Determining Your Security ROI

By Brian Thomas and Scott Grainger

A new computer system. Solar panels added to the building. A fleet of energy-efficient vehicles. Any company investing in these additions or improvements can likely calculate their return on investment (ROI).

But measuring ROI for security is more of a gray area. There is no guarantee —thankfully, some might say — that a company that installs a surveillance system will actually need to use the video collected. It could very well be that no one ever breaks into the building, or steals costly equipment or suffers an on-the-job injury that could result in a lawsuit.

The reality is that we live in a world where there is an expectation of security. Businesses invest in security not because they expect a particular bottom-line result, but rather because of what it would cost not to have it in place.

Security serves as an insurance policy of sorts against litigation. If there were no cameras aimed at supermarket aisles, the damages from slip-and-fall claims could be astronomical. But because security exists, and cameras can be used to separate false claims from real ones, that store is experiencing a return on its investment, even if it’s not easily found within the annual budget.

Visible and active security also acts as a deterrent, keeping potential, costly problems at bay. Cameras in the stockroom may be all that is needed to stop an employee from stealing merchandise. And an access control system in a hospital that regulates who can enter file rooms or the pharmacy helps to reduce the risk of identity theft and drug pilfering.

Security, while not always ROI quantifiable, is a business necessity because of its ability to keep at bay certain behaviors that can damage a company’s reputation and thus, its ability to successfully do business.

There are, however, ways in which security can directly impact the bottom line. Increasingly, security systems are also serving as a data-gathering tool that can be applied directly to business activities.

Improvements in security can offset costs of personnel—fewer security officers needed to patrol the grounds, fewer managers needed on site because they can remotely access video from headquarters. Retailers use heat mapping and people counting tools related to video analytics within a security system to improve displays and better position staff within the store and thus generate greater sales.

So while not as cut-and-dried as ROI is for some business investments, working with an integrator to select the right security solution can help end users feel their investment was money well spent.