At some point we won't be selling systems

As Director of Business Development for Automated Management Technologies (AMT), I get calls from some very forward-thinking people within the security industry as well some outsiders.

What is different about these people is that they do not want to buy an entire system, and our industry for the most part, is accustomed to selling and installing complete systems. A few examples: A designer working on two large government projects explained he did not need and did not want another database installed, anywhere. Central stations are asking for the alarms from the access control system to be displayed on their existing consoles and maybe some card management functions, but really don’t care about the bulk of what else the access system does. Another individual wanted to provision our software with information from Active Directory but went on to say he did not want that information stored anywhere in our software.

By contrast, the current security industry offerings are made up of a variety of “systems”. CCTV systems, access control systems, intrusion detection systems and so on. Integration is a constant (and tired) topic involved with getting these systems to work with each other. To that end, these callers are exploring the idea of removing any parts that make the individual systems individual. After all, those are the parts that seem to be getting in the way.

Here is how these people view our world:

Devices such as card readers, cameras, motion detectors, door contacts, etc. are nothing more than sensors. These devices produce data. Devices such as card readers or motion detectors are not thought of as belonging to a particular system, but rather just a bunch of sensors connected to a data center.

Leveraging the intelligence of devices installed at the edge, such as the HID Edge Reader or IP cameras with on board analytics, the goal is to let the devices do their job, and let the data that is owned by the business (not the security system) be applied to any function for the greater good of the business. The efficiency comes from all components sharing their data and no duplication of data in the organization. The data storage and user interface screens of the individual security systems are redundant and unnecessary.

The selling of “systems” as we know them will not go away anytime soon. But the isolated, autonomous role they once played continues to change toward a more open, multipurpose, and less dedicated environment. The goal is to create software components that can live in both a system and non-system world.