Changes in Security, Changes in Technology

Changes in security technology are running on a parallel course to changes in the practice of security itself. In both instances, a broader outlook is opening the door to new opportunities. And in both cases, a key strategy for success is to manage change proactively.

Fortunately, even as the changes run on parallel courses, they are nicely complementary. Responding to technology changes can be a tool to drive changes in how security itself is practiced — and to expand its role and value to the enterprise. Working to broaden the security function within an enterprise can uncover opportunities to use technology to the good of the entire enterprise, even beyond the historically narrow role of security.

Security professionals are looking for ways to make security an integral part of their business operations. Gone are the days when security was a “service department” that operated independently of the rest of the company and with a different set of goals and parameters. Nowadays, security departments are team players, looking for ways to boost the company’s bottom line. In fact, creating business value and return on investment are tasks shared by every department in today’s lean companies, including the security department and the IT department. Given this enhanced mission, the conventional definition of “customer” in the security industry — i.e., the security director or even the IT department — is only part of the picture. The same people we suppliers used to think of as our customers can now serve as our advocates for the greater use of technology by a new, more broadly defined customer, which is the enterprise itself. As security end-users look to expand the role and benefits of security to the enterprise, they offer enhanced opportunities to introduce our industry’s technology to a broader customer base within the enterprise.

The broader benefits to the enterprise of what has traditionally been labeled as “security technology” — video surveillance, for example — are just beginning to become clear. The fact is, widely available digital video has enormous potential to help companies with issues such as risk management and business operations, including asset tracking, traffic monitoring, inventory control, identity management, employee productivity, process monitoring, establishing workflow patterns and managing liability issues. Given this change in mindset, it behooves security professionals — and the integrators and supplier companies that sell to them — to think broadly and innovatively about how video surveillance can benefit the company as a whole. As security expands its profile and seeks to take on new initiatives to contribute to the bottom line, the technology used in the security department provides an enormous — and enormously untapped — resource to make it happen. We all know that our industry’s technology has the potential to contribute to the bottom line in ways that have yet to be realized. Now we just have to work together — suppliers, integrators, security departments, IT departments and, yes, even other departments throughout the enterprise — to turn potential into reality.

From the perspective of technology suppliers, the overarching parallel trend of providing “system solutions” reflects these changes in corporate expectations, and better yet, offers a realistic and practical means to get there.

As technologies converge and demand surges for truly integrated systems, our industry’s goal must be to provide solutions that meet end-user requirements, deliver improved return on investment and lower the total cost of ownership. A customer-driven strategy includes helping the customer to deal proactively with technology changes and to maximize the value of new technology, while preserving the value of previous equipment investments.

In today’s business environment, integrated solutions reach across multiple departments and disciplines. It is a new, higher level of systems integration. By delivering fully integrated solutions across numerous professional and consumer product lines, suppliers such as Panasonic System Solutions have an opportunity to work even more closely with customer and reseller partners. This is a monumental shift from product sales to systems sales; from a product perspective to a needs perspective. An entire product suite becomes unified on a single scalable platform. As suppliers, we can make the most of our opportunities by providing innovative, integrated systems that meet the immediate and future needs — and exceed the expectations — of the market.

The system solutions business model, in contrast to a product-specific approach, fits perfectly with how the perception of security is changing within the enterprise. Both represent a fundamental broadening of the outlook moving forward.

As an industry, we need to both help our customers look for ways to make security an integral part of the enterprise and demonstrate how technology can be used to enable the enterprise to function more effectively and efficiently as a whole. A system solutions approach to the market does both, while ensuring an expanded role for our industry’s technologies at the enterprise level now and for years to come.

J.M. Allain is President of Panasonic System Solutions Company.