The phrase “You’ve crossed the line” probably has been spoken countless times throughout multiple generations – and with many different connotations. In its most familial usage, my mother sometimes said it to me during my teenage years. “You’ve crossed the line, young lady,” usually meant trouble for me.

And somewhere in Hollywood, the likes of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Arnold Schwartznegger probably uttered the phrase, “You’ve crossed the line,” just before they got even.

In security, at least two industry segments are now “crossing the line,” but I don’t think it will have as negative an impact on the market as Clint Eastwood would have on his challengers.

This month’s issue features the 16th annual SDM 100 (beginning on page 58), a ranking of the largest firms that sell, install, monitor, and service electronic security systems. What we’ve found, in addition to the fact that the SDM 100’s performance indicates a very robust market, is that many of these companies now find themselves directly competing with firms such as Siemens Building Technologies, Johnson Controls, and other high-end systems integrators.

While security dealers and systems integrators were once considered distinctly different main groups within a larger “security industry,” there now is much more crossover. Naturally, as the burglar alarm market started to mature, and demand for video surveillance and access control surged (both pre- and post-9/11), security dealers began to take on more sales and service of those systems. And as end users started to ask for more integrated solutions, systems integrators began handling the mundane but essential alarm systems.

The unknown factor today, however, is monitoring. It is taking on an increasingly important stance in several market segments, including both residential (for elderly/healthcare supervision and alarm verification) and non-residential (for remote video surveillance and remote access).

Although the SDM 100 is best known to industry outsiders as the “monitoring guys,” a little-known fact is that fewer SDM 100 companies than ever actually operate their own central stations, choosing instead to use third-party services. While simultaneously, several systems integrators are taking a hard look at performing their own monitoring or at least partnering with a service. Recognizing that running a central station can be labor-intensive and fraught with headaches, my limited foresight tells me that the central station industry will soon have new life breathed into it. The savvy executive will take steps now to prepare for the next wave of demand for monitored services – in other words, cross that line now!


This month,SDMpresents its 16th annual SDM 100, a report of the 2005 performance of the industry’s largest security dealers, beginning on page 58.

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