Interview with Hedgie Bartol, LPQ
Bartol is retail business development manager for Axis Communications. He has been in the loss prevention industry as a solutions provider since 2004 holding positions with Diebold and Milestone Systems prior to joining Axis in 2011. Bartol received the LPM Magpie Award for Excellence in Partnerships in September 2017.
Asset protection teams often take the lead in building a business case and pushing for new or upgraded technology solutions inside the retail enterprise. Numerous things should be considered in order to successfully navigate the corporate capital funding process. We asked one technology solutions provider for his point of view.
A loss prevention team needs room in the budget to upgrade their systems. How should they begin that journey?
The key here is to start the journey with the destination in mind, realizing that our technologies of old are going to the wayside, making room for technologies that can possibly fulfill our dreams from the past. Remember when you were a kid and would dream about how awesome it would be if you could watch television during that four-hour family car ride? I can even remember how great it would be, when satellite radio first hit the scene, if I could stream that through my computer. The future is here, and in that same regard, it is moving quickly. So the idea is to start the process with the idea of “if you dream it, you can do it.” With the ability to leverage network technology (also known as the Internet of Things), you can streamline your operations and bring your various disparate systems together to perform for you beyond just loss prevention and security.
What are integrated systems in this space, and how can they help a business?
That is a bit of a loaded question. I suppose integrated systems can be defined a couple of different ways, but in this arena when we refer to integrated systems, I believe it starts with the technology in the stores and at the edge—leveraging systems to work together so that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Essentially, a surveillance camera is just taking images, but when you couple it with analytics and various inputs and outputs, it can become a tool that provides security, business intelligence, as well as proactive measures to enhance overall operations and sales. In fact, the asset protection professional is as engaged and concerned with sales and operations as they are about shrink and loss. By leveraging their in-store technologies and working across business units, you can provide solutions such as a dwell analytics that will send an alert directly to a hand-held radio when someone is waiting in an aisle for longer that a normal purchasing time frame. Perhaps the same camera that is watching the checkout area is also utilizing a line-queueing analytic that will trigger special advertising or a notification to a loyalty app.
How can IT and LP or security teams benefit from working together?
If you had asked me that ten years ago, I would’ve told you that they cannot work together. That is changing and is a very interesting synergy that I am seeing now. The issue is that both disciplines are very strategic in their thinking, even though many folks who do not come from LP would never know that asset protection professionals think that way. Most people assume that they are typical “security guys,” when in fact, they have to be very strategic in their function. How do you protect and secure that which has to be readily available and easily accessible? It is all handled through people, process, and procedure.
Is there any value to the marketing teams when harnessing these systems?
The answer to this is, there can be. Once again, the integration and implementation of technology in retail must be done across all business units. If you are looking at any technology through your own lens and no other, then you are missing out on the big picture of what can be accomplished and the value that your solutions can bring to the entire organization.
How can operations and marketing get involved?
Reach out across the aisle. All parties must remember that we are all fighting the same battle, which is the continued profitability of our organizations. Reaching out and identifying where the needs of each organization intersect in the “vin diagram” will allow you to establish that path forward and growth. It will allow you to establish the roadmap for pathways that have not been built yet.
How do loss prevention professionals get a seat at the table?
Asset protection and loss prevention have had a seat at the table for some time now. But the time is now to make their voices heard and get creative. They have a bottom-line, financial responsibility to the organization generally referred to as shrink. Because they have this bottom-line responsibility, it essentially puts them at a C-level of sorts. When you couple that with a focus on driving sales and operations from that same function, there is significant opportunity to impact the organization.