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Straight Talk: We put our questions to Geoff Moore of Red Solutions and he doesn’t hold back…

Tired of all the PR spin? We ask key names in the security industry some to-the-point questions. This month: Geoff Moore, Red Solutions, Dubai.

The security industry in the GCC is ‘becoming much more professional’ – discuss.

Is that true? I don’t know. I think that you need to make a distinction between different parts of the industry and different business models, and you also need to make the distinction between professionalism on the buying side and on the selling side.

The vast majority of installers and so-called “systems integrators” are just a type of electrical contractor, who responds to tenders, pick parts from a catalogue and then afterwards screw those parts to the wall. If the tender was for a security system then I guess that makes those people security installers, but if it were for an  audiovisual system or a telephone system the company would be called something else. There are some perfectly professional contractors out there in all sorts of different sectors, doing a good job at following this ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to systems implementation.

There are other types of company who choose to work with end users, determining their problems and developing solutions that address those problems, selecting the most appropriate technologies from the market, tailoring them to the specifics of the client’s needs (technical, economic and aesthetic), and then providing lifelong support of those systems once they are installed. This is Red’s business model, and I have to say that although we believe this is the right and professional way to do business, quite honestly it is extremely rare.

Unfortunately, we still see cost of purchase as the biggest influence on buying decisions across the region, not cost of ownership, system performance or quality of work. While that remains the same there will always be too many of the first type of contractor I describe and too few of the second. Without more real professional security solution providers there is no breeding ground for quality work and the industry is likely to remain where it is.

There’s also a thing called ‘inflation’ which some people may have heard of, so prices are supposed to go up every year, not the other way.

Regional industry trade shows – worth the effort for integrators or not?

No. Not to exhibit, anyway. Trade shows are the realm of manufacturers and distributors. When an integrator puts up a stand, all they see are other integrators and guys looking for a job. Our rule for exhibiting is “go where you’re not expected”.

What question do you get asked most often by clients?

“What is your best price?”

We also see a lot of misunderstanding from clients in Dubai on their responsibilities regarding Law 24, and this can result in wasted time and false starts on projects. DPS do make all of the information available, and the law isn’t going away, so clients, MEP contractors and consultants just need to familiarise themselves on how the system works and stop trying to always back the integrator into a corner.

What question do you wish you got asked?

“We’ve budgeted AEDxxx for our new integrated security system, you guys have proved you’re able to do the job during pre qualification process, so now can you just please go ahead and deliver the solution?”

I think it would also be nice if sometimes people asked “please tell us everything that you can do for our organisation?”, and then if they actually listened.

Describe your average week.

An average week for me is not very typical. There’s quite a lot of structure to the way we work at Red. There needs to be, because we’re operating in so many different areas. Some parts of the business have their own dedicated teams and some just have the same people ‘double-hatting’. My role touches on everything we do, and so from time to time everyone needs a little bit of me. If we didn’t keep some sort of structure in place then I would never get anything done.

I spend around about as much time in the office as on the road with clients and suppliers, and also try to get some time each week shut off from everyone to work on my pet projects – of which there are many – all of which are top secret! Without deadlines I tend to get a little lost, so I try to make sure that I set unreasonable goals for myself to push towards all the time. And I’m an obsessive list maker too.

What’s on your desk right now?

Because of the type of work we do we’ve implemented a strict clear desk policy that keeps loose paperwork to a minimum, and since I’m writing this at almost midnight after I’ve put away my papers for the day there’s very little on my desk except my Thor, Ironman, Hulk and Captain America bobble-heads, plus a little R2D2.

What part of your role as CTO would people be most surprised you get involved in?

At Red we don’t have any salespeople, as such, and we follow a solutions oriented approach to developing opportunities with our clients. So a big part of what I do is spending time with clients who haven’t yet discovered what they need, just listening.

Some people in technology businesses say that it’s their job to “educate the market”, which I think is a terribly pompous and arrogant thing to say. The market is perfectly well educated. People know their own businesses very well, but sometimes they don’t use the same language as us when talking about their risk management issues.

We need to listen to these clients and learn about what’s important in their world, so that we’re in a better place to talk to them about managing risk in a context that’s relevant for them.

I also sometimes make tea.

Red Solutions’ uniqe selling points in three words

We’re not thesame.

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