Every physical security integrator knows that keeping up with product training and certifications is essential to running a successful, forward-looking business. The more knowledge an integrator has in their toolbelt, the more they’re able to meet and exceed customer expectations. 

Though there was once a time when industry certification meant physically showing up at a vendor’s training event for a five-day crash course on all things hardware and software, today’s education landscape is nothing like it used to be.

Digital learning programs with bite-sized and self-paced courses allow today’s integrators to not only follow their curiosity, tackle specific customer challenges, and absorb more relevant information; it’s also enabled them to differentiate themselves in the market with unique specializations. 

In this blog, we’ll explore how integrator education has evolved and why continuous learning is now a critical component to long-lasting success. 

Key trends that changed the game of learning for integrators 

In the last decade, the physical security industry has evolved significantly. Security systems no longer exist in silos, but instead are being brought together under one platform to help customers gain more insight from their sensors and enhance decision-making across a wider range of business disciplines. 

These customers have also become savvier about getting greater value from security investments. Today, they want to know what they can do with all the data they are collecting to enhance operational outcomes and efficiencies. For the modern integrator, this means addressing traditional security needs, while also introducing creative solutions to support a whole host of other operational priorities and departments. 

Cybersecurity and privacy have also become central to the discussion of social responsibility and business continuity. Even beyond achieving cyber resilience and privacy compliance, businesses today are seeking to protect the data and privacy of their employees, customers, and partners.

All of this has led a wave of modern integrators to step up and be ready to meet these new industry demands. Relying on one product training session every couple of years won’t cut it anymore. Leading integrators understand that they need to be far more agile and responsive in how they approach their customers, and thus, their education on physical security systems and capabilities. 

Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic brought digital learning to the forefront

Though the learning landscape started changing years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized this need for agility and on-demand learning. As entire business sectors were tasked with complying with new health mandates throughout the pandemic, manufacturers rushed to deliver cutting-edge solutions. Integrators played a vital role in bringing those advancements to market and helping customers adapt to ever-changing conditions. 

Having access to more dynamic, on-demand education gave integrators deeper levels of understanding on how to best deploy and configure these new purpose-built solutions. With knowledge at hand, integrators could quickly and confidently respond to customer requests, acting not merely as a security installer, but as a solutions advisor that was there to help them tackle unique and pressing business challenges.  

Using downtime to embrace new digital programs and continuous education

The pandemic further propelled new ways of learning as well. As more people shifted to work-from-home scenarios, integrators were able to capitalize on downtime to learn new skills and invest in training. 

At Genetec for example, we saw an uptick in classes that focused on key topics and emerging technologies. Beyond the core system trainings, our integrators were keen to brush up their skills on everything from cybersecurity principles and new system integrations to product add-ons such as mapping, decision support, and communications modules. 

In response to this, we, as vendors, were able to expand and adapt our training methodologies to provide more relevant, timely, on-demand sessions, including several courses that can be completed in hours instead of days. This made it easier for our integrators to get the knowledge required for a specific project while learning on their schedule. 

What’s even more exciting is that integrators are now following their curiosity. Perhaps, they’ll start by pulling up a knowledge base article because they’re working on a specific customer system. And that article might lead them to a discussion thread with other integrators or a YouTube video from one of our subject matter experts that goes deeper into that topic. From there, they could decide to sign up for a fully digital course to expand their knowledge and achieve certification. 

As the pandemic subsides, the future of education in the physical security industry will be centered on this hybrid, continuous learning model. It’s the ability to take an in-person or online class to benefit from hands-on instruction and interaction when it’s most meaningful, while maintaining access to resources online to continue advancing skills long after the course is completed. 

Standing out from the crowd with knowledge specialization

Meeting the evolving needs of customers is the main driver to further one’s education; however, this newfound knowledge also comes with added credibility and recognition. For instance, we have started issuing badges to integrators who complete certifications that they can share on their websites or LinkedIn profiles. This reinforces an integrator’s reputation as a progressive organization that stays on top of the latest physical security trends and system capabilities. 

In the eyes of their customers, knowledge becomes a true differentiator. Trusting that their integrator invests in ongoing education can boost confidence in the partnership and provide additional peace of mind as their security installation grows.

Taking integrator education further to better serve customers

In the technology and software space, there’s a movement to deliver innovations to customers much more quickly than ever before And learning should be no different. To better serve customers, integrators need to be able to stay informed about what’s most relevant and impactful in the industry.

As we move forward, the most successful integrators will no longer consider education as check-box items or as an obligation to be completed every few years to maintain certification. When learning becomes a mindset and a central operating principle in the integrator’s business, and when continuous learning supersedes one-off training sessions, deployments are smoother, customers are happier, and everyone wins.