IT is not transforming Security

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 03, 2008

IT professionals evidently believe the Patriots should replace Belichick with the trainer. According to IT professionals, because injuries are so prevalent in football, salaries are so high and health is so important to winning, the trainer must run the team to win the SuperBowl.

This is clearly absurd but the premise that physical security is being transformed by IT is equally absurd. Our IT associates are mistaking the essence of security with the tools that support security.

Security is not being transformed. Security is assimilating IT into security.

IT tools are important for physical security just like they are important for marketing, finance, operations, etc. And just like in all those other fields, IT will be assimilated and the professionals running those disciplines will learn how to use IT tools to maximize their organization's success.

Security management and physical security are about so much more than the tools they use. As a technology person, studying for the PSP was an eye opener in how many non-technology elements were necessary to design and manage physical security systems. And physical security is simply one small discipline within security management.

So why is IT doing this?

They pretend they are strong but really they are weak. They are the ones that are dying. Because they are dying they are grasping at new markets to slow their demise.

In the IT world, most IT projects fail. This is legendary in the field and one of the most discussed topics. IT would like you to believe that they 'transform' business. If physical security failed as much as IT, half the country would have been destroyed by terrorists in the last 5 years.

IT is fundamentally flawed. Getting talented technology people is expensive and difficult. It's even worse in big corporations that offer technologists very little incentive to join. So, you wind up with moderately to poorly skilled individuals who have great difficulties solving problems.

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And because of those fundamental flaws, IT is being broken up. First, packaged software companies drove this. CEOs realized that companies specializing in developing software could build better products than their own IT departments. This was the first wave of breaking down IT.

Next, CEOs looked at their underperforming and expensive IT departments and realized that this could be done much more efficiently in India. So, for the last 5 years, big corporations have been heavily and continuously outsourcing and further shrinking IT.

Now, it's become clear that cloud computing and web-hosted software is the future. From office applications to niche business programs, IT is being delivered online. This makes the traditional IT program even less important.

Information technology is not disappearing but it is being assimilated at lower costs and with more convenience and stability.

But what about Cisco?

You might say: "Cisco is going to destroy the physical security companies. They are so big and so powerful."

Look at their stock price. For the past 7 years, Cisco's stock has basically been flat. It dropped 75% after the bust and basically never recovered. Investors are essentially saying that Cisco has matured and is no longer disrupting businesses.

Cisco is the Yankees of physical security. They won a couple of championships a while ago, they have a big reputation and will be in the mix of things, but they are no longer winners.

Their physical security products like so many of these big IT companies are un-innovative. They essentially compete on brand and distribution.

What does this mean for security managers?

It is clear to me that security managers are adapting. Just like accountants and marketing people did, they are learning the implications and issues involved. This new information is being incorporated into their extensive skills and expertise in general security management.

Security managers should just keep learning and adapting. Don't worry about these IT guys. Yes, they are generally arrogant but they are a dying bread. If they have talent they will move towards the web and if they don't they will be outsourced. 5 years from now, security managers will still be running security, stronger than ever, using the tools of IT as part of the overall security strategy.

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