With every set of opportunities comes an often equally matched set of challenges. This is especially true for security integrators today, as both an active economy and a never-ending list of security concerns continue to stimulate sales — all bolstered by end users’ desire to apply security technology across multiple business functions. It’s all good, right?

It’s great, if security integrators can manage the trials that come with the growth. This issue of SDM features the 23rd annual Top Systems Integrators Report, where not only do we rank the 100 largest companies operating in the security systems integration field, but we also take the temperature of the environment in which integrators are operating.

For example, we asked integrators, “What will be the top two challenges to your company in 2018?” By far, the No. 1 challenge pertains to labor — identifying, hiring, training, retaining. With the national unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, it creates a tight labor market for employers.

“People, people, people. Not enough to go around,” pronounced Security Equipment Inc., ranked No. 37. “Keeping up with technology,” it emphasized as its second most critical challenge.

“One challenge is finding and hiring top-qualified specialists in the industry to join our team,” said Ener-Tel Services I LLC, ranked No. 69. “Our other priority is to provide the training and professional development necessary to give our employees access to the skills and resources needed to be prepared and knowledgeable in this competitive industry.”

For many integrators, it’s not simply a matter of finding them, but finding future employees who will embrace the company’s values. “Finding talent that fits the culture of EGD is always a challenge. With a tighter labor market, we fear that this could be more challenging. As we grow, we also must continue to contend with the challenges created by a larger organization,” emphasized No. 17, Electric Guard Dog.

Part of the notion of embracing a company’s values is being open to swift changes occurring in the marketplace, especially the very fast pace of technology innovation.

“People, people, people. Not enough to go around.”

The No. 2 challenge voiced by security integrators is keeping current with technology, particularly with how quickly security products evolve. As a side note to that, security integrators are concerned with the recent flux of suppliers in the marketplace — such as mergers and acquisitions — that impact integrators’ sources of supply.

No. 67, Custom Alarm, said one of its most pressing challenges “is staying current and relevant with the ongoing changes to the industry, in particular in the interactive/connected security and camera solutions. Cameras seem to be the one product line that is changing on a consistent basis and continuing to improve in their quality, compression, storage and pricing. Keeping our installation team and sales team current with the various features and benefits and how to maximize the setup and customer interaction is a challenge. If we don’t stay current, then our customers will not feel they are getting the best value for their money and we are selling them outdated technology, a challenge all around.”

According to No. 1-ranked Convergint Technologies, “The continued commoditization of security components such as IP-based cameras will continue to have a great impact. The camera manufacturers are still in a race to the bottom. This disruptive pricing is causing integrators to reexamine and create new value-added services to offset this trend. The other top challenge would be recruiting and retaining qualified colleagues, especially as we continue to build our enterprise integration offering.”

Many security integrators also mentioned cyber security and the Internet of Things (IoT) as sweeping trends that they are concerned about being competent enough in.

“Cyber security is a serious threat. It will be a challenge to stay on top of things,” said No. 61, Strategic Security Solutions.