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How the business of chowkidars is changing

Exponential technologies such as drones and Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to change how corporates protect their assets and people

twitter-logo Goutam Das        Last Updated: April 24, 2019  | 21:54 IST
How the business of chowkidars is changing

Security, cash logistics and facility management company SIS today employs more than 1,90,000 people and had revenues of nearly Rs 6,000 crore in 2017/18. But, will this industry be as people intensive even in the future? The business of chowkidars is changing. Exponential technologies such as drones and Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to change how corporates protect their assets and people. Nevertheless, Rituraj Sinha, Group Managing Director of SIS sees an opportunity in technology. Companies such as his now sell 'solutions', not just chowkidars. He recently spoke to Business Today, underlining how the business is transforming.   

A security solutions approach: The sector is growing at 18-20 per cent year-on-year in revenue terms; at 10 per cent in jobs terms. Five-six years ago, the sector would have grown at 20 per cent and manpower at 20 per cent. "People like us are pushing for productivity. We don't want customers to just buy guards; we want them to buy solutions," Sinha says. There is a distinction between being in the guards business and the security solutions business. "Technology is a massive enabler and a productivity driver. It is a differentiator," Sinha says.  "An oil and gas company used to do city gas pipeline security and fuel station security through more than a thousand people. They are now doing the same with 30 per cent lesser manpower. We have deployed mobile applications. We have mounted guards on bikes and have mapped out the entire underground pipeline. Today, all the reports of digging etc are done through mobile applications. We have interconnected CCTV cameras which is remotely controlled and monitored. There are emergency response vehicles that go around the city," he adds.

A facilitation role: Where is the demand for solutions stemming from? The law enforcement machinery of the government for India's population size is inadequate. The police and the law enforcement machinery is more dedicated towards serious crime prevention, investigations and anti-terror and anti-sabotage functions- serious policing duties. "The erstwhile watch function, the beat constable, who used to do the night patrol, has migrated to the private sector. Not just in India, it has migrated everywhere in the world. Security has become a facilitator. You go to a mall, security is facilitating and enabling your shopping experience at the entry point. Apart from doing the basic security function, they assist shoppers. If you want to leave your bag before you get into a store, they will keep it for you. So, security has moved to a facilitation role. We are the first point of contact," he adds.

New ways to train: Since the business is changing, guards often require up-skilling. SIS says it runs 19 residential training academies across 14 states. "Last year, we trained and certified 22,000-plus people. Once they pass out, the challenge is how to keep re-training them. There is a requirement to train at the customer site. We have made technology interventions. We launched an app, our proprietary training platform. On the mobile phone, it is a self-learning platform. Guards spend a lot of time on phone; so we are bringing content to their phone. How to greet a customer at the gate; what not to do; how to do frisking; how to ask people in a polite fashion to keep the phone on the tray. There are two-minute videos. We have more than 400 hours of learning content for different customer segments. We also have vans across India, who go and do live training on customer sites," Sinha says. 

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