What If IPVM Releases An Integrator Finder?

[UPDATE: The IPVM Security Integrator Finder is live.]

I have an idea that I want your feedback on.

Regularly, we hear questions from:

  • End users and consultants looking to figure out who are the integrators in a given area
  • Manufacturers looking for integrator partners in different areas
  • Integrators looking for integrators in other areas (i.e., based in Boston, have a job with a site in Buffalo).

A good solution to this would be an 'Integrator Finder' that would combine a map interface and a comprehensive database of integrators. Data that could be included:

  • What locations / branches each integrator has
  • What industry certifications those integrators have
  • What lines the integrators carry
  • What reference projects they have

There are a few attempts to do this but it's generally restricted to specific manufacturer lines (e.g., the Milestone reseller finder). We could do a more universal one, regardless of what lines they carry.

I'd want to give it away for free as I see it as a marketing tool for IPVM (a resource that anyone might find interesting). Also, we can help highlight which integrators have IPVM members, who are top commenters, who have IPVM certifications, etc.

Ok, what do you think? Yeah? Nay? Specific features you'd want?


I am totally onboard. It's a great idea.

That would probably look beautiful for the larger companies but not so much the smaller ones that are fairly new to the scene.

My gut feel is the opposite. The larger companies have huge sales and marketing budgets (plus brand) so many people know them already (Tyco, ADT, Diebold, Siemens, etc.).

It's the smaller companies that are relatively unknown. Let's say a consultant is looking for integrators for a municipal building in Oklahoma City or a manufacturer is looking for partners. Surely they know the larger companies but a finder like this would expose them to smaller ones that might have good qualifications but would otherwise be unknown. Yes/no?

I totally agree with John. I have managed very large roleouts and this kind of thing would be very helpful. If I wanted ADT, I have a national sales manager and regional guyis I can call. I would prefer dealing with local guys if possible, but they need to be up for the job. Also, when ADT has a job in a place where they dont have a dealer, they could use this a tool to subcontract the work.

Also, ADT is not necessarily inexpensive.

Great Idea +/-feedback would be fantastic.

I agree John. We are always looking for integrators to partner with around the country, and knowing the potential partner is a frequent contributor to IPVM, to me, would give them more credibility.

John, I totally agree. Another great idea!

I think that would be a great idea. Being a very small integrator in Las Vegas, I'd like the opportunity to get my name out there while networking with other integrators. Excellent idea John. That brings up a good topic. Obviously integrators have to have a system they prefer to install as a go-to standard, but how many integrators stay open to the best solution for the specific application? I for one like to use new software and hardware often. I feel it exposes me to what's going on in the industry, and usually I learn a great deal about where I am knowledge-wise, and how new 'stuff' stacks up to my go-to equipment/VMS.

"how many integrators stay open to the best solution for the specific application?"

Ben, these posts might help:

How Many Camera Lines Do Integrators Carry?

How Do I Choose What Surveillance Lines To Carry?

Access Control: Here's Why Integrators Choose Multiple Lines

I think this would be a great idea. Make the integrator answer what their lead VMS product, camera line and Access Control line is. If you can allow searchers to sort by these variables it will make it even better.

We can definitely track more advanced / lower levels elements. My main concern is keeping this up to date, i.e., when integrators switch lines, etc.

There are ways to address this, we could send automated emails periodically asking / requiring integrators to verify information is current, etc.

On that note, if there are other details anyone want us to track let us know.

Great Idea. Perhaps return integrator listings in a random sort order to be fair to the alphabetically challenged?

Watch out though for liability issues, especially when combining IPVMU certifications with IPVM recommendations...

I like the idea. Knowing if they're a DBE/WBE in their area would also be helpful.

Kevin, thanks for sharing that. Keep those ideas coming on different areas / aspects to cover.

When I first read the post, I thought no. Keep this forum as manufacturer / dealer / product agnostic as possible. That's one of the main reason for me being here. While my feeling remains, I have been in the position of looking for integrators in other cities. This service could indeed be useful. Keeping it current by the suggested methods is important.

How would this make us less agnostic? It's not like we would ever accept advertising / money / etc. from large integrators to give them more prominent placement.

I think a directory not only of integrators, but of service techs in different areas would be useful.

Manufacturers are easy to find online - just google their name. Resellers can often be found under manufacturers' "where to buy" links.

Being a small outfit in Vancouver but doing business all over BC, Alberta, and now with client sites in Saskatoon and Toronto, the ability for us to find people to do sub work in those areas without resorting to such dubious sources as Yelp, would be huge.

Great example: my co-worker and I are due to fly to a client site in Toronto in about a month to do rough-in for surveillance and access control, in large part because we couldn't secure anyone locally that would do it for less. They looked at having the electricians do it, since they're already on site, but it would actually have cost more than sending us out to do it...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for sharing. Informative!

Would these service techs be independent people or from small local shops? We could list them even if they were small outfits. Many / most integrators are.

Independents, smaller shops, medium-size shops... as you say, there are a LOT of small one-to-five-person operations. In Canada, anything under 100 employees is classified as a "small business" (probably similar in the US).

My personal observations (totally non-scientific) are that once an outfit gets to a certain size, they're probably farming out a lot of work to "small local shops" anyway. Why book an ADT to do a job in another town if they're just going to call up the local Joe's Security to do the job for them? Not only are you dealing with the added markup, you're going to have to deal with the added bureaucracy in trying to get anything done. I'd rather call and deal with Joe's directly. (This observation extends to more than just security systems, too.)

Ok, excellent example!

I think the Integrator Finder will certainly help with this and if it makes it easier to not work with ADT, so much the better ;)

Great idea, I would definately use it.

John, I think it is a long overdue and great idea. A feedback / comment system for people who have worked with the integratos would be nice. Something like the Amazon feedback system. The feedback system would help buyers separate the good from the bad. If you want to be listed, you better follow through with good work. I don't want to be lumped with other integrators who don't have the same work ethic and attention to detail. The rating system would allow buyers to let others know just who they are dealing with.

I am definitely intrigued by having a feedback / comment system, however we are certainly not going to consider this for the initial release.

There's too much potential risk in doing it right, especially since unlike a typical product on Amazon that tens of thousands of people buy, many integrators have very few customers, meaning the potential reviewer 'pool' is quite small.

If the integrator finder is successful, and if lots of people use it, we'll look at how we could do this accurately in the future.

I thought of mentioning a feedback/rating system as well, but as you say, there's so much potential for problems there. What might work is if they listed some references of their own, with contact info for those...

As long as the search for best integrator in Chicagoland area always results in Griffon Systems, Inc I am onboard ;)

Excellent idea, John... Keep going.. and please dont't regulate the listing zone in Western continents... We from Asia, Middle East should be considered...

Dileep, for sure, it will be global.

The main challenge is that we are going to need help with input of who's who in Asia and the Middle East. As soon as we can get info on different integrators throughout the world, we will add them.

I think it would be a great idea. There should also be an option to filter by tech the integrator uses, as well as what brands they are authorized to do.

David, what do you by 'tech the integrator uses'? The brands / line element makes clear sense to me.

I guess if the integrator just does plain IP cameras, or thermal imaging, or cameras that are shock proof, portable cell based cameras, etc... any of these more specialty cameras. Maybe even different types of analytics. While theoreteically you can figure it out by brand/line, that would require the searcher to know which brands do what. For example someone needs a thermal camera, but does not know which manufacturers make them, so he can search by the tech, instead of just brands/lines.

My concern is there that a lot of people are going to select everything, e.g., check off ip cameras, thermal imaging, wireless systems, video analytics, perimeter detection, etc. even if they are not very strong in them.

For example, things that are clear cut, like do you have license X or Y, are more likely to be answered accurately than things that are subjective, like do you do know or do perimeter analytics.

Mainly, I am concerned about adding in listings where the probability of errors are high and will therefore make the Finder's results less useful and more risky.

I agree that is a big worry. Maybe as time goes by you can have a small quiz for each of the main categories that the integrator would have to pass in order to be listed underthat category.

One thing we plan to do is list what IPVM certifications they have as well as others (ASIS CPP / PSP, Microsoft, Cisco, etc.). This can help somewhat to idenfity strengths.

The challenge still remains, especially at bigger companies, just because 1 person knows video analytics in 1 office, that could be misleading about the abilities of the rest of their people.

Why do not you consider an idea of creating a directory not only for System Integrators but also for other market players like manufacturers (not only mentioned on the site), consultants etc.? It will not be a promotion if it is a full and open list.

You can request from participants to update information on a quarter-half year basis and publish some kind mark Up-to-Date on a profile to motivate them and inform searchers.

Konstantin,

Of those 3, I anticipate the integrator finder getting the most interest. I am not opposed to the others but the integrator one is the priority / best start for us.

This sounds like a good idea John.

One item brought up in all the thought was a rating system (IPVM = Angies list). I would caution against this for now.

As you mentioned, the pool of users is small and it is far too easy for folks to 'game' the system either for or against a specific company.

Regarding their capabilities.... this would be a good thing to have and maintain because folks can use it to sort down to a short list. Perhaps adding how long a company has been in business would be a useful metric I have not seen mentioned.... but I can see how this could hinder the new companies. This is where having reference projects can come in handy.

"One item brought up in all the thought was a rating system (IPVM = Angies list). I would caution against this for now.

As you mentioned, the pool of users is small and it is far too easy for folks to 'game' the system either for or against a specific company."

I guess the words I used about "agnostic" were not the best chosen - this is more of what I was worried about. We just had the opportunity to suggest a contractor in another city. We chose one based on their experience in cabling, since the majority of the project was data cable. They assured us they've installed access before. Well.... This list could have helped. Go for it, modify as needed when problems arise.

I wouldn't rely solely on the integrators to provide information about their own companies. There should be some verfication process for products, certifications, capabilities, competencies, project size capacity, financials, customer feedback, etc...

That's a good point. The question - how do you verify? For example, who is going to send audited financials to anyone? :)

I am not against it though. We just need to figure out practical ways that information can be verified.

To start, though, the initial goal is simply having a map that contains / pins each integrator with their name and website. We can extend / expand from there.

What does everyone think about listing licenses for each integration company?

Things like:

  • Low Voltage
  • Video Surveillance
  • Access Control
  • Burglar Alarms

even common 'other' licenses like:

  • Locksmith
  • Fire Alarms
  • Nurse Call

These licenses essentially help qualify a business as legit, so they are a good bit to add.

I think the best approach is to list local/state/regional licenses, but what do you think?

There's a license for video surveillance and access control? What? Where? We are going to need to be specific to track what these are.

There can be state level licensing requirements for individual trades or county, municipal / local requirements as well.

I think it could be dangerous recommending or providing information to potential clients for unauthorized, unlicensed or otherwise unqualified companies.

This is a very intriguing idea as long as it can be implemented thoughtfully and carefully.

Regarding Bryan's post: maybe sound and entertainment systems.

Also another thing to mention is whether or not the integrator will sub-contract out. I know we get asked a ton to do sub-contract work and our policy is to be a prime only.

Steve, that's good. I can see that being useful since a number of people have already expressed an interest in using the Finder to find subs in other locations.

All for it. Great idea. Must be kept updated and maintained however to be useful.

Agreed.

First thing, we need to determine is what is included (i.e., what information / categories). Anyone with feedback please comment.

Update: We have a live prototype Integrator Finder here.

To start, I added in Eric and Paul's companies as well as one from Hawaii for a little geographical diversity.

Again, it's just a prototype.

Let us know what you think and if you want to be added right away, just respond here or email me - john@ipvm.com

We are going to be doing a lot of enhancements, just wanted to share the initial setup.

Looks good, but are those real domain names? They don't point to live sites?

There is an extra http://

The map pins have the href coded incorrectly. It's coded as an email address rather than a simple web address.

<div class="infowindow">
<h2></h2>
<span class="contact">

Website:

<a href="mailto:http://prevent-security.com"></a>
</span>
</div>
</div>

And as David says - the othe link has double http

But otherwise a nice start

Sorry about that, we will fix those two and add a new features later today.

Funny if you zoom out too far :)

Antarctica was apparently captured in 960H...

It has tremendous potential. Good work to you and your staff.

The beta of the Integrator Finder is now live, with a few fixes and enhancements plus 60 integrators listed (just to give a basic feel).

For feedback, please comment on the new discussion: First Look - The IPVM Integrator Finder