03 May 2007

Fusion Center: A Top Line Opportunity...

Operational Risk Management (ORM) is about managing a jigsaw puzzle of vulnerabilities and the threats that expose those weak points in corporate operations. The public sector is taking a lesson from many global organizations in creating a "Fusion Center" to help prevent losses as well as improve reputation, safety, security and resilience. The U.S. Department of Justice has created fusion center guidelines:

How can law enforcement, public safety, and private entities embrace a collaborative process to improve intelligence sharing and, ultimately, increase the ability to detect, prevent, and solve crimes while safeguarding our homeland? Recently, an initiative has emerged that incorporates the various elements of an ideal information and intelligence sharing project: fusion centers (or “center”). This initiative offers guidelines and tools to assist in the establishment and operation of centers. The guidelines are a milestone in achieving a unified force among all levels of law enforcement agencies; public safety agencies, such as fire, health, and transportation; and the private sector.

Fusion centers bring all the relevant partners together to maximize the ability to prevent and respond to terrorism and criminal acts. By embracing this concept, these entities will be able to effectively and efficiently safeguard our homeland and maximize anticrime efforts.

The private sector has embraced the idea of "Fusion Center's" for some time and now the convergence of both the physical and information-based risk management professionals is taking place to mitigate a spectrum of risks and opportunities. The economic reasons for doing this are many and the benefits of greater insight and more rapid response are a mandate. A fusion center is an effective and efficient mechanism to exchange information and intelligence, maximize resources, streamline operations, and improve the ability to fight crime and terrorists by analyzing data from a variety of internal and external sources.

When you begin to establish the company departments or government entities the rules of the game calls for agreements, contracts and memorandums of understanding (MOU) that are required to help facilitate coordination and cooperation. Here are some of the elements that should be considered:

  • Involved parties
  • Mission
  • Governance
  • Authority
  • Security
  • Assignment of personnel (removal/rotation)
  • Funding/costs
  • Civil liability/indemnification issues
  • Policies and procedures
  • Privacy
  • Terms
  • Integrity control
  • Dispute resolution process
  • Points of contact
  • Effective date/duration/modification/termination
  • Services
  • Deconfliction procedure
  • Code of conduct for contractors
  • Special conditions
  • Protocols for communication and information exchange
Regardless of how much planning goes into the establishment of the corporate or the public domain fusion center, the challenges are similar. Funding, resources and attention by the powerbase of leadership. One way to keep the Fusion Center at the center of the CEO's or Mayor's daily progress review comes back to economics. The top line revenue discussions here are no different than the same arguments that the head of Marketing has for the advertising budget. The Senior Vice-President of Marketing is consistently getting a robust piece of the budget pie because they have done an effective job of convincing everyone that advertising is what generates sales leads. Sales leads convert to top line revenue. So the question is, how many dollars produce a sales lead and what is the ratio of the number of leads generated to the number that close.

What is the argument for the head of the Fusion Center? How does this become a top line revenue opportunity and not just a cost? The same way advertising is justified to create leads is the same way the Fusion Center creates a different yet equally valuable risk management lead. In either case, the data and information required to generate a lead in advertising and to generate a lead in mitigating risk begins with a hypothesis. The test is performed on a set of data and information that has been compiled on people. Who is the audience that would be best served to view this advertisement to generate the most leads for this product or service? In the Fusion Center, the question may be directed at mitigating a new threat. Who are the people in our company or community who have access to these businesses or accounts?

At the center of the argument is the question of what is more valuable? A new sales lead or a new risk lead? Both are generated from raw data and information either collected internally or purchased external to the organization. The answer lies in the Information Economics analysis exercise of generating each and the value to the continuous operations of the organization. In the end, you may find that both are equally important and now it's a matter of fine tuning the ratio of budget dollars devoted to the Fusion Center vs. the Marketing Department.

If you are a Chief Risk Officer, Chief Information Officer, or Chief Security Officer the answer to funding your Fusion Center just might be found in how data and information is utilized and what value it has to the livelihood and resilience of the enterprise.

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