Empowering Security Professionals to Impact the Bottom Line with HiveWatch CEO Ryan Schonfeld

Driven by his frustrations as an end-user of security tools, Ryan Schonfeld, Founder and CEO of HiveWatch, built a company to make it easier for security professionals to be more connected and informed. He knows firsthand the abundance of data available to interpret and the antiquated practices of collecting it from disparate systems — unsure of whether it’s accurate by the time a report is written and distributed. 

Schonfeld’s pushback to age-old security processes and refusing to settle for the way it’s always been done has helped him enable security teams to position their department as a business enabler, while protecting people and assets.

Key topics of Schonfeld’s discussion with host Chuck Randolph include:

  • Why security teams need to understand the needs of the business and how their work can impact the success of the company.
  • The cultural challenge of security viewing technology as a risk, instead of a force multiplier that enhances the irreplaceable value of human intel.
  • Trends he’s observing in the physical security industry and what’s on the horizon.

Key takeaways:

Ryan Schonfeld: It’s pretty incredible the amount of data that’s out there. I think people, by and large, are more aware of the data today than they certainly were back in the early days of social media and smart devices, and as connected homes were becoming more relevant, and just more and more electronics becoming a part of everyday life. But one of the pieces in slow industries, like physical security, is lack of data isn’t the issue, and it’s really never been the issue. It’s how data is effectively collected and operationalized. That’s always what slowed things down.

Chuck Randolph: It strikes me, you’re talking as much about change management and cultural change as you are operational change. Or, as you said, “Operationalizing the way that we manage the data.” I think about it again, we have all these massive bureaucracies, whether it’s the military, law enforcement, big corporation, or security provider, you’re dealing with a lineage of culture change. You’re going to walk in and say, “Hey, we’re going to help you manage. We need to look and manage data in different ways.” What obstacles have you come up with in your career to change management?

Ryan Schonfeld: I think fear of the unknown’s probably the biggest one. As a former cop myself, there’s a lot of people in our space who are maybe great security leaders but don’t have deep technology backgrounds. Sometimes, rather than surrounding themselves with domain experts, and people who can help understand the technology, and how that technology can be leveraged to improve the program, that technology starts getting seen as a risk to their job, to their program, to whatever it is that they’ve been building over time, when in fact it really should be a force multiplier.

I’m not a person who thinks that AI or technology is going to get rid of all the people in security, that’s not possible. I think technology has a really important place in our space, but security is always going to require a human to understand context, and understand nuance, and ultimately make a decision that could impact whether or not somebody’s life is harmed or protected, or what happens to a brand. That’s not something that organizations are going to entrust to AI or a model. But that person who ultimately needs to make the decision needs to be equipped with the best information as quickly as possible, and that’s where technology becomes that force multiplier. By embracing that, you have the ability to look great. It’s not a risk to your program or to your job.

Chuck Randolph: Ryan, what you’re really talking about is making the security function accessible to everybody, right?

Ryan Schonfeld: Yeah. I think as security people, and ex-cops, and ex-feds, and ex-military, we tend to operate in silos, we tend to keep things close to us in terms of what we’re doing, and what our programs are, and what’s entailed, and we do a very bad job of marketing security to the organization and letting people know what’s actually going on.

Because the reality is, as you start marketing your initiatives, security’s going to have different visibility within the organization, people are going to find more value, other departments are going to find more value. You might find a bigger budget in terms of cross-department budgeting if you can provide actual tangible value to other departments. As I alluded to earlier, security leaders are really going to be seen more as thought leaders and business leaders with a seat at the table.