Lessons for Cisco from GE Security's Failure

By John Honovich, Published Nov 11, 2009, 07:00pm EST

A common refrain from industry veterans is how the physical security industry is especially, perhaps uniquely, different and difficult than other markets.

In response to the GE Security acquisition announcement, SSI reflects on the key reason why GE Security failed [link no longer available]:

"Like many companies that have tried to enter and succeed in the electronic security business, GE made the fatal mistake of believing it could bend the industry to its whims rather than understand and respect its truly unique nature and pursue it on its own terms. The conglomerate largely ignored the leadership and managerial wisdom that came along with many of the established security brands and businesses acquired earlier this decade, to the point where the great majority of the talented, industry-savvy personnel who came along in those deals jumped ship."

You could swap out GE for Cisco in the paragraph above and make the same basic point (see our background on Cisco's struggles).

In my experience, the structural differences in the physical security market is the hardest thing for smart new entrants to this industry (see our analysis of the top 5 mistakes IT people make in the security industry). Maybe the next new entrant will finally bend the industry to their will but prudence dictates caution in such attempts.

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