SSN exclusive Q&A with ESX Chairman George De Marco

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05/22/2019

With ESX 2019 just a few weeks away, SSN caught up with ESX Chairman George De Marco to talk about the upcoming conference and expo in Indianapolis, June 3-6, his views on the industry and what he thinks are the greatest challenges and opportunities within security today.

SSN: As the Premier Media Sponsor for the ESX Conference again this year, Security Systems News is excited to support and participate in the conference and expo. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s ESX Conference?

De Marco: Every year, I look forward to reconnecting with security professionals from across North American to get insights on their business challenges and near-term opportunities. However, the Indy Experience is top of mind for me. I’m very excited to head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a tour and an opportunity to jump in a pace car for a quick trip around the track, especially just after the Indy 500 takes place at the Brickyard.

SSN: What do you think are the some of the key benefits of attending ESX? What do attendees have to look forward to this year?

De Marco: The key benefits for security professionals are education, networking opportunities, and quality conversations with exhibitors. For education, our peer-developed and peer-delivered content represents some of the best in the industry … it’s an opportunity for security professionals to gain knowledge about the trends, opportunities and challenges in the industry, including learning best practices from industry thought leaders. Our networking opportunities allow security professionals to spend time with their peers and colleagues in informal settings to talk shop and allow for deep conversations on how to solve everyday problems with real solutions. In addition, the exhibit hall is where dealers and integrators will have quality conversations on ways to grow revenues and improve profits.

SSN: You have some exciting keynote speakers this year. Can you talk a bit about each one and what they bring to a show like ESX?

De Marco: Every Main Stage session brings something special to ESX, whether its inspirational, business-focused, or addressing the changing competitive landscape. The OpenXchange begins the Main Stage journey with a drone company founder who has a unique perspective on security as well as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence from Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that specializes in investing in incubation, early stage and growth companies.

The Opening Keynote, Dr. Rick Rigsby, will highlight a profound message about rediscovering what is really important and meaningful for organizations to consider. The General Session centers on a compelling message from Kevin Brown, called the Hero Effect, giving us insights on what it takes to reach beyond what is required and do something remarkable — personally and professionally. And our Closing Keynote focuses on taking security to the next level. A Secret Security agent and a Director of Safety from the motorsports racing company will illustrate a process to change our perspective on how we approach security, especially in the workplace and in schools. In addition, during the Closing Keynote, we will recognize recipients of ESA’s Scholarship and TMA’s Public Safety Award, including SIAC’s PDQ and Moody awards.

SSN What do you think are the top trends — technology and otherwise — impacting, shaping and affecting the industry today?

De Marco: I think the future of interaction with security systems and connected devices is beginning to take effect, from voice-recognition and voice-enabled technologies. As the interaction of voice evolves into a more natural experience for humans with their computer counterparts, the adoption of smart home devices and security-related products will grow within the home, at work, and on the road.

The definition of monitoring is being redefined beyond just dispatching police or fire services. As next-gen monitoring evolves, new services are being developed that provide consumers and businesses with personalized monitoring capabilities for their specific needs, like self-directed and on demand monitoring options and concierge-type services.

SSN: What are some of the most notable challenges — disruptive factors — for security pros today and how will ESX address these and help them to overcome them?

De Marco: I believe false alarms continue to impact the industry, highlighting the need to use technology to find a better method that significantly reduces false dispatches. With the help of video using AI and machine learning capabilities, metadata that brings context to data received from connected sensors and mobile devices and next-gen monitoring processing, the combined methodologies will greatly reduce false dispatches over time.

Labor shortage is causing some companies to tap down their growth initiatives. As dealers and integrators struggle to find a qualified workforce in traditional channels, I think progressive companies are looking outside these channels to attract new employees and are reevaluating their organization’s culture, purpose and training to be more aligned to attract next-gen workforce.

Industry disruptors are beginning to evolve their offerings to be more mainstream which is changing consumer buying behaviors for security and safety products and services for homes and apartment communities. This trend is having traditional dealers and integrators reassess the residential channel and consider pivoting to the commercial marketplace.

Lastly, the 3g sunset is looming on the horizon and is a major concern for industry professionals. The cost to upgrade communications protocols and rolling a truck are expensive. It also negatively affects customer retention as consumers seek alternative solutions for their security needs, causing attrition rates to spike.

Our educational tracks deliver ideas and real-world solutions that help mitigate the effects of disruptive technology, offer innovative go-to-market strategies, and survive the current challenging workforce environment.

SSN: What do you think is the overall state of the industry and the forecast moving forward?

De Marco: I believe the industry has some interesting challenges ahead, especially as the competitive landscape unfolds. Disruptive companies, like Amazon and SimpliSafe, as well as the 3g sunset, margin compression, creation multiples, and the cost of customer retention programs play a major factor into lenders and buyers’ valuation methodology, which are all beginning to contribute to downward pressure for acquiring RMR contracts. In recent years, there seems to be a pivot towards commercial security and fire systems by traditional dealers and alarm companies.

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