At this year’s PSA TEC, held May 16-19 in Denver, as well as virtually May 24-26, some themes came up over and over again. As a conference made up of owners and members of one of the largest systems integrator consortiums, there was plenty to discuss this year — not least of which was the ongoing supply chain crisis and workforce challenges as well as more positive themes of new technologies and services.
The event began with a day packed with informative sessions, including the ever popular “State of the Integrator” presentation, at which the issues of supply chain and finding and keeping employees were front of mind, and an evening welcome reception.
Day two featured more education sessions, as well as the Technology Partner Awards Luncheon, where vendors are awarded both customer service and partner achievement awards.
This year’s Partner Achievement Awards, which are voted on by PSA integrator members, went to:
• PSA Superstar Vendor Achievement: Altronix
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: Aiphone
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: Bosch Security
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: Eagle Eye
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: Hanwha Techwin
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: HID Global
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: LifeSafety Power
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: Windy City Wire
• PSA Star Vendor Achievement: 3millID
Some of the education sessions focused on the business side of security, such as “The Secret Sauce in Selling Your Integration Company.” While many others highlighted technology trends and how to capitalize on them.
At one such session, “The Tech Trends you Have to Watch,” Geoff Kohl, senior director of marketing for SIA, Pierre Trapanese, CEO of Northland Controls and Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo, discussed some of the key trends outlined in the SIA Megatrends Report, including cybersecurity, service models and the cloud, AI, and a new concept to the security integration audience: proptech. Van Till described proptech as a potential windfall for integrators that not many have heard of.
“Today you can go in and pitch managed services or access control, but if the sales meeting before yours was actually proptech, what they were talking about was are their tenants happy? What is their net promoter score? Are employees leaving or staying? These are the things they care about,” Van Till explained. “If those meetings are back-to-back, which will they be talking about the next day? The one that lets them serve their customers better.”
Proptech marries physical real estate to the digital and connected experience, and is a $32 billion industry and growing, Van Till further explained. “It is about productivity and happiness. How can we bring these ideas into security and not let someone else take our lunch?”
Another session, “Leveraging Video Managed Services to Create RMR and Build Lasting Success,” featured a very familiar figure to PSA members: past CEO Bill Bozeman, now founder of his own consulting firm, Bozeman Strategic Solutions. Bozeman, and Nicola Oakie, vice president of sales, proactive video monitoring, National Monitoring Center, showed attendees one path to achieving high-value RMR that not only goes far beyond service contracts, but also increases the value of the company.
This year PSA introduced two new style forums for discussion and learning. The first was a series of roundtable discussions, designed to be a more informal and interactive approach to a variety of topics from boosting your brand to strategies for recruiting and retention, to overcoming the supply chain challenges.
In the supply chain roundtable forum there was understandable frustration and admittedly more questions than answers, but also constructive feedback for and from the two brave manufacturers in attendance, as well as some suggestions to help weather this crisis both for manufactures as well as PSA members.
“There is no magic bullet,” said Matt Barnette, PSA Network CEO. “I worry that this will go on into 2023. Our biggest concern is protecting integrators against cost increases and supply issues.”
The other new venue, which was spread over two days, was something called “TECTalk Tables,” a form of “speed dating” with manufacturers, where each integrator attendee could spend 7 minutes at a manufacturer’s table talking about what they have to offer.
PSA also featured their newest level of technology partners, the P3 Partners. Each P3 vendor had a side room where attendees could have longer and more engaging conversations.
“We recently increased our sponsorship level to the P3 level,” said Jody Ross, vice president of sales at AMAG Technology. “PSA touches so many resellers and offers so many programs. It is a great way for us to meet new ones that we might not otherwise find. It is a great partnership that goes both ways.”
One of the most popular and well-attended sessions is always the State of the Industry, held on day three first thing after breakfast in the ballroom. This year’s panel featured Matt Barnette of PSA, Chuck Wilson, executive director and board secretary of the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA), and James Rothstein, chairman of the Security Industry Association. The session was moderated by Kasia Hanson, global IoT partner sales leader for Intel Corp.
Not surprisingly, Hanson started right off listing the many challenges the integration community has faced since the last TEC in 2021, including labor challenges, inflation, M&A, public private policy issues and supply chain issues.
“One of the most important things for me is listening to the people in this room,” Rothstein said. “There has been a lot going on in the last year from real challenges to changes and surprises. To quote Mike Tyson, ‘We all have a plan until you get punched in the face.’ The thing that amazes me is the strength of the entrepreneurs that fire this business. Everyone in this room is resilient. Hats off to everyone here.”
Wilson and Rothstein both highlighted the importance of government outreach, working at both the federal and local level on a variety of legislative issues.
“PoE is causing confusion between the work of the integrator versus the electrician,” Wilson said. “We are working to help define that. We are monitoring 108 state bills on cybersecurity and credentials, and 33 federal bills, many punitive in nature.”
Rothstein added, “The legislative efforts our organizations do is quite aggressive throughout the year, not just nationally but at the state level.” He also stressed the importance of setting standards, whether about facial recognition, cybersecurity, privacy or other hot-button legislative initiatives.
Barnette stressed cybersecurity certifications, particularly. “My feeling is that during the pandemic cyber seemed to get pushed back a bit as supply chain and mandates and labor shortages were more front of mind. But cyber incidents have gone through the roof during the pandemic. PSA is working with SIA on a cybersecurity certification for integrators. The problem is not going to go away and I would hate to sit in any integrator’s seat with a customer that isn’t hardened on-site.”
Barnette also touched on cloud services. “It has been slow going, although some integrators here have been doing cloud for a long time. Many partners have a cloud solution. It is something that we will have to get used to. This industry is moving in that direction. You can drag your feet, but all the things we are doing will be in the cloud. It is coming at us fast and it is good for our business to be cloud-ready.”
While TEC was both live and in person in 2021, this year marked a true return to a more normal feel for all, and a successful event was the result.
“PSA TEC saw a wonderful return to live events,” said Jennifer Anderson, PSA director of events. “We added several new features this year, which included increased networking opportunities and TECTalks, which facilitated meetings with our technology partners and integrators. Once again, our State of the Industry session was our most attended and provided valuable content to our TEC community.”
Next year’s PSA TEC will mark a change in venue, taking place in Dallas in early May, instead of Denver.