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Convergence: current industry trend

The union between security systems and IT poses challenges, as well as possibilities for the security market; however, everything depends on the ability of the industry to adapt to new technologies.

by Julián Arcila

Latin America is a region that has been presenting record economic growth for the region in many years, which however is well below that achieved by other emerging economies, such as China, India and South Africa, among others. However, countries in the region have seen an increase in private investment rates while the gap between rich and poor has widened, influencing the growth of crime on the streets. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that "unintentionally wants" ends up favoring the sale of electronic security solutions.

Mexico is a nation that meets the aforementioned characteristics. It is along with Brazil one of the two nations that foreign investors look to when they want to do business on this side of the world (for 2007 foreign investment in the region exceeded $64.9 billion; of this figure Brazil received $22.4 billion and Mexico $15.1 billion) but has also seen a dramatic increase. in crime rates, which grew, in this first semester 21.4% compared to the same period of the previous year.

This last factor has caused the consumption of security solutions in Mexico to grow significantly, concentrating mainly on segments such as multinationals, banking and the residential sector. In 2008, VENTAS DE SEGURIDAD took advantage of the visit to ExpoSeguridad Mexico to talk with some of the most recognized mega distributors in this country (Anixter, Siasa, Inalarm, Magocad and Sinpro), who made a brief analysis of the moment that this industry is going through in Aztec soil, but also about the perspectives that are glimpsed in a year in which everyone talks about convergence.

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Is Mexico ready for convergence?

The growing relationship between security systems and information technologies posed a huge accumulation of questions, related to the technological capacity of countries to "get on this train". Mexico has not been exempt from the controversy and while many of the engineering experts consulted by this means have expressed that neither this country, much less the region in general, are prepared to face the challenges imposed by convergence, others more optimistic propose that nations are ready to enter fully into the world of integration. The truth is that beyond discussing whether or not Mexico is ready for this trend, something that cannot be denied is that this country is experiencing a real boom, for which many multinationals are migrating to IP systems.

According to Andrés Macías, sales manager of electronic security at Anixter Mexico, such a boom is modifying the market basically because of two situations: the first is that there is a change in the role of the professional who manages security in companies, because while before the head of security did, today this function has been delegated to the head of information technology, who from now on must select the type of equipment that will be used so as not to affect your network. For his part, the head of security will be responsible for the operation and location of the security systems. Another feature of the Aztec market today is the fact that camera networks are no longer being used solely and exclusively for security, because in a system of 100 units, 50 can be used for this purpose, while the rest can be dedicated  to monitor production processes and progress in construction works, For example.

Fernando Loret, president of Siasa, analyzed the situation by adding another ingredient and that is the growing link of software and computer equipment marketing companies with the sale of security systems, something that undoubtedly is and will continue to drive convergence, although at the moment some shortcomings in terms of knowledge are noticeable. {mospagebreak}

Nicolás Figueroa, CEO of Sinpro Electronics, referred to this topic and highlighted the advances that have been presented in Mexico in relation to the increase in the bandwidth available for applications, which went from 512 Kb to the 4 Mb that are currently offered. "I think the domestic market is already prepared for this; you can see that companies are investing more every day to adjust to this trend," he said.

But another very different vision was raised by Lucy Rivero, general director of Inalarm Mexico, for whom in the current scenario of convergence something more than worrying is posed for those who are inserted in the distribution segment. Lucy stated that "ordinary distributors still do not understand the complexity they will face due to the lack of knowledge in the management of systems in the communications environment that we are seeing today; that's why we (Inalarm) last year made six technological forums of connectivity and networks, to which we took eight of the brands that we manage and that have systems that work with Internet protocol, but what we found was that the greatest response came from the people of the convergence, people of the communications and computing that want to enter the security ".

To the positive visions was added Mariela Marure, from Magocad, who said that the market is already prepared to assume convergence, but that what is missing is that engineers are more interested in learning. "These kinds of exhibitions are very important because they allow people to see the new ones, what's coming in. Start for example to take out the wired and look at what brings the advance of technology, among which is the wireless, which is where you see today the greatest advantages, "he noted.

Trends in each segment

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Since the wholesalers interviewed have lines in the different segments of security, SECURITY SALES tried to get their feedback on what is being seen in each niche.

Among what Macías highlighted is the fact that access control is leaning strongly towards networks, as these simplify the operation enormously, since traditionally to implement a system of this type it was necessary to send cable harnesses from distant points to a door, something that would be much more flexible with IP connectivity. He added that the alarm segment is still very similar and that where changes have been presented is in the reports, because every day the systems that send them through the network are positioned more to the detriment of those that do it via telephone line.

For Lucy Rivero what is needed and what they are working on in Inalarm is for a real integration "this is also beneficial for us as an institution. We need to find a way for our manufacturers to be flexible so that software developers in the region can talk to the products we work with. The future is integration and this is that I from my desk, with a software platform can handle all my security events, air conditioning, sound lighting. A lot of technologies are going to come together," he said.

The Battle of Education

With all the scenario described above, education takes a preponderant role in the fulfillment of the commercial goals of companies, as it is a way to persuade the market to use the solutions they manufacture or market, but it is also a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, by providing a higher qualification for industry players. {mospagebreak}

SECURITY SALES spoke with the different companies and they explained what they are doing so that their customers are in accordance with the technological moment that is lived in the electronic security sector. The most important elements for this are training and customer service.

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In Anixter, as stated by Macías, they have understood this situation very well and have proposed as a policy "not to move boxes", but to really assist in the projects in which their clients are involved. Additionally, they have implemented a road-show program, with which they go to different parts of the republic not to talk about brands, but talking about new trends, new wiring and in general aspects that are of importance to distributors, installers and even end users.

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