between various once-siloed departments (cyber, IT and traditional security), and there is a significant opportunity for advanced systems integration firms to drive this conversation. As a trusted partner, integrators can help propel the dialogue between IT and physical security leaders to help these teams learn how to collaborate. But to accomplish this, integrators must take a more consultative role and invest to increase their knowledge base to understand how security devices can affect the integrity of the network.
In regards to video surveillance, integrators are missing out on the opportunity to give their customers a cost-effective way to significantly increase their video coverage through panoramic 360-degree cameras. Panoramic cameras can provide as much coverage as four to five regular cameras. While some integrators may be concerned about the reduction in revenue on hardware, the good ones have figured out ways to leverage the enhanced coverage by complementing the solution with value-added products and services such as those enabled by the video data. As we have seen in the IT world, integrators must come up with business models in which they make a large portion of their revenue from integration services and technical expertise, rather from margins on reselling hardware.
Integrators need to be more savvy on how they can meet their customers’ IT and surveillance goals, from both a technology and services perspective. Being knowledgeable about new innovations can help integrators sell infrastructure, keeping that piece of business rather than losing server sales to a customer’s internal IT department. Integrators are tasked with ensuring surveillance customers can benefit from best practices, and solutions proven in the world of IT offer significant benefit. Now is the time to transform the customer’s surveillance environments while exceeding the IT customers’ performance expectations. Increasingly, resellers will need to consider specifying more advanced IT solutions than those traditionally relied on to store video. Virtualisation and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) are terms modern integrators need to know. These approaches are experiencing new levels of demand because of the significant limitations of DAS-based platforms, such as NVRs and DVRs.
Our expert panellists point to several possible missed opportunities. They include using systems to their full potential, more streamlined integration, service contracts and implementing new innovations. Educating customers to such opportunities are yet another way integrators and installers can add value to the resulting security system implementation. Customers certainly expect the full value of the money they spend on a new system.
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