For several years now I’ve heard that the physical security integrators (PSIs) will be dead and IT integrators will take over their space in the market because PSIs do not have the skills needed to compete. I find this absurd, as I have watched technology evolve for over 30 years and for the entire time have seen dealers and integrators learn every one of them as the products became reliable enough (real or perceived) to be used for security.

How or why would anyone need to learn a technology until it existed?  I recall teaching dealers in the mid ‘70s (I was a distributor then) about programming digital dialers with DIP chips, setting up a spread-spectrum wireless system (reliable enough for commercial applications), long-range radio systems, integrated security panels, and even moving from tube cameras to digital. At the same time I was typing up the orders and faxing them to my suppliers. 

Would you or I have thought about learning to use computers 30 years ago? The Internet 20 years ago? Facebook and Twitter 10 years ago? Mobile applications five years ago? Some may have, as there are always early adopters and visionaries in any market, but security like any market has its own tipping point. My rule for adoption in the security industry is that a combination of price, ease of use, reliability and compatibility will initiate change.

Our industry uses a lot of technology and is a customer business, not a technology business.  While IT integrators may have understood new technology before most PSIs, they did not always understand the security customer. If you need to worry about who will take your customer, worry about who knows your customer better than you.

The reality is that there is no way to know what technology PSIs or dealers need to learn until that technology hits the security market tipping point and for IP it certainly has. The proof is in one of the questions asked of PSIs in SDM’s Top Systems Integrators Report: What percent of your projects sold incorporated IP technology? Among the top 20 companies that responded to this question last year, half indicated between 80 percent and 90 percent of their projects included IP. This is twice as many as in 2009. So yes, PSIs do change and find the right time to change.