The executive protection industry continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of corporate security. When you add to this some major shifts in economic activity worldwide – as well as technological innovation – some interesting trends emerge that we think are worth discussing. Check them out – and let us know your take on these and other trends.
Increasing professionalization on both client and vendor sides
One of the overarching trends we see on the rise – every year and every day – is the increasingly professional approach that clients and vendors are bringing to corporate security and EP.
Corporations need to balance the protection of people and assets with increased executive productivity, internationalization and focus on ROI. Governance and regulatory issues are more and more important. Ultimately, it’s all about how corporate security adds to shareholder value – and keeps people feeling safe and productive.
EP firms need to understand the business issues and corporate cultures, of course, and are therefore getting better at customizing programs. They also need to provide an array of international services that go far beyond the basics of personal protection. Training in both hard and soft skills as well as ongoing program evaluation and improvement are also increasingly key to success.
C-suite buy-in is more important than ever, and transparency is key as EP becomes more and more integrated with other corporate functions
EP and corporate security programs must add value for everyone in the C-suite if they are to be sustainably successful.
Whereas EP used to be the exclusive domain of corporate security, a growing number of corporate functions and departments are now getting involved. We see more and more companies where integration between corporate security and HR, corporate communications, facilities management, legal and other departments is growing. These companies take a strategic view of security, and cross-organizational cooperation on EP issues is the rule rather than the exception.
For other companies, proving the ROI of a successful EP program to the CFO may not be obvious. After all, how do you know that your money is well spent if your job is to prevent bad things from happening? Here, transparency is key, and we see a trend toward two types of increased transparency:
- Operational transparency: EP firms need to be increasingly clear about what we are providing – as well as why and how we are doing it.
- Financial transparency: The tolerance for surprises between budgeted and actual costs is shrinking, and cost reporting is becoming more precise and frequent.
Embedded security and program customization is in. One size fits all is out.
More and more corporate clients are looking for flexibility as their security needs evolve – and for ways to scale EP programs without adding fixed costs.
Embedded security allows clients to enhance EP capacity practically from day to day – without first having to build up their own organizational infrastructure. This not only allows the company to ramp their staffing up and down as needs change; it also gives companies a quick knowhow boost, and provides everyone involved the opportunity to “test drive” fulltime employees as contract staff and make sure that personalities are in sync.
We also note that companies are looking for an increasingly complex range of services. EP, secure travel and events are often part of the mix, but investigative services and security consulting are also on the rise.
As the way we communicate changes, so does corporate security and EP
As a number of studies have shown, people who are prominent are at higher risk of being harassed and threatened. The rapid rise of online and social media has changed the way people become prominent – and how prominent people are exposed to risk.
This trend has to do with our understanding of how online and social media impact prominence – and thus the level of threat to our principals. Cyberstalking of companies and individuals is now a reality alongside other forms of more physical harassment or threat. Twitter and Facebook are quick ways to reach millions with positive messages – but can also be misused by the wrong people.
Increasingly, EP and corporate security programs need to understand how online and social media are potential forums for threats – but are also important intelligence sources that provide the opportunity to monitor data quickly and efficiently.
Philanthropies are different, but they have the same EP needs
We see strong development in work with philanthropies and NGOs, and expect this to continue.
The security needs of philanthropies are similar to those of many of our corporate customers: they want protection and secure travel so they can take care of their business in the most efficient way possible. On the other hand, they aren’t interested in putting a lot of distance between themselves and local populations and other stakeholders, so muscular motorcades and burly men dressed in black are the exception rather than the rule.
Again here, this means EP staff needs to be strong on soft skills as well as hard skills, reactive as well as proactive, and in general be well-rounded people who are professional in all kinds of situations.
Growth in new markets
We’re seeing more and more projects in Latin America, Africa and India.
There is a lot of business in India, but if you don’t know your way around you can spend an incredible amount of time there dealing with the infrastructure rather than focusing on your work and making a deal. The security situation for female travellers is also a problem.
Brazil is hot these days due to the upcoming soccer World Cup, but also because there’s too much street crime to worry about, a backdrop of strong business growth and a logistics situation that is often messy.
We also see a lot of activity with philanthropies in Latin America and Africa.
Africa is interesting because economic growth is strong. For example, there are plans to refurbish 1500 hotels throughout the continent, and we expect the market for consulting on hotel security projects to develop accordingly. But Africa continues to have some troubled areas, for example parts of Nigeria, where the kidnapping situation is serious.
More companies are looking for global presence and a consistent local approach
As clients grow internationally, they come to expect the same skills and services from their EP providers no matter where they travel.
So one of the trends that we see is the development of close, contractual relationships between international EP providers and vetted EP partners with experience on the ground in a given territory. Expect to see more documentation, shared guidelines and committed cooperation agreements so that the customer’s experience is consistently good no matter where he goes.
The skill sets needed to manage these relationships – and the ability to project standard operating procedures almost anywhere – are becoming increasingly important.
Event security: more focus on soft skills
While there is still plenty of work to do at traditional events, we see a trend toward a more differentiated event security landscape.
maller, more specialized events are becoming more important. These can involve product launches and other events where secrecy and a high level of discretion are critical. Rather than dealing with thousands of people, the settings are often much more intimate and include principals and other VIPs in informal settings. Also here, it’s clear that the need for excellent people skills is an increasingly vital part of the EP professional’s repertoire.
Estate security is using more tech than ever before – and getting smarter
The technological developments in estate security over the last few years are truly amazing.
Our ability to distinguish between noise and news has been greatly enhanced. We are much better at discovering false alarms – and knowing when there is good reason to be alarmed. Without getting into details, this trend is something that is changing the way estate security happens, and we expect this to continue in the future.
This article was originally posted on SecurityMagazine.com.