The Big Idea with Ron Davis
On a Mission to Keep Kids Well Protected
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 Dale Williams, President of Digitar, Boise, ID.
WILLIAMS' BIG IDEA:
Today's alarm dealer is, or soon will be, in the information business. And that's going to encompass personal assets such as environmental issues, privacy, duress and a whole host of other threats that might cause harm to their security customers.
ALE WILLIAMS IS A BIG MAN, kind of like John Wayne in stature, and about as bright as a person can be. He is not from our industry, but rather from the industry that was spawned in Silicon Valley and took shape from companies such as Intel, Apple, Microsoft and other giants of the computer age. He and his son Jason are still in that industry, having formed DigiTar, the parent company of WebProtectMeTM. software (more on that later).
One evening, Williams called me from his offices in Boise, Idaho. He introduced himself, gave me a thumbnaill sketch of himself (somewhat self-effacing) and proceeded to tell me how much he enjoyed an article that I had written for this magazine, and what amazing insght I must have into the industry to be able to communicate that effectively. How could I resist? I had to listen to what he had to say.
SOFTWARE TAKES SAFEGUARDING TO MORE PERSONAL LEVEL
His company had developed, rather successfully, software that was used throughout the world, mostly by large international legal firms, that was successful in keeping Internet spies away from all of the confidential information that rested on these firms' computers. Williams went on to say that he had been studying our industry, and had come up with an app that would keep internet predators, porn sites, bullies, etc., you get the picture, from accessing childrens' computers. That was a couple of years ago and today his company does the same thing to protect those same children from receiving salacious solicitations from bad people, whether it be on computers, cellphones, tablets, or anything else that is in the pipeline.
Williams mentioned that he thought the software industry was not the right marketer for his highly personal software, and he felt the alarm industry would be the logical channel to bring this software to parents everywhere. We met, became friends and soon were talking about something that could be marketed by alarm companies to their security customers to further protect young people in customers' homes from being taken advantage of. A big undertaking but DigiTar developed it, and I offered to help Williams meet people in the industry who could share the vision he had for protecting children.
It must have worked, everyone I talked to thought the idea was appropriate. One night, I was sitting at a banquet dinner table at The Sedona Conference, and started talking with Rod Coles, CEO of Bold Technologies, the guys that produce all that central station software that monitors a good portion of the alarm systems out there (see Bold's vision for the future). When I happened to ask Coles how many customers are monitored by Bold software, he thought it might be in the 10-12 million customer range. I did a double take that would've made Abbott and Costello jealous. "I've got somebody you need to meet," I told him. Williams and Coles got together, hit it off, and today Coles' company is marketing WebProtectMe to alarm dealers.
ALARM DEALERS SHOULD EMBRACE EXPANDING SCOPE
Williams is now pretty knowledgeable about the industry, so I thought about asking him our signature question, "If you had just one really great idea to share with the alarm industry ... " it would elicit unique insight. He didn't hesitate. "Today's alarm dealer is, or soon will be, in the information business," Williams said. "And that's going to encompass personal assets such as environmental issues, privacy, duress and a whole host of other threats that might cause harm to their security customers." And I thought, he just nailed a whole new category of products and/or services that will generate RMR for today's alarm dealer — and it's all automated at the central station, and can be added to a customer's monthly billing.
By the way, I have no interest financial or otherwise in Williams' company, but I have a become a "believer" in technology's ability to protect children. After everything is said and done, what we do to protect future generations may be our industry's most notable lasting legacy. During the day, I still do my work as a business broker, but my real satisfaction in life comes from helping others. I can't think of an easier way to gain that satisfaction than by helping parents protect their kids from any kind of threat. You might say it's become a passion.
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.