Access Control, Safety, Security

Selling Unified Physical Security Systems to the C-Suite

When it comes to budgeting, physical security technology has been historically regarded as a cost center, an operational necessity focused on protecting people and assets. Technology advancements and the digital transformation of organizations are changing that perspective. Facility executives are becoming more aware of valuable data available in their security systems.

Having sufficient data management and structure is key to realizing the value of physical security data. It requires a shift from siloed, standalone systems to an open, unified platform for managing all your Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and their data. This includes everything from physical security to parking management, elevators, HVAC, lighting, and point-of-sale systems.

A unified physical security platform can deliver insights that go far beyond improving security, from improving operations and the tenant experience to shaping the enterprise strategy. The challenge is in demonstrating that potential to executives. The key to selling a unified security platform to the C-suite is in elevating it from a departmental cost to an enterprise-wide investment. Show how it impacts the business interests they value.

While security may not be a daily topic of discussion among C-suite members, they understand the need to provide a safe and secure environment, maintain standards, and comply with regulations. Any proposal to the C-suite must address those concerns comprehensively to win approval. Where the conversation needs to expand is in how the project delivers advantages beyond security.

Establish Your Vision for a Unified Physical Security Solution

Bring your C-team up to speed on the evolution from siloed, standalone systems for video management system (VMS), access control system (ACS), automated license plate recognition (ALPR), intercom, and others to a single, open platform. With unification, all of your systems are built as one and enable access to the entire security operation from a single screen. It’s important to distinguish between systems that are integrated with an software development kit (SDK) or application programing interface (API), which gives them some connectivity, and those that are truly unified at the data level. With a unified system, you not only have access and views, but the ability to interact with events and information across the sub-systems.

When all elements of a physical security system work together in a unified way, they secure the enterprise and yield actionable business intelligence. This insight can be combined with operational data to improve efficiency.

Have the Conversation About ROI

You need to provide a tangible return on investment (ROI) for your security system, but you can also help executives understand the overall security investment in the context of enterprise-wide risk management. ROI is often a question of goals. Where does the leadership team want to take the organization in the next five or 10 years? What data, features, or insights would be most meaningful to support these goals? A unified software platform enables better tracking of key metrics and more collaboration between departments. This in turn enables better decisions and potentially a greater ROI.

What pain points could be resolved with better collaboration, automation, visibility, or operational changes? What could your organization gain if you eliminated redundant systems and processes? Could you reallocate those resources? When all your data is in one unified platform, companies can realize important cost savings. Operational expenses go down, the cost of maintenance is reduced, training is simplified, and employees can get their work done more effectively and efficiently.

It’s equally important to highlight the flexibility offered by an open architecture solution. You have the option to choose best-of-breed components without being locked into any one particular hardware vendor. With an open architecture system, you benefit from innovations and new technologies as they emerge. Plus, you have increased choice and flexibility based on requirements and current availability of components. This was particularly important during the supply chain disruptions over the past few years.

Data can provide actionable insights that lead to greater efficiency and improved guest experiences. It’s also important to consider ROI through the lens of the total cost of ownership. A seemingly cheaper option can cost more in the long run.   

Conversations for IT: Streamlined Maintenance, Cloud, and Cybersecurity

As the keeper of the organization’s technology stack and network, the C-team member from IT is an important ally, and it’s critical that they understand the potential of a unified physical security system in the context of the organization’s technology priorities overall. Demonstrate how an open, unified security system streamlines maintenance, gives them agility and flexibility around hardware and software, enables cloud deployment, and improves cybersecurity.

Dealing with maintenance and system configurations on multiple security systems can be expensive and inefficient. Many required configurations are redundant, forcing administrators to repeat the same tasks across all systems. Upgrades can also potentially render a part of a security system incompatible with the others. A unified physical security system makes this job easier because all system updates and configurations are managed within the same platform. 

Cloud readiness is also a hot button for IT. With support for cloud, hybrid-cloud, and on-premises deployments, modern, unified physical security systems enable the organization to extend the functionality of server-based systems or create a bridge to the cloud to modernize existing infrastructures. This can be done by adding cloud-connected appliances, adding devices with cloud-based software and storage, implementing remote sites with cloud solutions, or running specific applications in the cloud.   

A hybrid solution allows facilities to keep on-premises servers for existing technologies and uses as well as add other security and business components or systems. The sheer flexibility and scalability of the cloud simplifies expansions by accommodating many different objectives, uses, and durations.

Finally, with cyberattacks rising across all geographies and industries as IoT devices proliferate, cybersecurity is a top IT priority. Take the time to demonstrate how cybersecurity and privacy protection are built in at every level of a modern unified physical security solution. As the software vendor is responsible for monitoring cyber threats, then patching and updating software as required, this lifts the load off IT and security teams, since they don’t need to manually update multiple systems.

Conversations for Facilities: Improved Operations and Experiences

Digital transformation has significantly changed facilities management, and C-suite decision-makers in that arena need good data to support novel solutions. When your data is divided by siloed systems, it’s hard to see the full scope of the opportunity. A unified platform allows organizations to combine and track data so you can see trends and how one event is linked to another.

One example is office space. With workers dividing their time between home and office, it can be challenging to know how much office space is needed or how it’s being used. Maybe a tenant doesn’t need less space, but it can be reconfigured. For example, maybe instead of more offices, they need more communal and collaboration areas. With a unified platform, facilities managers can leverage data from ACS and video analytics to get a detailed picture of how the office is used without compromising privacy.

Data from an access control system can also alert facility operators when a door has been opened a certain number of times and the hardware is due for maintenance. This can allow for preventive maintenance. Data on the use of space can even be used to optimize and reduce utility costs when physical security systems are connected to HVAC and electrical systems.

How a Physical Security System Can Help Improve Operations

Data from physical security systems can be leveraged for operational benefits across several departments in all industries. With a modern unified physical security platform, each department or person can create their own dashboard to track the metrics that matter most to them, making it quicker and easier to spot trends, threats, and opportunities.

For example, retail stores and large venues successfully use video analytics to flag management when queue lines are too long. They can send staff to open new checkout lanes, which can help reduce cart abandonment.  

From ALPR data, shopping venues can get information on whether they’re getting a lot of out-of-state customers and then use this information to target marketing campaigns. Casinos have the opportunity to identify when VIPs drive onto the property and greet them proactively. Airports may track when parking lots are filling up and re-direct people to overflow areas by changing digital signage when the need arises. ALPR can even streamline the flow of traffic through parking lot chokepoints and improve the availability of parking for tenants and visitors.

Taking a strategic approach to presenting your proposal to C-suite executives can help them recognize the value of the data-driven insights provided by unified physical security systems. They may see them as more than a risk-mitigating tool. And as that happens, security departments are seen less as a cost center and more as active and central players in their organizations’ digital transformation of operations and strategic planning.

Mark Feider is the national director for the U.S. enterprise sector at Genetec Inc.

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