From the “Least Surprising Developments” file, the acquisition of Proximex by ADT Security Services was announced this morning. Why did this acquisition, or something like it absolutely have to happen?
ADT Security Services has been very intentionally (if haphazardly) adding wider and deeper services related to security monitoring. If you look at PSIM (physical security information management) clearly, you see it as a set of technologies for more efficiently responding to events, as opposed to merely recording events. That mission has been the stated objective of ADT for some time. Of course ADT would want to buy a PSIM vendor to put some consistency in its otherwise hodgepodge security offering. The question is which one? NICE is too big, publicly traded and not looking to spin out its PSIM product, Situator. One down. CNL has many good points, but not enough customers to prove its versatility. VidSys might have been a good choice. It would likely have been considerably more expensive to acquire, in light of its market penetration and VC funding, but what a boon it would have been for ADT mind-share in the Commercial space.
What about other PSIM contenders? There are some vendors that are not fully committed to the PSIM architecture and newcomers trying to make their name, but trial by fire in real life customer deployments bubbled Proximex and a few others to the top of ADT’s short list. ADT probably looked at Proximex and saw a technology and brand that was just sexy enough and the price was right.
That leaves the question of why would Proximex want to sell. Proximex, like other PSIM vendors, was not growing at the rate its investors (most notably Proximex’s Jack Smith of Hotmail fame) assumed or hoped. There are many reasons for that lack of growth in the PSIM world: misleading and confused marketing, misaligned pricing strategies, missed technology opportunities, poor channel partnerships, and of course challenging market dynamics and fickle customers. For example, when an investor puts a ton of money in a commercial technology, he’ll be inclined to sell it at a high price. Selling something at a high price means marketing it as an “enterprise solution.” An Enterprise Solution requires extremely mature and rich technical functionality, driving more expensive product development and constantly dissatisfied customers. You see? Greedy eyes create an impossible spiral for a fledgling technology segment like PSIM.
I’m happy with the ADT acquisition, and so are my end-user clients, who nearly every day tell me another example of how PSIM technology helps them or would have helped them run a more efficient and effective operation. ADT will find a delighted customer base.
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Dan Moceri and his company, Schaumburg, IL-based Convergint Technologies. Convergint has served as an integrator for some of my largest and most demanding end user clients.
When I think of a best-of-breed integrator, Convergint is always one of the first to come to mind.
Why? You may think it is because the company is big, but as we all know from working with large integrators, there is often a huge disparity in skills and professionalism from one regional office to the next. No. Size is not the reason I think of Convergint.
Maybe it’s skill. After all, Convergint has highly skilled technicians in the field who deeply understand products like Lenel OnGuard and Genetec Omnicast. But skill is not it either.
How about customers? Surely few companies can match Convergint in high-profile customer deployments. Just look at how Convergint came to the rescue of the City of Chicago’s urban surveillance project. Convergint has a great customer list, but that’s not why it shines as a company.
Convergint is on my mind because it is focused on continual improvement. A simple idea, but one nearly absent across the rest of the security industry sales channel. When Dan Moceri and his business partner Greg Lernihan look at their company, they see a community of professionals working together – a community built around shared values, including one of the most powerful: the desire to go from Good to Great in every aspect of the company.
Dan, and the Convergint leadership team are driven by continual improvement in another way, too. When they consider expanding their business, they seek partners or acquisition targets that also have a Good to Great mentality. That way the Convergint culture of continual improvement may be more quickly and effectively infused into the new partner.
Dan speaks frequently at security conferences; so if you ever have a chance to hear him, don’t miss it. And whenever you consider working with an integrator or value added reseller, keep in mind that consistency and quality come not from a large customer base, many employees or demonstrated technical skill. Consistency and quality are born out of a mindset, a philosophy, of continual improvement.
The way a security integrator, or any service provider at all, can create a Good to Great culture will be the topic of many future posts here on SecurityDreamer.
I took a year off from blogging. Obviously.
It has been an intense, exciting year of brainstorming and new opportunities. As a result I have a new view of the industry and new series of innovations. You will see it all on this blog in the days and weeks to come. So stay tuned for new ways of thinking about security technology, operational best practices, and quality.
For many years, as you may know, I worked closely with hundreds of end users (security and technology executives) to help them make better decisions about technology and to glean from them the best (and worst) ways of doing just about anything having to do with security. Over the years I gained a unique insight into end user requirements, preferences, goals and budgets.
Concurrently, I worked with dozens of technology manufacturers to help them make better products and development roadmaps, plus more effective marketing and sales strategies.
The segment of the industry that receives much of my attention now is that piece in the middle, between the manufacturers and the end user. I’m talking about the wild west of integrators, resellers and dealers. The sales channel.
Security Dreamer will continue to draw attention to trends and best practices, but will now also focus on fixing the problems that end users and manufacturers have shared with me about the sales channel over the years.
My goal is not to ruffle feathers, as my efforts undoubtedly will — after all, the good ol’ boys club of the security industry is nowhere more established than in the sales channel — but to help progressive VAR (value added reseller) owners to run better companies, make more money and satisfy their constituents far more successfully.
What We Loved: Powerful What We Didn’t: Price: Starts Overview In general, our entire experience using and testing Verint Nextiva For the full Review Summary: Download DreamerGear Verint Nextiva Related Product Reviews
and professional look and feel
Too many separate products to get full functionality
to manage both video and video analytics was positive. Nextiva has the power and capability to
handle video management and analytics deployments from moderate sizes to the
very largest. It is obvious that
Verint put a lot of thought into every aspect of the product architecture and
design with, among other benefits, a very usable graphical interface and
excellent product support.
What We Loved: Powerful
What We Didn’t:
In general, our entire experience using and testing Verint Nextiva
For the full Review Summary: Download DreamerGear Verint Nextiva
Related Product Reviews
Sorry my phone didn’t have better resolution. Each of the three days of the Expo Seguridad conference, this woman was painted in very tasteful, beautiful ways. Each time with a security theme. The third day was the best. She was painted as a Borg, with a video camera as an eye. The sponsoring vendor is Sermex, a Mexican security products distributor.
If we limit the conversation just to the technology, you’ll hear me sing the praises of DVTel. The command center console is attractive and intuitive and very functional. I especially liked the simple, centralized management of video, access control, perimeter sensors and the flexible reporting capabilities. DVTel’s iSOC v6 is a refreshing reinvention of the standard command center interface.
Have you read some of the press releases and marketing campaigns coming from vendors (manufacturers) lately? It’s like they live on another planet. I sometimes think there is an alternate reality where some vendors, consultants and trade magazines live in perfect harmony piecing nonsensical words together, feeding them to each other and then having a community cud-chewing festival.
[Sorry, did I just piss everyone off? Ed and Lorna, I don’t include you in that crew. Not you either, Michael.]
What I read rarely relates to the conversations I have with CSOs, COOs and risk management executives. I tell this to the vendors, and they whine and squirm and declare that they know their customer better than anybody. Maybe so. But that would simply mean their customers are not the CSO, COO or risk management executives I’m talking to.
Maybe these vendors are content selling to facilities managers and the security directors who’ve been buying access control and DVRs for years. That would make sense. Those folks are competent security professionals who understand the technical and procedural requirements of access and surveillance. So of course the vendors enjoy selling access and surveillance equipment and services to this crowd.
But then why do executives think things look askew?
- Because neither the vendors nor the security directors have been successful describing the business value of specific security initiatives in terms of measured economic impact; and,
- Because neither the vendors nor the security directors think of physical security departments as business units. Therefore, they feel no need to use business language, set up common business processes, and report on metrics the way other business units do.
It could simply be a matter of not selling high enough. The senior executives tell me that they see physical security as essentially screwed up. “How did physical security get so messed up” was the exact quote of one of these execs last week, after he investigated the processes of risk management in his very large corporation.
He expected to find a business unit with standard processes for setting goals and quantifying performance metrics. Instead, he saw a 1970s police department with what he described as an archaic operation of “security for the sake of security.” “How do the words ‘command and control’ fit into my business?” he exclaimed with frustration.
In short, physical security is not run like a business, from the business executive’s point of view. It is run like a police department, or a military base. Nothing wrong with that, intrinsically, of course. Law enforcement and military operations are very effective for managing risk – if your organization is a city or university or war zone. If we are talking about a business, however, security should be run differently. It should be run like a business.
Vendors don’t get that, it seems. So they don’t sell that message. And they don’t create products that enable security directors to run a business. Here are three things vendors should start doing right now to solve the real problems faced by the companies they sell to.
1. Describe solutions in terms of business service management. Create sound, believable measurements of ROI, TCO and overall economic impact for each solution. Be ready to map every major function of the product to specific business requirements. Basically, you want to empower your traditional security director or facilities manager customer to carry the message of business value up the ladder.
2. Sell higher. If you can’t sell your product to a COO, then maybe you shouldn’t be selling it at all. My point is that a product or service purchased in the organization should be valued and appreciated by the COO. If it’s not, then either your message is wrong or your product is. Investigate new business development methods to permit you to sell to senior executives. You’ll make more money and solve bigger problems.
3. Stop the “me too” feature war. Customers don’t really care what features your product has or what boxes the consultant can check off on the requirements list. Some features are more important than others. Find out the relative weights of customer requirements and then you’ll be able to see how closely your product comes to actually solving the problem. Otherwise, you are just showing that your product sucks less than the other guys.’ See my post, “Most product comparisons tell you jack”
In this economy, no one can afford to pass by opportunities to provide the highest value to end user customers. Slackers will die.