Sometimes a personal example on a local level can help one understand the bigger dynamics of a large market. While thinking about the changes happening in systems integration right now, I recalled my family’s purchase of a large, flat-screen television last winter. For me the experience was one part “local market demand” and one part “convergence.”

After suffering through several years of having traditional TVs around my home, trying to hook up the newer-technology DVD players/recorders, personal video recorders, and gaming systems — it had started to become a headache to tie all of these systems together seamlessly. The older televisions just didn’t contain the technology for the many plug-ins that were required. I had been researching the flat screens for about a year, trying to narrow down my selection to a specific technology, brand, size, and feature set.

It was the Chicago Bears that actually turned on the buying switch for me. The opportunity to watch a Super Bowl game on a big, flat screen was larger-than-life, and yes, I unwittingly became one of those “last-weekend” shoppers the newspapers reported on, clawing for what remained of Best Buy’s flat-screen inventory on the weekend before the big game. Luckily, I got the model I had been eyeing and my Super Bowl party was a success, even though the game was not. (I even will admit that I asked my husband to take my picture standing proudly next to our new television.)

Now, all of the video convergence we wanted in our family room is possible — and everyone is happy.

Transition, if you will, to security systems integration and this month’s annual report of the Top Systems Integrators. The trend for convergence of technologies is very strong, both at the national/global level, and at the local level, too. Particular verticals such as education, utilities and municipal government are actually local markets served by local integrators or national-integrator branches. It’s all being driven by IT-based technologies and IT involvement in the selection, purchase, implementation, and operation of the physical security solution.

“The market for integrated systems continues to grow as customers across all categories are looking for more sophisticated functionality and interoperability,” said Top Systems Integrator No. 12-ranked North American Video of Brick, N.J.

PEI Systems Inc., Long Island City, N.Y., ranked No. 54, noted that “The client base for enterprise systems has grown significantly in 2006 when compared to 2005, primarily through the expansion of information technology as a key component of global corporate operations.”

Using IT as a convergence tool allows corporations and other entities to finally connect the pieces of their enterprise -— the three main components of which are human resources data, information technology data, and physical security/risk management parameters.

“Customers continue to integrate enterprise applications such as human resources databases, card access, IP video and other disparate systems. More and more, customers are looking for converged solutions involving identity management and card access,” Convergint Technologies LLC, Schaumburg, Ill., told SDM.

ASG Security, Rockville, Md., tells us that client requests for enhanced, integrated solutions have progressed substantially. “The market segment remaining extremely strong is the use of high-quality video and digital storage ability. The use of IP enterprise-class solutions has substantially advanced the overall management capabilities of all entities to use video in capacities well beyond that strictly dedicated to security applications.”

And isn’t that the key to a satisfied customer — using one technology to handle increased responsibility? It’s what convergence is all about. Just as I used my new flat screen TV to become my family’s convergence tool for gaming, movies, photo viewing and more. I guess in effect, I created my own small network of satisfied customers.