Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Jeffrey A. Slotnick‏, CPP, PSP – President at Setracon Inc. (US)
Jorge Septien – CEO/Chairman at MSPV Seguridad Privada, S.A. DE C.V. (Mexico)
Pawan Desai – Co-founder & CEO – MitKat Advisory Services (India)

Key points

As Jeff Slotnick says, security consultants are ‘problem solvers’, identifying problems and developing methodologies to solve them, but what has changed recently is the increasing emphasis on digital transformation. And consultants have adapted to new ways of working, the use of Zoom has been transformative, and risk assessments are being undertaken from distance with the use of photographs and local knowledge. For these reasons, Covid-19 has not dried up work; companies have looked to more efficient ways to meet their goals. Identifying who is competent can take time, Jeff sees flaws in regulatory regimes for consultants, buyers need to research, consultants need to evidence experience. Making a business case to support decisions has become fundamental, in this way security consultancy is as much as about business knowledge as it is security experience, and the emphasis on ESRM is driving that agenda.

Pawan Desai warns that the speed of change will increase dramatically, the next five years has not been invented yet. Covid-19 is just a blip, beyond the pandemic the future will be characterised by continuous change, and so everyone will need to learn new skills. A significant event will be the move from security being largely perception base to being data driven with evidenced-based decision-making. In India security consultancy is not regulated and Pawan does not feel that is needed: the knowledge base is moving too fast, clients don’t often know what they want, the route to a good consultant-clint partnership is each party doing its due diligence. A key challenge is to evolve return on investment models. In the new normal security consultants will be under pressure to be different; AI, machine learning and robots are coming to the fore, while the risks of IOT devices are serious and only just emerging. Clients will want to question everything; consultants will need to be good.

Jorge Septien notes that security consultants need to be one step ahead of what is happening, to differentiate possibilities from probabilities; it calls on a broad range of skills. The pandemic has put a stop to the development of consultancy; workplaces have been deserted as more work from home and in Latin America everything is only just returning to normal, it is timely to consider what will happen next. In contrast to the first two panellists who were sceptical about the need for regulation of security consultancy, in Mexico this is being sought. There is a value on certification which distinguish the good from the less good and recognise that the skills needed are so diverse that no one person will have everything. Technology is transforming practice and consultants are having to adapt. Moreover, and crucially, criminals are thinking differently, it is a more aggressive world and extortion is coming to the fore. Covid-19 has put a focus on the bottom line and consultants must respect that and understand clients and their needs.

The different views on licensing reflects perhaps the different licensing regimes in operation. But what is clear is that the security world is changing, as noted in the Chat room, ‘if you’re comfortable you’re already obsolete’. This in itself will differentiate the good from the average and bad. The drive for new technologies, the changing crime patterns, and the need to evidence base decisions will feature more prominently too.

Martin Gill
9th March 2021