Consultant: The Dilemma of Manufacturer Events

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 18, 2012

One of the best posts in the 60+ comment Axis cruise discussion came from a professional security consultant who thoughtfully examined the issues involved in these events. On the one hand, the consultant explains the value these events can provide. On the other, the consultant shares his concerns with the process and structure of such events. Here it is in its entirety:

"This is a very difficult topic. I'll provide my input from a consultant's perspective with 18 years experience in the security and technology industry.  An event like the Axis event is very common in the security industry, unfortunately.  These events put us in a catch22 situation unlike most other professional situations we face.  Some consultants give other consultants a bad name. We all know firms that advertise the ability to provide consulting for an industry like security and then when an opportunity arises, they call their favorite rep and have them slap a spec and some drawings together for the consultant to package with the rest of their materials. And those of us that do it the right way have to compete against that. It is those consultants who are excited about these events and jump at a chance for a free trip in exchange for having to sit in a classroom for a few hours.  It's the price they pay for perks.

But for those of us with integrity, that are constantly trying to ensure we are doing things "the right way" these trips are viewed differently. It is not the act of sitting in the classroom for a few hours that we view as the "price we pay."  It is the act of going on the trip that is the "price we pay" for the perk - the perk to us is the technical, industry and business knowledge we gain.

The Need for Knowledge

Our business is a battle of knowledge, at least for those of us who have ethics in this business.  For those of us who wouldn't be caught dead putting a vendor's master spec or riser on our drawings, it takes knowledge and lots of it, to create internal master documents that accurately represent this industry. And in an industry that changes as fast as security does, maintaining those documents acccurately is a paramount challenge.

I have an obligation to the codified ethics of my profession first and foremost, and an obligation to my client second.  My obligation to the client is professional guidance based on the culmination of my career experiences and knowledge. "Professional guidance" for one, is guidance untainted by superficial influence.  In this field, I have to be a knowledge sponge, soaking up knowledge wherever and whenever I can get it.  I have to have technical knowledge about an industry and I have to product knowledge about products. When we work with a client and needs arise I've got to draw from my experience and knowledge to recommend a set of options to solve the problem.  The more knowledge that I have, the more effective I am as a consultant.

Unfortunately, at some point, the technology manufacturers decided it was easier to bring consultants to them rather than them coming to consultants. I am sure there is a cost analysis somewhere that said this is the best financial means to achieve their sales goals. This is likely because, unlike other consulting engineering fields, technology is largely populated by consultants that aren't licensed engineers and therefore do not have ethics codified into law.  Ethics is an option for them.

Benefits of Events

Bringing the consultants to the manufacturers is not all bad.  In the AV field, Extron and Creston both have very good technical training opportunities on their sites. They are extensive training sessions. They might fund a dinner or some entertainment in the evening but the significant majority of the time spent is on training.

We have and do attend these events. Why? Because if we don't, and miss any knowledge that is provided, that is one more opportunity for our competitors to have a piece of knowledge that we don't have. The more manufacturers use these events as their main source of knowledge dispersion, the more the competitive hit for not attending. Often at these events, product road maps are discussed. Missing a discussion of what is next is not a good position for a consultant to be in.  It is not that this knowledge might not be available another way. But to assemble it another way take MY billable time, MY resources and I have to spend both time and money in the most efficient way that I can to be successful.  Time and money both have ROI's.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Challenges of Events

Unfortunately, the manufacturers in the security industry have put us in a position where we must make a choice.  If I am going to be as competitive in my industry as I can, and be of greatest service to my client as I can, then I have to get this knowledge.  I have to get it where the knowledge is at.

Does this create an ethical dilemna?  Sure. I detest the security industry marketing executives for putting us in that position. It requires us to go to great lengths internally to ensure that there is no improper influence in the decisions we are making in the delivery of our service. The security manufacturers hold the knowledge that we need.  And now they've chosen the method by which they disperse it.

You have to wonder about the type of consultant that actually enjoys these trips. I travel between 30 - 50 nights a year for business. Conferences, client meetings, etc. If a manufacturer thinks that I enjoy being gone another 4 nights a year, away from my family, away from my kid's activities, to go listen to the Scott's of the world who I know will tell me anything for the sake of the sale, they are crazy.  What is kind of funny about this whole discussion is the superficial idea that these companies must have, that my integrity can be bought. If that works with others, it is sad commentary on our profession. My idea of a good time is not a social event with people who view me as a means to a sales metric - irrespective of whether my wife was invited or not.

This is not a black and white issue.  A trip somewhere with days filled with training that might be accompanied by a dinner in the evening is one thing. But if you look at the agenda of the particular event being discussed here, the perks/social time dwarfs the training time.  I think that is a mistake, it does a disservice to the very audience they are trying to impress upon and it puts us in a position that I resent being in.  But in the end, it comes down to that same question "do I need this knowledge or not?"  That is a judgment call.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Classic

Vulnerability Directory For Access Control Cards on Aug 14, 2017
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be unclear, especially because most look and feel the same. Even the most insecure 125 kHz types...
Hack Your Access Control With This $30 HID 125kHz Card Copier on May 01, 2017
You might have heard the stories or seen the YouTube videos of random people hacking electronic access control systems. The tools that claim to do...
Dahua Backdoor Uncovered on Mar 06, 2017
A major cyber security vulnerability across many Dahua products has been discovered by an independent researcher, reported on IPVM, verified by...
20 Manufacturer Favorability Ranked on Feb 28, 2017
20 security industry organizations' favorability was ranked based on direct feedback from over 100 integrators. In-depth comments revealed insights...
'Dirty': Hikvision Attacks Genetec on Feb 20, 2017
Hikvision is angry at the growing public awareness that Hikvision is owned by the Chinese government. They took aim at Genetec,...
Hikvision Removed From US Embassy on Nov 22, 2016
Hikvision cameras have been removed from the US Embassy Afghanistan and a procurement for more Hikvision cameras has been cancelled, after IPVM's...
Genetec Expels Hikvision on Nov 08, 2016
Genetec has removed support for Hikvision devices, deeming them 'untrustworthy', citing customer concerns about Chinese government ownership /...
Axis Releases Access Credentials - Insecure But Convenient on Nov 02, 2016
Axis continues to build out their own end-to-end 'solution'. The company recently announced a series of credential cards, but instead of a...
Hikvision CEO Admits Hikvision China State-Owned Company on Oct 06, 2016
Hikvision's CEO admitted that Hikvision is a China state-owned company, during a 2015 visit to Hikvision from Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of...
How To Become an 'Expert' In An Hour on Sep 02, 2016
If you want to be perceived as an expert in your market, speak at every event possible... the math is simple: when someone stands in front of an...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Cisco Falling - Favorite Network Switches 2017 on Oct 20, 2017
1 major manufacturer fell and 1 outsider manufacturer gained as integrator favorites for network switches from more than 140 votes / explanations...
Uniview Recorder Backdoor Examined on Oct 20, 2017
A Chinese research group has identified a vulnerability in Uniview recorders that allows backdoor access in a method similar to the Dahua...
Hikvision Access Control Tested on Oct 19, 2017
Hikvision aggressive pricing and marketing combined with generally reliable hardware and free software has made them a major player in video...
Verkada, Silicon Valley VSaaS Startup, Targets Enterprise on Oct 19, 2017
Verkada says they are building an enterprise-class VSaaS offering, calling it "The new platform for video security". This is a departure from the...
Exacq Unbreaks Avigilon Integration on Oct 18, 2017
For nearly 4 years, Exacq had broken and effectively blocked use with Avigilon cameras, as IPVM reported in January 2014. Now, Exacq has...
Search More Important Than Live Monitoring - Statistics on Oct 18, 2017
Search is overall more important than live monitoring to integrators, according to new IPVM statistics.  The key themes found in integrator...
Axis 'Sold Out' P3707-PVE Multi-Imager Tested on Oct 18, 2017
Axis faced significant product shortages over the summer. Perhaps the most notorious and significantly sold out model was the Axis P3707-PE 8MP...
Dahua Removes Auto Rebooting on Oct 17, 2017
For years, Dahua has automatically programmed its IP cameras to reboot weekly, a highly atypical and questionable practice. Following IPVM...
Deep Learning Tutorial For Video Surveillance on Oct 17, 2017
Deep learning is a growing buzzword within physical security and video surveillance. But what is 'deep learning'? In this tutorial, we explain...
Multipoint Lock Access Control Tutorial on Oct 17, 2017
Doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and money can be misspent on wrong locks that leave doors quite vulnerable. While closed and locked...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact