Janet Fenner Talks Importance of Women in Security, Analytics Trends

Fenner discusses how facial recognition has the potential to transcend conventional security applications and more in this month’s SECURE Perspectives.

SECURE Perspectives is a monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum, an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, networking and professional growth events and thought leadership opportunities.

For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Janet Fenner, the global chief marketing officer at Intelligent Security Systems (ISS), a member of the SIA Women in Security Forum steering committee and the 2020 recipient of the Sandy Jones Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes SIA volunteers who have made tireless efforts to expand SIA’s programs and services. Fenner will be presented with the award on March 17 at The Advance, SIA’s annual membership meeting, during ISC West.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Janet Fenner: I started with a small company based out of New York that developed color-changing identification badges and was eventually acquired by the Brady Corporation. I assumed the role of marketing manager handling the Brady People ID, StopWare, IDenticard and other various security-related brands.

How does your organization serve the industry?

We provide highly sophisticated software solutions and analytics, with a focus on facial recognition and enterprise-level video management systems (VMS) for various applications.

What types of job functions do women fill in your company? Is there diversity of roles in your company, or do women gravitate toward certain job functions?

I am proud to say that ISS has no glass ceilings or set roles for women. They are an equal opportunity employer that is open to filling roles with candidates that are qualified regardless of gender identification. Women in our company currently hold key positions as officers, directors and managers across different facets of the business — sales, marketing, HR, product management and more.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

The industry offers various opportunities for women, and women continue to be major influencers on both the supply and user sides of the business. The hurdle has been in how to attract more women into the industry moving forward. Movements like the SIA Women in Security Forum are actively making the female voice in the industry more prominent and offering other incentives to help bring in new talent and cultivate existing talent within our industry. Companies need to really take a look at how diversifying their companies strengthens team dynamics and contributes to improved innovation, productivity and collaboration.

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space of intelligent video management systems and native analytics?

Facial recognition is really the hottest trend to hit the industry in years and holds the potential to transcend conventional security applications for myriad business intelligence deployments such as workforce management. ISS has been investing in facial recognition analytics for over 12 years. With the application of neural networks, this technology is now AI-enabled and has become a more accurate and powerful tool when implemented correctly.

What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?

The analytics market is quickly becoming saturated with many players making unsubstantiated performance and capabilities claims. Our VMS, facial recognition and analytics solutions are proven globally. The challenge is to rise above the noise of this crowded field so that industry professionals do not become disenchanted with the technology based on inferior products when proven and evolving solutions actually exist.

What are the biggest opportunities your company – and the industry – are seeing?

Again, facial recognition: ISS has definitely taken a foothold as the industry leader for this technology. Using facial recognition as a credential and for various business intelligence applications holds tremendous potential for growth.

What do you hope the SIA Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?

Our mission for the forum is to engage all security professionals to promote, recruit and cultivate the leadership of women for a more inclusive and diversified industry.

What is your best advice for women in the industry?

Step forward, network and volunteer. That is simply the magic on how to get the industry to work for you and your company.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

I love answering this question – Frank DeFina. Frank took me under his wing and brought me to the table. He showed me how to have a voice in this industry. Since his passing, I still reflect on his lessons and try to ask, “What would Frank do in this moment?”

How do you define success?

I define success by what I can give back. Success for me will always be about how I can make a difference with my team, with the industry and with charity.

What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?

Stay focused, learn and network. The more you engage, the more opportunities will emerge with new directions you may not have known were there. Be confident, and you will be believable; be passionate, and you will succeed.

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