In sessions, keynotes and on the tradeshow floor, the word of the day seemed to be “change.” In fact, this year’s official theme was “Explore. Expand. Exchange. Evolve.” ESX was held in Nashville June 12-16, and most agreed this is a great venue. Next year’s event will return to Nashville, June 19-22, 2018, an announcement that was met with cheers. 

On the first morning, the OpenXChange breakfast featured a panel discussing “the changing competitive landscape.”

ESX chair George DeMarco introduced the panel, which consisted of Rob Martens from Allegion, Scott Harkins from Honeywell, Justin Wong from IFTTT and Andrew Thomas of Skybell. “We are way past go at this point and there is no turning back,” DeMarco said of the technology evolution that began in 2007 with the iPhone, and continues today with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and — in the security industry — the connected home.

“Consumers want mobile first and mobile only customer experiences,” DeMarco continued. “Things have stopped happening gradually.”

Panelists all agreed that there is enormous opportunity out there in the security space and that there is in fact room for all.

“What I love about home security is the things that keep you safe are the things that keep you connected,” Thomas said. “I see nothing but opportunity for everybody.”

Both Harkins and Martens pointed to the influx of competition from outside the traditional security space as evidence of its viability. 

“You all have been so successful there are a bunch that want a piece of that pie,” Harkens said. But optimism is in order, Martens added.

“The reason new entrants are coming in is because they see the opportunity,” he said. “If you can adapt you will win because you have that base of knowledge that allows you to apply the technology properly and in the most useful way.”

Wong agreed: “There are all these individual endpoints that are part of a larger system. But now I have a whole lot of individual end points that don’t work together and I don’t know how to do that. I see that as a really big opportunity for this industry where folks are looking for that knowledge.”

One of the areas many dealers are trying to figure out how to take advantage of is the DIY space, as evidenced by the completely full session “DIY Security: Passing Fad or Real Opportunity,” featuring Comptronics’ John Campau and My Alarm Company’s Megan McDonald. 

“The room is full, Campau noted. “We are all kind of intrigued by this. I think it is here to stay.

“DIY is not a threat,” he added. “We embrace this. There are always people that will paint their own house. But there are also people that hire others to do that.” 

Whether DIY adds or takes away business is the “multi-million dollar question,” McDonald added. “Our self-install offering is a complement to our existing business.”

One of the highlights of events like this is the networking opportunities and social exchanges, which were helped along by events such as the ESX pub crawl, receptions held on the show floor and the air of fun and excitement the Nashville location brings.

Another highlight for SDM 100 companies and sponsors was the annual SDM Gala, held Thursday night, June 15. This year’s theme was the 1970s, and many attendees showed off their “groovy” best.

Motivation was also a big part of the event, with two exciting speakers on consecutive days. The first was the keynote luncheon speaker Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, who spoke about facing your fears and not accepting obstacles, but instead “finding a third way.” 

The next day’s keynote was a bit more interactive, with Dr. Robert Kriegel, New York Times and Businessweek author, NPR commentator and author of several books including Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers.

In a rousing audience participation game, Kriegel paired off audience members (after demonstrating on stage with SDM’s publisher, Chris Ward) to do a slap fight. He first instructed them to “try to win.” Next, they were told to “try not to lose.” The takeaway? Playing it safe never wins.

“Everyone is playing not to lose someplace in their life,” he said. “That is your opportunity — to grow or change. If you want to win, the most important aspect is to be excited about new ideas and change. When you are fired up, you are willing to try stuff you never thought you could before. Passion is like a fuel.” 

Judging from the audience reaction, the attendance at the show and in sessions, and the enthusiasm of attendees, this industry is definitely fired up for change.