In an age of advanced technology there is no middle ground when designing and implementing a security project. A job that requires cutting-edge solutions demands a project partner with cutting-edge skills. That is why choosing the proper security integrator is essential to link the myriad systems protecting your organization. An ever-expanding convergence of network-centric physical security solutions demands a systems integrator (SI) that can provide the design ability to merge enterprise software and network infrastructure around a cogent security framework. And yet, this integrator-user partnership must also reshape business operations that will help an organization’s unified systems function more efficiently and cost-effectively.

What Does an SI Bring to the Table?

On an enterprise level, working with a systems integrator that has a strong regional reach and high-end technology capabilities in both the physical and cyber sides of the house is critical. Such a systems integrator can help an organization leverage best-in-class products, provide access to the latest products and feature sets, and deliver training and technical support for most project opportunities. A savvy systems integrator fully understands their role in this symbiotic SI-user relationship. Despite the rapid pace of technology change, the objective of the integrator should remain the seamless coordination of all subsystems in meeting the challenges of combined physical and cyber threats.

The industry has recently experienced the havoc a cyber breach on a physical security device can bring to the security posture of an organization. Last month hackers accessed the live video feeds of major global corporations, manufacturing plants, financial centers, schools and jails. In total, more than 150,000 cameras were hacked. The migration to cloud-based access control and video surveillance, plus a more dynamic IoT landscape, raises the threat level for similar hacks in the future. However, it also enhances the role of the systems integrator even more. Finding and growing with the right integration partner will ensure the successful digital transformation of an organization’s security.

How Do You Know if You Have the Right Systems Integrator?

Vetting a systems integrator is a key first step. Be aware that there are extreme distinctions between security dealers or systems installers. While all of these may carry the title of integrator, many lack the necessary expertise a full-on integration firm possesses. Some companies may be extremely capable in their scope of technical expertise, but don’t have the track record or expertise to plan and implement a scope of multiple systems. The ability to manage the complexities of an operation brings value to a project and cost-efficiencies to the life of the system.

During the vetting process, check with peers and references from other security, facility and cybersecurity professionals to gauge your prospect’s level of competency and management skills. An organization should then have the finalists meet with the project team and company executives to showcase their abilities. Beware of those integrators who fail to take advantage of such an opportunity.

Almost every systems integration firm features a menu of technology solutions they plan to bring to a project. It is wise to find a systems integrator with expertise across a variety of solutions. Systems integrators that share a technology catalog of access control, video, locks and peripheral products tend to be more solutions-oriented for their clients. Also, integrators with an expertise of a specific brand usually have a greater acumen for servicing building components that might be tangentially related to the systems in a proposed security project.

Another key point when choosing an integrator is to find one that will consult with your staff on all project options. In systems integration, design / build is the key to success. The systems integrator must be able to comprehend the scope of the project in the context of your organization’s systems infrastructure. They must then be able to not only construct an efficient and cost-effective technology roadmap, but also possess multiple options based on your business’ needs. Not many clients want a solution picked off the shelf.

Choosing a systems integrator with a robust portfolio of products, technology experience and client satisfaction usually results in a first-class project. Having that one point of contact from conception to completion will ensure that the integrator is able to manage and take full ownership of the project. That fact will provide incentive for a continued partnership well beyond the initial implementation of technology systems and will eliminate any miscommunications that can hamper projects with multiple vendors.