Most system integrators (SIs) I meet in my travels would agree that for them, the security industry is not booming; rather it has stagnated. For many years now SIs have been stuck in an era of small incremental technological advances, declining revenue and thinning margins. Everyone misses the good old days when there was less competition and most customers were greenfield sites.
These integrators ask me “What’s the next big thing that will change our industry?” To which I retort: “What was the last big thing?”
They invariably cite the introduction of CCTV, specifically analogue cameras, matrix switchers and recorders such as VCRs and DVRs. They also mention electronic card access systems. A few perceive IP video as revolutionary, but most regard it as evolutionary, because it was essentially a newer way of doing the same old thing. Still others say that megapixel cameras and video analytics were pivotal.
Then I ask them, “Have any of these technologies really helped you to grow your bottom line substantially?” Which usually solicits silence as they ponder about how the last big thing wasn’t really so big after all.
In my role at Nice I conduct PSIM workshops with system integrators across the country. I spend a great deal of time meeting with current and prospective business partners and educating them on PSIM.
At the beginning of each workshop, the common opinion in the room is that PSIM is just an integration platform which brings physical security systems together. Another common opinion is that PSIM is expensive. Many don’t understand the value of PSIM because it’s so unlike the traditional physical security systems they’re used to working with — like VMS, access control, etc. We talk about how, for integrators, PSIM can be a source of:
• More revenue – PSIM projects range from $300K to $2M depending on scope and phasing. And, the SI doesn’t have to go it alone. For example, we will work with the SI to develop and co-implement each opportunity, even conducting joint visioning sessions for the first few projects until the SI is self-proficient.
• More profit – Configuring a PSIM and writing and maintaining the Standard Operating Procedures is more profitable for an SI compared to comparatively low margins on cameras, servers and storage.
• More services – Unlike a VMS or access control projects, PSIM deployments often bring in additional service revenue from SOP development, gateways, business consulting, etc. Over time, PSIM projects are like evergreens, expanding with the addition of new sub-systems, locations, sensors and users. PSIM systems often evolve into the very heart of the customer’s security and operational enterprise.
• More stickiness – Customer technology preferences come and go, but once a PSIM solution is implemented, customers typically evolve and expand their use of it – and if you’re an SI, that means you’ll always be relevant.
• More value – PSIM elevates the SI to the role of trusted advisor. This consultative approach usually means the SI needs to bring on a few new people, as it’s entirely different from a product sale. But the flipside is, this sets the SI on the path toward a positive future, rather than one that is constantly in decline.
• More growth – Physical security budgets typically fall under the Security Director, who increasingly leans on IT for co-funding for software, servers and storage. Because security is viewed as a cost centre, this means that SIs typically have access to limited budgets. Because PSIM can address organisational needs beyond physical security, it opens the door for SIs to sell into other areas of the organisation which have deeper financial resources.
Usually, as we discuss these points, I can literally see the moment of epiphany on SI’s faces as they realise that PSIM might just be the next big thing they’ve been waiting for.