The business case for PSIM

On Thursday, physical security information management (PSIM) software provider VidSys released the results of its 2012 National Security Survey, which polled more than 100 senior security professionals from both the private and public sector about the challenges facing their organizations. Overall, the survey found that the security landscape was similar to that of last year’s survey with companies continuing to face an increasingly complex security environment, consisting of systems and devices from a myriad of different manufacturers.

According to Kelly Fiedler, vice president of marketing for VidSys, 59 percent of survey respondents said that their organizations have security devices and systems from five or more manufacturers, a 13 percent increase over last year’s survey. Some security executives reported that they had to deal with solutions from 20 or more different manufacturers.

"With technology from multiple manufacturers, the complexity of managing unfolding situations is significant because these systems and devices often cannot speak to each other and the information sits in silos," Fiedler said. "And so because of this, security personnel are forced to manually correlate data from each technology to determine whether or not there is a potential (security) situation."

While a PSIM solution would be able to integrate all of these disparate systems into a common operating picture, the industry, as we reported at ASIS 2012 last month, has moved beyond the integration benefits of the technology.

"The related trend that I’m seeing in the marketplace is that people are no longer talking about integration, but it’s going beyond integration to what we call interoperability, which means having multiple integrated systems communicating together to create interoperability across business departments and business segments," said VidSys Founder James Chong, who also serves as the company’s CTO and senior vice president of strategic innovation. "We’re going to continue to find that interoperability is gong to have a much bigger play than it has already in the past few years."

Another key finding of this year’s survey was the continuing evolution of risk management, which has moved from simply being part of an organization’s crisis response planning to part of their everyday business operations. Thirty-two percent of security managers said that their organizations approach risk management from a business operations perspective as part of larger, business continuity planning and 45 percent said that risk management is a higher priority for their organization than it was 12 to 18 months ago.

"People are now thinking differently about security, in that it’s really about risk versus security," Chong said. "That’s going to be the driving force for budgets, as well as what they create in terms of their overall objectives and missions for their companies and their agencies."

The biggest barrier, however, as I see it to more widespread adoption of PSIM, is the price point. While it’s always been a technology tailored to fit the needs of enterprise consumers, the fact remains that we’re still in the middle of a weak economic recovery and getting buy-in from management, particularly in the public sector where funds are scarce, is difficult. As the VidSys survey noted, 53 percent of respondents said that tight budgets were their biggest obstacles to moving the organization forward.

As most vendors are quick to point out though, the immediate ROI realized by the implementation of PSIM software through increased efficiencies can be enough to get the C-Suite to sign off on the purchase.

"I think, fortunately, PSIM has actually been looked at as a possible solution to help address the budgets. Especially with security executives and C-Suite executives, everything is about driving ROI, as well as in savings and efficiencies," said Chong. "A PSIM platform by its nature provides you with the ability to be efficient with your resources that you already have, it also allows you to minimize human error and also it’s more effective and efficient because you’re automating some of the procedures and policies which were handled manually by a security operator or guard or a security director."

Fiedler added that a lot of VidSys customers and prospective customers are starting to build out the business case for PSIM by looking at these aforementioned costs savings and actually putting a projected dollar amount for savings their organizations could realize by using the technology.

Time will tell if PSIM becomes more widely deployed at enterprises around the world. I suspect if the economy continues to rebound, albeit slowly, then there could be sunny skies ahead for PSIM vendors. If, however, things take a turn for the worse, companies and governments will begin to tighten the purse strings that they’ve only just begun to let slightly loosen.