Why It’s High Time for Security Industry to Embrace Digital
Find out how installing security contractors can overcome physical and technical boundaries to drive business in the short and long terms.
The coronavirus pandemic has magnified a weakness long simmering in our industry: the lack of digital capabilities and systems. Customers need guidance now. Travel restrictions and denial of access to physical sites do not have to prevent security firms from doing consultations and planning projects.
Digital technologies can enable effective collaboration with customers and partners today. Firms that can do so will be ahead of the competition as the lockdowns give way to more freedom of movement.
This is not just about the ability to do remote selling. It’s also about improving business operations to better serve clients. Companies that have adopted a comprehensive digital information management strategy will emerge from this crisis much stronger.
Now Is the Time: Digital Can Be More than a Lifeline
The truth is that digital transformation is no longer an option for our industry. CEOs with slow-moving digital initiatives before the pandemic lamented to Fortune recently that they are now on a “burning platform.” This urgency is warranted.
The negative impacts of the downturn are tangible. More than 60 percent of security organizations have experienced revenue losses between 21 and 30 percent or more. This is based on the results of a joint survey by the Electronic Security Association (ESA), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA).
Digital can be a lifeline. Stories abound about how firms with advanced digital capabilities are surviving and even thriving during this time. The Keyholding Co., a United Kingdom alarm-response and locks/unlocks firm, used its existing digital foundation to pivot quickly once COVID-19 started forcing its customers to close offices and shops. The organization created a brand new customer offering — scheduled patrols — in just a few days by swiftly reconfiguring its existing online client portal and job processes.
From an overall value proposition, the companies leading in digital have 17% higher profit margin growth, according to the PwC 2020 Global Digital IQ report. Surveying 2,380 senior executives in 76 countries, PwC found that the top 5% of companies are gaining significant value from their digital investments across innovation, customer experience, talent and more. Their employees are more likely to adopt new programs and technologies that drive business.
Because the industry has such a consultative sales process, digital must include sophisticated but simple to use collaborative capabilities. Customers are in uncharted territory and exploring new solutions such as thermal imaging cameras, human temperature sensors, and touchless access control. In addition, new questions are surfacing, such as how to scan the temperatures of hundreds or thousands of workers quickly as they enter a building. New sensor technologies will allow information on density and social distancing patterns.
Security pros are facilitating these in-depth discussions via tools such as videoconferencing, instant messaging, digital floor plans, Google Earth snapshots and other technologies. However, one challenge is that most business systems are closed to external entities such as customers, subcontractors or business partners. This makes true collaboration manual, difficult, and ad-hoc, especially now.
Forward-looking companies will embrace platforms that transcend these boundaries, where project stakeholders from different organizations can work together efficiently. Digital, Cloud-based workspaces enable remote collaboration on everything from determining requirements, developing plans, providing estimates, and procuring parts.
While this requires a higher level of transparency among all parties, it helps everyone get on the same digital page. Customers can be involved throughout the planning process for faster feedback and approvals. Security firms and subcontractors can be ready to execute when customers are ready or even prior to businesses reopening.
Digital technologies can also enable the customer to assist remotely. For example, some of our customers are using our design platform to do their own site walks. They can then work with their system integrator or manufacturer online to finalize the design and implementation game plan.
Another issue for security firms is disjointed technologies, processes, and procedures across departments. Systems that are isolated in pockets of the business can decrease efficiencies. For example, customer requirements get lost in translation across paper, spreadsheets, email, databases, .pdfs, estimator tools, CAD applications, and other channels. This complicates hand-offs between departments and increases the potential for re-designs, installation errors and no-cost change orders.
With more digital, integrated processes, integrators can reduce the barriers between departments. Solutions that enable everyone to work from one system of record — from sales teams and project managers to installers and service technicians — create continuity in business operations. This can enhance the overall customer experience and lead to increased sales, faster project completion times, reduced errors and improved long-term service levels.
Accenture recommends a “boundaryless” approach to enterprise systems, based on a 2020 survey of C-level executives (representing 8,300 companies in 20 industries and 22 countries): “Boundaryless systems break down barriers — within the IT stack, between companies, and between humans and machines. That gives businesses near-infinite opportunities to improve how they operate.”
Go Digital, Drive Growth
Start tearing down the walls between your employees, customers, contractors, vendors, and partners. Digital transformation enables you to create systems that are more flexible, collaborative, and efficient than ever. In the short term, use digital to consult with prospects and customers now and gain their business. In the long term, digital will determine the market leaders.
Chris Hugman is Founder and CEO of System Surveyor, provider of a mobile, SaaS-based application that enables systems integrators and other security professionals to digitize and streamline system design, installation and maintenance.
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