Navigating Uncharted Opportunities
7th August 2013
With the August ‘silly-season’ about to be in full swing, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole world is about to pack its bags and hit the sun loungers for a well-earned break! Whilst that will be the case for many (including, of course most politicians), TDSi is full steam ahead with our enthusiastic sales targets and we plan to be well ahead of the curve when the world (and his dog) gets back into the office for September! We have a number of big shows coming up next month, including IFSEC South East Asia 2013, 11th-13th September) and APS France (24th-26th September) and we will be able to share the exciting details with you shortly.
It’s no secret that since it came into office, the current UK Government has cut budgets from many of the services it provides. Undoubtedly this has made it more of a challenge for the security industry, especially installers that rely on government-funded projects for a sizable percentage of their business. However, the coalition government has always promised to ring-fence the budgets for vital sectors such as schools and the NHS and these have remained buoyant and attractive markets for the security industry. The paradox of course is that whilst these are still well-budgeted public-sector areas, it also means that competition has never been fiercer between installers and security providers.
I have always maintained that there is always a market for the right security products and services and we have seen considerable success in the education and health sectors. So what’s the key to this? Well I won’t pretend there is some magic solution it comes down to developing the right products and offering the best, most value-added services and support that ensure that customers get the maximum bang-for-their-buck and will come right back to you with their repeat business! One of the key things we can do as an industry is to keep abreast of the real-world requirements that our clients need addressing. I spoke recently about the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, on holding personal data (effectively meaning schools must offer alternatives to biometric-only access control systems.) Being able to offer practical solutions to these kinds of real-world and legislative dilemmas is an ideal way for security suppliers to embrace public sector decision makers. Taking time to really understand the market and then offering solutions that actually address these needs (and not just a shoe-horned solution from an existing product or service) at the right price point will always put you at the front of the line, ahead of less well-placed competitors.
Recent reports of a growth in the UK construction industry have caught my eye (as reported in the Telegraph last month for instance). Not only is this great news for the UK economy as a whole (traditionally construction is seen as one of the first industries to suffer from an economic downturn and one of the last to recover), but it is also another key focus sector for the security industry. Whilst a large slice of the security pie is made up of repeat business and the replacement of old systems, new build property is undoubtedly a highly important segment and an exciting one for broadening the sales portfolio of any security business. Even more encouraging is the suggestion that globally the construction industry is showing signs of growth too. As an internationally operating business, TDSi has a very keen focus on export sales (with 40% of our turnover in export sales 2012/2013!) and it is this kind of news that makes me excited for both us and our partners, in the UK and around the world.
Having talked at the beginning of this blog about the summer holidays, I will be enjoying a fantastic one-week break sailing from September 28 with friends from the industry. Whilst it is quite a hands-on kind of break, rather than a relaxing one, there is something very satisfying about being part of a team and reaching your destinations through the power of the environment around you and the hard work of the crew alone. I think you can see where this is going! The analogy of a ship and that of an organisation, or even a society is a powerful one that is often used in stories or films (look at the continued fascination with the Titanic story for instance). When you sail a boat it is the challenge of discovery, reaching new and exciting destinations but enjoying the journey with good people - I view running a business in just the same way. Like a sailing boat, a business needs a captain to steer it, but it also needs a determined and fearless crew to make the whole thing reach its desired destination. It’s also a reminder that you can’t lie there and enjoy the sun; there are new places to see and new opportunities to take advantage of. If a ship is left stranded, the crew will struggle to survive and a business also needs that continued momentum, to reach the next destination and to enjoy the success in doing so! I head up the good ship TDSi, but the ship and its captain are nothing without its crew - a team of skilled individuals who make the whole trip possible. Like a crew we sometimes face storms or tides that want to take us off course, but determination to succeed is what gets us there. Sometimes we sail in a beautiful calm summer sea and sometimes there is a gale blowing, but I am confident in the crew that are with me and we have the talent to prevail and flourish.
Choosing the right crew/team (and actually, the right mixture of skills) is something that every business needs to be aware of - it is fundamental to the way in which the entity operates. Of course, as well as effort, you need the right tools (products or services) that will convey your business to the next destination. To continue the analogy, why paddle when you can use a sail?! And also like a sailing ship the team has to be prepared to adjust to meet the circumstances. As I said earlier TDSi has recognised and embraced the benefits of operating in a truly international portfolio of partners and markets (we have increased or exports revenue by 15% in the last five years and intend to accelerate this). So adaptability is just as much a key to success; as having the right team and the right products. There are uncharted waters out there and you have to decide whether to be fearful of the unknown or perhaps, instead, embrace it for the opportunities it can offer if you invest your time and efforts into exploring it.