Worlds Colliding

How the consumer landscape and the modern enterprise model are changing security

There’s no question that the 21st century has brought significant change to security solutions. An abundance of connectivity options and the application of technologies—such as IP, virtualization, hosted solutions and mobile—are enhancing the way we secure the enterprise and helping to improve security. Each of these technologies plays a distinct role in the security environment.

As we stand at the threshold of 2013, technology’s impact on our industry is becoming even more far-reaching. While the first decade of the century was focused on pinpointing specific applications for technology, such as the use of IP for the delivery of video, what we do with technology during the balance of the second decade has the potential to transform the entire security enterprise.

The Collision of Consumer Behaviors and Professional Practices

What’s driving this broader application of technology has much more to do with what is happening outside the security industry than what’s occurring within it. It has to do with the collision of our consumer behaviors with our professional practices. At the same time, technology is rapidly changing what is possible, and it is changing what we—as consumers—expect and prefer.

What do our consumer personas expect? We expect more tools and more mobility. We expect quick, frequent updates. We expect a unified experience from device to device. We expect the highest level of connectivity to our communities via platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. In short, we expect to have on-demand access to what we need, when we need it and where we need it.

Increasingly, we’re getting that access through the use of mobile devices. In fact, according to CTIA—The Wireless Association there are more than 270 million mobile subscribers in the United States. More than half of those subscribers use smartphones, according to comScore MobiLens. Professionals are even more likely than the average consumer to be avid users of mobile technologies, both at home and on the job.

All of these expectations are bleeding into our professional worlds like never before. It’s transforming the way we do business and the way we will implement, deliver and manage security in the future.

The Collision of Enterprise Systems and Security Operations

All security operations are part of a larger enterprise. Security is intersecting with the broader organization like never before. Similar to the consumer landscape, the technologies that drive the enterprise are rapidly transforming, and there’s an expectation that all facets of the organization, including security, will take advantage of those technologies to achieve a more interconnected business environment.

Where can we find evidence of this transformation? We can start with the machine-to-machine (M2M) movement. In an M2M model, business networks no longer require a central hub to communicate. Instead, both wired and wireless machines talk to each other in real time. This model enables more rapid communication with a new category of devices. M2M holds real promise for the security industry, in which communication and information are critical to risk mitigation and life safety.

We also see the transformation in the rise of cloudbased enterprise solutions. is just one example. The customer relationship management (CRM) platform takes the management of a company’s relationships—with customers, partners and employees— into the cloud. Users can automate sales assets, manage communication and push out campaigns using a single, Web-based portal. They no longer have to purchase and manage hardware and software because they subscribe to access the platform’s capabilities via the cloud.

Microsoft is writing the next chapter of this enterprise scenario with its Office 365 and Azure, a cloudbased platform also available via subscription. The platform enables the sharing of files internally and externally and takes enterprise-level services, such as email, video conferencing and instant messaging, into the cloud. Plus, it allows organizations to leverage Microsoft’s vast infrastructure to expand bandwidth, simplify administration and make assets like corporate email available from any device.

Just as rapidly as these enterprise-level solutions are evolving, so too are solutions that simplify specific tasks. Professionals can use applications, such as Evernote, to convert files to multiple formats, exchange information from person to person and make notes or lists. Because the information is stored in the cloud, it can be accessed from multiple devices, such as a desktop or mobile, via a single user interface.

While these examples are game changers in terms of what the systems can do on their own, they have even more value when they’re used together. Each solution—, Office 365, Azure and Evernote—was engineered for collaboration. They work together and can integrate with other enterprise systems to provide more intelligence and build value beyond their core purpose. The key takeaway is that solutions and enterprises are getting smarter, allowing us to communicate and collaborate more easily and frequently. As a result, the enterprise is more cohesive and interconnected.

The Tipping Point

Indeed, the collision of consumer behaviors and professional practices, including enterprise systems and security operations, has brought us to a tipping point.

We no longer have the luxury of taking a wait-andsee approach to understanding how technology will play out in the security space. We must get ahead of the trends to quickly understand how they apply in our environment. If you need evidence that the timeline to technology adoption is shrinking, take a look at the evolution of consumer technologies. It took 50 years for the telephone to go mainstream and 25 years for most homes to get the television. Mobile phones and personal computers weren’t widely adopted for 13 years. In contrast, the Apple iPod® took just three years to become ubiquitous. Apple’s iPad needed a mere 18 months. Today’s technologies are the pinnacle of usability, and that usability has encouraged consumers to embrace them more rapidly than ever before.

If we want to keep security viable and prove it’s a worthwhile corporate investment, we have some catching up to do. There’s tremendous pressure on the security industry to shift the model to better align with the consumer landscape and the enterprise approach. To do that, we need to make security more adaptive, more connected and more mobile. We need to explore the cloud and take advantage of subscription- based services. We need to unify the experience from device to device. We need to provide the kind of on-demand access today’s users demand.

A New Security Model

This is the model that’s going to drive real change in our industry. As professionals, we’re beginning to expect the same usability and interoperability when we’re on the job. And we’re more likely to quickly embrace technologies that have the potential to add efficiency to how we do business.

As security practitioners, we have a decreased appetite for disparate platforms that don’t communicate. We’re looking for security systems that afford us the same opportunities for integration as our consumer platforms or our companies’ enterprise systems. Today, security end users are looking for ways to tie together their entire security operation, whether they have one site or many. Increasingly, they’re seeking partners that can provide online gateways to three of the things that are most critical to security: information, collaboration and control.

Smarter Security

Delivering information, collaboration and control requires smarter security devices and applications. We must create true open-architecture, Web-native, services-based tools that allow for control of nonsecurity elements such as critical equipment, as well as information such as business intelligence. This approach will not only lead to better visibility, it also will enable more stakeholders throughout an organization to recognize the value of security and be compelled to make an investment in it.

For example, a video solution that’s leveraged to tell a facilities department what times of the day a corporate campus experiences the heaviest vehicle traffic could enable more effective parking planning. As a result, the department might be more likely to contribute a portion of the budget for that solution. In this scenario, stakeholders outside the security operation derive a clear return on investment from what was traditionally seen as a security function. This visibility extends the value of security to other influencers within the organization, and it leads to richer, more valuable collaboration.

Smarter Security Providers

The new security landscape requires more than just smarter devices and systems; it also will demand smarter security providers.

As we begin to realize Security 2.0, it’s no longer just about the implementation of equipment. It’s about aligning people, processes and technologies to enable richer collaboration and more meaningful information across departments, sites and organizations. We first saw this type of collaboration in the conception of homeland security—another force that forever changed the security industry. Enhancing the protection of our nation has required unprecedented collaboration among local law enforcement, first responders, government agencies and security providers. To improve security, these entities have done more than just embrace new technologies, they’ve also aligned processes and facilitated better communication and coordination of people across multiple organizations.

The elite security provider of the future will elevate this approach. The technologies to enhance communication, mobility and collaboration already exist. Now, we must leverage them to build a unified platform. We must use the platform to achieve a cohesive enterprise, providing a common view of more systems and bringing together more sites, from headquarters to data centers, field offices to partner locations. We must support the platform with common practices and coordination with people both inside and outside of the security operation. As the primary source of integration and monitoring, security providers are uniquely positioned to drive this change. And the elite security provider will be adept at weaving together all of the internal and external elements to deliver smarter security and more informed enterprises.

A New Way to Practice Security

How will all of this translate into the security space? Most importantly, it will lead to the acceleration of platform- based solutions for security management. By creating true open-architecture, Web services-based portals, we will enable end users to manage every element of their security operations— intrusion, fire, video and access—using a single tool. That tool will become pervasive in all we do, and it will enable more intelligence relative to the security operation and the broader enterprise.

This concept is not unlike the consumer’s use of platforms such as Facebook. The Facebook infrastructure is a conduit to countless elements of a user’s community, from the brands the consumer likes to the applications he prefers. Multimedia lives—and can be shared—through the Facebook interface. And other online tools, from Pinterest to online gaming, Twitter to Spotify, can all be integrated within the Facebook platform.

It also is similar to what we see at the enterprise level with platforms such as, Office 365, Azure and Evernote. All of these tools have distinct roles while inherently intermingling to enable rapid communication, more streamlined administration and a higher level of business intelligence.

By leveraging the responsive design that has become so prevalent in the consumer environment, along with the collaboration that is evolving the enterprise, Security 2.0 can provide end users with the ability to uniformly access and manage their security platforms— regardless of whether they’re using a desktop computer, mobile device, web browser or application. In the long term, this new way to practice security will do more than improve interoperability and enhance security management. It also has the potential to lead to a more predictive model, enabling us to better anticipate security threats and manage maintenance needs. It provides gateways to big data, allowing us to take a more holistic view of operations to analyze relationships between systems and produce more actionable insight that can improve our businesses.

A Modern Paradigm

The collision of our consumer, enterprise and security worlds will ultimately help us better protect our organizations. And it will result in incremental gains in operational efficiency and long-term improvements in return on the security investment. By creating smarter platforms that mirror the way we interact with technology as consumers and emulate enterprise-level interoperability, we will establish a modern paradigm for security. A paradigm that drives meaningful collaboration among people, processes and technologies. A paradigm in which security isn’t just part of the cost of doing business, it’s a critical function that adds value across the organization.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.


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