Written by: Pramoud Rao
About the author: Managing Director, Zicom Electronic Security Systems
As the COVID -19 pandemic continues spreading across the globe, it has brought together the world of the unknown and a flurry of uncertainties. Its apparent now, the whole universe is in the state of unprecedented crisis; the magnitude and scale never ever witnessed in the history of mankind.
In the panel session on “Crisis & Everyday: The Role of Physical Security in a World of Change” in Genetec’s Virtual Tradeshow, Connect’DX, the Principal & Managing Consultant of The Brekke Group, Brad Brekke emphasized just how complicated the pandemic’s effect on the security industry is.“This is a unique challenge,” Brekke said. “This is a biological risk, and it’s unknown — there is lack of data, not just for the security industry, but for the world. There’s a lot of uncertainty as we navigate this, and we’re being challenged in a way I’ve not seen before.”
How does this translate to the future of our Indian Security Industry? What lies ahead for all of us? What happens to our business goals and growth? What damages will it do to our business model and our cash flow? What’s our future going to look like? Too many unanswered questions, difficult to comprehend and assess, but a few things to my mind are explicit and they are as under:
- The emerging of SaaS (Security as a Service) model will come off age. Enterprising customers will now re-assess their security cover and make changes in the light of the new pandemic. However, tight cash flows and fresh investment in capital equipment will be very tough and hard. These new age customers will increasingly adopt the SaaS model since it involves no upfront capital investments, its pay per use and strict on service SLAs. The best part is it comes at Zero Investment and Zero Management, a big boon during this time of uncertainty. It may be a wee expensive, but the good part is that the onus is on the vendor to perform to recover his investment.
- Security Project Business may slow down to over 50 % owing to tight working capital and other business priorities. The biggest losers could be the government projects, mainly the Smart City projects that may not get the required attention from the authorities. The bigger risk could possibly be cancellation in business projects depending on how much havoc the pandemic continues to create going forward. In the Unites States, research shows that in March, survey respondents reported that 11 percent of their active business had been cancelled, while 40 percent was delayed and 49 percent was on schedule. On April 16, 21 percent of business was cancelled, 34 percent was delayed and 44 percent was on schedule. This trend may happen in India too. On the positive side, government spending will take place to ramp up their security measures to protect critical infrastructure and its fight against COVID-19. CCTV-based video surveillance systems will be in good demand to protect critical assets and government infrastructures. Solutions such as IP CCTV cameras, thermal imaging cameras and AI-enabled video analytical solutions will be the business drivers contributing significantly to the market growth. It’s believed this market will grow minimum 10% plus CAGR over the next three years.
- Customer Service is one of the most neglected areas in the security and safety industry. It’s one of the most commonly made mistakes on a daily basis per se and it’s so deep-rooted in the DNA. The old adage “ The customer is always right “ does not seem to ring any bell in the daily service delivery. Henceforth,the vigilant customers won’t accept this kind of attitude any further. While they will compare the products and prices, they will also compare the service experience, which they come across in their daily lives with other category of services. They will talk about service twice more than the products and this will remain a constant challenge to keep the bar on the service levels high,especially when most things are common between competitors. Today, customer service has taken over a new definition and is surely more important than marketing; this is the only differentiator in this world of clutter. Remember it takes 5 to 10 times more efforts to acquire a new customer, while it’s easier to retain the existing one.
- Keeping the staff motivated and engaged is another challenge that will be faced by the industry. They too are staring at an uncertain future and not sure what lies ahead for them and the organization they are working for. Salary cuts, salary payouts, future growth, performance bonus, and career enhancement – all of this is creating a huge physiological impact.Many choose to remain silent instead of speaking about it since it may carry the risk of being negative or pessimistic. In such trying times, it’s important to boost the morale and energy of the staff by repeated reassurances and positive news on the future of the company.
While dark clouds are looming large, we will have to learn to live with this demonic illness. The choice is ours, to continue fretting, fuming and staying timid, or to figure out ways to fight it fiercely and lead the path to emerge victorious in the fight to defeat this virus vociferously.