There are some in the security industry who still state that smart buildings, connected systems, intelligent solutions and the Internet of Things have little to do with the security industry. Among these are the inspectorates and the BSIA (see this article for more on this). What’s worrying is that anyone watching the greater technological landscape can see the growth of such solutions, and those currently benefitting from the demand are predominantly from outside of the security industry. Unless we stop looking at how things used to be and concentrate on how things are, the whole sector will miss out.
Many years ago, the security industry was a vastly different sector when compared with today’s industry. The continual evolution which has driven this change has impacted on many aspects of security: technology, working practices, user understanding and expectations, police and insurer attitudes, etc.. The differences have become so significant that it is increasingly difficult to use historical data to justify the way the industry works today. The reasons for this are manifold.
Firstly, technology has advanced to such a degree that comparisons are no longer useful. In the past, available technologies were limited and so compromises in system design were inevitable. As such, working practices reflected the need to minimise the risk from such compromises. The onus was on installers and integrators to design solutions in such a way as to protect against the weakness inherent in the products. This isn’t a criticism of manufacturers, but a reflection of the fact that certain things were either not possible or not financially viable.
Today’s technology is about as far removed from that of a few years ago as it can be. Network connectivity is ubiquitous, processing power is affordable and allows manufacturers to realise more performance than they often need. Connectivity and communications allow advanced levels of flexibility. Also, a number of advances in other sectors – IT, telecoms, audio-visual, process control, building management, etc. – are available to security manufacturers.
Secondly, user understanding and expectations have changed. The average man in the street is far more aware of technology and what is possible. While it’s true that they might not be experts, they certainly realise what’s possible.
If they can watch streaming video on a smartphone, interrogate and interact with data via mobile devices, carry out real-time communications via a range of media at the touch of a button and control devices in their home or work from anywhere in the world, then they’re bound to expect that a high technology cutting edge security system can deliver similar functionality.
Finally, because of the advances in technology and the demands of end users for multi-disciplined systems, new working practices are emerging. The main focus in no longer on preventing system compromise, but more on extracting added value from solutions. Where once the industry told customers what they could and could not buy, today the customer is demanding systems that meet their needs and expectations. The boot is on the other foot!
Some in the industry still focus on looking backwards. They either can’t see the change, or they’d rather not change because of some hidden agenda. The problem with this attitude is that when change is so momentous, the past becomes increasingly insignificant. It’s easy to use the past as a yardstick to justify a lack of commitment to the future, but the cold hard reality is that many installers and integrators are missing out on potential business today.
There is little to be gained for anyone by trying to resist the metamorphosis of the security industry, but there is a significant amount to lose!