Today’s electrical contractor plays an important role on the security team and provides critical talents and skills required to install and service security systems.
So where are the opportunities for ECs in the security market? Looking at the numbers, the Freedonia Group’s report, “Electronic Security Systems to 2014,” forecasts a 9.3 percent annual growth rate of electronic security products and systems in the United States through next year.
Looking at the markets, new construction in North America is still down in the slow economy, so the majority of work in the immediate future will come mostly from upgrades and retrofits of existing security systems, according to Andre Greco, director of sales, Fire and Security Systems, Johnson Controls.
“Two bright spots among the vertical markets are education and healthcare,” he said.
In both the K–12 and higher education markets, there are opportunities for campus-wide installations and upgrades. In addition, new healthcare laws and regulations will require meeting the needs of more patients. There also is a greater emphasis on patient satisfaction scores.
The hottest areas in security these days seem to deal with technologies that can’t exactly be seen, such as alarm communications networks and cloud-based services, according to David Gottlieb, vice president of global marketing communications for Honeywell Security Group, Melville, N.Y.
“In both cases, we’re seeing a lot of technological evolution designed to ensure that security technology is enhancing the lifestyle of homeowners or helping businesses be more productive,” he said.
The first example, alarm communications, is being affected by the same 4G networks serving mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
“So many alarm panels also use cellular networks to communicate and transmit signals to central stations, and security professionals are trying to decide which network makes the most sense for their customers,” Gottlieb said.
As far as the cloud is concerned, it is forecast to play an increasingly bigger role because it has become an accepted way to deliver value-added services that increase security providers’ recurring monthly revenue.
“For example,” Gottlieb said, “a facility manager can use cloud technology to view video feeds from a surveillance system using a mobile device in any location. That is the type of value-added benefit that people are demanding that security providers would be wise to meet.”
At the product level, it is anticipated that 2013 will see incremental improvements to the features and performance of existing technology.
According to Greco, video surveillance products will continue to take the lion’s share of security spending. In addition, the move toward converging security functions with building automation will continue.
“Linking security with lighting, environmental and other systems into a single point of control adds convenience, reduces manpower needs and enhances the value of an end-user’s facility,” he said.
At the executive level, organizations demand more participation in the strategic planning and goal development from the risk and/or security officer.
“With the demands of leadership expanding, security executives need information to guide the development and execution of their master security plan,” said Nigel Waterton, vice president, strategic development for Aronson Security Group, Seattle.
That information comes from human sources but also from devices and software. And although collecting information is critical, how the information is communicated to the organization’s stakeholders also is changing.
If customers are the security industry’s biggest driver with demands of a never-ending supply of new solutions, feature sets and higher quality (often at the same or lower price), then a slow global economy is the biggest inhibitor to the security industry’s growth. For some in the industry, finding qualified employees in the new information-technology-centric world is the reason growth might be low, Greco said.
“Training can be difficult and expensive, and security integrators or contractors will have to scour other industries to find employees capable of selling, installing and servicing today’s highly technological systems,” he said.
New-to-the-business ECs, however, may need to partner with top-level risk and security integrators and consultants to provide necessary back-end services to deploy state-of-the-art systems, according to some market participants.
“If contractors move out of their core competency and attempt to come up the knowledge and business process curve, they will run into stiff competition,” Waterton said.
If contractors move to support the emerging channel of consultants and security system integrators, they can naturally extend their services to meet those needs, according to Waterton.
“This industry, and electrical contractors, will possibly be best served by the development of a set of companies with interlocking business relationships that increase the collaboration and communication, and ultimately the value, to the client,” he said.