If you’re planning a new or upgraded a commercial video surveillance system or building access control system you may be wondering who should I hire? Over the past 15 years, the lines between security systems integrators and physical security consulting firms have grayed. Professional security systems come in all shapes and disguises. In the security industry, there has been and continues to be evolution from all sides (technology, trends and business models):
- Analog to IP Surveillance Cameras
- Weigand Protocol to IP-Based Access Control Systems
- MJPEG to H.265 Compression
- Cyber & Physical Security Integration
While this shift can ultimately benefit the end-user’s value, this reality is often countered by bias. Below are my observations of the current deliverables of the system integrator and consultant, and a synopsis of how the end-user’s experience can be enhanced.
Security System Integration Companies
Itʼs widely known that large national system-integration firms try to ‘standardize’ on a narrow product line of video management software, surveillance camera brands, and access control platforms.
And for good reason.
If they standardize, then they can get project protection from the manufacturer and receive volume discounts they can profit from pass-on to their customer base. The main goal being they can have highly trained technicians in the field, reduce support calls, and increase overall customer satisfaction. In practice however, they typically employ a small handful of domain level experts in a brand or software which in-turn are they become thrown around like a ping-pong balls surrounded by new sales opportunities and crisis-level support issues.
In addition, the problem is that the end user may not be getting the right product ‘recommendationʼ for their application—or the best long-term value.
Independent Security Consultants
Alternatively, an Independent Security Consultant can offer a non-biased, best-practices approach. They have the ability to specify a set principle of guidelines down to very specific details on installation and overall performance.
One of the challenges of walking down this path with an independent security consultant is that they typically donʼt offer specificity as it relates to software or hardware solutions. Instead, they set the key principles of the system, as well as expectations of warranty, service, and features. They may go as far as supply a list of ‘approved vendors’ as in product brands.
But they leave the deliverable with the expectation that the end-user will then take it public, either through a public bid or RFP process, or simply solicit a few local well-qualified suppliers that, on some occasions, are even recommended by the independent security consultant (who clearly would have past experience with said recommendations). Another concern we see is that some security consultants don’t have the in-the-field experience or the hands-on product testing experience with the solutions they recommend. They too have their relationships and it has even been exposed to have direct conflict of interest while being flown on vacation attending manufacture paid A&E Events held on cruise ship in the Bahamas for 3-days
At the end of the day, the end user decides what choice better fits their business goals and security challenges. Often the decision to go with an objective independent security consultant is made out of compounding negative experiences with integration companies’ or poor product performance.
This path comes with a premium.
An independent opinion and specificity of deliverables comes at a cost on top of professional services, hardware, licensing, installation, and labor to whomever is privileged to execute the vision of the system requirements.
The New Era of Security Systems Consulting
And Now: The merging of the independent security consultant & full-service System Integration.
The value proposition is simple.
The end user receives expert opinion, long-term advice, and modern best practices, alongside experienced project management and proven technologies that serve long-term value.
Due-diligence, problem-solving, planning and design still requires delivery.
“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” Steve Jobs
Think about it. A meaningful time investment goes into learning the end users security challenge, nuances of the facility the security system is designed for and process by which it needs to be enforced. During that practice a substantial knowledge-base is acquired.
Who better to execute?
The reality is that every camera manufacturer, video management software platform, service provider, and independent security consultant says they are the ‘bestʼ in some shape or form:
- Best Service.
- Most Reliable.
- Best Features.
- Most Unbiased.
So, the most effective way to determine the right fit is to ask your prospective security system provider specific questions to measure the breadth of their knowledge, their past history of performance, and their ability to put your specific security challenges within the context of their experience
Large scale security systems are a major investment and anyone who’s been in business for a while will tell you that even in 2019 relationships still matter. Even GOOGLE can’t provide every part of the equation for you (nor does this article) but the ability to send a text message @ 8:45pm on a Wednesday to your security partner and get a response with action still counts for something.
The most elite security professionals however, can spot the problems you don’t even see while anticipating them in the future while working with you to create a process to fend them off in the long-term.