By Andy Purvis, Managing Director of N T Security
As Bob Dylan once said “the times they are a changing” but in truth they never stop. What it is important to any business, whether it be technological or otherwise is not whether times are changing or how fast, but how they are changing. In the Tech space, relevance just as quickly becomes irrelevance meaning that all key business decisions need to be considered within an ever-changing landscape, with an eye firmly fixed on future challenges and opportunities.
Business success relies on returning customers, not innovation for innovation’s sake. The worst mistake a business can make in tech-driven industries is to innovate to the point to which repeat clients no longer recognise those tangible elements that made them choose you in the first place. Innovation should enhance customer relationships, not alienate them.
Recruitment: A fundamental part of the customer experience
The security sector has always been driven by service centred business, meaning that maintaining strong client relationships has always been key in ensuring the future success of the business. This is achieved by remaining relevant but also through a distinct customer centricity. This has not been achieved through traditional means; a personalised touch, nor a focus on differentiating services to tailor specific clients. Instead focus needs to be on recruiting talent that mirror the demands of ever-changing customer needs.
The industry has long relied upon the skills of engineers, to install, repair and maintain systems. With the influx of cheaper yet more complex systems from abroad however, the traditional role of engineers has become less crucial .The modern customer- even in B2B markets- has become increasingly impatient. They want things where and when they want them, and delivered in such a way that meets their expectations. Whereas in previous years maintenance and repair were a pivotal part of the client relationship, now if anything they are a frustration. The industry has invested heavily in technicians rather than engineers- building computer savvy and technical minded teams. After all you don’t repair a camera anymore, you buy a new one.
Technicians are also less susceptible to technological change, and so in many ways are the key to delivering a modern day customer centric approach. With the advent of wireless and cloud based technologies, technicians can solve client issues quicker than ever using remote systems. This means less customer inconvenience and less of a physical presence, but still being reassuringly present. Despite their importance, recruiting experienced technicians remains a real challenge for industry and as things stand there are a very limited number of technical courses available. As a result the security industry is faced with a double-edged sword; the challenges provoked by an ever changing marketplace and a limited supply of talent to find solutions to these challenges.
Adjust to Advance
Is the rapid technological innovation in fact the sector’s biggest challenge? People are quick to cite the exponential growth of technology as the biggest change but is it? The modern security industry has always been a tech-focused industry, and as such has always been subject to the accelerating nature of technology, meaning that businesses have consistently had to adjust to altered environments. As such, looking to the future of the industry is part of the day to day decisions of any business operating within it, and there are many changes on the horizon.
It is doubtless that Brexit will have an impact on the UK’s security industry. In a weird twist of irony, the disruption caused by foreign imports seen in the last decade should mean that the industry avoids the full effects of Brexit. This is due most equipment exports coming from outside the EU. Conversely, it is likely that the industry will be indirectly impacted by the situation felt in other sectors. Experts have forecasted a slump in investment in the construction industry and infrastructure, which knock on effects will likely mean a fall in demand for access control, fire and intruder alarms and video surveillance; all key areas of security. Then again by looking forward, we can seek solutions to these challenges before they negatively impact on business. In the case of a post-Brexit slump, perhaps the industry can look to other changes such as governmental cuts in the public sector as a means of opportunity. With the government’s plans to further decrease the number of police officers operating in the UK by a further 3,000 by 2020, it is likely that the UK’s police forces will look to new methods of policing. Such could involve a further focus on CCTV systems. A decreased police presence may also lead to a greater demand in more sophisticated security systems in the both private and public sectors. While hypothetical, it is imperative that those in the security industry remain forward thinking, vigilant to any developments that may impact business. As such, any perceived business threat can quickly become a considerable opportunity.
Businesses should never innovate for the sake of innovation, they should morph every four or five years to avoid the risk of losing ground. There has never been a point in which the industry has not changed significantly. The modern day security industry is consistently affected by the accelerating nature of technology, and so must remain constantly adaptable. As the world changes, so does its priorities, its demands, and ultimately its markets. Security remains a highly competitive, turbulent industry, with even the smallest change having a huge impact even on the biggest players. Businesses must be flexible and react to these developments, but remember that the key is a balance of innovation that complements the fundamental DNA of a business. Whilst retrospection will always be important in this regard, forward thinking and analysis are indispensable. In the words of Darwin, it is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
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