Beginning a SEN editorial with no sense of where it’s going suits the tenor of strange times.

Usually, editorials write themselves at the last, a stream of consciousness emerging from the final agony of paper proofing, cortex enlightened by the month’s moment of clearest synthesis. Seen in such light, maybe it’s not surprising the back end of 2021 feels hemmed in, its truest conceptions the muddiest.

In all the strangeness of the last 18 months, this time seems murkiest, its sense of disconnection seems strongest, feeding a hunger for clear outlines flitting always out of reach. Our sense of constraint keeps building tension, fuelling something collectively explosive waiting to blaze out across the world.

This place of unrest is a change potential – what we make of it as individuals, businesses and an industry will be defining. Whatever we think, there’s no going back to the cadence of before. A new momentum, a shifted paradigm, a hunger for connectivity, permeates all things, and our industry must help customers steer successfully through the openings of intense change.

From the perspective of technology, it helps that our best offerings are tuned to inform in real time, but we can’t pretend they offer users the connection they want when so much distance exists between them. For all the talk of integration, too many solutions are limited by the necessity of sleek/proprietary, or cobbled together by technology partners jealously guarding their closest secrets.

But the ways of the past, the business models of the past, cannot hold back new longing for seamless connections, for fuller expressions of functionality managing sharpened procedures delivered from/to anywhere, defining a future in which beginning to know will replace the reactivity of yesterday.

In a place and time where security and automation solutions are properly valued, where our best expressions of technological excellence have unprecedented power, the divisions placed between systems, between applications, are no longer imposed by what they are capable of being but by what we ask them to be. As the world bursts out of COVID-19, with old links reforged and new opportunities fiercely sought, there’s no chance integrators and end users will not ask their solutions to be more.

With former divisions crumbling, we are going to see integrations on a new scale, the forging of partnerships formerly unthinkable, with connected end users applying clever solutions for mutual benefit, leveraging systems underpinned by a renewed valuation of cooperation, by technology hugely empowered by unique demands of pandemic.

A future in which businesses and users are hungry for connection offers the electronic security industry enormous opportunity and vast social responsibility. Its levers exert force on everything around us, demanding uniformity of training and licensing standards, an expansion of our worker base, an implementation of strong standards around AI and cyber security, the creation of clearer paths to integration. A different way of thinking. All the patchwork horror of the last 5 decades must be swept away.

As we grind our way out of 2021, remember to keep your embers of connectivity alight – they will shape your future. For integrators, staying on top of the latest solutions and their supporting technologies, while ensuring team expertise and balance, will be vital. For end users, making sure future solutions deliver ever more fully on real-world requirements is the key.

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