Security Integrators Outlook On Remaining Integrators In 2025By Brian Rhodes, Published Aug 22, 2019, 10:30am EDT
The industry has changed substantially in the last decade, with the rise of IP cameras and the race to the bottom. Indeed, more changes may be upcoming with AI and cloud.
What does that mean for security integrators?
180+ integrators told us if they see themselves working as security integrators or not in the next 5-6 years.
Inside this report, we examine their insights about changes, if any, they expect and whether or not the outlook is positive/negative and why for working as integrators in the future.
In summary, the key themes found, in order:
- The outlook is optimistic
- Integration business will evolve
- Retirement is coming
- Pessimism/leaving the market
- Some predict becoming consultants
- Others want to be their own boss
Optimistic As Integrators
The most popular theme overall is that integrators see a positive future, with over a third of responses indicating a positive outlook.
More current integrators felt positive and optimistic about the coming years than otherwise, with many citing the role of new technology as expanding growth and personal fulfillment in the positions they currently work:
- "Still working as a security integrator. There are still huge opportunities and development."
- "Same job as I am now, The demand for my services only increase every year. I have yet to see a decline in needs."
- "Being in the industry for almost 20 years, I have gone through the boring and very slow evolution of analog cameras and alarm systems to interesting and intriguing solutions. Things are now getting awesome and i would like to be part of the changes."
- "Security is my life and this industry is recession proof."
- "I could easily see myself working where I work now. We are a solutions provider and I enjoy what I do."
- "I believe i will continue to work in this industry for the foreseeable future. I am fascinated by the technology and how it continues to develop."
- "Security integrator 100%. The place we operate (mid commercial & life sciences) needs expertise and dependability. That will not change."
- "Yes ideally. I always tell people that I have great job security as unfortunately the world is not getting and more safe."
- "In 2025 I will be in the security field because I love it..."
- "I will still be in the same industry servicing and installing systems. This is a great industry for someone who likes challenges and helping people. I look forward to the future."
- "(I will be working) As an SI. The field is growing as a phenomenal pace."
- "As a system designer and programmer- selling the cool stuff and making it sing!"
- "Probably yes, surveillance is still an interesting topic."
- "In six years I will likely still be in integration. I have achieved a lot personally and see a good immediate future here."
- "We will still be in the business and I will still be there. We already sell a combined security service that includes the cameras, the monitoring, and the armed response. We feel like that complete package (having it all in house or having relationships to provide it) is the future of our segment of the business."
- "I see myself still as a security integrator. I started in 1986 and enjoy being in the industry, the new technology and new products. Because those things are constantly changing it keeps me engaged with my work. Always learning something new."
- "As a security integrator. I think the demand is growing and we have always been IP, Tech based and not old school DVR guys."
- "I will work as a security integrator until my retirement, because I love helping our customers solve problems."
- "This market has steady growth and need, plus all the new tech is pretty cool and I enjoy selling it."
- "I really enjoy what I do so I believe I will still work as an integrator. "
- "I know and love the industry so I don't intend on walking away.
- "Yes, Technologies change continuously and many more things need to come."
- "Definitely see myself as Security Integrator there is still rapid growth in this industry and I am not going anywhere."
- "Yes, I still hope to be at the same company I am currently working for. Maybe not in sales, but still a part of whatever is needed to meet the needs of our customers."
- "Yes, I believe there will continue to be improvements in ways to utilize and expand our roles as integrators. To me, it's an exciting time to be involved in this field of work."
- "Yes, with the availability of video analytics and alarm monitoring combined the RMR is fantastic. with the ability to install, maintain the system and collect the RMR the profits will well worth the time. "
- "The security industry isn’t going anywhere. The market is rapidly expanding and becoming more competitive. That only means more opportunity. I see a lot of people getting out though which again opens up doors for me."
- "(I will be) Still working in the capacity that I love... learning and designing systems to fit my customers needs. Teaching techs how to install these systems so I don't have to climb the ladder anymore."
Integration Business Will Evolve
In second place, more than a quarter of comments stated that integration firms will need to change and adapt from their current offerings to remain successful in the business.
The comments, which remained generally positive, clearly state they must be aware of other changes in the market, because it will drive which integrator services and products their companies offer.
One thing is certain: many integrators see integration work and responsibility changing in the near future:
- "I will be working as a IT integrator with expertise in physical security. 7 or 8 years ago I wrote an internal paper talking about how we should brand our organization - Are we a physical security integrator that has expertise in IT or are we an IT integrator with a specialty in physical security? The mindset prepared us for larger system deployments and the changes in cyber security requirements we see today."
- "We will continue to run our company and adapt to the market and customer needs."
- "Traditional security integrators will slowly lose market share if they don't innovate and move towards the IT paradigm."
- "We are evolving into a software solutions company for IoT."
- "Yes. But it will be easier for home users to install cameras themselves. B2B market will be the way to go."
- "I do see myself with an integration company still. My company is planning on changes in technology today, to be ready for future challenges."
- More as a Platform / Solutions provider and less as an Integrator."
- "I believe you use "security" term and mean "physical security". Those becoming dinosaurs, and in 5-7 years only high-tech companies will survive. I see myself working as an independent security advisor or for one of those combined (cyber+physical) security integrators. Another thing that most of the integrators don't do yet is a consulting part of the security - procedures, workflows, staff training. Social engineering becomes a bigger threat than B&E."
- "I envisage by 2025 that when I look back, my business is different from day one. However, I would probably continue to be comfortably uncomfortable doing business as system integrator, as this would create excitement to get to work every day."
- "I see my company as providing security integration but also providing technology solution to needs that the customer has outside of the security realm."
- "Less install and more system architecture and solution design."
- "Still working as an integrator, focusing more on security monitoring and access control."
- "The smaller companies like us will have to find a piece of the pie somewhere in order to be viable and stay in business. We already know we don't compete with the larger systems due to volume and demand based on the market and we don't see that dynamic changing much by 2025"
- "I wouldn't see myself as a 'security' integrator in future. It will be more like data analysis than security."
- "I cannot foresee any reason to think we shall be carrying on as usual in 2025"
- "More integration. More safety and security. Systems will become more intertwined and design and layout will need us more than ever."
- "I intend to embrace the world of 5G. Specialize in Cloud services. I believe Security integrator will be absorbed into IT Operations."
- "We are a computer MSP and security integrator. These fields will continue to merge with camera connectivity to the existing network."
Interestingly, some of these responses mentioned that as technology makes install work easier, integrator business scope may shift to 'value added reseller' for smaller segments, and the residential market is drying up:
- "I see myself working as a security integrator providing full service offering (design, installation, service) to enterprise class clients and acting as more of a value added re seller for small to medium sized clients."
- "Yes. But it will be easier for home users to install cameras themselves. B2B market will be the way to go."
- "In Asia, the security industry is getting saturated with small scale end users preferring to buy and install cloud solutions on their own."
- "We are mostly residential. We will continue to focus on that market but I do think we'll move more into some commercial work in order to play with the better (aka more expensive) video solutions and work to figure out ways to allow the residential markets to take advantage of some of the features.
Coming Soon: Retirement
Interestingly, about 1 of every 7 responses specifically mentioned 'Retirement' as their next phase.
This follows anecdotal observations that many integrators are aging and fewer young people are taking security jobs.
Indeed, comments reveal many integrators simply are looking forward to not being in the business after leaving the workforce:
- "Hopefully I'll be retired by 2025. I've been in this game a long time."
- "Hopefully not working and sitting @ the beach on my private island."
- "Hopefully on a beach after I've sold my company."
- "Retired on a beach somewhere by 2025. Enjoying life without cell phones or email."
- "I am about six years from retirement. If I work longer I will be an integrator."
- "Retired, 35 years of this industry has been enough."
- "I hope to retire by then."
- "Gone Fishing, it's the 3rd generations turn."
- "I will be retired but other person inside the corporation will take over."
- "No, hope to retire by then; but never know."
- "Well, I hope to be retiring then, but by then it means that I should have my replacement in position...been in the industry too long to think about leaving."
- "I'll be 73 years old and not giving a sh*t about work."
- "Hopefully 3 years away from retirement. I would love to work as a consultant part time after I retire."
- "I will be retired by then"
- "Retired and gone fishing"
- "Hopefully, retired in the Bahamas or similar."
With more than an inconsequential amount of integrators thinking about retirement, questions about sourcing young replacements become important. Several IPVM discussions talking about the issues and problems include: Why Are There So Few Young Execs In Security? and Should Talented Young People Get Out Of The Security / Surveillance Industry?
About 1 of every 10 integrators shared a negative outlook about integrator business.
Many of the color comments with this negative tone cited that increased competition, shrinking profits, and decreased market education is destructive and a source of deep frustration.
While not all made it clear what they will be doing instead, they made it clear it will not be as integrators:
- "No, in the security market you have to be the cheapest with the best products."
- "To be honest, I'm not sure about staying in the field until 2025. The situation in the global market is complicated. Prices are falling and demands are increasing."
- "My business model 12 years ago was to be the specialist, and to help my customers to the bottom. Today I have stopped selling Dahua manufactured equipment yet I am less competitive doing so focusing on Axis. I have made efforts with Verkada but they don’t need me! I see myself supporting existing customers, improving expertise, but running business as a side effort—unfortunately. I’m looking to teach more as an Adjunct Professor, but I am hoping to find my footing to continue. "
- "No, too many uneducated and low budget security installers to make this industry profitable."
- "If I was younger and was looking at a 15-20 year horizon, I would steer away from security due to price drops and reduced needs for field specialists."
- "I do not see myself as an integrator in 2025, I’ve been doing this for 15+ year and it's time to move on."
- "(I will be working) Direct for manufacturers instead, because that will be where the shift happens."
- "I will probably not be working for an integrator because I've spent my entire 21-year career at mid-level independent integrators and now they're almost all gone. As they continue to be gobbled up by conglomerates I think eventually I'll get fed up with their way of running a company."
- "(I see) Working for myself, not in the security arena, selling drinks to thirsty people."
- "I don't necessarily see myself working with a security integrator because it's not something I'm passionate about long term."
- "Integration is a huge grind that takes its toll on its people."
- "If I were to give advice to a young person just starting their career, this is not where I would guide them to go - cyber-security is the future for them."
- "I have been working in the security market for 30 years, so I would say that I will still be here in 2025. With that being said, the entire market is shifting to security as a commodity and less emphasis is being put on actual knowledge and professional results and more on price. The dumbing-down of the security market will eventually get us all."
- "No. I hope to own a business or two unrelated to security industry."
Take Consultant Role
A lesser theme, one of every 20 integrators plan to transition to become consultants rather than continue as integrators/installers.
In several cases, this transition would be internal consultant to existing integrators, but others mentioned they plan to take an external consulting role with end users:
- "Personally, I hope to be retired from active day to day, but still in a consultant status with my company which will still be a security integrator."
- "I suspect our company will be bought up by a larger firm looking for local talent. Post transition I would probably do some limited consulting but wouldn't look to continue full time in the business, I'm getting old."
- "I would love to work as a consultant part time after I retire."
- "Hope to move into consulting by then. Help to guide people through the many ways they can secure their assets and themselves."
- "potentially self employed consultancy."
- "I'm hoping to be able to create better solutions for people looking for solutions. to break free the minds of scarcity and instead buying just a simplistic solution because of cost, but a total solution because of features."
- "Likely will have a consultant role and niche provider if we continue on our path."
- "A private consultant to global government entities specialized in advanced analytics."
Become An Owner, not Just Employee
Interestingly, a small number (about 1 in 30) current integrators mentioned their plans include starting their own integration business or moving to buy the companies they currently work for:
- "I shall continue as an integrator, even starting my own business in the industry because Security Industry isn't going anywhere. It shall evolve more from current security specific stats to more consumer friendly applications."
- "Yes, still as an integrator but maybe back as an owner and not as an employee under someone else's ownership."
- "Running my own company selling installations and upgrades of these new systems. Also maintenance and service."
- "I have aspirations to start other businesses but not certain I will be completely out of the industry. Maybe a move to distribution and resale? Training/schooling for techs? IDK too many ideas and not enough time."
- "I want to get paid a lot to design, operate, maintain, and be the God administrator at a very large facility."
- "Yes because my plan is to own the company I currently work for."
- "Security integrator with own cloud & video analytic offering. Because this is better business."
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