Ingram Micro locks down physical security with new division

Dave Mason

Ingram Micro Canada sales chief Dave Mason

Ingram Micro Canada has launched its physical security business, expanding into an adjacent market where the lines are increasingly blurring with the traditional IT resellers’ territory.

The distributor will work with partners old (Cisco, Sony, Panasonic) and new (Milestone Software) to bring IP-based surveillance and security products to market, adding more evidence to a convergence between IP networks and physical security technologies that could be as explosive an opportunity as was IT/voice convergence a decade ago.

“If you look at the profit portfolio of our core business [in the channel] you see challenges and commoditization,” said Dave Mason, vice president of sales at Ingram Micro Canada. “We need to augment our, and our resellers’, ability to make profit with the same customers with higher margin, more profitable technologies.”

The new Canadian physical security operation is being spearheaded by senior business manager Jennifer Harmon, with senior director of financial planning and analytics Adeel Athar serving as its executive sponsor. The distributor is basing its Canadian physical security business on the same business in the United States, where it’s been going for some time and according to Mason has been “very successful.”

Of course, the physical security market has its own channels – with dealers and distributors dedicated to the space. For that reason, Mason said Ingram’s goal isn’t to be the biggest player in the field, but to “create an extension of our partners’ ability to serve their customers” by adding new types of products to the mix.

Along with those products, Ingram will aim to provide education about the technologies, the market opportunities, and the routes to market for physical security goods, products that are straddling the line between IT staff and facilities staff on the buyer side, in much the same way that VOIP straddled the line between IT and telecom staff.

“This is a big, untapped opportunity as the IT department becomes more and more responsible,” Mason said.

And while the bulk of the opportunity is in serving its existing VARs in expanding into the physical security realm, there’s also a role to play in security dealers that are looking to become more knowledgeable around IP networks. “We think that’s natural,” Mason said.

And while Ingram finds itself in the unfamiliar place of, as Mason puts it “elbowing our way into” an established market, it means that it’s not having to involve itself with too much market building. Day one, there’s vendors, products, and orders in place, meaning that Ingram can see “immediate pickup” I the division.

While it’s an opportunity with a narrow swath of partners today, Mason said the issue of convergence is broadening that community all the time.

The group is being run as a hybrid, with specialist vendor management but reseller support and sales coming from Ingram’s VAR division. Mason said that’s the plan for now, but the distributor will keep its eye on the progress and “if we think it needs more specialization, we’ll assign [staff] at that point.”

The division was introduced at the distributor’s Connex 2011 event at the Vue in western Toronto, where VARs were given an introduction to some of the issues around physical security by University of Toronto professor Andrew Clement. Clement unveiled his own research on just how few – IE: zero per cent – of locations with surveillance cameras were in compliance with PIPEDA’s expectations of them, and explained to solution providers the opportunity to educate customers of existing and upcoming regulations.