Security companies surviving during COVID-19


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Within this evolving crisis, security operations and consultancy firms have several challenges which are constantly requiring review, several of which are the availability of personnel and resources, client’s stability and emerging, evolving or changes to government regulations. For many security companies this is a game of survival.

From a regional perspective based in Dubai, with an eye on the global situation and responses, it is interesting to note how the market is adjusting to this mostly unanticipated crisis. Regionally, and like many locations around the world, social distancing, remote working, reduction of open public spaces with cessation of sporting events, closure of schools and shopping malls as well as serious reductions in regional and international travel are seriously impacting delivery of security services, yet the need to provide adequate security services continues. The real question is how we the security industry adapt to the new norm and who will survive versus those who will perish and disappear from the market.

Despite the restrictions placed on our workforces, reduction in clients and workplaces which present a bleak outlook, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just like the global financial crisis of 2008, this crisis will be resolved; the real question is how can we make sure that our company, personnel and clients are prepared for the new normal?

This new normal will only allow those organisations, whether this be a client or provider, to survive if they apply forward looking (proactive), mature and wise strategic business decisions. Those organisations whose model is to respond in a knee-jerk, reactive manner will ultimately disappear from the marketplace. This was clearly evidenced during the global financial crisis of 2008 when we observed many specialist companies who, despite providing great products or services, faltered due to short term business decisions, some of which were years in the making.

Building ‘resilience’ into our business models is more important than ever before, this includes understanding the difficulties faced by our team members with an eye on the solution options; this applies especially to our client facing personnel upon whose performance and dedication the company’s income is derived from.

Resilience is not just a security or frontline function, but needs to be applied across the entire organisation, including all business units, many of which are hidden from clients’ view. A breakdown in the provision of human resources, procurement, or even finance will adversely affect our business. If the finance function is removed, then who will invoice the clients, receive the funds, pay the salaries or wages as well as taxes? As detailed in ISO 22316, the Security and Resilience Standard; there are 20 business disciplines within the resilience model, eight directly related to security such as physical security, fraud, risk management, etc. with another five with strong links to the security function and the remaining seven having moderate yet necessary links to the security function. Overall, as much as security is required by an organisation to function, security requires all of the other disciplines to function.

The challenge to being able to continue as a provider or supplier is less that of a security specialist but more as a business professional, being able to navigate the complexities of management and leadership during not only a crisis but also for when the world returns to the ‘new’ normal. If security professionals are not up to this challenge then who will the industry turn to for solutions?

John Cowling

By John Cowling, Director – Middle East, AcuTech Consulting DMCC

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