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IFSEC SA 2012: Tackling the security industry’s challenges

South Africas rapidly changing security industry will form the focus of IFSEC South Africa 2012.

South Africas rapidly changing security industry will form the focus of IFSEC South Africa 2012

While the private security sector is still showing growth due to high crime levels, it is also beset with challenges. On the one hand markets are opening up for video remote monitoring and advanced access control systems as companies shift from physical to electronic surveillance, on the other hand, a shortage of skilled labour is affecting the installation and maintenance sector. A lack of standards for security systems has left the door wide open for a flood of inferior, low-cost imports, which means good local suppliers are forced to compete on price rather than quality or service.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the fierce competition among suppliers in a crowded market. Security end-users are also faced with new technology every day, without always knowing how it matches to their specific security needs.

This may explain why so many security stakeholders are turning to shows like IFSEC South Africa to get a handle on the complexities of the industry. This view was put forward by Ross Cullingworth, Director Sales and Marketing at Montgomery Africa (a subsidiary of UBM Montgomery), as he announced IFSEC South Africa 2012, which is taking place at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 19-21 June.

“Security providers are coming to the event with specific strategies – as active participants in the industry – to measure themselves against the competition and forge new relationships that will secure their positions going forward,” he said. “It’s no longer just about networking but maintaining a visible presence in the industry as a service provider, supplier or manufacturer; it’s about being there for existing clients and attracting potential new clients.”

For decision makers tasked with sourcing products and services, the show brings these individuals into direct contact with the latest and most advanced technologies, clearly explained by industry experts, often as live and interactive demonstrations. “Tough economic times mean budget constraints and buyers know that mistakes at the purchasing stage could be costly in the long run,” said Cullingworth. “So more people are doing their homework.”

Furthermore, the show is positioned to reflect the changing security landscape. “The market for fire protection, intrusion detection and guarding services are fairly well established,” Cullingworth said. “Primarily, we predict the shift from guard services to electronic security to impact the industrial and commercial sectors.”

However, the introduction of remote security applications and hi-tech access control systems, such as biometrics, remain in the early growth stages of development in South Africa. “We anticipate lot more players entering this space,” Cullingworth said, “and we’ll no doubt see some exciting developments at the upcoming show.”

Cullingworth believes that the high level of competition among suppliers has made exhibiting at IFSEC South Africa increasingly attractive to many local and international security brands. “With more than 100 companies competing for a slice of the security systems pie and over 500 companies pushing guard services, it’s not difficult to see why the show has become important for the local market,” he said.

The numbers from last year’s show reflect this growing importance. IFSEC South Africa 2011 broke its own records with 6,214 delegates (a 6.4 per cent rise from 2010) and some 200 exhibitors. Two new events co-located with the flagship IFSEC show – OSH EXPO Africa and FACILITIES SHOW Africa – boosted overall attendance to 8,402. “More encouraging than the actual numbers, were the profiles of these visitors,” Cullingworth said. “We witnessed such diversity at the show, which shows us that it is reflective of a dynamic, growing and changing industry.”

To this end, 75 per cent of visitors were from the African continent; 88 per cent of international delegates travelled to South Africa specifically for the event; 73 per cent of visitors came to source new products; while a further 67 per cent came to meet and network with new and existing suppliers.

With the next expo coming up in June, the organisers have every reason to believe IFSEC South Africa 2012 will surpass the successes of previous events. “To make money in the burgeoning South African security sector, stakeholders must have a sense of the direction the industry is moving in, as well as understand the unique challenges and opportunities of the whole of Africa,” said Cullingworth. “We are confident that IFSEC South Africa 2012 will deliver the goods!”

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