Lennart Alexandrie, founder of AR Media International and publisher of Detektor Magazine and Securityworldmarket.com looks at the real life effects of the pandemic on the security industry, in what has been a tumultuous year, and which also happens to be the 30th anniversary year of the company since he first established AR Media back in 1990.
During the pandemic, one strong trend has overshadowed all others. Fewer physical meetings and more digital meetings. It is a tendency that will last, albeit more evenly, once the pandemic has subsided. Then the fear of infection will not be the driving force for a proportionally increased share of digital meetings, but the ambition within companies and organisations for increased efficiency and sustainability.
Physical meetings can mean large or small events, but also individual meetings between customers and suppliers. Digital technology enables them all. Furthermore, opportunities to offer technical service and actions at a distance is another advantage.
The pandemic has made an increasing number of people and companies realise what can actually be achieved more efficiently via digital solutions. Now companies have increased their use of digital tools and become comfortable with them. Not least when it comes to internal meetings and pure customer meetings. Many have also realised that they have waited too long to take advantage of the digital opportunities in terms of technical service and customer support. A low degree of digitisation means a continued strong need for manned service visits. During the peak of the pandemic in the spring, this particular shortcoming in a security company’s offering was brought to the fore, as companies and other businesses were not so inclined to accept service technicians due to the risk of infection.
Digital shift brings opportunities
Remote service and support should thus be a matter of course, but first it is essential to update the delivered and existing technology that the customer already has. This is a development for which the security industry must take responsibility. The shift in technology from analogue to digital means great opportunities for increased revenue for suppliers. For customers, increased digitalisation means opportunities for better service and that more precise needs can be met, for example via suppliers offering cloud-based Security as a Service where customers are enabled to just pay for the services they want to use.
Remote services also means a contribution to increased sustainability, as vehicles are no longer needed to serve customers.
Remote working a new reality
Another accelerating effect of the pandemic is that people will work to a greater extent from home. As companies have created better routines for following up work from home, an employee’s place of residence will have less geographical significance when recruiting, which means a positive economic equalisation between people living in the cities and the countryside.
Of course, the pandemic has affected the security industry in many ways. Above all, it has accelerated digitalisation and revealed its many possibilities. But it also highlights some of its limitations. Replacing a physical conference or security fair with a webinar or a major digital event cannot be done so easily.
For my own part, the impact of both the lack of arranging and attending physical events has been great. As an organiser, we have sadly had to postpone both the conference # Trygghetnu and the security fair Sectech Denmark a few times.
I would also have liked to visit ISC West in Las Vegas as well as Ifsec in London and Security in Essen this year to get a global perspective on how the industry is doing, what new products have been introduced, what is the latest industry gossip and so on. But all three of these big events are cancelled this year, together with all other events.
Physical events essential
Physical security events usually provide opportunities to get closer to the players in the security market – companies, individuals and technology. Planned meetings are mixed with chance encounters with acquaintances and spontaneous events that can sometimes test the senses.
Meeting new interesting contacts that can generate business or inspire new ideas and solutions is what happens at physical events. Feel free to call it necessary, at least for companies that want to be constantly changing with the times or keeping that one step ahead.
The dynamics that physical events offer are still far superior compared with those offered by webinars or other digital events today. Neither participants nor sponsors at digital events are exposed to coincidence in the same way as they would be at physical events, where the unplanned and unpredicted meetings are often the greatest treasure of the event.
We, therefore, continue to need good physical events, which are additionally complemented by interesting digital events. Hopefully we will get there in 2021.
Publisher & founder
AR Media International