Are IT companies jumping into physical security?

Are IT companies jumping into physical security?
The convergence of security systems and IT systems has been a widely debated topic in the past ten years. In many cases, the results were not successful due to conflicts of interest and disagreements between IT and security professionals. Could a growing presence of IT players in the physical security field shake up the industry? Are recent projects involving IT companies a new trend or just anecdotal evidence?

The presence of IP infrastructure in physical security is no longer a novelty. More often than not, new physical security systems are IP-driven, such as in IP video and IP access control. Established industry players are experimenting with new offerings such as video surveillance as a service (VsaaS), cloud storage and edge analytics.

In parallel, we can see a growing involvement of IT/ICT companies in projects related to verticals where physical security was traditionally prominent. Not long ago, we saw a lot of NAS companies from the IT industry enter surveillance by offering more powerful storage management systems. Now, we see many of them getting involved in analytics, big data management and cybersecurity.

IT/ICT COMPANIES IN THE FIELD
Cisco Systems is one such example of a communication technology conglomerate that has a substantial presence in physical security. “We have widespread involvement in physical security. Important industry segments include manufacturing, energy, smart cities and government. Largely, we engage customers seeking specific business outcomes such as increased worker or public safety and process acceleration,” explained John Reno, IoT Product and Solutions Marketing Manager for Cisco Systems.

“Physical security plays an enabling role for IoT (Internet of Things) and enterprise initiatives. Our growth plans are driven by customer demand with expansion happening most recently in the IoT segment. As an ecosystem participant, we continue to drive for promoting the benefits of adopting IP for physical security. This includes work with standards bodies and the development of industry best practices. The primary advantage that Cisco delivers to the market is integration with cybersecurity systems, consistent policy across IT/OT environments and simplified compliance. Customers benefit from the ability to mitigate risks, protect their businesses from an increasingly hostile threat environment, and cost savings from simplified compliance,” added Reno.

The advantages IT and ICT companies bring to the table, compared to 'traditional' security companies, lie in the breadth and scope of their technologies and their resulting experience in large-scale national projects.

Cisco is not alone in this, nor is this phenomenon limited to North America. Other companies like Chinese giant Huawei, Japan’s NEC, British Telecom and Korea’s SK have branched out and are now also involved in security technologies like IP cameras, video surveillance management and physical access control.

The advantages IT and ICT companies bring to the table, compared to “traditional” security companies, lie in the breadth and scope of their technologies and their resulting experience in large-scale national projects. IT companies are well-positioned to benefit from their experience in wired and wireless network transmission, storage and cloud computing; however, they do not always have the domain expertise needed for security projects.

The incentives driving IT companies to enter the security field rests in the potential to generate new demand within a customer base consisting of potentially tens of millions of homes and businesses, and “upselling” their existing offers.
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