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Digitalization is changing the security industry, even though the firms that make up the sector are for the most part highly digitized.
This is the case of Securitas Direct. The Swedish multinational has been operating for decades in the Spanish market, which has also witnessed how the firm has been digitizing and increasingly oriented to data as the raw material par excellence for its decision-making.
That's what Bernardino Beotas, Securitas Direct's IT director for the Spanish and Latin American market, tells in an interview with Business Insider Spain. "Ultimately, the use of data is part of the nature of our business," he says.
"We are a digital business and natively: a business of sensors, signals, and support for people protecting people," recalls Beotas. That is why, during the pandemic, the service provided by Securitas Direct has continued "very normally. Not only have we maintained business continuity, but we have also achieved excellent service levels."
This is how Securitas Direct guaranteed the continuity of its business.
Beotas explains the success of this continuity in two pillars. The first one is the continuity plan on which the company has been working for more than 5 years. A plan that is very common in large companies and that tries to foresee possible contingencies. "In Spain, we are not going to suffer an earthquake a priori," says the executive. But there was a huge snowfall in Madrid in January that complicated the mobility of its workers.
Mobility in Madrid is of vital importance for the company since the capital city houses part of the facilities of Securitas' Alarm Receiving Center (ARC) for the Spanish market. The other part of its center is located in Cornellá, Barcelona. "They form the largest and most modern ARC in Europe", company sources detail: they have 1,500 specialists.
The other great pillar with which Beotas explains why Securitas' business continuity has been a success responds to a name: Agile methodologies. "We wanted to shorten innovation cycles in technology and we incorporated these methodologies," he explains.
Agile is a methodology more typical of software companies that are capable of adapting quickly and efficiently to market changes or customer demands. This is what the brand itself explains in its corporate blog, and Beotas specifies that they embraced a framework called Scurm, based on short -between 1 and 4 weeks- and periodic deliveries, which allows them to gather customer opinions and perceptions more quickly.
This proactivity has also been transferred to its commercial team and, above all, to the assistance service. Along with the alarms and premium security division, Securitas Direct also offers IoT devices for the elderly that can register distress calls for when the customer, for example, has fallen at home.
In the wake of the pandemic, Beotas explains that the Securitas Direct team became much more proactive by making calls to its older users to understand how they were experiencing the whole confinement. "They are a very vulnerable group and we wanted to talk to them, see how they were doing. We managed to make that change in real-time in the middle of a crisis thanks to the Agile methodology."
A digitalized and data-oriented security system
Today, Securitas Direct is a practically technological company. It has more than 14 million IoT devices deployed in its customers' homes and even a Sixfog network that it is deploying under an agreement with Cellnex to have an alternative channel to the mobile network that is much more difficult to inhibit.
It is also a data-driven firm and has AI patterns and predictive models that help its specialists determine the risk of an incident. "In each situation, a lot of variables are taken into account," stresses the firm's IT leader for Spain and Latin America. "From the type of installation to the level of incidents in an area, its location, history or usage patterns.
This helps the company to detect if an alarm has been activated by mistake by the customer who has not deactivated it at home. Already in 2008 Securitas decided to make more and more decisions based on data. They created their first data warehouse "and at that time different business units, such as marketing, operations, finance, or logistics" started to build their analytical capabilities with new teams".
To understand the scale of the data that Securitas Direct handles, company sources point out that its devices broadcast more than 19 million telemetric signals every day and manage more than 100 million videos also every 24 hours, "reaching the petabyte daily in video transmission."
In 2013 the firm "took a new twist" and created a unit of data scientists to "promote new algorithms" and all under a data governance program, to ensure data quality. "At the end of the day, one of the problems organizations have when exploiting data is data quality," Bernardino recalls.
As more companies and sectors turn to the development of artificial intelligence algorithms, one question becomes increasingly obligatory: are these algorithms ethical, and do they measure their impact on society? Expert Gemma Galdon, the founder of the company and foundation Eticas Consulting, is in charge of conducting audits of this type of AI being developed in companies and administrations, something she considers essential.
Bernardino Beotas agrees. "It's an issue to work on," he acknowledges. "As soon as we enter this world, we will draw up some rules in accordance with our company's DNA". After all, the Securitas Direct executive recalls on several occasions what the company's slogan is: "People protecting people".
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