The security industry has changed a lot in recent years. Many will remember a time not so long ago when it was about buying boxes/pieces of tin, opening them up and installing them. Today, we find ourselves in a world where we all need to talk less about products and more about solutions. Despite this, there is still an inclination to put everything in a ‘box’ and as a result the message often gets lost in translation.

Difference between VMS and PSIM system

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the marketing of PSIM. When the first ‘true’ PSIM solutions appeared on the market there was a lot of excitement and hype (and rightly so). As a consequence, many vendors large and small seized the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and began labelling their VMS as PSIM. People quickly became confused thinking PSIM was just another name for security system-integration. So, the question began being asked “What is the difference between a VMS and a PSIM system?”

To compound things further, the latest generation of VMS will offer a number of key elements that will be included within PSIM such as the aforementioned system integration (video, access control, fire alarms etc), as well as form of visual representation, and the ability to deploy workflows to help manage security situations better.

The key difference between these powerful new VMS systems and PSIM is essentially a simple one – a VMS is a video-centric security system. It helps to tackle daily security challenges where video is relied upon as the predominant system. While PSIM does in most instances everything a VMS can, it is focused on making sense of ‘all’ the data coming into the control room (every system and every sensor) for use by security but also increasingly operations.

With recent convergence between IT and security, it is perhaps no surprise that how technology is specified and sold has needed to change

Break free of the box mentality

However, continuing to distinguish VMS and PSIM is not the key point.

To combat the confusion, we need to break free of the box mentality. Do you really care what the solution is called? All most people know is that they have a specific set of challenges that they need to address. From a vendor’s perspective, solution selling may be a harder and longer process than ‘box shifting’, but it produces far better and lasting results. It is a similar transition that those in the IT industry had to go through, and as there has been so much convergence between IT and security in recent years, it is perhaps no surprise that how technology is specified and sold has needed to change.

For a vendor, solution selling may 
be a harder and longer process 
than ‘box shifting’, but it produces 
far better and lasting results

When I travel to places such as India (where there is a mega trend in Safe City projects right now) there isn’t the same level of fixation on whether to specify a VMS or PSIM, as there is currently in the US and Europe. They have project to deliver to a budget and timeline and they want to know that you have an offering that meets their needs, today and in the future. It may well be that they start with a VMS and ultimately migrate to a true PSIM solution but to them it is by and large immaterial.

Time to focus on the merits

The great news for organisations is that today you have never been better catered for when it comes to technology. However, it is the collective responsibility of those that design, develop and deploy them to cut out the jargon, to help you get beyond the branding and positioning statements such as VMS, PSIM, Incident Management and Situation management, and focus on the merit of the solution and to what extent it caters for your needs and pain points.

 We need less focus on boxes and more on tangible benefits.