GSOC as a managed service takes off

Northland Controls to build a second GSOC, add business intelligence services
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Monday, March 21, 2016

FREMONT, Calif.—It was a brand new business model when Northland Controls opened its global security operations center (GSOC) here at its headquarters two years ago.

And while providing GSOC services as a managed service may still be a novel idea, it’s a concept that’s catching on, according to Guy Morgante, Northland’s president of managed services.

One year ago, Northland’s GSOC had a handful of large corporate customers. Today it has more than a dozen, and the business is growing fast.

Morgante is making plans to remove a wall and double the size of the GSOC here, and Northland plans to build another GSOC on the East Coast in the next year.

Northland is also planning to add new business-intelligence services to its GSOC offerings.

“We’re finding a lot of success with the facilities managers who also do security, companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees,” Morgante said. Customers come from all vertical markets including education and biotech.

What kinds of customers does Northland have?

One is a Boston-based tech company with 5,000 employees and seven offices. Northland did a pilot project for the corporation at its headquarters building.

“We saved him 40 percent on his security costs,” Morgante said. That pilot project led to a deal.

Another customer is a growing transportation company, which is adding four offices each week.

“The opportunity for GSOC as a managed service is potentially huge,” Morgante said. “That’s why we’re expanding.”

There are four components of Northland’s GSOC services: monitoring with action and dispatch; user administration; device management; and employee care.

Morgante called the first component—monitoring with action and dispatch—the “core piece.” Companies put in access control and video, but they don’t monitor those systems, he said.

At Northland’s GSOC, operators are seated at work stations that are outfitted with four large monitors (photo on left). At first glance, it looks like a high-tech central station, but Morgante points out the difference.

“With video monitoring, you have people staring at monitors. At a GSOC, the monitoring is event-driven,” he said. When there’s a door forced open, for example, or some other incident, “you need to have an intelligent, trained human reviewing the incident and following that corporation’s specific policies and procedures. That’s event-driven monitoring,” he said.

The second component of the GSOC service, user administration, “keeps your systems in sync, providing the day-to-day user management,” Morgante said. Device maintenance, the third component, is important because often devices are not working properly. We manage the entire process from dispatching technicians to testing,” he said.

The fourth and final component is employee care. Northland’s GSOC will help with everything from a lost badge to a water leak in the facility.

Overseeing the GSOC operation is Kim Tran, an entrepreneur who started a small business at age 18, and successfully ran that business for 10 years while she put herself through school. Tran also formerly ran the GSOC at Apple.

Tran summarized her goal with new clients this way: “find out what their biggest concern is and what problems they want to solve now.” It could be badging, false alarms, any number of things. Northland does a complete audit of systems, designs policies and procedures and customizes its services for that client. “And they only pay for what they use.”

Initially, Northland provided its services as a bundle. Now, customers can choose the components the way they want. More often than not, once the customer tries one service, they add the others, Morgante said.

Morgante is in the process of adding new business intelligence services to the mix. These services, such as predictive analytics, are designed to support the customer’s business unit.

An example would be a weather event in one part of the world that could disrupt the shipment of products to another part of the world. Alerted to the weather event in a timely manner, that corporation could accelerate or re-route shipments and save money.

Tran is enthusiastic about adding more GSOC services. “Cloud hosting, travel security, social media. We want to grow this program and these opportunities,” she said.

The next step would be the GSOC hosting the entire security system. “For one monthly fee, we do everything,” Morgante said.