Is the Security Industry Keeping Up with the Rapidly Changing Role of the IT Professional?

I’ve been a Solutions Engineer with Milestone Systems for over nine years, and worked within software development, systems engineering and the security space for more than 20 years. I like to think I have a wide range of experience with the roles and personalities of the professionals who work in these technology fields.

Something I have noticed is that when it comes to discussions on the empowerment of IT professionals, the physical security industry is a few steps behind other sectors.

Don’t get me wrong; the security sector has well weathered some huge technical and cultural changes over the last couple of decades. We’ve gone from working with very closed, coax-based systems to now talking about full IT systems integration and AI deployments. And the culture has moved from closed, autonomous, almost “secret” presence in an organization, to where the security team is now integrated with other organizational functions, sharing systems and video data for all manner of facility efficiencies and optimizations. There have been significant advancements.

But from my experience, IT professionals within our industry are still seen as a supporting role to other functions. Often during customer site visits, for example, the network engineer is seen as the “technical” guy who can explain the nuts and bolts of a project but is not seen as a project lead or decision maker.

I think this has become evident to me in the field, because at Milestone Systems we do not have this mindset. Milestone is progressive and diverse — very “open” in its culture. The roles and functions within the company are based on respectful, peer-to-peer relationships. We need to foster more of this perspective in the industry at large.

As a manager, I’m motivated to enable the growth of each of my team members. I like to come up with ways to challenge each person to think about what’s next for them in their careers, both here at Milestone and within the security industry.

As we look around today, CIOs are certainly no longer seen as just an operational function on the backend of a business. CIOs everywhere are rising to top management positions as critical drivers of business; especially with analytics and big data, cyber issues and compliance. In the IT world, the engineers have risen to the very top.

In a 2018 report, Korn Ferry found that 83 percent of nearly 200 IT executives said their role is more strategic than it was just three years ago. More say they are on their company’s executive committee, and CIOs are also getting paid more.

I’m saying all this to help our physical security industry recognize the importance of the technical roles in our business today. In the current environment, it’s the pre-sales engineers, technical support groups, professional consultancy services, and the training programs — all managed and enabled by engineers — that are interfacing with customers, differentiating companies and advancing the industry.

Physical security is no longer just a ‘man in his van’ hanging cameras and pulling cable. These very technical roles are making or breaking businesses in today’s market.

There’s so much talent within our industry (and so much cross-market potential with technology that is evolving) that we should not only strive to catch up with other sectors but instead take a leadership stance. With proper empowerment, the technical people within all our organizations are ready to step beyond their “traditional” supporting roles in the background, ignite the industry, and pull the entire community forward.

By Ishkhan Ishkhanian, Presales Manager, US & Canada, Milestone Systems