I recently attended ASIS International 62nd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Orlando. While historically one of the largest security conferences in the world, this year the exhibit floor seemed smaller to me. One morning, as I was leaving the exhibit hall headed to an education session, I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years. After a quick exchange of new contact info, I explained that I needed to head to one of the education sessions, and as I turned and headed away, my friend exclaimed, “Hey! The weather is great outside and I am trying to decide whether it is worth my time to walk the show floor. Is there anything worth seeing in there?” While I may have earned a reputation for being a bit of a security geek, I believe one of the reasons my customers trust me is because I make it a priority to educate myself on the trends and new technology in security. With 550 vendors representing every major manufacturer in the security industry , it would be pretty naïve to think that not one of them had anything “worth seeing”. At SIS, we understand that there is a myriad of products that attempt to serve the same purpose and same marketplace, yet finding the right product for a specific application is one of the keys to success in the security industry. At SIS, we specialize in high security applications and are very careful about selecting the products and services we provide to our customers. We believe that a real security system is comprised of PEOPLE, PRODUCTS and PROCESS. If any one of these three components fail, then the system fails. We are fiercely loyal to our vendor partners and are very selective because we know that our expertise comes from our experience (both good and bad) working in specific vertical markets with manufacturers who have proven to be “best in class”.
As I mentioned before, once we decide to carry a certain product, we become loyal to that manufacturer and desire to build a long term relationship between our organizations. When evaluating a new product, here are the things we consider:
- Where is the product manufactured? For protection of classified information, there are two generally accepted manufacturers who can meet all of the necessary requirements for an intrusion detection system. One is manufactured in China and owned by a company based in Germany. The other (DMP) is made in Springfield, Missouri. Personally, I believe the DMP product is superior, but even if they were equal we believe in supporting American manufacturing and hope you do to.
- How does the product go to market? Manufacturers have a tough decision to make here. Do you want to sell through distribution or dealer network? We sell many products that are only available through security distribution partners, however, we find that the best support is with manufacturers who only sell through a dealer network. Speaking of support…
- What does the manufacturer offer for technical training, sales training and technical support? We know we can’t be experts in everything, but we ought to be experts in the products we sell. This is why we are so selective in choosing a new product. We want to work with partners who have the same emphasis that we do on providing the highest quality of service. We have the best staff because we provide ongoing training and utilize factory direct technical support.
- How long has this manufacturer been in business? Innovation happens every day. Just because a manufacturer has been in business for many years, this doesn’t mean they are staying current with technology. Conversely, I am always willing to be the “guinea pig” to try out new products, but I will not sell them unless I know the product works as advertised and believe they have the financial stability to stay in business.
- What level of integration support does this manufacturer offer? APIs have evolved at an even faster pace than our physical security technology products. We believe it is important to work with vendors who are willing to work well with others in order to allow disparate systems to communicate for the benefit of our customers.
- Is the product easy to use? SIS is built on our commitment to service. When one of our customer’s needs help, we want to take care of them as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is much easier to do if the product is inherently simple to use.
- Server based or in the Cloud? Cloud based solutions aren’t always the best option, depending upon the location and customer requirements. Where possible we prefer Cloud based service capabilities. With Brivo, Eagle Eye and DMP we are able to provide service that, in most cases, eliminates the need to send a technician to the site. This saves time, hassle and money for our customers.
- Who is using this product already and how long have they been using it? I am interested in learning about new products, but don’t want any of my customers to be the R&D for anyone. I have worked through Beta programs and know that often what is released for Beta will not be the finished product. Somebody has to be the first, but I don’t want it to be my customers.
- Does this product replace something I already use or is this something new to the security industry? In either case, I am definitely interested in learning more, so let’s meet at ISC West next April or ASIS International 63rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas next September and you can show me why I should use this product instead of the ones I have already vetted, invested in training and have products on the shelf.
There are so many advancements being made in technology today that it may seem impossible to stay current. I subscribe to several print and online publications dedicated to the security industry. ASIS International’s Annual Seminar and Exhibits or ISC West are also both great opportunities to meet with manufacturers, attend in person training and meet with other security professionals from around the world. Security education, awareness and training are vital for the security practitioner today. To me, it is important to know the products we sell better than my competitors, but it is equally important to know if there may be something even better on the horizon. Make sure you are working with a vendor who takes the time to learn every day and who would rather spend a few extra hours talking to manufacturers on a trade show floor, than catching a thrill ride at a theme park. Hmmm… I guess I am a security geek!