In business, as in life, nothing beats a solid education as the foundation for success. The more uncertain the financial times, the more important it becomes to enter a business investment, negotiation, bid or project as prepared and informed as possible.

For the security integrator, dealer and installer, education has become even more important in recent years; technology has gotten much more complex, raising the knowledge bar ever higher. Some certifications, such as those from Microsoft, have become a must for a company working with a higher-end customer. Moreover, the ability to not only stay in business, but prosper, can often be tied directly to the critical knowledge that integrators bring to their customers as well as to their own businesses.

With this in mind, in 2009, the Security Industry Association began partnering with ISC Events to overhaul and reshape the education component of the ISC Conferences. In developing the conference program, SIA took a step back and looked at what might benefit an attendee — the learner — most. Working closely with an educational advisory board, SIA sought to develop relevant and timely content, all within an educational sphere. New policies were put in place to cement the conference program as an educational venue rather than a commercial one (speakers are now prevented from delivering commercial or vendor-specific sessions, for example). The process for evaluating and selecting proposals was overhauled to focus on industry relevance, timeliness of the issue, and quality of the presenter.

SIA is proud to have played a lead role in developing the ISC Conference programs, which, beginning in 2010, have received high satisfaction marks from attendees and speakers alike. Divided into two tracks — business and technology — ISC Conference educational programs seek to teach integrators about key issues, ways to benefit from new and upcoming technology, and in general provide more focused and intentional education for both business development and technology.

Some examples of new educational sessions that were developed for integrators at ISC Solutions (happened this month in New York) and ISC West (to be held March 27-29, 2012 in Las Vegas), include:

• Estimating skills — learning to increase accuracy and efficiency during the estimating, proposal and contract process; outlining key database management challenges and solutions; and identifying key metrics, performance indicators and types of reporting to increase profitability.

• High capacity video storage — Outlining the differences and benefits of storage systems built for video surveillance applications; enumerating the benefits of leveraging open systems and virtualization to save immediate and long-term costs; and discussing the value of a scalable storage platform to enable customers to capture and store the data necessary to make video usable in investigations.

• Business continuity — Developing a policy and procedure roadmap for crisis management issues connected to risk and security; formulating a strategic business continuity plan for physical and logical aspects of an organization; and coordinating security, risk and business continuity strategies for the bottom-line success of an organization.

• Return on Security Investment (ROSI) — Distinguishing ROSI from typical ROI assessments; introducing current methods for assessing ROSI; reviewing examples of smart security that delivers concrete ROSI; and developing concrete strategies to apply these principles to an organization.

• Service agreements — Evaluating the need to sell service agreements; designing the right service agreements to minimize exposure and maximize profit; and effectively pricing services to maximize profit.

• Networks — Establishing key elements of proper network design and infrastructure to support security installations; identifying tools needed for network and cloud services delivery; and describing effective strategies for supplementing good network design with good security practices.

This is not the ISC Education of years past. What attendees receive is a true education, focused on maximizing their value and experience, with the ultimate goal of imparting crucial knowledge that will help integrators improve their businesses in multiple ways.