We Must Convince Corporate America That Security Equals Success

With the New Year upon us, it seems an appropriate time to contemplate the future of our industry. In recent times, most companies have tightened their belts on expenditures and watched the bottom line shrink due to the sluggish economy. Will 2004 be more like the past three relatively flat years or will we see solid double-digit growth and profits? Your guess is as good as mine! But I do have several questions I would like to you to ponder.

With Saddam Hussein finally captured, the economy showing signs of recovery and the crime rate stabilized, will electronic security be something put off until “needed” the next time around, or will consumers take action now?

Will electronic security expenditures be moved from the “nice-to-do,” bottom half of business’ spreadsheets to the “need-to-do,” top half in 2004? Or will such spending be carried over to at least 2005 as companies wait to see what unfolds?

Will American businesses focus more of their security budgets on fighting internal “white-collar” crime now that state and federal regulators are coming down hard on corporate corruption and fraud such as the Enron and the mutual fund scandals? This type of crime has been a public-relations nightmare for some companies and a big concern.

Will network computer security (data encryption software and hardware, E-commerce identity theft, loss of employee productivity, etc.) be at the top of the list for immediate upgrades? Or will most of the money be spent on installing/upgrading access control and CCTV in the lobbies and parking garages of our workplaces?

Will some of the budgeted funds and increased profits be earmarked directly to beef up the bottom line? Or will electronic security take an indefinite backseat while businesses and consumers break out of their austerity mode by indulging in things they had put off, such as new computers, furniture, vacations and new cars?

Whatever the answers or outcomes are, there is one absolute: The No. 1 goal of senior executives is to increase revenues and profits per share. Don’t forget, in the corporate world, middle managers (including security directors) are constantly vying to keep their budget allocations from being cut. Executive committees have a tendency to spend only when and where needed.

The fact is in too many instances, our industry is failing to make the connection to prospective buyers between them spending their scarce budget dollars on our products and services and how that action translates into achieving their strategic corporate goals and objectives. Too often, we expend all our energy talking about product brands and features without first establishing this important connection.

How can this be accomplished? By creating a compelling message. Develop sales and marketing plans with support materials that prominently outline the differences between preventative measures and reactive measures. Demonstrate there is no room for making security plans after the crisis has taken place, when there is no time for discussion because it’s too late.

The key lies in showing what will happen if preventative measures are not taken – disruption, damage or disaster. What will the “cost” be then? What about legalities and public perception? We have become such a litigious society that corporate America is more preoccupied with avoiding lawsuits than doing what it takes to truly protect human and material assets.

To help establish this connection, beginning this month, Security Sales & Integration is bridging this gap by introducing 6,000 high-level end users to its existing readership of 25,000 contractors and integrators. Now, not only will SSI be producing its usual essential technical and industry content for system designers and installers, we will also be providing valuable information for security directors and managers, architects, and homebuilders to use to support and justify their respective enterprise’s electronic security expenditures.

We need a unified message that strongly puts forward electronic security as an indispensable building block and core component of any operation. Once this is achieved, over time, we will see the rewards and Americans will be the better for it.

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