Do Not Discount The Skill Level Of The End User, Nor Assume The Expertise Of The Reseller

As a manufacturers sales rep, I frequently come across end users (even smaller ones) who are more informed about my product than the resellers who sell it.

Why? Because they did their own research and decided my product would fit their needs. They read the extensive documentation on the website. They watch the videos. They may have even downloaded a trial version of the software and tried it out.

The reseller? They may sell many different brands. They may have never deeply evaluated my product to fit a particular need. They may have never read the documentation or watched the videos. They may not have even been to my website. To be sure there are many who are absolute experts in what they sell, but there are a lot (a good number ..) as described as well.

I am not saying the reseller is wrong, I am just saying the end-user often has more laser focus on my product than many resellers. Do not discount the skill level of the end user, nor assume the expertise of the reseller.

NOTICE: This comment was moved from an existing discussion: Manufacturer Selling Direct To End Users?


Very well said, I am made this its own post since it deserves to be seen and considered. Thanks.

Always two sides to the coin. I plausibly agree with UM#1's experience and perspective regarding end users that sustain or have more than a symbiotic relationship with their security baseline parameters regarding multiple internal groups negotiating, developing the best risk based business continuity. Definitely there is a larger field the integrator is not aware of, thus the split from the main discussion. However, if the top end user can safely loop in the integrator's dev team, cyber, engineering and risk analysis without full disclosure to business X, an very comprehensive co-op tiered relation can be established. There are many aspects and angles needing to be considered so this is just a high level WHAT IF, HOW theory to proceed.

What does your integrator bring to the table besides proposals, markups, margins and Roms?  

What are Roms?

I think or at least how I've used RoM is for rough order of magnitude estimates, which I think makes sense in the context of his question.

How many integrators have the following "dev team, cyber, engineering and risk analysis"??  Not any that I have worked with in my 20+ years.   

Also, this is a very long sentence that made my head hurt "I plausibly agree with UM#1's experience and perspective regarding end users that sustain or have more than a symbiotic relationship with their security baseline parameters regarding multiple internal groups negotiating, developing the best risk based business continuity."   The gist is you agree?

As a former designer for an integrator now working as an end user, I'm moderately surprised how often I'm more knowledgeable than the integrators I now work with.   It's a tough line for me to walk between telling them what I want and designing it for them. I spent an entire day assisting an integrator in troubleshooting a particular problem.  I was internally thinking "this is what we are paying you guys for". I actually had an integrator ask my advice on how to handle a particular situation. That's both flattering and concerning.     I know that I'm a special case though, having come from the integrator side. 

These days, I would be thrilled with having an integrator technician ask a question at all. More often than not they just do things -- wrong -- and then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it doesn't work...

I know that I'm a special case though, having come from the integrator side.

I don't have any stats but, at least anecdotally, that seems to be a growing trend. As organizations have more devices and bigger security systems, it starts making sense to have their own internal expert(s).

This is definitely a growing trend.  Every large account I've been on for the past few years has an internal specialist or group of specialists.  Some of them are impressively advanced.

I agree with the initial poster that there are many integrators that have minimal knowledge of the product.  Even within my own company, I am astounded at some of the misinformation or lack of knowledge.

I do see the creation of specialists/specialist groups internally by the end user as a potential root cause of the brain drain at integrators.  Personally, I have been directly recruited by end users a few times over the past year.  While I have never pursued them any further than their first call my predecessor did and the advantages are myriad - less stress (contracting is horrible), infinitely better health benefits, better retirement plans, and usually better pay.  In our region a very large international security company that also does a large amount of security integration is pulling out after at least a decade of controlling two of the largest accounts in our area.  The reason: both of those customers stole all of their SMEs.

 

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: The Creation Of End User Specialists/Specialist Groups Internally Is A Potential Root Cause Of The Brain Drain At Integrators

Well that's not a good trend for me to hear, as some one who left a national integrator to work for an end user, and has promptly found himself quite bored in his day to day and looking at going back to an integrator, hah.

I saw flipping to an end user as something that cuts both ways.  Working for an end user pretty much means that you will only be knowledgeable in the product that end user has in place even if you develop knowledge greater than the original developers.  If, for any reason, someone ends up back in the market for work and all they have to show for it is decades of experience with Casi Rusco and ONSSI there will be an uphill battle to find work due to irrelevant skills.  There are only so many positions in the work place for "Security Systems Specialist" when compared to sales engineer, engineer, estimator, project manager, sales, etc.

I've not been with the end user that long, but that is something I have already seen. I am always working on the same products and my fear is one day I won't know the other products I used to work on anymore and will effectively be stuck where I am.

But then I also see my previous employers doing less specialized work, and more "cookie-cutter" work as well...tricky position.

Well, it gives you a chance to become a subject matter expert on that software. 

That's my 'back up' plan, that if I ever get annoyed working as an end user, I can go back to work for an integrator  with a knowledge that you just can't get as an integrator.

I've been the security sys admin for almost two years and I've learned a TON of  every day things that you just would never learn being an integrator. Quirks about systems, programming, etc.  Stuff you just can't learn by sitting in a 2 day training class.  You have to get in and DIG into the software sometimes to find things.  It's at the point now where I talk directly to the software technical support (though I shouldn't be) because they all know who I am and know that I know my stuff.

 

For example, if I was an integrator, I'd NEVER install a motion rex ever again. In the real world, they are really temperamental and give all sorts of false alarms. I have banned them from my facility and insist on integrated REX in handsets.  You learn about network bandwidth and network subnet address limitations (particularly on the gov side, which is where I am), firewall issues and back up processes.   I hate to toot my own horn, but I'd say that I'd be significantly more valuable to an integrator if I went back, then I was 2 years ago as a designer.  Yeah, to an extent it might pigeon hole you to a particular software a little bit, but some of these things can be used on any system.  I flirted with going private for a little bit when a headhunter on Linkedin messaged me. I told her that while I was previously certified on that particular software, I wasn't using it in my current job and that cert had expired. She wasn't worried about that at all, since I obviously had the 'core' knowledge and she said that they would pay for me to get re certified and trained.

You learn about network bandwidth and network subnet address limitations (particularly on the gov side, which is where I am), firewall issues and back up processes. I hate to toot my own horn, but I'd say that I'd be significantly more valuable to an integrator if I went back, then I was 2 years ago as a designer. 

Maybe... the challenge is so many integrators just want to run cable, hang a device, and move on.  I view it as the "easy button" of integration.  Where I am at I am the sole VMS "expert" and the sole project manager that pushes to sell the whole solution - servers, network electronics, VMS, and cameras.  It's really astounding how often many integrators let themselves become commoditized wire and camera mounting labor.  I think this is what the initial poster is recognizing.

So while you may have value being able to schedule backups, administrate a system fully, setup analytics properly, perform proper security protocols, and basically complete the last 5% of the system that many integrators fail to do I think that the value is limited at most integrators.  It's not that there is not value in that (there is tremendous value), but it is simply not recognized at many integrators that are under the "we see video and it is recording, we're done" business motto.   I have been told many times "we're not making Rolex' watches" in my career but then am later asked "why are your customers so sticky when the rest are not"?

Integrators need to adapt and develop specialists.  This is partly driven by cost pressure as well as the owner's desire to make a tidy profit.  Between the two there is no room for more than very expensive trunkslamming.

She wasn't worried about that at all, since I obviously had the 'core' knowledge and she said that they would pay for me to get re certified and trained.

I have system management/design experience with 3 different VMS's and 2 different access systems at the enterprise level. I can say not only do I get recruited for my knowledge in those systems regardless of how long it's been since I have used them or cert status, I get recruited for systems I have absolutely no experience with.

I think the industry is realizing that while video/access systems might have differences, it's the experience of working with large, complex systems and making them work that really matters. So, for UI 3,5, and 6, I'd advise you to find a way to consult/train/troubleshoot for integrators/consultants outside of your current positions. It breaks up what can become monotonous, provides another income stream, keeps you sharp, and builds a reputation for when it comes time to leave.

One strategy to perform while employed by the end user would be to thoroughly document your role in any new projects or ventures that end user embarks on. Projects such as your participation in end user real estate owned vs. leased security projects, larger projects such as facial recognition deployment, turnstile projects, new security GSOC or any IT redundancy builds for networking, security hardware, vms storage. There is a lot more going on at the end user than meets the eye. Embrace the challenges and get involved with the team.  All of this criteria can be applied into your future resume, OTJ training experience and possible advancements within the end users ladder.

Now, back to others in this thread..all the "I left the integrator side and now I am super senior intergalactic security strategist commanding all the armies of the north perimeter triple redundant video network and I all author all security policies by industry standards". I'll be back on later, going on a day hike then grabbing some German-Style Pilsner @ devicebrewing. Do not feel umbrage at the fly fished attempts of the undisclosed as they are never gonna give you up, never gonna say good bye..

As IT has become more involved, a lot of the architectural, network, server, and storage designs are being developed and executed by the end users organization. The participation level of the "integrator" is really dependent on the capabilities that the reseller brings to the table. Point is, even without physical security experts on staff, a good portion of the project, be it design or install, is likely to be handled in-house.

This is a great topic. 

As the sole Corporate Security 'guy' at a mid-sized organization (~700 employees) I am the absolute epidemy of jack of all trades but absolute master of none -- because I have to be.  

I find that heavily researching product is the equivalent to cramming for an exam -- do I understand the product? absolutely.  Do I catch my integrators/resellers off guard with this?  you bet.  Do I understand the inner workings including technical small print and the nuts and bolts of it all?  not a chance.  

I have no problem in asking integrators/resellers to dumb down their pitches or solutions, or I may withhold my knowledge on the product to see how well they know it.

Resellers and end users need to put the ego aside and find a healthy balance.  Walking away from a seller is easy if I don't feel like this has been accomplished. 

I try to take a similar tactic when I'm talking to integrators. I know that technology changes very fast and with me being 'out of the industry' for 2 years, that stuff may have evolved. So, when I tell them what I'm thinking, I always try to say 'if you have a better idea/suggestion for this situation, throw it at me'.  

 

 

I have never clicked the "Agree" button so often on an IPVM topic.

My experience with local reseller/integrator has not been positive.  When I need to order 1 or 2 cameras I go to Amazon or B&H especially when I need it in rush. 

 

But I thought I would give my business to local companies where I live.  One company quoted me 3 times the price on B&H/Amazon. Another local company 2 times. This is just to order (no install). Have they heard of the Internet where anyone can check prices? They are stuck in old ways.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: My Experience With Local Integrators Has Not Been Positive - Quoting 2 To 3x Amazon/B&H Pricing