During NSCA’s 2020 P2Pv, the trade association for the integration industry challenged companies to adapt amid unprecedented circumstances.
At NSCA, we were well aware that the stakes were high for a business-transformation conference occurring during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The annual Pivot to Profit conference has always zeroed in on integration companies that are looking to find new revenue streams, transition to more of a service model and recognize new ways to solve customers’ business challenges. The context for 2020 Pivot to Profit Virtual (2020 P2Pv), however, was a little more dire.
It’s no longer just about taking your business to the next level; instead, it’s about business survival and recovery. As such, the 2020 P2Pv sessions, all of which are archived and available for you to watch, offer direct advice to integrators on how to navigate their way through the pandemic. Let’s explore the specific direction from several 2020 P2Pv sessions.
Generate Priorities For Surviving & Thriving
As a trade association that supports integration companies, NSCA has been doing whatever we can to help companies through the past few months and help them position themselves to emerge from the COVID-19 recovery. A resounding message is that it’s really all about prioritizing and spending your time working on the right things. However, it’s not always easy to recognize the right objectives in the moment. So, one 2020 P2Pv session focused on identifying 10 priorities for integration-company leaders as they battle through the pandemic and beyond.
Some of the priorities aren’t exactly inspiring. For instance, panelist Laurie MacKeigan, President of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Backman Vidcom, pointed out that cross-training employees to have all tasks covered in the event of a staff reduction is important. Meanwhile, Bruce Kaufmann, President and CEO of Gaithersburg MD-based Human Circuit, emphasized that integration-firm leaders owe it to their employees to consider worst-case scenarios.
Find New Opportunities With Today’s Technologies
Now is not the time for integrators to sit back and do what they’ve always done. One 2020 P2Pv session challenged integrators to mine emerging technologies and create new solutions for their evolving customer base. “I think the conversation helped integrators because we pushed the boundaries of the traditional integrator role,” session moderator Tim Hennen, Chief Technology Officer for integration firm IVCi, stated. “There are new opportunities specifically for integrators to break out of their traditional discipline and be the leader for workplace technology.”
So, what does that look like? The session challenged security integrators to look at health-and-safety solutions, artificial-intelligence (AI) integration, occupancy tracking and other solutions that, although rooted in their tech, have new feature sets that extend their importance beyond their traditional stakeholders. Likewise, this thinking challenges AV integrators to look at the workplace and move beyond integrating the complicated closed systems that they deploy; they should also consider how they can enhance the end user’s workplace experience by leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) devices and enhanced integration approaches.
Commit To Cybersecurity
It would be a mistake for integrators to deprioritize cybersecurity as they focus on tactics to help their business survive the pandemic. One 2020 P2Pv session contended that creative companies might in fact be able to leverage their strength in cybersecurity to earn new business.
It goes without saying that cybersecurity is not an option; on the contrary, it’s a requirement for integration companies’ business operations, panelist Rob Simopoulus, Co-Founder of Defendify, stressed. “Sure, cybersecurity can be looked at simply as an expense line on the P&L [profit-and-loss statement], but I would recommend it be utilized as a revenue-generating tool, as well.”
Simopoulus said that cybersecurity should be part of the sales process—in part, because today’s customers know they must protect sensitive data and they want to do business with capable integrators. This will lead to winning more projects, he added.
“Systems integrators should use their internal cybersecurity program as a market differentiator,” Simopoulus said. “They should show customers that they take security seriously, that they have implemented a strong program and that [their company has] a security-first mindset.”
Don’t Ignore Company Culture
As company leaders maintain a laser-like focus on revenue and cash flow, it’s important not to be distracted from the people actually doing the work. This has not been an easy year for anybody, including integration-firm employees. One 2020 P2Pv session emphasized how to preserve company and team culture.
Leaders must adapt to the fact that work is very different from how it was a few months ago, session moderator Josh Shanahan, President and CEO at Sport View Technologies (SVT), said. “We have to replace the water-cooler talks and spontaneous interaction with intentional, non-transactional, authentic conversations leveraging the very tools we have been deploying for our customers,” he said. “It’s time to drink our own Kool-Aid! Not only does the customer experience have to reflect our culture and core values, but [it’s] even more important now than ever [that] the employee experience must translate positively.”
Indeed, leadership has never been more important. The 2020 P2Pv opening keynote session by author Mike Staver discusses leadership “during the most unpredictable time ever.” That session does a nice job of setting a tone for leaders of integration companies to follow. Yes, it’s important to prioritize and work vigorously to adapt and keep revenue flowing, but it’s also important to simplify.
“My big takeaway,” NSCA’s Executive Director, Chuck Wilson, concluded, “was for us to focus on the fundamental elements of adding value on every interaction with clients, finding solutions that help them with their financial concerns, the improved health and safety of their teams, and improving their sense of freedom and belonging through improved connectivity.”
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