Taking security to the boardroom
A common refrain amongst security managers is the lack of stakeholder support when they try to propose new system implementation. Lack of buy-in is one of the most common contributors to proposals for security system upgrades falling through. It isn’t just the C-suite executives to blame here. Several other departments such as finance, marketing and HR can also impact the decision to procure and install security systems in any organisation.
The first and possibly most important step for security managers is to build as much support from various departments as possible in the early stages of the tender process. And this is where security companies can help themselves and also security managers caught in the middle between them and getting sign-off on contracts by the board. John Bigelow, Editor of Security Solutions magazine, explains the challenges are similar for security managers and service providers, and how learning ‘boardroom speak’ can help both camps in their security goals.
A shift in supplier pitches
In today’s highly competitive market, security companies have to set themselves apart from their competitors. A paradigm shift is needed with companies reflecting on how they pitch their products to security managers. With a swathe of competing products with similar specifications in the market today, technology fatigue has set in. From security managers to those in the boardroom, they ask: “How’s your product or service different from the 10 previous pitches we’ve seen?” John says that companies need to have a ‘unique selling point’. He explains: “Unless you can differentiate yourself as a frontrunner in today’s competitive market by presenting a unique value proposition, then what will happen is that you will get bogged down with your competitors in a price war and get away from the thinking of moving products by focusing on just technology and specifications.” Similarly for security and facility managers, they need to bear this in mind when considering tenders in order to achieve success in the boardroom.
A proper needs analysis of the client will help companies understand not just the needs of the facility manager, but other departments such as marketing, operations, finance and HR. John says: “HR for example might want to track staff coming in and out of a building for payroll, attendance and even OH&S issues. A security company can demonstrate how their new, technology-packed CCTV system, featuring intelligent video analytics, can detect when someone has fallen down and is hurt as that person remains in a fixed position for a long time, not moving. The system could then initiate an automated call to dispatch medical assistance thereby reducing potential liability. This is just but one example of how to convince C-suite executives to see security as an asset and not a grudge spend because in this instance, the security system could potentially save them thousands in a OH&S lawsuit.”
Essentially, in order to communicate effectively, both security managers and companies need to appeal to boardroom priorities: How does this affect my bottomline? How will this save, or make me money?
Security managers should put themselves in the shows of integrators
Security managers need to take themselves out of their silos and see themselves as integrators of systems within an organisation. They must demonstrate how they can be facilitators of integration and how they can help the organisation achieve goals of helping profits and cutting losses. Companies providing security services should also focus on system integration and how security plays a pivotal role. John says: “They have to be strategic when pitching. For example, in a case of providing security services to a shopping mall where the focus is on loss prevention services or access control systems, the provider should also place priority on other value-adds. If passive infrared sensors are installed as part of an intrusion detection system, this could be linked to the access control readers on the door so that when someone presents a badge to the reader, it activates the passive infrared sensors, and when someone is no longer in the area, the sensors integrated into the larger building system sends a message to HVAC and lighting to switch off – now imagine how much money could that save to establishments like casinos and universities, and how enticing it would be to boardroom stakeholders if you can quantify the savings show the positive effects on their bottom line.”
The days of giants dominating the security industry in products and services are long gone, and with pressure on prices coming from global competition and the influx of new start-ups, the job of the security manager is increasingly difficult when it’s time for upgrades. Hence, service providers can help themselves and their middlemen by demonstrating clearly, through metrics and case studies, why they should be chosen and how their service can provide a clear and attractive return on investment.
About the Author: John Bigelow