If you’re over 50, you’re sure to remember this all-time classic commercial. If not, you can find it on YouTube.
A middle-aged businessman with a New Yawk accent, circa 1970, looks into the camera and laments, “There’s this new dish on the menu and the waiter says to me, ‘Try it. You’ll like it.’ So, I tried it. Thought I was gonna die.” Fortunately, there’s Alka-Seltzer.
Historically, the physical security industry has been a lot like that guy in the commercial: just the thought of trying something new was enough to put its collective stomach on edge. When technology manufacturers pitch a new solution, regardless of its benefits, security professionals sit back and let someone else “try it” first. It’s understandable. Their job is to mitigate risk, and trying anything new is inherently risky. They’ll kick the tires but wait for other market sectors to act as guinea pigs. With few exceptions, the security industry has abided by the “If it ain’t broke…” mantra.
Service industries have begun integrating robotics and autonomous solutions into their operations for the past decade. Retail, medical, hospitality, food services, and many other business categories have reimagined the role of technology within their business models, thereby improving both profitability and the customer experience. Who’s been missing from the table? Security services.
Better late than never. At last, the industry’s “fear of being first” is being replaced by the “fear of missing out” (FOMO). There are many reasons for this, most of them exacerbated by the pandemic, but here’s the bottom line: The old way has stopped working. Guard wages are climbing quickly, guard positions remain unfilled, turnover is exceptionally high, on-boarding and training are challenging, benefits are expensive, and COVID and sick leave make scheduling a nightmare. Plus, customers are dissatisfied with the quality of service they’re receiving. What else could go wrong?
Guard companies see that technology can solve these problems, and if they don’t give these novel solutions a try, their competition will. FOMO is opening minds and changing behavior.
Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD) is witnessing this phenomenon firsthand. Pre-pandemic, most prospects viewed the company’s AI-driven, autonomous security solutions as curiosities. In their minds, RAD’s potential to disrupt the status quo – a frightening proposition back then – outweighed its technology’s ability to deliver efficiency, performance, and value. Today, the equation has flipped. The status quo is untenable, and security management is far more fearful of missing out on the paradigm shift that’s underway.
The trend is widespread. RAD is shipping its devices for use in airports, public parks, distribution centers, theme parks, offices, casinos, construction sites, auto dealerships, and more. Guard services are done kicking the tires; they’re ready to open their wallets.
Malcolm Gladwell’s 2002 bestseller, “The Tipping Point,” explored the forces that push a social behavior or business trend over the threshold, bringing it into the mainstream. If he writes a sequel, the security industry’s pandemic-propelled, FOMO-induced embrace of robotics and AI-based technology will make an excellent case study.