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Tips for systems integrators to improve their business

Tips for systems integrators to improve their business
When it comes to providing tips for systems integrators (SI), different manufacturers have different ideas. Some point out that the training programs are critical while others suggest that SIs should seek to understand the business needs of the customer beyond security. Here we talk to some solution providers to understand their perspectives on best practices for SIs to improve their business.

Don’t overlook the opportunities beyond security

Several pure security systems integrators tend to overlook the opportunities that lie beyond the security aspect of solutions, according to IDIS.

Speaking to on tips for SIs to improve their business in the current market environment, Keith Drummond, Senior Director of Sales at IDIS America, indicated that such an approach limits the opportunities and possibilities that SIs have in maximizing their revenue.

“I think the biggest mistake is that the SI, their business is to go out and drive more business, more revenue, more opportunities, more sales,” Drummond said. And I think SIs often leave a lot of opportunities on the table, they don't win them or they win them and do not expand them as much as they could. The end user in most businesses - if it’s a residential customer, it’s a different equation - but if it’s a business, a business has an end result of being more profitable or an objective of being more profitable. Being a better business, operating more efficiently and effectively. Video surveillance has so often been viewed as a security tool but if that side would accept the fact that it can be much more than just a security application, it can be a business intelligence application, it can be a marketing tool.”

In other words, it can bring all kinds of additional benefits to end users depending on their business, added Drummond. If the SI approaches the solutions in this way, they could turn a 10 camera system into a 15 camera system or a 50 camera system into a 100 camera system. If they can help the end user understand all the benefits they can gain from security, particularly, HD, megapixel and from the use of applying analytics, the SIs will be able to boost their business tremendously.

Investment in time to understand the integration options of the major security management platforms and the opportunities they represent up-front will pay off longer term.

“For example in the case of retail, you can fix five cameras on each door or 15 cameras all around the store apply retail analytics and now start to use it as a marketing tool or a business intelligence tool,” Drummond continued. “And I think SIs, particularly, the pure security systems integrators, they tend to look at just as a security application. When the IT integrators get into the project, they often look at it at a much bigger scale, as they have experience applying other applications besides security, and they will do that frequently, but systems integrators on the pure security side often overlook the opportunities to grow their business.”

David Ella, VP of Product Marketing at AMAG Technologysuggested that SIs need to listen and understand their customer’s complete business, and then articulate and demonstrate integrated security technologies which will add value for the customer and simultaneously separate themselves as a systems integrator from purely price driven purchasing decisions. That is easier said than done, but investment in time to understand the integration options of the major security management platforms and the opportunities they represent up-front will pay off longer term.

Take advantage of training opportunities

Speaking of mistakes that SIs often make Ella added that manufacturers are in no position to preach to SIs.

“But understanding and education of how to move forward from a basic video or access control system to a powerful integrated platform which will make security proactive can extend the value of the relationship with the customer over the longer term,” Ella said. Too many video systems today are in place to tell people what just happened rather than working together with other technologies to deter, prevent and diminish the effect of security incidents.

Drummond added that the first step that SIs should take is to be educated.

“When they are hired by the end user, they are hired because of their expertise,” he said. “So the end user does not want to have to spend their time, going out and getting educated on the subject matter. They just want a system that works, they have a general idea of what they need to accomplish but they are really looking to the SI to be the brains to have the information, have the knowledge to be up to date on the latest technology. So I think that’s the first thing that they need to do. We see so many SIs in the industry these days who do something one way and they never do it a different way. They just stay with what they know and they get comfortable with a certain technology or a certain product or a certain manufacturer and then they never look their customer's needs through any other different set of eyes than just what they have always done. And that’s not a good fit for the end user. So that’s the first thing, stay up to date on the latest technology, stay educated and then apply that to the needs of the end user.”

Facing the challenges

However, the solution providers acknowledged that SIs today face quite a few challenges and this has an impact on their business.

“SIs can no longer install an access control and/or video system without understanding the customer’s security AND business needs,” Ella said. “Security integrators must stay up to date on all technologies and understand how they can help their customers improve processes, streamline operations and mitigate risk. Understanding a customer’s business takes time, and learning new technologies and how they integrate takes time. However, it’s time well spent as it will help position the SI as a technology expert where the customer will come to rely upon them for suggestions, improvements and upgrades.”

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