How Physical Security Systems Can Give Banks A Competitive Edge

By Andrew Elvish

I recently bought a new house which happens to be right across the street from my bank. This means that, in addition to working with our banking customers all over the world, I’m now able to observe my local branch from the front porch. From these various perspectives, I have seen the increased focus banks of every size are placing on developing strategies to attract and retain customers, as they continue to keep savings and investments safe. More than ever before, banks are looking at new ways to enhance what they’re currently doing and improve the services they’ll be able to offer in the future.

Infrastructure advancements need to keep up with business growth
Here in Canada, our banks are world-renowned and have been seeing incredible success year after year. In fact, banking the world over is seeing tremendous growth. But, with this growth, it has become more apparent that parts of banking infrastructure —specifically the approach to physical security— need to continue to advance as well.

With so much to protect, it is hardly surprising that banks were early adopters of physical security systems. Access controlled doors to restrict entry to secure areas, and video surveillance systems to provide a watchful eye on transactions have been a staple in retail banks for decades.

But sometimes investing early makes it more difficult to keep up with advancements. For many retail banks, analog-based systems are no longer sufficient for helping to provide the service necessary to increase their customer base. When you deploy analog hardware, for example, you miss out on the opportunity to utilize analytics to improve your customers’ experience. You also reduce your ability to respond to incidents as quickly and effectively as you could, and keep your security teams from being as agile as they should be. All of which can make you less competitive in this dense market.

How to gain a competitive edge
When retail banks were first established, the thinking was that the institutions had to protect their local people and assets. In many ways, they were siloed by default because national or regional head offices did not necessarily need to access the security systems in their distributed branches. But the market is changing. Now, as banks of every size continue to protect the things that matter, they are also endeavoring to improve their customers’ experience. As a result, they are seeing the value of moving to IP-based solutions.

One of the key advantages of IP-based physical security solutions is the opportunity to deploy a unified system. While not all IP-based systems offer real unification, those that do can enable banks make meaningful changes that will help them become more competitive.

A great example of this is what local branches can do with the vast amounts of data they collect through their security systems. When they employ analytics tools to truly understand their data, they can make better informed decisions about staffing and how to manage the flow of people, both of which can have a significant positive impact on their customers’ journey.

A unified system can also improve overall branch security. We know that the days of keeping security personnel behind a desk are long gone. Having people glued to screens discourages quick responses. When an IP-based solution gives personnel all the information they need, including alarms and associated video footage, on their tablets or smartphones, it helps keep security teams agile and ready to assist or respond quickly.

And, if an event does occur, security personnel also need to know where to go and what they will find when they get there. An IP-based security system that includes a map-based interface that shows a location’s cameras, doors, and other devices can make all the difference in an emergency.

Then, once the situation is under control and everything is back to normal, the bank can use the data collected to review and improve responses and then make their findings part of their training material. In this way, information gathered at one branch can have a positive impact on the entire organization.

Focus on cyber security
Of course, one of the big issues facing every institution, organization, or individual is cyber security. And, given the amount and type of data that banks keep, making sure that all of their systems and networks are secure is of the utmost importance. So, as they make the move to improve security and their customers’ experience, banks must keep cyber security in mind.

This means understanding how to protect networks from outside threats, including criminal cyber activities like hacking or malware, as well as controlling internal access to sensitive data in order to protect privacy. Banks must deploy solutions that were designed with defense in depth. When it comes to cyber security, add-on fixes are no match for defenses built from the ground up.

Staying ahead in a successful market can be a challenge. In the rapidly growing banking industry, it would be a mistake to simply focus on what is already working. Banks of every size must be prepared to look at their systems, tools, and environments in new ways. Deploying a unified, IP-based physical security system that helps banks improve both their customers experience as well as their own ability to respond knowledgably and efficiently to incidents can play a significant role in gaining that all-important competitive edge.

About The Author
Andrew Elvish is a columnist, explorer, and the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Genetec. Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and will surprise you with his knowledge of great restaurants all over the world.


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