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Designed by the Industry

12 March 2019

The Security Event is “designed by the industry for the industry.” That is a great marketing cry but what is the substance behind it? Philip Ingram MBE caught up with some of the founding partners of The Security Event to see if they believed that cry and to discuss some of the issues affecting them.

SITTING DOWN with a massive global security distributer, and a couple of manufacturers (Comelit and TDSi) Philip picked their collective brains to see if The Security Event is designed to do what it says on the tin, so to speak.

John Davies the Managing Director and owner of TDSi opened the discussion when he said: “The ability to work with the show organisers to properly shape the event to what our needs and objectives are for a show like this, was extremely refreshing and has been incredibly rewarding. For once we are being listened to.”

Francesca Boeris, Managing Director at Comelit Group UK added: “The attraction of working with the founding partners, all of whom are leading the way to creating a better and smarter security industry. It’s something we felt proud to be involved and partner, right from the initial concept, to the show, to looking forward to welcoming visitors to our stand.”

Barrie Millett, the head of Operational Resilience with the Birmingham based Wesleyan Group and chairman of the West Midlands CSSC, representing not just local businesses who will be visiting The Security Event but also the importance local crime prevention agencies are putting on it, said: “We will be hosting a designing out crime zone in partnership with Secured by Design, West Midlands Design Out Crime Unit and the West Midlands Cyber Crime Unit.”

Finally, Jarod Booth, Strategic Supplier Relationship Manager – Security, from the leading global security solutions distributer, Anixter said: “We felt that a UK-focused security professional and installer exhibition in the Midlands would give us a great opportunity to re-connect with this geographical base and consolidate our positioning in the market.”

So, I think the “designed for the industry, by the industry” has been proven but there is so much more. Another common positive comment revolved around geography and Francesca Boeris summed this up perfectly when she said, “We have noticed, especially in the last couple of years, many of our customers were not willing to travel to London. The move to the NEC was a significant pull for us, and it’s something we feel confident will draw visitor attention from across the country.”

Of note one key theme that came out in discussions was what can only be described as a sea change across the physical security industry that has crept in slowly. Philip Ingram asked them all if traditional manufacturers of physical security products are increasingly becoming software manufacturers?

The resounding answer that came back was yes! John Davies said, “On the access control side of things, we’ve been software driven for 10-15 years at least now.  It’s through the software that interoperability and integration take place and it is the vehicle through which problems are solved.  

“With the advent of IoT and Cloud computing and the traction that has in the wider world, we are now seeing manufacturers from the Intruder Alarm side of the piece beginning to embrace software and delivering solutions and services.  The evolution of Service and adding this to the portfolio of manufacturers is also driving more use on importance of the software element as service delivery efficiencies are driven more effectively through software platforms.”

Francesca Boeris said: “Comelit has a big R&D spend, in a recent interview, our R&D Director Sergio Nicoli, highlighted how new products need to have a connection to the cloud.  From Comelit’s perspective, this means new groups of people are involved in R&D, including now software designers and app builders.”

Jarod Booth said: “The biggest challenges we see facing the Security industry at the moment are cybersecurity, commoditisation, interoperability and the impact of Internet of Things (IoT).  

“In the 90s we witnessed consolidation of the disparate communication cabling and protocols around Ethernet, in the 00s we witnessed voice being integrated to IP-based networks and over the past 10 to 15 years, security systems have migrated to IP-enabled devices. 

“We are seeing operational technologies related to lighting, building management systems and industrial controls beginning to migrate onto the network and away from legacy communication protocols. When you consider the intelligence opportunity within a smart city, smart building or even a smart home we begin to see the real advantages the IoT and meta data will provide. 

“The rapid development and expectation of billions of devices all communicating over IP will bring vast improvement to the operational efficiency of originations as well as a great opportunity to the integration market. This rapid change will bring challenges around knowledge, solutions that can communicate with all these devices, cybersecurity concerns and a consolidation of the market.  

“Anixter is conducting surveys, customer interviews and gathering other “Voice of Customer” data to craft solutions with our partners that leverage existing technologies that allow us to bridge for the Ethernet/IoT future so they can reap the benefits of tomorrow’s technology today.”

The Security Event is happening shortly after the planned BREXIT date and it is probable that the implication of what ever result becomes reality, will be a huge topic of discussion in the isles and on the stands. As a starter, Philip Ingram again asked the industry representatives what they were doing to prepare and the implications of this historic move. 

Jarod Booth represents the company with one of the biggest Brexit challenges and said: “It’s a challenging time for international companies trying to gauge and prepare for the business impact of Brexit on their organisations.  Anixter has established a Brexit team who are closely monitoring the situation and preparing our business for the various scenarios that may arise. As a supply chain expert, it’s critical for us to be close to our customers, around the world. Because we have physical presence and warehousing across EMEA we feel we are in a position to be able to mitigate any adverse effects of Brexit in any form and continue the high-quality service delivery we are known for.”

However, UK manufacturing industries will also be impacted, John Davies said: “Brexit uncertainties are beginning to slow activity in the construction sector and have already had an effect on investment planning among UK companies. It’s the uncertainty of exactly what form that Brexit will take is the issue. Once this is known, effective planning can take place.  In the absence of knowledge, plans are held in abeyance.”  

Francesca Boeris summed up the sentiment when she said: “The outcome of Brexit and uncertainties mean the industry has to ensure correct strategies are in place to minimise any disruption.”

The trends being brought out by these industry leaders are both enlightening and concerning at the same time. One of the biggest challenges will be ensuring the industry is properly prepared with the right people trained with the right skills for current, developing and future requirements.  

Francesca Boeris said: “The real challenge for Comelit is the skills shortage in the industry. There simply aren’t enough qualified staff coming out of colleges and being trained in-house.  Conversely, with engineers currently in the industry, they are either too multi-disciplined to specialise or struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change. 

The difference with the security industry is the necessity of the intricate skills sets.  Unlike other industries, being able to understand and apply the technical aspects of security and fire installation, whether traditional or encompassing latest smart solutions (or often a mixture of both) quickly and efficiently, is vital to success.”

Ensuring personnel with the right skills are there is one of the roles of another exhibitor, the Linx International Group. Kevin Matthews from the international training provider will introduce the CTSP (Certified Technical Security Professional) register. 

CTSP is a searchable professional Register that publicly recognises the competency of individuals fulfilling technical roles in the electronic security and fire sectors, including Installation, Maintenance and Commissioning Technicians/Engineers, Auditors and Consultants.  The Register is operated by Linx International Group Company Tavcom and is supported by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) and Dubai based SIRA. Kevin Matthews said: “At the event we will highlight the personal and commercial benefits of having both experience and qualifications acknowledged by a respected independent public Register.”

One thing is clear talking to these security industry giants. Their enthusiasm for The Security Event is evident in everything they say. There is palpable excitement when chatting with them and other exhibitors and visitors. The Security Event has clearly been designed by the Industry and the content, the issues being brought out and even before the launches of exciting new technology, all point to it has clearly been designed for the industry. Quite simply this is an event not to miss and the impact it is having already is clear. 

The Security Event takes place at NEC Birmingham on 9-11 April and is free to attend and also offers free parking to delegates. Register now at www.thesecurityevent.co.uk