At Securing New Ground CONNECT, held virtually Oct. 28, 2021, the emphasis was indeed on connections. Taking advantage of a platform called Shindig, the always entertaining master of ceremonies, SIA Director of Membership Kevin Murphy, kept attendees engaged with the help of several SNG ambassadors whose job it was to reach out to attendees and invite them to join the small group chats interspersed throughout the day —  much like the coffee breaks that would take place in person. In fact, the day began with one, but soon got down to business with the first topic of the day.

“The View From the Top,” moderated by Matt Barnette, CEO of the PSA Security Network, took panelists Tom Cook, executive vice president of sales and operations for Hanwha Techwin America; Chris Meiter, president, Salient Systems; and Luis Orbegoso, senior vice president and president, Americas, Allegion, through a series of top industry issues to get their take. Supply chain issues were clearly top of mind and the first topic discussed.

“It is a struggle and we are spending a lot of money to make sure we can supply product,” Cook said. “There is a shortage of components across the board and honestly it is not stopping. I would love to tell everyone that 2022 is going to be great but you are going to see some struggles.”

Meiter and Orbegoso both agreed, but quickly added labor issues to the mix. 

“There are two big issues,” Orbegoso said. “One is supply chain and the availability of material, and the other issue is labor. That is really going to hit us. Not only do we need people to install but people to manufacture. There is a huge labor gap and we can’t get people in fast enough.”

From there the conversation turned to technology, where the panelists set up many of the sessions for the rest of the day that touched on AI, convergence, cybersecurity and cloud, along with how to turn these big trends into the all-important RMR.

“Cyber and cloud are the two scariest words in the industry,” Cook said. “The problem is IT people are taking more control of the budget and buying power and their first question is, ‘What are your cyber protocols and encryption levels?’ Dealers and manufacturers  are literally avoiding it. … Dealers need to be knowledgeable enough to use it as a service. We haven’t trained them and the industry hasn’t trained them. We need to do a better job of doing cyber for dummies and get to the point where we feel comfortable.”

The need to pivot to recurring revenue streams is critical, Meiter added. “We talk about IT influencing physical security and we are seeing that much more. Years ago it was difficult to sell service agreements on video software. They didn’t care. Now with NVRs and IT departments managing that environment they basically mandate maintenance. … At the end of the day the companies out there selling and installing equipment, if they can adapt to sell [services] they will be successful. Things may look bright in 2023, but who knows about 2024 or 2025. You have got to build your business to weather that.”

For the keynote, SNG returned to the supply chain issues, with Tom Garrison, vice president and general manager client security strategy and initiatives for Intel Corp. detailing his company’s efforts to create a digital supply chain security model based on digital DNA of components. Garrison spoke of the cybersecurity issues of supply chain security, noting that the already struggling supply chain has become the front line of a lot of the leading edge cyber-attacks.

“One challenge we have is the nature of the supply chain,” he said. “Chances are you think of physical security. ‘Do I have secure factories and trusted employees and vendors?’ Those are important but not comprehensive. That is where we at Intel think the next challenge resides.”

In digital DNA, Intel uses a comprehensive suite of tools, ingredients and standards to deliver supply chain security, he explained. These include: OEM authenticity; country of origin and manufacturer; integration history; device health; device and component authenticity; chain of custody; tamper evidence; known good configuration; and asset tracking.

This allows people to be able to track and trace back to the components and know whether these devices are in a trusted state, he said. 

Following the keynote, it was quiz time, with Brivo President and CEO Steve Van Till taking the audience through the upcoming Security Megatrends questions to get their input. When asked which new addition should be added to the list of most important trends, attendees overwhelmingly selected supply chain trust. AI was voted the most impactful trend in the industry, followed by cybersecurity and the move to service models.

The full 2021 SIA Megatrends report will be released in early December. 

The day featured several conversational style presentations, from James Rothstein, operating partner, Lee Equity Partners interviewing Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones, to a conversation with Kastle CEO Haniel Lynn and Northland Controls CEO Pierre Trapanese; and one on cybersecurity and the healthcare supply chain with Min Kyriannis, CEO of Amyna Systems and Michael McNeil, global CISO, McKesson.

And of course, there were plenty of sessions on the top technology trends including the difference between IT and OT, smart building security and cybersecurity. “The new normal is now disruption,” said Bhuvana Badrinathan, chief information officer, Convergint, in “On the Technology Horizon: a CIO/CTO Panel Perspective. “The technology landscape is changing at such a fast pace. The biggest technology trends we are seeing are centered around how to gain value from IoT, cloud and visual data. Cameras are one of the most important technologies to IoT sensors. Ensuring they are secure is so incredibly important. The threat landscape is evolving at the same pace if not faster.”

Throughout the day Murphy kept everyone guessing, teasing an upcoming “mystery guest.” The penultimate presentation, the mystery guest turned out to be none other than Axis Communications’ vice president Americas, Fredrik Nilsson. “I have been in the security industry for 20 years and experienced many things including tremendous innovation, some humbling awards and a pandemic,” he said. “I am very excited to be a mystery guest and to be at SNG again. 

“The question we all have is what are the trends and technologies that we will be looking back on at SNG 10 years from now and realize they changed the industry? Is it AI and deep learning? Or is it cloud? What role with the edge play in the transition to the cloud? Is it cybersecurity and the threat and opportunity? Will that attract new players to our industry?”

As is tradition at SNG, the last session of the day featured John Mack III, executive vice president of Imperial Capital and Alper Cetingok, managing director and head of diversified industrials for Raymond James discussing the financial trends of the security industry and recent M&A activities. And this year’s presentation ended the session on a high note. 

“M&A activity is up big, with record levels of both debt and equity,” Mack told attendees. “Private equity is stronger than it has ever been. Deals that couldn’t get done in 2020 are being rolled over, and pent up demand is driving a big part of what is happening. Valuations are at or near all-time highs and growth equity is increasing.”

Mack continued, “I would say the prospects for the industry are as good as I have seen them in the many years I have been involved. This is a good time to figure out how to grow your business, and invest in R&D if you can get the talent to do that.”

Cetingok called this year one of the most prolific in the security and safety space, adding, “We think this will continue.

“When we think about all that is going on across the major sectors of the market we are seeing tremendous amounts of change. … The excitement level in this space from investors is the highest I have ever seen. Continue to do what you are doing because there is more forward momentum than ever before.”

Securing New Ground 2022 will take place in-person in New York City from October 18-22 next year.