Investing in security: Priority or luxury?

The security industry needs innovation, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors. Innovation in security can be defined as the implementation of a new security approach or process that results in measurable increases in effectiveness or efficiency. However, resistance from corporate-level executives is commonplace as system and equipment upgrades need to demonstrate quantifiable gains in productivity, profit margins, and security metrics before any financial decision is made.

Martin Leitch, a Facility Management Consultant with FM Scope, gives his insights on why C-suite executives are hesitant to spend on security, despite it being an asset and a vital aspect to operations running smoothly in any organisation.

Martin says: “Security is a strange beast because it’s seen as both a hard and soft FM service. You have alarm systems and door access security on the hard services side, then you have monitoring and security guards on the soft side.”

And more often than not, Martin says, that is why security often falls off the priority list for upgrades. Boardroom executives mistakenly think of security as a soft service when it essentially is the gateway to all their other assets and investments. “At the end of the day, there’s two ways to tackle the problem and to get those who make financial decisions see the merit in investing in security upgrades and that the spend will directly translate into profits,” he added.

Appealing to the fear factor could work, however the negative approach will just result in any upgrades becoming a grudge spend. “Explaining to finance controllers that systems that go without upgrades for too long are open to risks and attacks could work, but working on fear is a negative approach. What we need, is to change the mindset of the corporates and make them understand that these elements of FM services like security are all assets that they should invest in,” Martin explained.

Martin suggests a positive approach would be better, with security providers convincing those in the boardroom by demonstrating the value of their innovations and services.

Some suggestions for security companies when pitching:

• Gather data that can demonstrate returns on investment
• Case studies of successful system upgrades will convince those who hold the purse strings that an investment in security services will be an asset instead of a ”˜luxury’ spend
• A two-pronged approach is best: leveraging on the fear factor, but also showing quantitative data of benefits.

Organisations rarely hesitate to spend on upgrading IT infrastructure as the gains in terms of productivity and profits are quite clear-cut in that area. Security systems and IT in today’s market strike a very close relationship. In some buildings, security actually functions as an extension of IT. However, most IT services are outsourced, and thus, it’s a tricky situation as that would mean more responsibility for the facility manager to act as a middle-man between the offsite IT provider and the security system. Then, in such situations, even if C-suite executives are keen on spending on security, plans often get shelved till IT contracts are up for tender. Martin says this is why the security market can be a little slow on the technology uptake. He added: “The facility management industry is still highly fragmented. You get areas of FM services working in silos, much like the example of IT and security when they should logically work in an integrated fashion.”

A lot of education is still needed, and security service providers would only do themselves justice if they put together data and case studies when they take on the bean counters in the boardroom.

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