I’m just back from the ASIS 2014 show in Atlanta. I had a lot to reflect on during my flight home. It was a busy few days. I moderated two insightful panels, one on justifying security investments and another on trends in security , and also hosted a PSIM workshop. As I perused the show floor, I heard a lot of people talking about products, features and differentiators. Some products cost more, and some were integrated and solved bigger problems, so naturally they were weren’t just products, they were solutions.
People primarily seem to attend the show to see what’s new. Maybe they hope to find a cheaper camera or one that works better in lower light; or a biometric reader that’s easy to use and more affordable; or video analytics that can detect some new behavior or produce fewer false alarms. Without a doubt, from what I saw, the selection of products on the show floor were better, faster, smaller and cheaper than last year, even if the rate of innovation appeared to be slowing, possibly influenced by challenging times.
Personally, the most insightful interactions I had at ASIS had nothing to do with products. They were with CSOs and other executives who were searching for a new way of thinking. They were struggling to recast their security organizations in a new light – from necessary cost center to an integral, ROI producing arm of the business.
This isn’t always easy to do because it requires creative thinking about the security department’s greater role in the business, in terms of its impact on things like operational performance, business process efficiency, business continuity, hiring and retraining costs, and softer elements such as reputational risk. In other words it requires taking on the big question – “why am I really here?”
My interactions at ASIS reaffirmed that security needs to be an active and contributing part of the business, not just an insurance policy. And there are many ways to do that. But the discussion doesn’t start with cheaper card readers or new-fangled cameras. It doesn’t start with any product for that matter. It starts with vision – vision that’s fuelled by ideas. The execution of ideas requires products , but that’s just details.