Love Fest or Fist Fight?
Security can draw business and retain customers, according to a consumer survey by Ally Financial.
My first meeting with security executives in Chicago in the early 1980s included some of those attendees getting into a fist fight, due in great part to the “two-fer” beverage policy at the now and should-have-been-then-closed policy of the Chicago Millionaire’s Club. No doubt, it’s good to see passion. But, overall, security has been in an obvious struggle within their organizations for many years, more often over budgets.
Historically, enterprise security executives have had their operations tagged as an expense item.
Organizations have always, and will always have, only three ways to handle risk. They can spend money on insurance to cover losses. They can invest in security to prevent or minimize losses. And they can just take the loss. There are variables such as soft or hard insurance, depending on the cost of insurance. When it is more expensive, invest in security or take the loss; when it is less expensive, buy more insurance with less of a need for security.
Inherent Reason for Security Spending
There are also priorities dictated by regulations, codes and legislation.
But times have changed.
Thanks to security leaders who have shifted from enforcement to a business mentality, and with the help of technology tools that can share information and cut across all functions of the organization, the security operation now can show and prove bottom line results.
In some environments, such as financial and retail, the ledger is clearly tipping to the positive side.
For example, when consumers were asked what would make them “love” their bank, daily compound interest rate came in a poor fifth place. The top “love” lure? Security. According to a survey conducted for Ally Bank, 24 percent of respondents rank security as the option they love the most in a bank. Customers, it seems, are drawn more to a bank which provides peace of mind, whether it comes to protecting databases or securing a bank lobby.
The impact of security across the business is even more apparent at chain stores.
While not forgetting shoplifting and employee theft, security executives and their systems now aim at increasing sales through shared use by the merchandizing and marketing operations. Analysis of security video, for instance, can create what retailers call “heat maps,” which show traffic patterns and the attraction to certain shelves, displays or sale items. The more information means the better decisions that lead to more revenue.
Protection Embedded in Devices
Then there are the security concerns centering on mobile devices and smartphones. As business and consumer demand continues to rise, the primary obstacle is security, not price, compatibility or coverage. Some experts feel that smartphones will replace access control cards to open doors, dispense products from vending machines and pay bills. Some phone applications already display airplane boarding passes.
But what about security?
Things are improving, slowly but surely.
Just weeks ago, Trend Micro showed off a mobile security offering that protects the digital files and secures the banking transactions on Android devices. Because it identifies and stops cybercriminals and viruses before they attack, users – whether business employees or consumers – can have peace of mind.
On the video side, much is happening to broaden security technology beyond just security.
Megapixel and high definition cameras collect more information including license plate and facial recognition data to do everything from generating revenue to making a point of sale experience more convenient and personal.
Cameras Make Revenue
On the software side and in cash-strapped Chicago, for example, city officials are experimenting with street sweepers equipped with license plate recognition camera systems. As the sweeper’s driver does his or her job, the camera system catches traffic ticket violators. And operations depending on drive-through business are using cameras with analytics to alert to and adjust staffing when the car lines get too long.
Not every security idea works, however.
Especially after 9/11, high rise office building owners and managers worldwide sought ways to attract and keep tenants based, in part, on anti-terror security in addition to traditional life safety concerns. Security vendors have come up with numerous ideas from personal parachutes to external (outside and down the building) emergency exit devices.