The benefits of centralizing and standardizing security systems fall to the bottom line

At a Global Level

The benefits of centralizing and standardizing security systems fall to the bottom line

At a Global LevelWhether it’s the bank that started with one location or a technology company that started in the founder’s proverbial garage, every global company began small. It is through scalability that companies are able to become global by replicating local growth in order to achieve success in many locations or across a broader geographic area. Even as businesses scale a successful formula, they have to be mindful of the localized differences from one market to the next. For example, a restaurant chain must adapt to local palates while an automobile manufacturer must create vehicles that fit differing preferences or regulations.

This same concept applies to securing global companies. While adapting to geographical and demographic differences, security must attain a worldwide standard of safety and risk management consistent with the effective operation of the enterprise. Security technology can address both needs by adapting to and supporting localized requirements, while maintaining this standard.

Most global companies are looking to achieve fast growth in the coming decades, and the best opportunities for that growth come in new markets, where security can be an even bigger concern than in developed areas. You have to go where the growth is because effective security to protect the business wherever it goes and the facilities wherever they are built will continue to be paramount for global enterprises. Effective security will make it possible for companies to enter new locations safely, enabling continued growth into developing markets.

Many global companies seek to centralize the management of their key functions while ensuring adherence to a corporate-wide standard, and security is no different since centralized management can be the most efficient and cost-effective approach to security.

Let’s look at ways corporate security systems can be centralized and standardized on a global scale while meeting localized needs, and how the resulting cost efficiencies go to the bottom line.

Technology Makes the World Smaller

Communications and networking technologies help make the world a smaller place by simplifying the transfer of information around the globe. This helps facilitate the operation of a worldwide marketplace by easily crossing national boundaries and reaching every corner of the world.

In the case of global companies, the easy flow of information enables more efficient operation, and greater standardization and compliance.

With security, integrated technology systems can bring together disparate security processes and systems across cities, countries and continents. Global customers benefit from centralized monitoring, system management, and streamlined installations and services, leading to increased efficiency. Just as the efficiencies of operation contribute to the success of a global enterprise, so do the efficiencies of worldwide, implemented, security technology to promote better protection of that enterprise.

Instead of dealing with variable information from disparate systems all over the world, security end users can now manage their systems centrally from one location, anywhere in the world with network access. Global integration puts information at their fingertips as the benefits are reflected in the improved efficiency and effectiveness of technology systems.

Operational Efficiencies Saves Money

The need to reduce costs is a given, so multinational clients are optimizing operational budgets in every possible area. Security has to do its part, and the cost-effective application of video surveillance, video monitoring, access control and security services reflect the broader cost-consciousness of the enterprise. Perhaps most importantly, lower costs must not be achieved by compromising equipment quality or system performance. The new standard is to combine cost-effectiveness with superior performance. Global end users today demand nothing less.

Economies of scale provide an important contribution to cost effectiveness. Large, unified systems are less expensive to operate than multiple, non-standardized systems. Security systems can now operate on global platforms that control multiple databases and systems from a single point, giving greater efficiency, simplicity and ease of use. This approach allows for a reduction in software licensing fees, a significant cost savings for a large enterprise organization.

In addition, centralized security systems also need fewer operators. Because smart technology provides tools to make operators more efficient and productive, companies can reduce the number of people they need to manage security. This is another way to save costs without compromising protection.

Global security systems make another contribution to profitability by offering greater protection for people, facilities and assets worldwide. This is perhaps the biggest contribution of security technology to the enterprise’s bottom line. Because systems help to manage risk and respond more quickly to potential security threats, the convergence of multiple systems saves time and effort. A well-integrated, global security system pays for itself many times over by neutralizing risk and responding to events to minimize their impact.

Should an event occur, security systems provide important information and evidence about the event to aid in prosecution or provide insight into how to prevent similar events in the future. For example, an event can trigger immediate video coverage in real time, and it is simultaneously accessible to management and security professionals throughout the company. This information is power for global companies in terms of any security system’s return on investment (ROI) as integrated systems provide information to empower more effective management of worldwide security.

Beyond the security department, integration with other enterprise systems is another way security technology can save costs for the enterprise. For instance, integration of access control with building management can allow lights and air-conditioning to be activated in a specific office only when an employee swipes a card during offhours. Even small efficiencies can pay off big, when considering the benefit(s) on a global scale.

Technology Boosts Operation and Success

Multiple factors of operation can impact the security requirements of any company; but, this is especially true of large companies, which face operational factors that impact security needs in a variety of ways around the world. Therefore, another factor impacting security is the need to comply with a range of regulatory environments.

In the United States, for example, chemical-related companies are required to adhere to federal CFATS standards, which include the need to meet 18 published, risk-based, performance standards. If a company doesn’t comply, they face having to pay penalties to the government. CFATS stands for Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, and it’s just a sampling of the alphabet soup of regulations that impact companies in the United States alone. Other examples are HIPAA (for the medical community), NERC/FERC (for utility companies) and Sarbanes- Oxley (SOX, governing accountability of public companies).

In addition, the European Union has its own long list of regulatory requirements, and any company with global locations faces a seemingly endless stream of varied and assorted requirements to meet, such as the international ISO 27000 (related to information security).

Even regulations that are not specific to security can impact how security operates, and technology systems must be able to conform to their requirements.

By converging security and other technology systems with overall operations, companies can simplify regulatory compliance worldwide. Solutions can help manage compliance, a huge cost that is central to global success. The data from security technologies, which is increasingly easy to integrate with other platforms, can add value throughout the enterprise. More information and transparency into company operations enables more efficient operation related to compliance. Thus, any problems can be identified earlier and more easily, helping to minimize the expense of dealing with them.

From Multinational to Truly Global

A lot has been written about what it takes to be a true “global” company. Management gurus sometimes draw a distinction between a “multinational” and “global” company with the difference between the two being how unified the company is on a global basis.

For example, a multinational company might have locations or facilities in many countries, but each location might function independently. In contrast, a global company tends to have a more unified corporate culture and a similar set of processes and functions around the world, effectively making it a single, worldwide entity.

This same paradigm plays out in the security department of global companies. Legacy technology differences deployed at various locations tend to complicate the challenge, as does the trend toward mergers and acquisitions, with each new asset coming with its own specialized security needs and installed base of technologies. Multinational companies tend to want to operate more like global companies, and unifying, standardizing and centralizing the security function is a big part of the process.

As many multinational companies work toward being more global by strengthening the internal corporate culture elements that tend to unify the many locations into one, they often take a step back to analyze how the company has developed piecemeal over the years and to reimagine how the company should be structured to address the global market.

The same can happen with security systems.

By reimagining and re-engineering its security technologies on a global scale, an enterprise—with the help of a global systems integrator who is able to address the broad enterprise needs of the company and work to combine systems around the world and create a unified face of security for the enterprise— can add immense value to the bottom line and contribute to cost savings in the process.

Meeting Higher Demands of Global Companies

Combining cost savings and better security are critical to optimizing the operation of global companies and protecting their people, facilities and assets. Technology stands ready to enable even the largest companies to maximize their security benefits while minimizing costs.

Thoughtful implementation of technology, in the broader context of overall company operations, provides a path to realize the benefits at less cost; however, technology must address localized security concerns while achieving and maintaining a worldwide standard of protection. It must interface and interoperate with other information systems to maximize its value and extend its usefulness to a variety of operationsrelated goals. It must also adhere to corporate spending austerity while contributing to corporate wealth and paving the way for future expansion.

Delivering networked access control and video management systems for global corporations is a challenging task. Providers must deliver a vast network of geographic coverage, a robust centralized project management team well versed in different regional regulations and cultures, and a worldwide monitoring and service organization to meet customer needs virtually anywhere in the world. Most important is a global support network to provide global proposal, installation and service coordination to further help reduce project cycle times while ensuring high-quality implementations. When all these capabilities come together, worldwide businesses can partner with a technology and service provider to realize significant cost efficiencies and streamlined security operations across the world.

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

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