Kratos Gears Up for More Security Conquests
Despite its national presence in providing integrated solutions in numerous vertical markets, the credo at Kratos Public Safety & Security is never stray from the true needs of the customer. In an exclusive interview with EVP Jim Henry, find out how the firm leverages its parent company and how a core belief system is helping propel it to new heights.
How are you training employees to perform the level of customer service you expect from them?
Henry: The other stuff is ancillary. You can have all the technology hands down, you can have all the manufacturer certifications, but if you don’t recognize we all exist here to understand and mitigate problems our customers have and reduce their risk and provide them value, then you’ll wither on the vine. It’s not rocket science.
We made a commitment going into 2013 to appropriate in excess of $2 million dollars just for training, at all levels, from sales to project management. That’s platform training, manufacturers’ training and the various trades they’re in, from project managers to technicians to engineers and what have you.
The act of that investment, the commitment of putting dollars into that investment is as important as the training they get themselves. If I’m coming in, I’m looking at a company that understands this is a people business, the investment in the people is the highest priority.
That’s how we got to where we are. That’s how we will stay a leader in the industry and that’s how we will be successful going forward. It gives them the comfort of the fact that our priorities are right, that there’s a career opportunity for them, and that as technologies change they will continue to be educated in those technologies and platforms. That will maximize their value within the organization as well as within the industry.
It’s not just about how much money they make; it’s about are they growing as technically business wise? Are they maturing to the point where they’re more valuable to the company as well as deemed more valuable within the industry? I think that priority commitment to training as a constant is essential to success.
Give me an approximate breakdown of your technology areas by percentage of your business.
Henry: We’re a company that is not out there doing video projects or access projects. We’re providing just solutions. The irony is when this cliché word PSIM [physical security information management] first came out — we’ve really been in that business already. Whether or not there’s a platform with an acronym and a third-party product to tie disparate systems together. We’ve been tying disparate systems together as a physical security integrator for 40 years. We understand there is no single product or technology that just gets you 80%, 90%, 100% of what you’re trying to accomplish for physical security.
Despite all the hype about all the great products out there, the bottom line as a systems integrator, the greatest performance of systems is gained by triangulating disparate technologies together to minimize nuisance and false alarm rates, and maximize your detection accuracy. That means in the case of perimeter protection you’re mixing in field sensors with radar with all sorts of other types of technologies. You use video and analytics as well. And the more of those that you triangulate together the more accurate, the more reliable your system is.
At the end of the day for the end user, it’s not about a big, sexy command room with all this data up on the screen in front of you. At the end of the day it’s about actionable intelligence and minimizing the false alarms so when an event does occur you have trust in it. In this world things do fail. You may lose some [facet of the solution], but you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. You still maintain a degree of functionality, whether your redundancy is in your storage or in your sensors or all of the above.
Again that’s at the core of what an integrator does — bring together all of these technologies and solutions, and combine them into a single operating system that provides end users actionable intelligence.
So you view a physical security system as something other than siloed, technology classifications?
Henry: The majority of our jobs have all of those disciplines on the same project. It’s very rare that you have a siloed, video-only solution. At the end of the day, if we had our druthers, we are going to homogenize in complementary technologies to provide a holistic solution.
Those systems, even before PSIM became a known acronym, were generally driven from a dashboard by the access control platforms, which would be the window into the alarm monitoring and the sensors and the video. Now you’re taking that to another level with PSIM. It’s event management and that’s really where we’re going even to a higher level than we are right now. You’re pulling in the legacy sensor data of a physical security system, but you’re also triangulating this with Big Data and being able to ingest all this other information.
It’s one thing to put 500 cameras on stations and ingest alarm points or what have you. But when you start looking at a populous with smartphones — whether they’re taking photographs or texting information back to the agencies with regards to issues and events — how do you ingest all of this information? Now you have to triangulate that with all of your other physical sensory data and provide that as a situational-awareness dashboard to the first responders. That’s a heck of a challenge.
It’s unbelievable. How else could you get that kind of sensory data? You could never afford to put the kind of density of sensory information out there that now you can leverage by virtue of all of these smart devices in the ecosystem.
How does Kratos differentiate itself in the marketplace from its direct competitors?
Henry: I’d classify it in two ways. No. 1, I think we’ve earned the reputation of being technically sophisticated, understanding and vetting new technologies and their application for the vertical markets that we’ve been in for so many years. We really understand our customers’ applications. We have a very realistic appreciation of the new technologies and their limitations. We adhere to the immortal words of Ronald Reagan — “Trust but verify” — because security is not an area you want to be experimenting with products and applications in the field. That’s to be done in the lab. But the lab is not really meaningful unless you truly understand the field conditions, both physically and electronically, of your customers’ facilities.
That legacy as well as the history we have of referenced accounts and those key vertical markets deploying leading-edge, sometimes even bleeding-edge, technologies successfully. We’ve appropriately set the expectations of the end users that are getting engaged with some of those platforms. I think we really are exceptional and have been exceptional in that area for decades.
Now having said that, the other area we touched on as we start to cross-leverage our other divisions, I don’t know of anybody else out there that has anywhere near the depth and breadth of products, skillset and what have you, as we do in these other divisions. These encompass rigoro
usly field-tested and proven network platforms, cyber solutions and whatnot that have been vetted by federal agencies, the military and DoD. That’s the proving ground, where the rubber meets the road.
There are companies that are a conglomerate of a number of disciplines, between physical security and maybe building management or whatever. But we are true to our parent name, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. So whether it is for DoD application for national security or commercial applications, even though we have a diverse company with a lot of different technologies and skillsets and disciplines, it’s all complementary within that same focus of critical security.
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