This is the third article in the award-winning “Real Words or Buzzwords?” series about how real words become empty words and stifle technology progress, also published on SecurityInfoWatch.com.
By Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III
For an integrator, customer centricity means understanding the customers’ jobs and companies well enough to know how to add value to the manufactured items that are available from multiple sources.
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Real Words or Buzzwords?
The Award-Winning Article Series
#1 Proof of the buzzword that killed tech advances in the security industry—but not other industries.
#2 Next Generation (NextGen): A sure way to tell hype from reality.
#3 Customer Centric: Why all security industry companies aren't customer centric.
#4 Best of Breed: What it should mean to companies and their customers.
#5 Open: An openness scale to rate platforms and systems
#6 Network-friendly: It's much more than network connectivity.
#7 Mobile first: Not what it sounds like.
#8 Enterprise Class (Part One): To qualify as Enterprise Class system today is world's beyond what it was yesterday.
#9 Enterprise Class (Part Two): Enterprise Class must be more than just a top-level label.
#10 Enterprise Class (Part Three): Enterprise Class must be 21st century technology.
#11 Intuitive: It’s about time that we had a real-world testable definition for “intuitive”.
#12 State of the Art: A perspective for right-setting our own thinking about technologies.
#13 True Cloud (Part One): Fully evaluating cloud product offerings.
#14 True Cloud (Part Two): Examining the characteristics of 'native-cloud' applications.
#15 True Cloud (Part Three): Due diligence in testing cloud systems.
#16 IP-based, IP-enabled, IP-capable, or IP-connectable?: A perspective for right-setting our own thinking about technologies.
#17 Five Nines: Many people equate high availability with good user experience, yet many more factors are critically important.
#18 Robust: Words like “robust” must be followed by design specifics to be meaningful.
#19 Serverless Computing – Part 1: Why "serverless computing" is critical for some cloud offerings.
#20 Serverless Computing – Part 2: Why full virtualization is the future of cloud computing.
#21 Situational Awareness – Part 1: What products provide situational awareness?
#22 Situational Awareness – Part 2: Why system designs are incomplete without situational awareness?
#23 Situational Awareness – Part 3: How mobile devices change the situational awareness landscape?
#24 Situational Awareness – Part 4: Why situational awareness is a must for security system maintenance and acceptable uptime.
#25 Situational Awareness – Part 5: We are now entering the era of smart buildings and facilities. We must design integrated security systems that are much smarter than those we have designed in the past.
#26 Situational Awareness – Part 6: Developing modern day situational awareness solutions requires moving beyond 20th century thinking.
#27 Situational Awareness – Part 7: Modern day incident response deserves the help that modern technology can provide but doesn’t yet. Filling this void is one of the great security industry opportunities of our time.
#28 Unicity: Security solutions providers can spur innovation by envisioning how the Unicity concept can extend and strengthen physical access into real-time presence management.
#29 The API Economy: Why The API Economy will have a significant impact on the physical security industry moving forward.
#31 The Built Environment: In the 21st century, “the built environment” means so much more than it did just two decades ago.
#32 Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure has been a hot phrase in IT for several years, but do its promises hold true for the physical security industry?
#33 Software-Defined: Cloud-computing technology, with its many software-defined elements, is bringing self-scaling real-time performance capabilities to physical security system technology.
#34 High-Performance: How the right use of "high-performance" can accelerate the adoption of truly high-performing emerging technologies.
#35 Erasure Coding: Why RAID drive arrays don’t work anymore for video storage, and why Erasure Coding does.
#36 Presence Control: Anyone responsible for access control management or smart building experience must understand and apply presence control.
#37 Internet+: The Internet has evolved into much more than the information superhighway it was originally conceived to be.
#38 Digital Twin: Though few in physical security are familiar with the concept, it holds enormous potential for the industry.
#39 Fog Computing: Though commonly misunderstood, the concept of fog computing has become critically important to physical security systems.
#40 Scale - Part 1: Although many security-industry thought leaders have advocated that we should be “learning from IT,” there is still insufficient emphasis on learning about IT practices, especially for large-scale deployments.
#41 Scale - Part 2: Why the industry has yet to fully grasp what the ‘Internet of Things’ means for scaling physical security devices and systems.
#42 Cyberspace - Part 1: Thought to be an outdated term by some, understanding ‘Cyberspace’ and how it differs from ‘Cyber’ is paramount for security practitioners.
#43 Cyber-Physical Systems - Part 1: We must understand what it means that electronic physical security systems are cyber-physical systems.
#44 Cyberspace - Part 2: Thought to be an outdated term by some, understanding ‘Cyberspace’ and how it differs from ‘Cyber’ is paramount for security practitioners.
#45 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning: Examining the differences in these technologies and their respective benefits for the security industry.
#46 VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: At first glance, VDI doesn’t seem to have much application to a SOC deployment. But a closer look reveals why it is actually of critical importance.
#47 Hybrid Cloud: The definition of hybrid cloud has evolved, and it’s important to understand the implications for physical security system deployments.
#48 Legacy: How you define ‘legacy technology’ may determine whether you get to update or replace critical systems.
#49 H.264 - Part 1: Examining the terms involved in camera stream configuration settings and why they are important.
#50 H.264 - Part 2: A look at the different H.264 video frame types and how they relate to intended uses of video.
#51 H.264 - Part 3: Once seen as just a marketing term, ‘smart codecs’ have revolutionized video compression.
#52 Presence Technologies: The proliferation of IoT sensors and devices, plus the current impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have elevated the capabilities and the importance of presence technologies.
#53 Anonymization, Encryption and Governance: The exponential advance of information technologies requires an exponential advance in the application of data protection.
#54 Computer Vision: Why a good understanding of the computer vision concept is important for evaluating today’s security video analytics products.
#55 55 Exponential Technology Advancement: The next 10 years of security technology will bring more change than in the entire history of the industry to now.
More to come about every other week.
Customer Friendly Does Not Mean Customer Centric
There are many books and articles that equate being customer friendly or being customer-focused with being customer centric. Then why the new term? Peter Fader, renowned professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and award-winning teacher and author, wrote the book Customer Centricity for Wharton Press, and he provides some answers. Although being customer friendly is part of being customer centric, it is by no means the whole story.
Data-Driven Customer Centricity
The recent rise in the use of the term customer centric is related to how large companies are using big data technologies to get in-depth customer insights to know which customers are of the greatest dollar value to their companies, and then serve those customers based upon their individual needs and preferences.
Basically, cloud computing and big data analytics helps firms with large customer bases sell products and services directly to individual customers based upon insights about each individual customer. It’s not about serving customers as a group or a collection of customer types. Before the advent of cloud-based analytics and massive cloud-based data storage capabilities, this wasn’t possible.
Fader says most companies that we think of as being customer centric, are really product centric. Despite how much they pamper their customers, they pamper them all in the same way. It’s part of their branding, and it gets equated with their product or service. Not all customers are created equal, and therefore they shouldn’t be treated equally the same.
You treat each customer differently by the information you collect about that customer’s specific needs and preferences, as well as by their value to your business. For example, Amazon, who has over 244 million customers and using its powerful cloud-based business systems, does an outstanding job of communicating one-on-one to its customers based upon individual customer-specific data. This is all well and good for Amazon, but how does this relate to a small security integrator, or the branch office of a large integrator?
Security Industry Customer Centricity
The problems here are the use of the word data, which most people relate to computer systems, instead of the word knowledge, and the use of terms like data-driven insight, instead of, for example, customer-specific knowledge.
For an integrator, customer centricity means understanding your customers’ jobs and companies well enough to know how to add value to the manufactured items that are available from multiple sources. This gets to the heart of the value that managed service providers provide to their customers via subscription-based services. It means understanding the technologies you provide well enough to know how to deploy them fully and correctly for each specific customer. You don’t need computer data systems to do this.
Customer Centricity is Not New
Although seemingly rare in the security industry these days, Ray and Hank Henry practiced this level of customer service when they founded Henry Bros. Electronics (HBE) back in 1950. It became part of the Henry Bros. business culture, and the company grew and eventually merged with Kratos Defense & Security Solutions about six years ago. Emil Marone was HBE’s Chief Technology Officer when an HBE customer, a sergeant in the Port Authority Police in NYC, raved to me about the communications and video systems that Emil Henry Bros. installed for the PATH train system. Three different police officers—system users—all raved to me specifically about Jim Henry (HBE’s then-president) and Emil because of how well they understood the job that the officers had to do each day.
I wrote an article about that story, and since then learned even more about what being customer centric meant to HBE’s people.
$300 Solution Beats $28,000 Technology
One day an HBE customer called Emil to discuss the problem of night intruders onto their property. The intruders would dress in black, and could not easily be seen against the black asphalt and dark grounds of the perimeter under the existing lighting. They were considering a new video camera system they saw at a trade show, one that could “see in the dark” so that security officers could catch the activity on the video monitors. The new threat they were facing was nighttime theft of expensive equipment from the company service trucks.
Right away Emil, knowing the customer and their facility operations, recognized that infrared video cameras would not fully address the risks. Responding police or security officers on patrol would still not be able to see the intruders when in the parking area, even though the cameras could.
Emil suggested that the customer simply paint the parking lot grounds white along the perimeter fencing. Intruders dressed in black would be clearly visible. Even in white clothes they would still create obvious shadows under the existing lighting. He suggested a small amount of increased outdoor lighting. It was an under-$300 solution and was implemented immediately with complete success. The thefts stopped. This approach also guaranteed that security foot patrols, police responding to an incident, and staff watching the cameras could see what they needed to see.
The referral business value of having such a thoroughly-satisfied customer was worth many times over the value of that one potential sale, and kept HBE from creating a new security risk at the customer site.
The Most Important Requirement of Managed Services
Just two days ago, the Sr. Manager of Global Safety & Security for a multi-billion-dollar global technology firm wrote me a note to say, “Integrators need to figure out how to add value in the ‘as a service’ paradigm. More and more security platforms will have ‘as-a-service’ and cloud components.” His concern was that if the integrators are just selling and installing systems that have lots of new capabilities, his company may not achieve the potential benefits and risk reduction that the newer technologies are intended to provide. This is why it is vitally important for service providers to adopt a customer centric mind-set as defined above, and for customers (security practitioners) to seek out such service providers.
Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities (www.go-rbcs.com). He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is a Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (SEC) and an active member of the ASIS International member councils for Physical Security and IT Security.