It’s been drilled into most of us that this is the time of year for changing the way we do things — exercise regularly, spend more time with the kids because they’re growing up fast, follow a budget. Most people develop both personal and professional goals — if you own your own business, then perhaps you want to take on a more complex product line, hire a salesperson, and send a technician to obtain IT certification.

Resolutions originate by looking at the bigger picture: How can I grow my business? How can I capture more key clients in the markets I’m targeting? How can I make my business more indispensable to more customers? How can I step ahead of my competitors in a big way?

SDM traditionally presents its “big picture” every January so we can help you formulate your resolutions and achieve them. This month, we present the second annual state of the market article series, beginning with the State of the Video Surveillance Market. Based on research done by SDM’s senior editor, Russ Gager, and the staff, there is no reason to expect anything less than exceptional growth in the video surveillance market. Security dealers and integrators point out that demand for cameras, cameras, and more cameras is so widespread that they can’t attribute it to one particular vertical. Larger projects are becoming the norm, but so are smaller, two-camera and four-camera jobs. Lower cost is helping to drive demand, but installing companies are being squeezed on their profit margins – end users know they usually can find cameras and DVRs cheaper elsewhere.

So the question for 2007 is how do dealers and integrators add enough value to make themselves an indispensable part of the sales channel?

Explains Kurt Will, vice president of St. Louis-based Will Electronics, “Camera costs have gone down significantly, so we’re seeing camera counts up on all types of jobs, but the integration and the network are definitely making these jobs more complex.” Will has alluded to the single most-important challenge that SDM’s readers say they will face this year: skilled technical labor – the most important component of the value proposition that can turn companies from being regarded as “just another security dealer” to an essential partner in their customer’s security program.

In another special report, the 2007 Industry Forecast, survey results show that finding and retaining employees will be the greatest challenge this year. Also part of the Industry Forecast are findings that show the most complex technologies — video surveillance, IP network-based video and monitoring equipment — are the ones gaining market share the fastest.

It will be your most trained technicians going forward —those with the appropriate certifications — that will be able to set your business apart from the rest. For traditional dealers technology is becoming seemingly more complex because it’s not based on traditional platforms anymore. It’s based on the unfamiliar world of computer technology of algorithms, authentications, and networks. But that may not be an unfamiliar world to your competitors, so why give them an advantage?

Make yourself a resolution this year. Look into hiring a technician with IT skills, particularly someone with network certification(s), or consider sending the right person at your company back to school to become educated and certified. And don’t forget to exercise more!