Comments on Commercial in 2021

Comments on Commercial in 2021
Jillian Bateman — March 8, 2021

As commercial will see more doors reopen this year — even if modified in terms of limited numbers of people inside spaces, the wearing of masks, moving to a hybrid physical-digital experience, etc. — courage is being restored as the world is learning how to safely function during a pandemic, with hopes of it ending soon. 

“Restaurants have reduced hours and occupancy, and businesses have shifted presence more online,” Alice DeBiasio, VPGM, Security — Resideo, explains. “I’m optimistic that this industry segment will see a rebound, and there will be progress during the back half of the year as consumer confidence strengthens.”  

With increasing movement within commercial, integrators need to be prepared for a slow start in 2021, but realize, with a steady ramp up toward the end of 2021, businesses will be needing our industry more than ever.  

“We see opportunities continuing as the commercial space consolidates to adjust for work-from-home,” says Dee Ann Harn, SHRM-SCP, CEO, RFI Enterprises and ESA Executive Committee Member, “Move, add, change work and tenant improvement (TI) projects will continue through 2021 and we anticipate seeing an increase in demand for integration of contactless controls, visitor management, camera analytics, etc.”  

Integrators need to be educating commercial end users about technologies and solutions that are available to enable a safe return to work. Upgrades and installations should happen before the return to help reduce the spread of illnesses as well as set commercial end users up for success when employees do come back to work as their work environment will be ready to go.  


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“All things compliance driven will be the new norm and we will see benefits of strengthening internal process and procedures during Shelter-in-Place (SIP) to begin to pay off in 2021,” says Harn. 

Commercial end user’s purchasing habits tend to be based more on need than want. “They identify a problem  whether internal or external — and our focus [as integrators] needs to remain on educating about solutions we offer to mitigate their concerns, says White. Therefore, information provided needs to have security at its foundation. 

Reflecting on 2020 and the shutdowns, all interviewed agree that offering remote services and remote management options — including monitoring and app access — is a strategy to deploy.  

“I believe that the commercial consumer will continue to be a large portion of business in 2021, especially with remote offerings,” says Angela White of Central 1 Security and past ESA president. “The ability to view and control an environment from anywhere proved to be invaluable during the 2020 shutdowns.” 

Access control and CCTV projects will also continue to grow in commercial, according to Amherst Alarm, Inc. CEO, Tim Creenan, which will foster the need for professional remote management of these services, while Sevta mentions connectivity in the workplace will be expected. 

“Virtual assistants and connected devices are creating smart surveillance solutions, acting as receptionists and security teams, connecting door locks, access control, CCTV, cameras, lights, etc.,” explains Rickey Sevta, chief revenue officer, simPRO. This plays into what Creenan refers to as “a new shift in how companies use traditional office space” as “work continues to be done remotely.

Commercial pros need to realize that IoT will play a large part in helping to achieve successful, effective remote monitoring, therefore, will become a larger revenue source for our industry. That being said, cybersecurity becomes prominent and Harn points out that cyber concerns will move to the forefront for the customer and integrator.  

For ESA President and Security Solutions’ General Manager, Jamie Vos, his biggest concern with cyber threats is one of his peers leaving a customer exposed. “That company will be drug into the spotlight because I predict it will be a very large company that will be exposed,” he explains.  

In addition to cybersecurity offerings, other verticals within commercial will stay strong, as well.  

“Healthcare, agriculture, distribution, data center and other infrastructure industries will be going strong,” Harn says, naming a few. 

However, the elephant in the room in commercial remains into 2021, as most seasoned pros know, which is attracting, recruiting and retaining skilled talent within our industry. ESA in partnership with SIA has taken a huge step in battling this by launching FAST — a non-profit organization designed to promote careers in the physical security technology and life safety industry by connecting passionate, innovative professionals with new industry opportunities. 

“We need to get into thinking about how we can attract people and retain them,” Vos says. “We need to be competitive, and in order to do that, we have to see wage escalation, so we have to see competitive rates. 

As a COVID vaccine becomes more readily available to the masses, Harn believes opportunities for recruitment will become richer.  

“Companies who were able to hold onto their employees and maintain a strong culture during the height of the pandemic will not be able to rest on their laurels,” she explains, adding that as the country goes back to normal, competition for skilled talent will being to pick up.  

In general, and for the start of 2021, commercial pros, need to focus on what businesses will require: “a flexible, affordable and open platform that address their needs for security and safety,” DiBiasio recommends.