by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates
Published in Today's Systems Integrator
Successful security convergence is not all about IT driving change and taking the leadership role in transforming business operations. It is true that the traditional security field is changing fast and embracing IT standards rapidly. However, physical security has been around forever and that expertise is fundamental to everything we do. Mutual respect for both groups' talents is the basis for successful convergence. This is one message I realized when I recently re-read a great 1998 book titled TURNAROUND: How America's Top Cop Reversed The Crime Epidemic.
The book highlights how then NYC Police Commissioner, (and now Los Angeles Police Chief) William Bratton pioneered an early vision of security convergence strategy. In doing so he significantly reduced both overall felonies (50 percent) and the city's murder rate (68 percent) in only 27 months time. This success landed him on the cover of TIME Magazine and is a great example for both physical security and IT departments regarding how collaborating on security convergence can return unbelievable results.
The now famous system, known as COMPSTAT, is an innovative process of integrating IT systems with real time police procedures. It was the first IT based (Digital Equipment) system to utilize GIS software to map crime patterns with arrest statistics and patrol activity. It aligned police resources with automated crime pattern data, right down to a square block area and time of day. Equally important is that the system drove collaboration between the multiple precincts and various departments required to guarantee success. This cooperation actually led to a change in the culture of the NYPD. This large organization had to think differently about how to do their jobs and embrace new technology. Sound familiar?
"We did things a certain way because we had always done them that way. We had to banish the phrase, âEUR~We have always' from our vocabularies. We had to start asking, âEUR~How should we do it?' and âEUR~How can we do it better?'"
-- John Timoney, former NYC First Deputy Commissioner, current Miami Police Chief
Today the physical security integrator faces many of these same changes both within their own organizations and outward into their end user accounts. Within the commercial and government enterprise, the role of the traditional security department is evolving as the IT group becomes more prominent in the deployment of security applications and in the decision cycle. A successful integrator will understand how to drive collaboration between their physical security clients and the IT department in an effort to sell security solutions and services to a broader audience. In this role the integrator establishes themselves as a valued business partner in the security convergence process, a step up from vendor-only status. Driving cooperation and creating a bridge between various departments is true value add and aligns with the direction corporate executives want their organizations to take regarding security convergence. The smart security integrator will leverage their own established relationships with their IT partners to achieve success by integrating both of their respective end user relationships (physical security and IT) into one cohesive selling strategy, a WIN, WIN, WIN. They make their respective customers heroes and positive examples for upper management.
While cultural differences between physical security and IT continue to exist, executive management demands cooperation in providing a cost effect security solution. This fact is not lost on either department. Whether the solution is video surveillance, access control, or the broad areas of risk management and disaster recovery, security solutions now cross multiple corporate departments and require collaboration. The career limiting decision for department heads is now, NOT collaborating. This trend is your friend. Sell to it.
With the merging of business interests (and budgets) between the traditional security organization, IT, finance, and just about every department in the company with a security concern, the ability to promote cooperation and mutual interest is a key selling talent. By demonstrating an understanding of the larger security issues facing the overall business and detailing a compelling R.O.I. you can establish your firm as a trusted business partner, worthy of higher margin enterprise wide integration contracts. Commodity players are dead, be a partner, promote collaboration, and deploy security solutions across WANS.
The NYPD COMSTAT System is a highly visible and very successful example of collaboration around security convergence even before IP was the de-facto standard for network communications. This is a trend that enabling IT technologies and standards will accelerate for yours to come.
God luck - Sell Collaboration!