Stop spending on security; start spending on intelligence

6 Nov 2019

As security equipment becomes more connected to the wider network, the data that it generates can be used for a much wider variety of purposes beyond protection of people and assets.

By their nature, security devices such as IP-enabled CCTV cameras are present at critical points of physical infrastructure, and as more data is gathered, analysed and combined with other information in the cloud, more uses for it are being discovered.

The upshot is that specialist installers and integrators need to stop thinking about cameras as security devices. Mindsets needs to change. Rather, cameras and access control devices are part of a mix of technologies that, when combined with data from multiple sources, can produce valuable business insights and automate decision making. Security is just one benefit of a much greater system.

To put it more simply: the security industry is evolving, and those who are closest to customers need to start understanding the potential for their work to expand and deliver a wide range of business benefits by drawing on big data, AI, machine learning and analytics.

As an example, a single network security system in a retail store can deliver both safety benefits and actionable business intelligence, as well as begin to automate the process of decision making. While the security element has historically been the staple, Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) can no longer be considered as physical security with additional intelligence. The business insights, both security and operational, derived from increased amounts of data is what really elevates video cameras and access control systems to a new level. They are a technology in their own right.

In a traditional procurement, a security specialist might install cameras to reduce incidents of theft and shrinkage, and a separate access control system for staff entering and leaving the building. Integrating these functions into a single platform creates the potential to incorporate valuable extra functions. The same cameras, for example, can also be used to generate automatic alerts and warn managers when queues are developing. Smart tracking analytics can help owners understand how consumers move through their stores.

Access control based on key cards can be combined with facial recognition, enabling – for example – staff to gain access to a workplace at night without the need for security guards at entrances.

Changing model

As the industry evolves, so too will the business model. Customers are pushing for pay-for-use models that fit into operational budgets and want to cut down on capital expenditure. The security industry has been slow to adopt this model, and Video Security as a Service (VSaaS) is still alien to a sector which is used to selling hardware on narrow margins.

Transitioning to sales cycles based on monthly licences rather than up-front purchases won’t be easy, but the security channel must learn how if it is to remain competitive. The IT world adopted these models years ago, and will increasingly crossover with traditional security integrators as hardware becomes another device in a complex network of connected things.

Which means that security practitioners must develop a better understanding of a customer’s needs and how their solutions can become the answer to wider business goals. We need to stop selling CCTV, and start selling value.