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PSA-TEC

The robots are coming

Sharp Robotics Business Development is developing robots for security; Sharp is also founding sponsor of new Robolliance group
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05/11/2016

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—The robots are coming, and they represent one of “the biggest game changers” in decades for security integrators, according to PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman.

PSA-TEC 2016 roundup: M&A trends; The cyber opportunity; Robots

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There was not a free chair in the Lakehouse conference room here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo. yesterday afternoon during two panel discussions that addressed topics such as: M&A, cybersecurity and managed services.

John Mack Imperial Capital said that there’s been “more significant M&A activity in the past year than in the previous 30 years.” He called that “generally good news” and predicted M&A activity will continue. He noted that new entrants into the security industry are not “taking share away” from others. Rather, new entrants are helping the security industry grow, and they’re bringing “new and interesting technology.”

NetOne’s Dave Carter said the flurry of M&A can be a concern to NetOne if a member company (there are 28) is acquired by an outsider (as happened when Safeguard Security was acquired by SAFE)  However, that is not normally the case. “For our companies, in the regions they operate, they are the acquirers," Carter said.

Brent Franklin of Unlimited Technologies looks at all of the M&A activity as an opportunity. “While the big guys are turning the battleship in the dock … [Unlimited can] pop up into that space and serve their customers,” he said.

Carey Boethel of Securadyne agreed: “When big companies are consolidating and merging they focus strategies internally. …They take their eye off the ball.”

Michael Meridith of SEi concurred,  “customers fall through the cracks,” he said. And, there's more good talent looking for jobs, he added.

Jeff Nunberg of ISS pointed out that many of the recent buyers are venture capitalist firms who “expect a return on investment in three- to five years.” As they build a business, he said, they also “suck the live out of it … which makes it hard to deliver service.” In terms of vendor M&A, Nunberg said: “We have zero control over that,” so he does not worry about it.

All of the panelist admitted concern about cybersecurity—keeping their own companies and customers as safe as possible from a breach. A couple speakers also noted that most security installation companies are not taking cybersecurity concerns seriously enough. Those companies likely will not take it seriously until there’s an incident.

Imperial Capital’s Mack and Michael Kaiser National Cyber Security Alliance talked about cybersecurity as a possible money maker for physical security integrators.

Mack said adding cybersecurity services is a “huge opportunity for people in this room.” Small and medium-sized businesses “have a lot to do to better protect their information, data, and networks.” He suggested that security integrators partner with cybersecurity experts. That would make them very valuable to customers.  “When you upgrade physical security systems [for a customer] at the same time talk to them about how to update their information security infrastructure.” Mack said if he were to get back into the operations side of security, this is where he’d focus.

Kaiser agreed that “one of the biggest gaps in cybersecurity right now is the SMB … they’re not making cybersecurity a priority,” he said. They need a provider to help them “secure their network and their security devices.”

How should you educate yourself on cybersecurity? Attend the RSA show in San Francisco, Mack said. Do your homework about companies attending RSA. Many of them really want to know about physical security. “I guarantee you there will be guys who will be incredibly interested in talking to you," Mack said.

PSA Security is also an excellent resource to educate yourself on cybersecurity he said, noting that Andrew Lanning would be presenting the initial PSA Cybersecurity playbook at PSA-TEC on May 12. Here’s information on that presentation.

“Be part of the solution,” Lanning said.

Managed services make your commercial companies more valuable, Mack said. In addition, he said that acquirers are losing their appetite for security companies that derive all of their RMR from residential accounts. Buyers don’t like the high creation costs on the resi side and the “commoditization of residential security."

“There is no question if you show up [to sell your company] with more RMR, you have a higher valuation,” Mack said. “Guys who show up with a mix of RMR with a commercial focused business will be higher valued than the gyu with the same about of RMR from a residential business,” he said.

There is technology out there now that makes managed services much easier, Mack said. And the financing model for managed services is easier to manage than the model on the resi side. “You don’t have to go upside down on the direct labor and materials,” he said. “But the selling proposition to the customer and how you define that customer and sell to them has to be different,” Mack said.

He said it is probably a good idea to create a new division, or even a new company, to do managed services. Other speakers agreed.  

Robots were another topic of discussion at PSA-TEC. Sharp announced its new SRBD. Here’s a link to this story. A key SRBD executive—Mike Kobelin—is well known to PSA Security members and PSA-TEC attendees, as he is a former PSA board president.

One of the first people in the security industry to talk to me about security robotics was Joe Lynch of Minuteman. Here’s a story I wrote a couple years ago where I spoke to 10 top integrators about tech trends.  Scroll to the end to read Lynch’s remarks. One year after I wrote that story, I asked Lynch about aerial drones and he said there were many questions about legislation and regulation, an obstacle that PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman told me will hold back development of that technology for the short term. I ran into Lynch today and asked him about aerial drones. He said he’s been able to figure out the FAA regulations and is optimistic about the possibilities. Minuteman owns an aerial drone and is using it in beta projects currently.

Ray Dean of ASI  was at the Sharp robotics press conference and was eager to know when the company’s product would be available.

Robots: the next big thing? They'll be at PSA-TEC

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

PSA-TEC will have some new attendees this year: Robots.

There will be drones and ground-based robots at PSA Security’s annual education and training event PSA-TEC, which will takes place May 8-13 in Westminster, Colo.

Bill Bozeman, PSA Security CEO, believes security robotics is the next big opportunity—and challenge—for the security industry.

“We’ll have three sessions [related to robotics] at TEC,” Bozeman said. He noted that PSA Security led the industry on the cybersecurity front, holding its Cyber Security Congress early in 2015.

“We like to start the conversation at TEC about what the future will look like [in terms of technology],” he said.

In the days leading up to PSA-TEC, Bozeman will be attending a drone conference in New Orleans, where he’ll get a close look at aerial, ground and marine-based drones.

Bozeman said that he expects Security Robotics to be the next committee created by PSA Security.

PSA currently has five committees, relatively recently created, that explore topics of interest to security integrators. The committees are tasked with sharing information at PSA-TEC, through the PSA website and elsewhere, coming up “playbooks” for integrators and developing best practices and standards to save integrators time, money and resources.

The five committees are: Project Management Committee, Sales & Marketing Committee, Technical Committee, Leadership Committee, and the  Cyber Committee.

It seemed like everyone was talking about cybersecurity at ISC West. I had a chance to speak to Andrew Lanning, co-founder of integration firm IST, and chairman of the PSA Security Cyber Committee, at the show. Lanning’s group plans to share its preliminary cybersecurity playbook with integrators at PSA-TEC in May.

Lanning’s group is looking at processes and products with the goal of helping integrators, from the super IT-savvy integrators, to those who are just starting to educate themselves about IT best practices and cybersecurity, he said.

Anthony Berticelli, PSA director of education, oversees all of the committees. “There will be nine committee-led session at TEC,” Berticelli said. “There will be peer-to-peer sessions and roundtable sessions and several of the sessions will overlap [committee jurisdiction],” he said. 

PSA-TEC is open to everyone in the security industry. One does not have to be a PSA member to attend PSA-TEC. Here’s a link to information about the conference.

 

PSA-TEC: Integrators on how to adapt and thrive

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—The subtitle for this year’s “State of the Integrator” panel discussion at PSA-TEC was “Adapt or Die.”

Despite the foreboding subtitle, the panelists' outlook was decidedly optimistic ... for some integrators anyway.

Panelists agreed that independent integrators who do not embrace changing technology and update to service-centric business models will not survive, but Jorge Lozano, president of systems integration firm Condortech, pointed out why independent integrators are ideally suited to adapt and thrive.

“We’re nimble … and this is the time for nimble companies,” he said. If you look at government regulations, the threat of cyberhacks and new technology as opportunities, Lozano said, “the horizon looks good.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Bill Bozeman, PSA Security CEO, and included Lozano, Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology, Ron Oetjen, SVP of Securadyne, and Christine Lanning, president of IST. It took place May 5 here, where PSA-TEC is ongoing this week. The event is attended by independent integrators of all sizes, and includes more than 100 classes and panel discussions.

Other speakers agreed with Lozano. Ron Oetjen said Securadyne’s growth strategy involved acquisitions, organic growth and this year the company has invested in a consulting division. However, the company’s growth strategy is not etched in stone: “Leadership is willing to talk about it [the best ways to grow and overcome obstacles] and re-write the book if we need to," Oetjen said.

Christine Lanning said it’s important to realize that top company executives “don’t know it all.” Lanning uses “the collective knowledge base” of information she gathers from a number of sources such as PSA Security, ASIS as well as from groups outside the security industry. She also seeks mentors “who I want to mimic or emulate … that has been extremely helpful to us.”

Bozeman asked the panelists which vertical markets the companies work in and which are the most profitable.  

Subject matter experts are important said Brent Franklin, especially when you’re working in regulated industries. Unlimited Technology “takes a team approach in attacking new business opportunities,” sending out staff members who best understand the particular vertical. Those staff members need to know more than the applicable regulations, he said. “They need to understand who [the customers] are, how the business works, what the challenges are.”

Oetjen said Securadyne “encourages sales teams to become experts in one of the six vertical markets we’ve identified.” In terms of profit margins, Oetjen said the “data center market is the strongest margin-wise” and they have to follow a number of regulations. “Number two is easily power and utility companies. Number three is the oil and gas guys … but that market is the most volatile,” he said. “Everything is tied to the gas price,” he said.

IST works in a lot of verticals including local, county and state government; DOD work; and, top commercial companies in Hawaii.

As a small company, IST relies heavily on manufacturers for required training and certifications, she said. The company has also started to do “lunch-and-learns and user-group meetings [for customers and potential customers]…. where we bring the technology to them.” This gives IST an opportunity to talk to end users and the end users in turn “get invested in the technology and nine times out of ten, they stick with you,” she said.

The most profitable vertical for IST tends to be the large commercial businesses IST works with because they tend to chose an integrator based on expertise rather than price.

Lozano said Condortech’s is really only in one major vertical, government, but that also involves hospitals, education and border security.

Bozeman asked Franklin and Oetjen to talk about the key to delivering novel and unique technology?

Franklin said his team is constantly scouting technology, but it’s important to stay connected to the customer so you “realize what the next steps are with that customer.” Also, “getting the manufacturer involved with the customer is not a bad thing,” he said.

Confronting novel technology is something to think about Oetjen said. “What are we going to do when there’s only one smart camera out there [instead of many]? When one smart camera replaces fire systems because the camera [can detect fire]?” In order to get a customer to “rely on you to deliver a novel solution and trust you to deploy and execute the solution, [the relationship] starts way back … you educate and consult with the customer over time,” he said.

“You prove your thought-leadership,” Oetjen said. “You need to talk to and educate your customer at the same time, not just send invoices and ask, ‘What other camera or door can I do?’”

What about developing a culture of innovation in a company? How should systems integrators go about doing that?

A culture of innovation starts with company leadership, Lanning said.  “Are you showing passion, curiosity, adaptability?”  It’s important to “evaluate yourself and how you come across to your employees.”

Lanning said IST has an all-company meeting every Monday and every third Monday they do a team building or other educational exercise. She also send weekly emails focused on innovation and inspiration to all employees.

Lozano concurred with Lanning saying that we’re on the cusp of a new industrial revolution. Company leaders need to be doers. “Leadership is an action, not a position,” he said.

PSA-TEC tackles cybersecurity with education, spotlight sessions, new certification at annual event

Special educational sessions include ‘Adapt or Die’ integrator panel discussion
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03/13/2015

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—“Think, explore, connect” is the theme of PSA-TEC, PSA Security Network’s annual education and training event that will take place here May 3-8.

Vivint creates CSO position, hires federal cyber expert Joe Albaugh

New Vivint CSO Albaugh was security chief at DOT, FAA
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07/30/2014

PROVO, Utah—Joe Albaugh, who today joined Vivint in the newly created position of chief security officer, brings significant cyber expertise, having previously served as chief information security officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation and also at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Women and security technology

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I’m here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo., where today I had a chance to catch up with Christine Lanning, president of systems integration firm IST.

Christine and her husband Andrew (CEO) founded IST, a PSA Security owner, in 1998. Here’s a story I wrote about the company a couple years ago.  This year, Christine was honored as one of this year’s Women’s Security Council 2014 Women of the Year.

IST just finished moving its headquarters to a new facility that they own, (and saving 30 percent owning rather than leasing, thanks mostly to favorable conditions for an SBA loan.)

It was a year-long transition for IST to deal with permits and build out the new headquarters. “That meant we were without a demo or training space [in house] for a year,” she said.

Christine said they didn’t realize how much they missed having those capabilities in house, for business and training, of course, but also because she’s a techy.

I asked Christine why she got interested in technology.

Her interest started early. Technology was something that was promoted and valued in her home as a child, she said. “Our weekend jaunts were to Radio Shack where we’d get circuit boards to solder LED lights to.”

In high school Christine was the only girl in an elective electronics class.

Christine has an undergraduate degree in business and a Master’s degree in IT. At grad school in Hawaii, she was one of three women out of 50 students in the class.

Christine met Andrew when they were both working at an alarm company in Hawaii. They left that alarm company to start IST. Christine ran the business side, until as the company grew, it became clear that the company techs didn’t understand IT—a necessity for IST, which always did systems integration. “In 2004, I took over operations. I still ran administration and accounting, but I was really pushing that IT knowledge to the staff."

She’d sit the staff down for “lunch and learns" regularly. “I’d have discussions with the staff about IT: What does ARP mean? Trace RT? How do you ping a device? We had conversations about how to do things.”

And she’d go out in the field and teach techs to mount cameras, program devices in the field, patch systems, configure servers.

Is her teaching style different from a guy tech? Perhaps. She describes her approach as collaborative. She may be the boss, but “what I’ve found is that people really respond when you talk to them as a peer.”

As I’ve written many times in this space, there’s a dearth of women in the security industry, but only a small percentage of the women in security have either a technical role or work closely with technicians and engineers. That may be starting to change however. Women are beginning to be welcomed—even recruited—into those roles, at least among the smartest integrators.

While Christine and I were talking in the lobby of the Westin Westminster, we saw Bethany Taylor, who I learned from Christine, is the director of operations for Dakota Security. She oversees the engineering group at Dakota. And, after the interview I ran into Kirsten Klokis, who works for Northland Control Systems. Kirsten came to Northland out of college and is learning all aspects of the business, including spending time in the field with the technicians.

SIA is actively working to get young people interested in technical entry level jobs in the security industry. It's launching a security degree program at a community college in New Jersey next year. And, SIA, ISC West and the Women's Security Council are creating a scholarship for a woman to attend the college program. Here's that story. Asked where else the industry should look for women who may be interested in security, Christine Lanning suggested women with a military background.

"They have great training, understand structure, and are used to working in a male-dominated environment," she said.

Cyber security a recurring theme at PSA-TEC

Drako: ‘Where was your DVR made? Is it connected to the Internet?’
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05/07/2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—The data breach that brought down Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel is being used as a cautionary tale here at PSA-TEC.

PSA-TEC State of the Industry: The ‘brave and bold’ who invest in IT will thrive

Bradley, Boethel, Simopoulos share details of their IT investment strategies
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05/07/2014

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Invest big in IT smarts and do it now. That is what executives from some leading systems integration firms—Securadyne, Advance Technology and Safeguard Security—say they’re working on at their own companies today.

Making managed services work

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05/21/2013

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Once you make the decision at the management level to sell managed services, how do you get your sales staff to follow through?

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