Voice of Security: Bill, we mentioned earlier your role as Vice Chairman of the Security Industry Association (SIA) Board of Directors. As an industry leader what do you see as the biggest challenges facing the Security Industry today?
Bill Taylor: Following the 9/11 tragedies, our industry got woken up, came together, and innovated new technologies and systems to help prevent it from ever happening again.
We can certainly debate the efficacy of many of these remedies, but more importantly, it feels like the “sense of urgency” we all had with respect to national security has been overshadowed by the significant economic downturns in our economy since 2008.
The focus is now on getting the sluggish US economy back on its feet, and has become paramount to other priorities. Our industry’s challenge is to remain relevant in the midst of this turmoil – to provide significant value, even when our end-customers’ sense of “feeling threatened” is not as strong.
However, a subtler but equally devastating challenge has the potential to render our industry incompetent if not dealt with immediately.
Networking/communications/networking technology is getting much more sophisticated. Attracting and retaining a smart and highly motivated workforce that can develop and work with that complex technology becomes the most important issue we need to solve.
Without a compelling/competitive industry story to tell students entering universities and colleges, the security industry will surely lose this potential talent base to other “glam-tech” industries, the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.
I believe it is incumbent on the Security Industry Association and its members to help articulate and make exciting the value our industry brings to a technology career centered in security.
Our industry members may even need to guide the development of curriculum, and entice students to work in the industry by providing meaningful work-study cooperatives and internships early in their college experience.
Voice of Security: What is your assessment of Industry Associations? Do you feel they are being reactionary or proactive to events impacting the future of the Security Industry?
Bill Taylor: An industry association ultimately needs to serve the needs of its often very diverse membership.
This process is inherently slow – involving collaboration and consensus building and sometimes requires agreeing to middle-of-the-road solutions that everyone is willing to accept – the association needs to strike a balance between being reactive to issues that are potentially impactful to its members, and supporting their member’s interests proactively.
Too proactive and an association can appear aggressive, putting forward self-serving agendas. Too reactive might mean missing out on important issues that move very quickly in the digital/social/mobile age.
The Security Industry Association membership is very willing to collaborate on issues – our members share the common goal of ensuring a safe and secure world.
With a strong industry association, and a shared common goal among our membership – we can become more proactive in helping guide government regulation setting, or in educating our members to be superior at their craft, or to educate the general public about the significant value our industry members bring to the table.
Voice of Security: Over the years you have had an opportunity to develop/maintain some key Integrator relationships. From a Security Manufacturer perspective, what qualities make a Security Integrator one who stands out from all the rest?
Bill Taylor: The foundation of a great integrator/manufacturer relationship begins with a clear understanding of the role and responsibility of each partner, and an honest representation of what each want from the partnership. They each bring different things to the end-user party and are synergistic only when the strengths of both are combined.
I like to typecast these relationships into one of three development stages.
- In the first stage – a “sell-to” relationship – manufacturers sell what they have to the integrators who, in turn, sell it to the end-user. This works well if the problems and solutions are simple, and relatively easy to solve with existing technology and services.
- The second stage – a “sell-with” relationship – is when the integrator and the manufacturer collaborate together to win the sale. They can combine resources to devise a better solution, or provide better service coverage and financing options for the end-user.
- The third stage – the “develop-with” relationship – is a partnership model designed around creating unique or customized solutions specifically with the end-user’s needs in mind. This not only strengthens the relationship between the partners, but also brings the best solution to the end-user. These types of partnerships are rare, and are the most difficult and time-consuming relationships to develop.