Each year SDM’s staff offers you several exclusive reports, the SDM 100 and Top Systems Integrators, which are packed full of data that allows us to rank the largest security providers in the market by their revenue. These reports have become cornerstones of the industry -— scrutinized by competitors, product manufacturers, financiers and researchers.

From time to time, security industry professionals have asked if SDM could publish a ranking based on the “quality” of services that a security company provides. Although it would be a worthwhile project, I think it would be a daunting one to determine both the tangible and intangible standards that comprise a quality security company — and then ascertain that the dealer or integrator is meeting those standards consistently.

In this issue, SDM is bringing out what we hope will become another industry cornerstone, although it is based on neither ranked revenue nor measured quality standards.

For the past several years, the security industry has been placing a greater and greater emphasis on developing certain vertical markets. These markets could be in high-growth industries or segments that have felt heavy pressure in recent years to implement more and newer security technologies.

Focusing on key vertical markets, such as education, retail, financial, and healthcare, allows a company to “go a mile deep into that one vertical market,” Jennifer Stentz (on the cover) of Johnson Controls tells SDM in the first of our three-part series on “Vertical Market Leaders,” beginning on page 53.

When a security integrator forms a strategy to dedicate resources to a vertical, it helps that integrator better serve its clients through increased understanding of the issues their clients have — not only the security issues, but often the business issues, too. Therefore, an integrator that specializes in a vertical market, such as Johnson Controls in healthcare, can come to be recognized as the security solutions provider in that market.

In planning our coverage of “Market Leaders in Key Vertical Spaces,” we wanted to portray some of the companies that have earned such respect — not necessarily for their volume of work, but for their innovation and effectiveness within these key markets. But we also knew it would be a challenge to determine who those leaders were.

Identifying and reporting on the security businesses that lead the industry in certain vertical markets was a project that began with our research for the 2007 Top Systems Integrators Report. Integrators were asked, earlier this year, to identify their most important vertical markets. We also asked dozens of industry manufacturers to tell us who they perceived as the leaders in these key verticals. We then compiled a matrix of companies, but found we were not even close to an industry-wide consensus on who leads these markets. Finding is impossible to definitively state the market leaders by any common standard of measurement, we hand-selected seven companies we thought you would care to know more about, pertaining to their work in the healthcare, retail and property management markets. (Subsequent articles in SDM’s Market Leaders series will present profiles on leaders in education, government, gaming and critical infrastructure.)

In this issue, you can read about:
  • in healthcare: Johnson Controls, Simplex Grinnell
  • in retail: ADT Security Services, HSM Electronic Protection Services, Diebold Inc.
  • in property management: NetVersant Solutions, Kastle Systems
We recognized that there are many more security companies providing exceptional service to these industries on a local or regional basis, but simply didn’t have space to feature all of them. We’d like to hear your thoughts on both the article, as well as the concept of a vertical market strategy. Please share your opinion with me by calling (630) 694-4027 or sending a message to stepanekl@bnpmedia.com.