The flexible advantages of cloud security to help retailers post-lockdown

Morphean’s retail segment lead, Andy Martin, explains how hosted security solutions can help the retail industry unlock intelligence and improve operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the challenges already being faced by many retailers. As infection rates slowly decrease and businesses open their doors once more, there is much to consider. With staff and customers returning to the shop floor, retailers will need to maintain the controls that have given staff and customers the confidence to shop. Implementing a new operating model changes the store’s performance and resourcing, requiring close attention. Efficiency is the key, and data can provide real insights to manage the change successfully, trade profitably and avoid further lockdown measures.

The pandemic has taught the retail industry that it’s better to be prepared for every eventuality in an increasingly uncertain world. Cloud technology demonstrated its value under lockdown, manifestly evident in the surge in use of video conferencing platforms that kept people connected. Change was implemented with lightening speed and in complete confidence globally by a variety of businesses.

It is this technology that can also be utilised to help retailers ensure the safety and security of their premises as well as meeting operational goals. The cloud has transformed business across many sectors; it is immediately scalable, easily managed from one central location and visible to the entire organisation. CCTV now forms part of a wider IoT world where connectivity and customisation make most things possible. CCTV should not stand alone with only surveillance in mind. Here we explore some of the many flexible benefits to help retailers rise to the challenge.

Cloud technology: Secure, flexible and easy to deploy

Cloud-based video surveillance and access control solutions are built around an ‘as-a-service’ operational expenditure (OpEx) business model which offers many key benefits to the retail organisation. Video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS) offer complete flexibility in that they can be easily deployed via an existing IT network, customised and scaled up or down to directly match spend to the operational need and business challenges. Importantly, they are also backed by the latest security software and firmware upgrades, for a solution that’s always up to date and online.

In contrast, solutions built around a traditional capital expenditure (CapEx) model are quicker to age and less future-proofed. Such systems not only represent a considerable investment, requiring large capital expenditure upfront, but they also lack some of the guarantees around system security. A cloud platform for video surveillance that is designed from the ground up to ensure data is encrypted, and to be sensitive to new vulnerabilities or malwares, provides a secure layer of defence against both physical and cyber attack.

Stop spending on security: invest in intelligence

As security equipment is connected to the wider IT network, the data that it generates can be used for a much wider variety of purposes beyond protection of people and assets. By their nature, security devices such as IP-enabled network cameras are present at critical points of physical infrastructure, and as more data is gathered, analysed and combined with other information in the cloud, more uses can be unlocked. Mindsets needs to adapt. Cameras should be thought less of in terms of security devices, and more as part of a mix of technologies that, when combined with data from multiple sources, can produce valuable business insights and automate decision making. Security is just one benefit of a much greater system.

Use case: Measuring retail occupancy

The setting and control of in store occupancy levels can prove invaluable in this current transition period between full lockdown and the ‘new normal’. Understanding and being able to respond to occupancy data is an important part of not only improving onsite security and situational awareness, but is also integral to delivering great service, appropriate resourcing and creating a secure and positive shopping environment.

Through the use of sensors placed at entrances and exit points, customers coming and going can be counted to establish the total occupancy number within the store at any one time. Downward placement of cameras ensures GDPR compliance by performing a head count rather than identifying individuals.

Retail managers can use this data, combined with information from the instore surveillance system, to automate customer reminders of the importance of maintaining a safe social distance through network (IP) audio speakers. Such intelligence can also support general operational decisions about signage placement, deployment of staff or re-ordering of goods in response to customer behaviour and demand.

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With over 30 years’ retail experience, Andy has held senior retail management roles across operations, supply chain and loss prevention with Morrisons, Dixons Stores Group and HMV. In 2014 Andy joined the world market leading network video company Axis Communications and led their retail business development function across Northern Europe, before joining Morphean in 2018, focusing on delivering hosted solutions, as a service, across the retail, banking, hospitality and leisure sectors. Andy is a regular keynote speaker and industry thought leader providing insights on a variety of related forums and events.

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