The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Does BOLD's Vision of The Future Fit Your Plans?
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's BIg Idea comes from Chuck Speck, President of Bold Technologies, Colorado Springs, CO.
SPECK'S BIG IDEA:
With the onset of The Internet of Things, cyber security, the connected home, mobile apps and the desire to have information about so many things, the alarm dealer must continue to add value and be able to handle the receipt and delivery of a variety of forms of communication. The future of alarm dealers and central stations will become more of a communication center rather than the more simple signal processing center of old.
HUCK SPECK IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS that everybody seems to like. Professionally, he is the president of Bold Technologies (boldgroup.com), a Colorado Springs, CO software company that produces central station automation software for hundreds of alarm companies and wholesale monitoring companies. Speck and his team are "go-to" guys (and gals) for information on how to automate central stations. Speck is also somewhat of a futurist, since a lot of his job involves predicting changes that are coming into the alarm industry, and then implementing that information into the software that his firm develops.
I asked Speck, "What is the greatest idea that you could pass on to alarm dealers about the future of the industry?" After considerable thought, he answered: "As the needs and desires on the part of the the customer and industry change, it is important for the alarm dealer to remain flexible. It used to be that monitoring and technology were relatively static, but with the onset of the Internet of Things, cyber security, the connected home, mobile apps and the desire to have information about so many things, the alarm dealer must continue to add value and be able to handle the receipt and delivery of a variety of forms of communication. The future of alarm dealers and central stations will become more of a communication center rather than the more simple processing center of old."
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS PROVE ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE
While I'm the last person who should be writing about anything technical, I know, absolutely, that the industry is changing and what Speck hsa to say about the future is spot on. All you have to do is look at the players who are coming into the industry that weren't even around five years ago. Telephone companies, Internet companies, direct marketers, software developers, manufacturers, etc., are all helping us to define what the future of the industry is going to look like.
The adage, "what the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" holds here. For example, can you conceive of a patrol service that is operating entirely by drones? Can you, in your wildest imagination believe in virtual reality that allows you to walk through your home, every bit of it, from thousands of miles away? Two years ago, would you have believed in the new watch being produced by Apple? Five years ago, would you have believed that a direct marketer (door-to-door, Vivint) would become one of the major players in our industry?
CHANGE YOUR TRADESHOW PERSPECTIVE & APPROACH
Since tradeshows always present opportune times for leaning about future technology, let's consider Speck's idea in terms of how you might rethink your approach to them. Don't just walk the floor hoping something will strike you as interesting. Rather, take the list of exibitors with you. As you go past a booth that has some sort of a demonstration, check it off on the exbibitor list and be prepared to go back and listen to the presentation. Once you have walked the floor completely, you likely will have identified at least a dozen or more exhibitors as being those that have something of interest that you are not now doing.
Also, start viewing shows not just as a bunch of exhibitors, but rather, a large and rare education opportunity. Listen to speakers who are talking about their companys' plans now and for the future. Think of it as getting a preview of what's going to happen in the industry. Go home and think about the messages that make sense to you and that you would like to act upon. Then go to your computer and start doing some basic research. Little by little, that will give you a vision of the future — one that I suspect Chuck Speck would approve.
One thing to keep in mind, as before, and even more so now, recurring monthly revenue (RMR) will be the cornerstone of your business and your future. As I've seen in my day job of being a broker, exclusively in the alarm industry and exclusively representing sellers, I can tell you that buyers are becoming more acclimated to bundling varying forms of RMR into one basket and applying a higher multiple than many would think. And as Speck suggested, the central station of the future will be a communication center for an alarm company's customers, offering services that only exist in the mind's eye of people whose job it is to develop those services.
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.