Live from the 2005 GE Conference and Workshop

Industry heavyweights weigh in on what the security business holds in store for everyone: dealers, integrators and end users

Kessler also pointed to what he saw as the emerging areas of sales for security products, services and solutions. He listed the following as the areas which will be "major security investment themes over the next 3-5 years": background screening, plant analytics, biometrics, specialty digital/video, and DNA identification.

Don Dixon of Market Access International, IT Security magazine and the Homeland Defense Journal presented briefly on what the HSPD-12/FIPS 201 standards for the federal biometrics-based unified access control card will mean in terms of convergence. He presented the world of convergence as a turf war between physical and logical camps. Dixon added that he's seen that VISA and the financial world are underwriting a lot of the forward forces in the convergence arena. That comes as no surprise, when you think about it. After all, it's grocery stories like Piggly Wiggly and others that are being the forward forces in adoption of biometrics as the stores roll out financial pay stations that use fingerprint readers. The financial community (and by extension, the retail market that uses the services of the financial market) will always be a technology driver.

When Dixon finished, it was still before the lunch hour, and Francis D'Addario of Starbucks stepped on stage to discuss security in the company's global supply chain and at the store level. From traveling coffee buyers to scores of containers shipped every day, to securing and ensuring against loss prevention at the retail level, D'Addario's staff does it all ... and apparently does it well. His department's activities stymied a drop in armed robberies at stores to 11 per 1,000 in 2004 (standard quick service food stores like McDonald's and others typically face 48-75 robberies per 1,000 restaurant units) and has implemented systems that can track excessive sales figures at the store level to identify internal theft and scams, the Starbucks systems is a great model. D'Addario's presentation was jam packed with information that every system designer, integrator and end user can use, and he's been a fairly regular presenter at industry events. Most importantly, he's not afraid to discuss the hiccups of getting an excellent enterprise security system working. If you get the chance to hear him speak, by all means drop what you're doing and listen. You'll find it well worth your time. It’s not just an editor saying this either; your peers were describing Francis as “sharp” and as someone who “has their system together.” Some high-end integrators even called his concept of security a “model.”

After lunch, attendees were treated to a presentation by GE's own corporate security director, Frank Taylor. Taylor had extensive background in the State Department before joining GE in a security capacity. Because he was involved in government security during the integration of all security needs (IT, infrastructure, intelligence, investigation), Taylor takes a holistic approach to security, and says, that on the issue of convergence, despite some attitudes in the industry, good security directors do not see a physical-vs.-IT battle. There is simply no separation in what we all do, he says.

"IT and security and the investigations department and law enforcement are all in the business of managing information," said Taylor. "Security must be global. It must be horizontally connected within a company, within connected companies and within the government. Security needs to be inclusive; it is not an appendage that must stand off to the side."