Mapping Security Back to the Business

HiveWatch’s Ryan Schonfeld Discusses How Data Is Critical to Showing Value

Ryan Schonfeld
Ryan Schonfeld is the founder and CEO of HiveWatch.

More than ever, physical security leaders are being asked to do more with less (or more with the same) to optimize their security programs and deliver results. This involves a thorough understanding not only of risk, but also of how the business handles that risk – and its potential impact on the bottom line.

It is no secret that, traditionally, security leaders have struggled to tie the value of robust security programs to the overall goals of the business, but one of the key assets that security can now bring to the table is data. For example, using data from a platform that provides a better understanding of a company’s third-party guard resources spend, operator efficiencies, device health and hours spent on false alarms can point to savings in time and resources. Providing this level of insight can enable security leaders to make meaningful operational decisions that save money for the business and, thus, shift security from more of a cost center to more of a business enabler.

The hours that security operators spend just triaging false alarms, for example, can be considerable. If a security leader can calculate this time expenditure, they can use the data to persuade upper management to invest in a tool that will remediate the issue.

How can this be achieved? There are three things that need to be addressed when planning a conversation with company leadership.

Where to Start

The place to begin is with an assessment. A security program cannot be optimized without first knowing what is currently in place – the data coming in, the risks being addressed and the segments of the budget that require analysis.

The initial assessment, then, is critical to every other decision that will be made and mapped back to the original objective of meeting business goals.

This can also mean that not every site within a security program is going to fit into a cookie cutter outcome. The needs of the program will vary based on the business needs of the site, along with the ultimate goal of the site. For example, in a high-crime area, more guards, cameras and other technologies may be necessary.

There are ways for security leaders to look at the overall design of each site and determine not only where the spend occurs, but also where savings can be found. In addition, it is important to examine how spending and needs have changed with the increase in hybrid and remote work. This might free up additional budget that can be used for technology improvements.

Who Is Involved

Engaging stakeholders at all levels provides security teams with the ability to identify potential roadblocks to success as they relate to physical security program implementation. Building community within the security team by encouraging leaders to listen to the concerns of operators and sharing them with executive leadership can help build morale. It can also reduce turnover, which can be a drain on resources and budgets at a time when security staffing is scarce.

Establishing a baseline with their teams will set leaders up for success because the group will be able to identify what the security strategy will be. Without this key piece of the puzzle, teams will not be empowered to make cost-cutting decisions that align with business goals. Rather than top-down, it becomes a shared community initiative.

Discussions should include teams on the ground, not just those in the C-suite. At sites in high-risk areas, it is important to listen to employees and understand what will make them feel safe going to and from work. The balance becomes listening and learning with actionable processes and policies.

Another avenue to pursue is a risk-based approach. Many successful security leaders partner with business continuity teams and crisis management teams to understand the various exposures of their assets to risk and tie this risk back to business interests.

Consider Technology Enhancements

Once a security program gathers risk assessments and input from stakeholders, then decisions can be made about how to provide more comprehensive, data-driven approaches.

Focusing on deployments that help to avoid the “rip-and-replace” cycle that many security leaders find themselves in can help make it easier to navigate financial discussions. In order to leverage the technology that is already in place, investments should be made in platforms and systems that are vendor-agnostic. In addition, organizations can begin layering artificial intelligence (AI) technology that allows operators to identify false alarms, find the root cause of alarms and respond quickly and efficiently to real threats.

Security technology enhancements can improve business operations in multiple ways.

  • Reduce administrative burdens: Mobile-first management, such as mobile credentials, and remote access technology advancements can significantly decrease the demand on time and resources.
  • Enhance how data is collected: This encompasses the use of low-cost movable sensors that are emerging in the market; things like proximity sensors, lower-cost technologies to collect data that can be an alternative to rip-and-replace. These investments may not be long term, but they can provide significant value and help gather more data for security teams.
  • Optimize the data: System centralization and the integration of disparate security devices and data from cameras, access control, environmental sensors and more allows leaders to visualize incoming data in a meaningful way. This takes some of the highly manual, time-intensive tasks – like clearing large numbers of false alarms – from operators, giving them time to perform more meaningful work and provide more value to the business.

Security leaders have the monumental responsibility of not only keeping people, assets and the brand safe, but also ensuring that the work they do is aligned with business goals. This is the only way for physical security to show value, put a spotlight on risk and move the needle for the company they serve.