This year’s PSA-TEC, held May 4-8 in Westminster, Colo., featured nearly 100 educational sessions geared to integrators of all sizes and an impressive attendance that was up by about 31 percent over last year, according to PSA. The event is open to all integrators, regardless of whether they are PSA members.

“This was a banner year for TEC, said Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA Security Network. “Not only did attendance greatly exceed expectations, but we had an opportunity to continue making our footprint regarding cyber issues in the physical space. As our cyber strategy evolves we look forward to serving as a key resource for physical security professionals who are looking to enhance their own cyber defense practices.”

Cyber was a big theme at TEC this year. In addition to 31 education sessions dedicated to cybersecurity solutions, the tone of the whole event was set on Monday night with the keynote speaker, John Sileo, president and CEO, Sileo Group, a renowned privacy, identity and technology protection expert.

“Who are you? If you fail to understand the answer to that question it puts you and your business at a great deal of risk,” Sileo told the audience. He told the story of how as a “cloud computing” business owner in 1996 he was the victim of identity theft — not once, but twice. The first time a stranger stole his bank account, defaulted on his loan, bought a second home and declared bankruptcy. The second time his trusted business partner used Sileo’s identity to embezzle $300,000 from clients and caused Sileo to lose his business while he fought to clear his name and stay out of jail.

Sileo’s engaging talk encompassed many anecdotes about both personal and professional cyber awareness, because if you don’t make it personal it won’t be a priority, he said. “All security is personal. It starts with us. You can’t start with a policy or techno-babble. You have to start with how it affects us individually. It is not about the numbers. Don’t start with the laptop policy or mobile device management. Start with something that is personal.”

The days at TEC were filled with training, education and informational seminars.

Two always popular topics — this year separated into separate panels — are the State of the Integrator and the State of the Market.

At the State of the Integrator panel, moderated by Bill Bozeman, participants were carefully chosen to represent small, medium and large companies. “We want all perspectives,” Bozeman said.

Panelists Ron Oetjen, Securadyne, Christine Lanning, Integrated Security Technology, Brent Franklin, Unlimited Technology, and Jorge Lozano, Condortech, spoke about the “adapt or die” challenges facing the entrepreneurial business, regardless of company size or sales volume. They also shared growth strategies with the audience.

The State of the Industry seminar, moderated by Sandy Jones, profit development consultant, Sandra Jones and Co., featured representatives of the industry’s leading associations: Don Erickson, CEO of the Security Industry Association (SIA); Randy Gross for IT trade association CompTIA; Allan Wick representing ASIS; and Rob Simopoulos for the National Systems Contractors Association.

“The state of the industry is about you and how these people are helping you,” Jones said.

“All of these associations aren’t coming from one source,” Simopoulos added. “It is important to get involved in different ones to get different perspectives.”

A huge focus for integrators at TEC and across the industry is discovering new sources of RMR. Several sessions were dedicated to “cloud” services — from general security in the cloud to more specific offerings like health monitoring and access control.

“Cloud offers a competitive advantage for integrators,” Greg Yusi, western regional manager - Kantech, Tyco Security Products, told the audience at the Cloud-based Access Control as a Source of RMR session. “It gives you flexible options and allows you to have money coming in, spend differently and invest in other parts of your organization. If people aren’t taking advantage of software as a service (SaaS) now, they will. We will see more attacks, more breaches of security because that is not what they do best. Target and Sony are not security software companies. To date there have been no significant breaches of companies that do this for a living.”

High-profile cyber breaches came up again and again throughout the seminars and in casual discussions. This is part of the reason PSA is putting so much emphasis on cyber. Bozeman also views it as an opportunity for integrators: “Where do integrators fit in? Is it something they should just hire someone to take the burden off their back or is it an income opportunity? Some of our members think it is way beyond them, technically, but we want to educate them on what is available so, if they choose to, it could be a potential income opportunity.”

Cyber was the focus of a day-long educational track led by PSA partners Synnex, Senstar, Bosch, SecureXperts and DVTel.

 “The issue of cyber security emerging from this industry is at a point where systems are transitioning from analog to IP and cloud initiatives,” said Ron Grinfeld, director of global vertical marketing for DVTel. “Customers today would like to get access through mobile clients, web clients and such. Traditional systems are not sufficiently secure. Cyber threats are changing. It is really about training and education for the channel. At the end of the day it is about a complete mindset for a company to be able to confidently say to its channel that it is taking care of this initiative.”

Barbara Shaw, director of education for PSA Network, added, “At PSA we want to help our integrators become risk responsible solution providers. That is the goal of the PSA cyber initiative, to bring cyber solution providers to the table to help them take that step forward.”

While the days were about serious education and learning, TEC attendees also like to have a little fun. In addition to the thought provoking opening reception that prompted many to return to their rooms and change all their passwords, there was a planned night of bowling, as well as the extremely popular TEC Jam session, featuring an impressive collection of security industry professionals who sideline as rock musicians. Representatives from Bosch, Vicon, PSA and others performed classics and “oldies” to a truly appreciative crowd. One attendee described it as the “best event at TEC.”

Bill Bozeman summed up the event in a letter thanking attendees, sponsors and speakers: “I would like to thank you for making TEC 2015 our most successful event to day. In my 20+ years of experience with TEC I believe this was the best one ever.”