We recently caught up with Andrew Elvish at Genetec and chatted about his journey in becoming Vice President of Marketing at Genetec. Starting in February 2018, Andrew will be contributing a monthly column called Beyond Security for Security.World to share thoughts and insights on new and emerging trends in our industry.
Andrew, How long have you been in the industry?
I have been working in the software industry for over two decades. From search engine software, then animation and 3D tools in the late nineties, to the aerospace defense industry, and now the security industry. Working with high-end software that enables organization to solve complex problems in a more efficient way has been at the core of my professional life.
It’s been fascinating observing the fundamental changes that have taken place in the software industry during the last 20 years. Software has increasingly taken over the tasks that traditionally used to be handled by hardware – to say nothing of the rise of XaaS in the last 10 years. Today, in the security industry, software helps organizations not only protect their assets, the people around them, and their communities, but it’s also helping organizations make sense of data to become more efficient and make better decisions. There remains a great need for better, highly secure software that can securely manage today’s Internet of Things ‘IoT’ devices that are all around us. The efficiency and expanded convenience is great—but we have to be extra vigilant to ensure these devices are secure from being weaponized to attack our networks – or other’s.
How long have you been at Genetec?
I’ve been at Genetec for five and a half exciting years now. The rapid pace of innovation and the passionate culture we have at Genetec reminds me of some of the early days at the tech companies I worked at in the 90s as we were ramping up toward some big developments in search engine technology. Things that are happening now at Genetec are revolutionizing the world, in so many different ways—from how we understand and use sensor data; how we automate very complex workflows, to how we protect very large and complex organizations.
Why have you stayed in this industry?
I’ve stayed in the software industry because I like its dynamic nature. With a powerful research and development team like we have at Genetec, so much can happen in a single year. I particularly like the security industry because as manufacturers, we can have such a tangible and profound effect on the everyday lives of our customers. When we learned from the City of Chicago police department that Genetec-created software systems played a role in helping reduce violent gun crime by over 20% in under a year, since deploying our Citigraf software to that city, how can you not feel immense pride and honor to be a part of the solution? It drives us and motivates us to continue innovating and helping.
The security industry touches our everyday lives and that impact goes far deeper than simply ensuring safety. It is our fundamental belief at Genetec that the healthy flow of people, products, information and ideas is essential to the successful function of organizations, institutions and cities. The products we develop simplify complexity in the worlds of physical security, data analysis, law enforcement, and infrastructure management – and anywhere decision-making support for complicated incident, business, and case management is needed. So, while our environments are constantly changing, our systems are designed to produce essential insights. We give our customers the tools they need to master their environments and make sure that every day remains an ordinary day.
What are some of the biggest changes you have witnessed over those years in the industry?
When you think about it, the security industry has been dealing with IoT (Internet of Things) issues for longer than the IoT has been a ‘thing’. Anybody who makes IP devices designed to go on a network is dealing with the Internet of Things. In the last five years, we’ve seen a rapid acceleration of the need for software to manage and make sense of all of those sensors. In addition to privacy and data protection, there is a greater demand on organizations and institutions to not only make sense of an increasing array of data from sensors and connected devices, but to take meaningful and smart action. With all these sensors and devices at the edge of a network, we now have access to a massive amount of data that can quickly become overwhelming for the operators whose task is to make sense of it. So, the real change and challenge for our industry is to develop software that enables organizations to make meaningful decisions and actions using all that data. How do we help them derive knowledge and make insight-driven decisions about what’s going on in their airports, stores, or cities? Software that helps organizations build and activate this type of operational resiliency and security intelligence will lead the way in 2018. I’m personally excited about that change in the industry because that’s exactly what we do here what we do here at Genetec.
What does “Security” mean to you with regards to working in this industry?
The term ‘Security’ means a lot of things to me. I think many people tend to have a narrow view of what security is. To many, it’s essentially locked doors and observant cameras, tracking things and keeping an eye on what’s going on. And while security might very well encompass all of these perceptions, I tend to take a broader view. I think security is a fundamental part of any free and open society where we have come to expect that we can go about our days and run our businesses and go to our public institutions with a certain degree of safety. This fundamental expectation is part of the reason why the world has progressed and moved as fast as it has in the last 100 years: people can be entrepreneurs, artists, students, volunteers and go out into the world to make new connections without fear, and do what they want to do. Security is a fundamental aspect of living in a free and modern society.
What makes Genetec stand out in your mind?
I think the fact that we take a broad view of the everyday nature of security is one of the fundamental aspects of what sets Genetec apart. But there is also a definite passion in our DNA for the craft of innovation and an infinite creativity at Genetec that makes us stand out. And of course, it’s also our community of developers, channel and technology partners, and consultants we work with, and especially the end users who rely on what we create. More than any other company I’ve ever worked with, I’ve witnessed Genetec create a strong user community that is passionate, dedicated, and engaged. They are very proud of using Genetec products – and our channel partners are proud to sell and integrate our products.
If you were not at Genetec, where would you be?
Montréal is an extraordinary city for software development, with so many great companies, developing artificial intelligence (AI) and high-end graphics software and content, to video gaming, there’s no shortage of opportunities here. If I wasn’t at Genetec, I would hopefully be lucky enough to find an equally creative, motivating, supportive and engaged environment as we have here.
What “experience” do you think you have gained over the years that has provided you with a deeper perspective of the industry?
Over my years I have gotten to spend time with channel partners throughout the Middle East, and in particular Lebanon. I was absolutely thrilled to see what is going on in Beirut. As someone who grew up in the 70s and early 80s, I was acutely aware of the challenges Lebanon faced for so long. But having visited the country earlier this year, it became truly apparent to me what thoughtful and meaningful change toward security can do for a city. We spent time with the chief of police and the police force and saw their Genetec installation and witnessed the pride they have in their new system there, which our great integration partners in Lebanon have installed. The Beirut of today is being restored to its former glory, with great universities, fantastic dining, great nightlife, coffee shops out on the sidewalks, and the new beautiful ABC Verdun mall. All this made possible by a renewed sense of security following the devastating war years.
The other thing that has made such an impression on me was being able to see the work we’ve done with our partners and end users at One World Trade Center in NY, a piece of our own recent history that has marked all of us in North America so indelibly. To see the beautiful architecture, the Oculus, the remembrance museum, and to walk around where only five years ago was a huge pit, really leaves you feeling very moved, and we’re so proud to have played a small part in bringing this area of NY back to the vibrancy it had.
What should the readers of your new column look forward to?
I’m hoping that anyone who is curious about technology, specifically where software technology devoted to operations, intelligence, and security is going, will find this column engaging. 2018 will see a continued massive change in the way sensors are being handled and I will endeavor to keep readers up to date on cutting edge technology, innovative ways of leveraging software and sensors to build powerful systems and gain deeper insight to the world around them.