Perhaps no other link in the security market supply chain has undergone more dynamic change than that of systems integrators. As technology has added complexity to the design, implementation, training and maintenance (i.e. COST) of security systems, the risk associated with hiring the right partner has grown.

During roundtables and focus groups, some of you have shared that your integrator is a trusted advisor and that you would be unlikely to make a security decision without their involvement and endorsement. Others have flat out stated, “All integrators lie. You can’t trust them and have to keep them at arms length. They are, at best, only vendors.”

Why the significant gap in experiences and opinions? Perhaps it begins with your expectations and the process you employ to find and hire an integrator in the first place. Or is it the broad landscape of players that declare themselves “systems integrators” making the decision tougher and riskier?

While most of your time is dedicated to addressing security issues that have business risk, the best integrators partner by helping you tackle those business issues that have security risk. In this month’s cover story centering on the 10 questions to ask your integrator, Editor Bill Zalud shares the secrets to a perfect partnership and the process for building and growing a long-term relationship with the right integrator for your enterprise.

Great Knowledge Leads to Great Insights

Each month, our thought leading columnists share their experience and expertise with you. Please allow me to highlight them in this column:

Jeff Dingle is an instructor and manager of security training at Lockmaster Security Institute. Each month his Get Into Access column on access controls give in-depth coverage on trends, best practices and technologies.

Cynthia Freschi is founder and president of North American Video and named a “System Integrator of the Year” by our sister publication, SDM. Specializing in video surveillance for the bleeding edge casino market, Cyndi’s Video Integration column provides insights on what works and what doesn’t in the complicated and fast changing video arena.

Steve Hunt’s Business Matters column bridges the worlds of logical and physical security by aligning them with organizational goals. One of the world’s most influential security analysts, board member of the Open Security Exchange, the 2006 “Industry Visionary” CSO Compass Award Winner, and named one of 25 Most Influential Security Executives by the readers, advisors and editors of Security Magazine, his insightful columns bring valuable discourse each month.

Michael Khairallah’s Systems Design column comes to you with over 25 years of successful expertise in project development and system delivery. He is the author of two leading books on security design and implementation and the president of Security Design Solutions of Covington, La. Each month, Michael shares his experience and knowledge.

Be sure to visit their columns each month and share your feedback with us at zaludb@bnpmedia.com.

SIDEBAR: You’re Invited to the 2007 Security 500 Conference!

On behalf of Bill Zalud; Bob Hayes, executive director of the CSO Executive Council; Steve Hunt, CEO of 4Ai; and myself, we are pleased to invite you to attend the Security 500 Conference November 14th at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

This year’s program: “Security Executive Management: The State of the Art” features the research and best practices for security management from the CSO Executive Council. Bob’s organization is an international professional membership organization for leading senior security executives spanning all industries, both the public and private sectors, and the globe.

The program will cover the key challenges for security executives including executive leadership skills, metrics and measurement, risk assessment, technology/critical information protection and more, including the 2007 Security 500 Report profiling the biggest and the best security programs. Space will be limited at this one-day high-powered event, so watch your e-mail for registration and program details in the coming month.