Thoughts from former Bank of America Chief Security Officer, Brian Stephens
The field of corporate security is in a state of near-daily change. Unpredictable world events, as well as rapidly developing technologies employable by both security teams and potential bad actors, mean familiar problems require new approaches.
These changes may seem alarming from an external perspective, as security has long been regarded as a field built upon laundry lists of exhaustively planned response methods. In truth, they’re an excellent opportunity to rethink how we respond to threats, and to broaden our understanding of the many benefits security professionals can provide beyond the obvious.
In this article, I’ll explore how security is changing, what that means for corporate security officers and other leaders in private security, and how new methods and technology can help us rise to the challenge.
How corporate security is being reshaped, day by day
Since the turn of the millennium, a series of world-changing events have pushed corporate security far beyond the old adage of “guards, guns, and gates.” The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred shortly after I first joined Bank of America, and they continued to inform my career, as well as those of my colleagues in corporate security, for the next several decades. All across the field, professionals were being asked to solve problems they had never addressed before.
More recently, COVID-19 turned the business world, including private security, on its head. Shifting state and federal pandemic guidance and ensuing changes to working conditions have required security leaders to don yet another new set of responsibilities: as global crisis event managers. We are now well into our third year of “pandemic response mode.”
No one could have foreseen all the impacts the pandemic would have across borders, economies, and businesses. But as the world emerges into a state of new normalcy, it’s time for corporate security leaders to shift from a daily response mindset to proactively planning for the events of tomorrow. That starts with taking a fresh look at the fundamentals of our practice.
Fundamental changes to fundamental approaches
The two most important things any security leader can do right now are to keep an open mind and stay agile. Doing so may require a shift in thinking, but it doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. No matter what sector your business is in, it should be taking an all-hazards approach to security: starting with the same framework of flexibility and structural accountability for any event, because as recent years have proven, no security organization can create a playbook response for everything.
Working with an all-hazards approach to security begins by building your organization’s response framework, which will be used in the event of a reputational risk, natural disaster, terrorist incident, financial crisis, or beyond. Involving representative leaders from across the organization in the creation of the framework at this early stage will ensure it’s adaptable and practical. It will also help build out a network of subject matter experts to call on in the event of an actual incident (or in tests and exercises, which should be run until the process feels like muscle memory).
Building out your organization’s response framework also presents an invaluable opportunity to learn how to better address your enterprise’s security needs. Effective security is not insular. Making your security approach intelligence-driven and prevention-focused will be an asset to your entire company; for instance, as employees return to offices, the spatialization tools and biometrics used by security are ideal for ascertaining who exactly is reporting into physical locations and how they use the space. Instead of building in redundant accountability methods for employees on-site, existing corporate security tools can streamline daily processes in every part of the organization.
This is even more true given the ever-thinning line between physical and cyber intelligence. Converging these business modalities isn’t so much about internal mergers as it is about constant collaboration. Whether it’s with IT, human resources, or beyond, each aspect of a business is more effective when it works closely with the unique capabilities of a modern security department, and vice versa.
Technology can make the difference
Some of the tools allowing security departments to better serve their organizations were the stuff of science fiction just ten years ago. Monitoring tools, analytics, and even artificial intelligence are now real-life solutions. One particularly prominent new development is the massive rise in digital video, where everything from CCTV to smartphones to drones can now contribute massive quantities of actionable data every day, assuming you have the means to effectively process it.
This new wellspring of information is an essential way to identify and respond to events. It can also be a valuable resource to share with law enforcement for proactive partnerships throughout your community. The problem is no longer collecting enough data to make effective decisions, but rather identifying the needle of information we need amidst the haystack of data. Separating the noise from actionable intelligence. Fortunately, this technology-induced quandary can also be addressed via new kinds of forward-thinking tech.
One prominent example is Axon for Private Security, which presents solutions tailor-made for strengthening corporate security. Its incident transparency and data management platform is built to put relevant information at the fingertips of security personnel. Its deep integration with law enforcement standards makes it fast and easy to share important information with police. Axon’s solutions extend beyond top-level management to offer state-of-the-art and fully integrated body-worn cameras, as well as de-escalation training and tools.
If you want to learn more about how Axon’s enterprise solutions could benefit your own business, contact Axon today for a live demo.