The Path to Intelligence

Centralized security management is for businesses of all sizes

Centralized management of security solutions is not a new concept for large enterprise environments. Companies across all industries commonly invest in access control systems and traditional video surveillance solutions that can be remotely accessed and managed from a single location. But for most solutions in use today, there are limitations.

For big business owners, it’s integration. For small business owners, it’s cost. For both, it’s efficiency—because the time and resources required to manage multiple solutions can be prohibitive.

Fortunately, advances in technology have led to scalable, affordable and comprehensive security solutions that overcome these challenges. These new solutions integrate surveillance, access control and other business systems to deliver a single interface to a company’s business intelligence. These solutions reduce costs, optimize resources and increase profitability. And they deliver centralized security management—a virtual requirement for a mult-site operation or remote management of any business.

Centralized management is now simple and secure, and the benefits are endless.

Benefit 1: Centralize User Configuration and Administration

Business needs are constantly changing, from needing to add new stores and equipment to adapting to changes in employment, adding new integration points or maintaining business devices. One of the challenges associated with the ease of management of a multi-site application entails having to log onto a system one at a time for the configuration or administration of set-up and modifications.

With multi-site deployment, there is regular system maintenance, as well as the need to add equipment to new and existing stores. If a company does not have centralized management software for the configuration, the task becomes much more difficult.

The deployment of a centralized multi-site system starts with an administration and configuration application that handles the systems, devices and user permission management. Oftentimes, the admin and configuration application is treated as an afterthought for business owners, but in reality it is not a one-time activity.

Centralized multi-site management of administration and configuration affords business owners, operations, IT and loss prevention teams the capability to manage deployment more effectively while helping to minimize costs and maximize efficiency.

Benefit 2: Leverage the Power of the Cloud

Often, the ideal of “the cloud” is a big mystery or concern for people. But it provides regional, national and global operations the ability to manage and interact with their deployment in a much more efficient manner.

Many applications today are used in the cloud without people even thinking about it. Some of the most popular smart devices on the market are the iPhone and its portfolio family of iTouch and iPad devices. All the applications and software for these devices are managed from iTunes in the cloud. In addition to Apple, one of the most popular CRM packages on the market today is Salesforce. com, which also is completely managed from the cloud for businesses of all sizes.

The cloud has many benefits, but perhaps the most significant contribution is that it provides business owners and their teams with a seamless tool to access, store, move and manage critical business data. Leveraging the cloud provides a powerful solution for security, with a secure, reliable and grow-as-you-go security platform.

Software manufacturers can address service patches and updates behind the scenes, so there is no interruption of day-to-day business operations. If you have users across multiple locations, cloud-hosting makes it possible for updates for all sites to happen automatically, so an IT team or other resource is not in charge of making upgrades or updates for every person who will be touching the software. All needed changes for your multi-site locations happen routinely behind-thescenes, so there’s less to manage, which frees up time and resources.

Benefit 3: Consolidate Your Business Intelligence

Most businesses have data from third-party devices, such as point-of-sale systems, ATMs, and time and attendance systems. Having access to the data is important, but without video and tools that help integrate and analyze the data, it’s not as useful or impactful as it could be.

Trying to integrate data from multiple sources to gain true insight into business activities is difficult without the right kind of integration software. Not all systems are compatible for integration, which is why integration software is critical. Not only does integration software help business owners access transaction data and other types of information, it also offers the additional support of video to provide a real view of what is happening, beyond what the transaction indicates. Video verification is very beneficial.

For example, let’s say a business owner wants to review a questionable POS transaction that took place on a particular day. Integration software provides tools to search for the transaction. The supporting video may indicate that an employee was short ringing a sale or a theft was taking place during the transaction, which provides a truer picture of what was going on than data alone can provide.

The ability to integrate existing third-party devices, software and transactional data with video is an extremely powerful component of centralized multi-site management. This provides business owners with powerful tools to gain real-time business insights through consolidated business intelligence. Through integration, business owners can access critical transactional data and video, set up notifications for various business activities and use analytics tools to react in real-time and make critical business decisions from a central location.

In addition, data from all sites can be forwarded to a centralized server to be sliced and diced into commonly used business intelligence tools, providing a midsized to large enterprise with valuable trending information across the entire business. An example of this would be the ability to see conversion rates for a region or specific territory of stores. Other key performance indicators may be exceptions, store traffic, service times or queuing averages to allow more accurate performance metrics for business executives and managers to gain a macro or micro view on their business as they see fit.

In addition to the integration of third-party systems and devices, business owners can integrate video and set up notifications for real-time alerts of status or activities from their multiple locations, such as entry into restricted areas, fraudulent transactions or even temperature-control variances. The notifications provide users with real-time intelligence of an operation rather than have them find out about an issue after the fact and spend countless hours searching for the events. This gives business owners and managers the ability to monitor overall business activities from a central or remote location, allowing them to act quickly and take immediate action when and where needed.

Through video integration and analytics, business owners can tackle important business challenges such as preventing inventory loss and deterring theft, reducing liability, improving operational efficiencies and enhancing customer service. With enhanced analytic capabilities and video verification for each POS transaction, retailers gain powerful tools for addressing and solving real business challenges.

Benefit 4: Manage Everything, from Anywhere

The ability to monitor and manage multiple store locations remotely provides business owners and their teams with true freedom and flexibility. With software and applications that support remote multi-site management, business owners and their teams have all of the management capabilities they are used to having on their desktop to manage business, minus the constraints of having to be tied to a designated location.

With mobile applications, business owners can multitask, juggle a busy schedule and receive systems notifications on their smartphones or tablet devices. They have everything they need to manage their business and sites in real time, which makes multi-site management easier and much more efficient. For district managers and trainers who have supporting roles at multiple locations, mobility is extremely beneficial.

Mobile applications afford business owners and their teams remote access to surveillance video, transactional data, analytics and notifications. They are able to look at business activities for each location from their smartphones or tablet devices and can analyze the activity and take action whenever and wherever they are. They have the ability to be onsite at one location while remaining connected to all other locations.

Benefit 5: Future-proof Your Business

The benefits of centralized multi-site management are far-reaching. Software that enables an integrated centralized multi-site management provides business owners with a cost-effective business management system that is easy to implement, manage and maintain.

With real-time business intelligence, analytics, remote notifications and centralized management, managers can improve all areas of their businesses, from operations, loss prevention and risk management to marketing, merchandising and customer service. Using a centralized multi-site management solution is extremely relevant and beneficial today and will continue to grow in importance in the future—especially as budget constraints continue to tighten and business owners look for unique solutions to help them manage and optimize operations.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Security Today.

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