Inside the PSA Security Network
WESTMINSTER, Colo.—As the PSA Security Network—one of the largest electronic security cooperatives—gets ready for its annual security conference, TEC 2017 in Westminster, Colo., May 7-11, Security Systems News caught up with the organization’s president and CEO, Bill Bozeman, and director of marketing, Kim Garcia, to get their thoughts on the show, the network and the integrator community as a whole.
The PSA Security Network is owned by integrators throughout North America, and combined, PSA members boast more than 300 branch locations, employ nearly 6,000 security industry professionals and are responsible for more than $3.5 billion annually in security, fire and life safety installations.
In addition to a comprehensive education lineup and training and certification opportunities, PSA TEC will showcase more than 100 leading security and audio-visual product manufacturers at the exhibit hall, open for one day only on May 10.
SSN: How is PSA TEC 2017 shaping up? What are some the highlights of this year’s conference?
BOZEMAN: PSA TEC is shaping up really well, and we are excited about the show. In terms of numbers, we do a good a fairly sophisticated job of comparing years, and one thing we will not have trouble with is head count. We have about a thousand people coming, but we don’t want this show to be like ISC or ASIS—that is not the point. This is a different type of show—a truly unique event—that is really more of an education and networking conference than a trade show. It says a lot about the historic success of the show that we don’t have to beg people to come, and I am speaking of integrators, as well as industry leaders and manufacturers.
One misnomer about the show that I would like to clear up is that people think the show is only for PSA members, but actually the show is open to everyone—we have been open for almost 10 years now.
And we have a fabulous education program planned this year for integrators. One area that we are really focused on is cybersecurity, which will be prominent at our show and we have taken a leading position on that. In addition, the traditional physical security education sessions and programs are all still a major focus and have been added to and improved on. I don’t know of any show that runs as many education classes as we do simultaneously across each of the different tracks.
We also get into enterprise-level certification. You won’t see manufacturers doing this type of training at traditional trade shows, but they do it at PSA TEC.
GARCIA: That really is one of the things that sets this event apart, is that we really focus on educating the entire team who work for systems integration companies. So we are offering classes for the sales and marketing folks, for management and leadership, for operations and even the technicians who have their feet on the ground. We are really trying to offer a breadth of classes and a lot of our owner integrators bring their entire team to TEC. This is the one event that they attend each year and that is because they can bring most of their company to the event and get that training all in one place.
This year, we are getting into the pro A/V market as we are starting to see that crossover between security and A/V installations and that integration piece happening. So we have added an A/V Communications track to TEC this year to bring that trend to the forefront so that integrators can start tapping into that market as well, if it makes sense for their business.
BOZEMAN: The A/V track is a big one and we have been doing our due diligence for more than 20 months now concerning PSA aggressively getting into the pro A/V market on the commercial side. So we have made a multi-million dollar commitment to this business model, and we’ve got a full education track on this at PSA TEC.
GARCIA: We’ve also added a track for procurement professionals, so helping them manage the supply chain better and get better at that whole purchasing process.
The other new thing is we are having what we are calling “RMR-focused” sessions that will cross multiple tracks, and focus on how systems integrators can start incorporating RMR and make that a reality for their company. We have been talking about this topic for a while now here at PSA but now we have a whole lineup of sessions with practical applications that people can use and build into their business to really start changing their business model to incorporate more of that RMR as well.
Another highlight is the featured keynote, “Cybersecurity Risks and Recommendations – Where Your Focus Needs to Be,” presented by Matthew Rosenquit, cybersecurity strategist for Intel Corporation. He will be covering the top three security risks that he is seeing in the security industry, and how integrators can be part of the solution for the cyberrisk and not part of the problem. And as it relates to cybersecurity content, we have 16 cyber-focused sessions at TEC, and more than 100 sessions in total.
In addition, TEC offers specific training and certifications from manufacturers, as Bill mentioned, as well as from SIA, ASIS and CompTIA.
SSN: Can you provide an update on the PSA Security Network? What is the vision for the organization?
BOZEMAN: The vision is to be the most valuable partner that our integrators have, which is what we strive to do. And what that means is we need to provide not just boxes, but a whole host of services that make them the most competitive they can be. That is why when I was an integrator I joined PSA, because I realized that it could help me be more competitive and it just wasn’t just buying things—it was the network, the national account capability, and in some cases it was products that I couldn’t get anywhere but through PSA. In other cases it was being able to go to people when I had issues or problems, whether it was legal, insurance or whatever. So we do our best to bring integrators these tools, and that really is our purpose.
We are not an integrator but our whole purpose is to support them. We are not here to make a big profit and everything that we do we put back into the organization offering new products, new tools and new education to help them become better. It has worked really well for 40 years, and our growth is better than it has ever been.
There is this misconception that PSA is only for a certain size integrator, which is just not the case. For many years people thought PSA was just for the small integrator and in the last five to 10 years people have been saying that we are just for the big integrators, which just isn’t the case at all. We offer services for all of the different size integrators—the large integrators, the medium size ones doing $10- to $15 million all the way down to the smaller integrators doing a couple of million. They all need different things. Some of them buy the same camera or go to the same education class but a lot of them have specific needs so we have support services tailored to each group—the small, medium and larger integrators.
We really are the cream of the crop in systems integrators in the U.S.
SSN: Do you keep an eye on emerging trends on the integrator side?
BOZEMAN: We keep an eye on trends, because many times our integrators don’t have as much time as they would like to focus on that. So we focus on new technology and trends and I spend time on that every day. We focus on the managed services nonstop—which ones are applicable to our niche and which ones are not. It is very different from the burg business, and people tend to clump in all of electronic security, which doesn’t work; we know better.
There is lot of convergence going on right now, especially on the cybersecurity side. I don’t want to beat that to death, but you won’t be able to be a competitive integrator if you ignore that cyber piece. No one is going to want to do business with you in the future and that future is very close to now.
There is a lot of convergence going on right now in the network, which is why we are getting into pro A/V. The pro A/V business is very similar to the security systems integration business—they are integrators with a lot of the same needs and skill sets. So there is a lot of crossover there. We are seeing facility owners who don’t want to have five or six different contractors or integrators—one doing A/V, one doing access control, one doing cameras, etc.—so this ability to provide multiple services is something that we are really on top of.
We are also very involved with robotics and drones. We’ve got a session at PSA TEC and we are signed up with partners on the ground-based robotics that are just being released and coming out in beta. Same thing with drones and we are also working with a drone-detection company. So the robotics business is something that is really growing and it is going to have an impact on all of the integrators whether they choose to participate or not.
GARCIA: At PSA TEC last year we announced and rolled out the Roboalliance, a forum for technology partners and industry experts in robotics, surveillance and security to advance the understanding and awareness of the autonomous robotics marketplace. We have been partners with Sharp [the founding sponsor of Roboalliance] for some time and do a lot of work with them through the alliance to raise awareness of robotics, best practices, what is trending and where is this big new thing going to take the industry.
SSN: Beyond cybersecurity, what are some of the top challenges facing integrators today?
BOZEMAN: The commoditization on the video side—not on the access control side, but on the video side—is pretty ugly. It wasn’t many years ago that you could install 10 cameras and have a good size project, but now you can purchase these products for what seems like pennies, so that is having a major, game-changing impact on the integrator community. There is a certain segment of the market for end users who simply buy on price, which is unfortunate, but it is the case, and the quality of some of the inexpensive products is somewhat decent, so that presents a challenge as well.
And on the high-end, it is also not easy to keep up with new technology, while staying up-to-date with existing and new certifications, which is where PSA comes in. PSA Security Network was founded on that very premise of education and training for integrators, and we continue to provide that valuable resource today.