The Big Idea with Ron Davis
R&D Can Keep Your Future in Focus
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month we feature Bob Britton, Supreme Security Systems
Bitton's BIG IDEA:
"The secret of success in the next decade will be to constantly look forward, stay abreast of technology, and have the wisdome not to succumb to the fads tha will probably not succeed in the long run"
T SEEMS AS THOUGH Bob Bitton has been around forever, For all of that time, he has been one of the most dedicated supporters of the security industry. He’s active in all of the industry’s associations, president of some, and always available to help keep things in perspective. His company, Supreme Security Systems in Union, N.J., reflects that same dedication to professionalism.
Taking in more than $600,000 in recurring monthly revenue (RMR), Supreme is a major player in the industry. Like many other operators who have been around for a good amount of time and experienced the industry’s evolution, Bitton offers ideas and observations that are always carefully considered and thought through, and usually right on the money.
CAN YOU DISTINGUISH A FAD FROM A FORCE?
When I asked Bob about his great idea to address my question about “what are the major challenges a CEO will face in the coming decade?” I thought he would respond about something having to do with paradigm shifts, competition, etc. Instead, he answered with what seemed somewhat less than the usual detailed response I had come to expect. He said, “The secret of success in the next decade will be to constantly look forward, stay abreast of the latest technology, and have the wisdom not to succumb to the fads that will probably not succeed in the long run.”
The answer looked good, but I felt that something was missing. Then I realized that the last part, the one about succumbing to the fads, was the key to understanding the depth of Bitton’s advice. What is a fad? And really, how do you know something is a fad when you’re at the start or in the middle of what could be a game-changer in the industry? Then I went back to the first part of the statement, regarding “constantly looking forward,” and it all came together. What I think Bitton is emphasizing is to always be mindful of trends that are emerging in the industry, but try and manage to differentiate those that you think will have an impact on your business from those that won’t.
For example, we seem to be in a major campaign to constantly grow and expand the do-it-yourself (DIY) market. Hardly an issue of this or any other magazine in the industry comes out without somewhere addressing that security segment. Is DIY a fad? Is it something you should be emulating? Should you be investigating? And the answer is, absolutely! You should be doing your due diligence. You should be aware of what is going on in all aspects of the industry. You should be knowledgeable about trends that you could adopt early on. And you should seek help in learning about those trends from people who understand and know more than you about them.
IT'S TIME TO TAKE EDUCATION SERIOUSLY
Here’s another way to think about it. Virtually every major business has a research and development (R&D) department. In some cases, it’s a division of the company. Think of Microsoft or Apple and imagine what those companies would look like if they didn’t spend a good portion of their revenue on R&D. Now, how much money are you spending on R&D? If you don’t know, or you can only guess, then chances are you’re not taking your own company’s R&D seriously.
You might question why a security firm or a burglar and fire alarm company should spend anything on R&D. The answer, simply, is you have no choice. You have to know what’s happening all around you in this business. You not only need to attend local association meetings and tradeshows, you must develop a library of information on issues of particular interest to your company — PERS, medical alerts and emergency monitoring, newest trends in commercial fire systems, access control and CCTV, use of drones (really!) and anything else that catches your attention. Just set up a file folder for each area of interest (of course, this can be done electronically) and start filling each with articles, advertisements, press releases, and anything else that will build up a body of knowledge for you to consult any time you feel the need. This is R&D in action.
I hope I’ve expanded upon Bitton’s big idea to his liking. By the way, I know that Supreme Security Systems spends a fair amount of money on R&D — all one has to do is look at the success his company is enjoying. Let constant education help serve as a foundation for your own company’s growth.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International
in the 1980s.