by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates
Published in Today's Systems Integrator
Major trends are important to understand. Even when you think that they will not impact your business, they have a way of doing exactly that over time. In Dr. James Canton's recent book The Extreme Future describes a scenario where the “totality” of combined global threats are compounding and actually redefining the definition of risk in the 21st century. It is against this backdrop that establishing an enterprise security policy within an IT infrastructure is critical. This threat to business operations (READ: global supply chains) has the attention of senior executives. Today inventories are obsolete and everything is in route…planes, trains, trucks and shipping containers. Global supply chains reach across companies of every size. Leading edge vendors and integrators see security convergence offering huge opportunities to protect the electronic and physical assets of their client’s business operations. Information technologies and standards are maturing to integrate physical and logical security practices to protect business processes.
One interesting example of a convergence trend is occurring in the second oldest profession in the world: physical security guarding. As the level of global risk to businesses increases, the ability to “proactively” prevent and respond to disruptions requires more strategic technology then ever before. Corporate reputations, careers, lives and even the stock valuations of these organizations hang in the balance. The ability to effectively execute a security strategy around a business plan has never been more important. Providers with the ability to offer a tight integration between traditional services (guards) and IT infrastructure (solutions) will be in a unique position to offer, "Converged Security."
Group 4 Securicor (London) www.g4s.com is the world’s largest physical security solutions company, operating in 100+ countries and employing over 470,000 people. G4S has a rich tradition of physical security guarding services. In recent years they have augmented that service offering with acquisitions of high technology firms. One such acquisition was AMAG Technologies, (www.amag.com ) a leading manufacturer of security management systems headquartered in Torrance, Calif. AMAG has a 30-year history of innovation in intelligent access control products. It recently announced a video software solution (Symmetry) that integrates seamlessly into a state of the art security management system. The open platform design will host future digital applications and provide interoperability with legacy systems. The strategy of aligning the physical security guarding expertise of Group 4 with leading edge digital access control and video surveillance technologies supported by a worldwide reseller channel is tailor made for security convergence. The converged solutions improve the protection of all asset classes across a client’s business operations. G4S represents an evolving global security organization that is embracing new opportunities through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions as well as technology alliances.
Securitas Security Systems (www.securitassystems.us.com ) is a competitor and another example of a traditional physical guarding company leveraging technical innovation to gain a competitive advantage by partnering with Lenel. As global risk has increased, the challenge to multi-national security organizations has been to remain flexible in adapting new security models and strategies to keep pace with new threats. Increasingly, this security solution orientation will involve finding new skill sets to complement traditional physical security. There is a lesson here for the integrator channel. Just as the security guard industry itself has continued to evolve throughout history, the basic ability to provide security services remains constant. The practice of physical security will always remain, and in the future be more integrated with electronic technologies to include the protection of physical as well as digital assets. It is within this context that the traditional physical security industry is facing rapid and disruptive change in an era of security convergence. New competition will enter the market from unexpected directions and provide the potential to reposition market-leading companies who fail to respond quickly. G4S realizes what is at stake moving forward.
"The security industry is well aware of the increasing convergence of technical innovation, risk management and physical security in the security solutions market place. At G4S, it is essential that we are able to respond to an increasing desire from customers to manage risks through whatever means we deem to be appropriate. By understanding their issues and combining the best of our knowledge, experience, physical security and the most up to date technology, we can deploy innovative and reliable security solutions to our global customer base." Nick Buckles, Chief Executive Officer, Group 4 Securicor
It is important for integrators of all sizes, physical security and IT alike to pay attention to the trends impacting traditional security practices. The most innovative firms will leverage these trends to improve margins and even move into lateral businesses around the umbrella of security operations. Be innovative: Convergence is an opportunity. Think like Apple Computer: IP music to video to movies to phones, all in the same packaging. One thing is certain – security convergence is at the core of protecting your customer’s against increased risk scenarios. When traditional business models change, technical trends are at work and opportunities to innovate abound.