Over the past few years, Taiwan Secom has been countering the country’s traditional perception of security. Despite the security systems company having been established nearly 40 years ago, its CEO and Vice-Chairman Frank Lin says Taiwan’s concept of security is still largely based around security guards.
“We want to change that image,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “In Japan, it’s a high-profile and highly respected industry.”
Rebranding the company
To lift the country out of this ideology, Frank implemented a series of changes at Taiwan Secom. “About two years ago, we rebranded ourselves into more of a technology/Internet of Things (IoT) type of business,” he says. “We created a brand-new concept of security using new technology, and wireless systems and services to show that security is not just about security guards. We can help businesses see what’s going on right now, in real time, using a phone or a computer.”
Getting the country on board with these systems has not been an easy feat. “Implementing new technology is an enormous challenge because you have to make feel people comfortable using it,” Frank explains. “In Taiwan, many individuals might be more familiar with conventional ways of doing business and so to them technology might not seem a necessity right now.”
It was this attitude that led the company to educate its customers. “We tell customers that wireless is actually more stable and much faster,” Frank says. “You can connect more gadgets together wirelessly. And it costs less than before, when you had to put up poles everywhere just to have secure lines.”
Frank completed a postgraduate degree in Consumer Studies and Marketing Management in the UK before returning to Taiwan in 2004, where he joined Taiwan Secom. He started “at the bottom” in sales in the family business before eventually ascending to CEO in 2017. The company was founded by Frank’s father, who greatly influenced the way Frank runs the business.
“My father taught me quite a bit about this industry and how it works,” Frank says. “He is considered the Godfather of Security in Taiwan. Through the years, he taught me how to manage. Because he has been involved in so many other businesses, I’ve learned a lot of different ways to manage in different circumstances.”
The four different sectors of security
During his tenure at Taiwan Secom, Frank has noticed some trends in security that have changed over time. “Security has four different sectors in Taiwan,” he explains. “There’s system security, which Secom is well known for, as well as security guards, cash-in-transit security, and bodyguard security. We do the first three types of security but not the bodyguard service as that’s a privatised industry, managed mainly by people with a military or police background.
“One thing that has changed is the security guard service, which is seeing a decline everywhere in the world because of labour costs. This is where system security will benefit, because it can replace people and do a better job in terms of protecting businesses at a lower cost.”
To keep up with the latest technologies and trends in the industry, Frank focused on internal education and training programs for his employees. “Wireless technology is the biggest change we have had in the past 40 years,” he says, adding: “It is not simple to do.
"We had to convince our employees because they’re used to older systems. Now we’re changing everything to wireless and there’s more technology in these products, so our staff need to be able to explain them in more detail to the customers.
“We built two training centres, not just for the new employees but to retrain older staff as well. They have to learn all the ways in which this new technology is going to create a better business and better solutions for customers. We need to educate ourselves first before we can educate our customers.”
Frank also makes sure the company keeps an eye on the global security industry. “Every year, we send people to consumer electronics shows,” he says. “We see a lot of these conventions around the world; from the US to China, Japan and Korea. You have to see what direction these countries are taking because even though technology is moving very fast, every country is moving at a different speed.”
The next challenge is to ease customer uncertainty around wireless systems. “You have to convince customers who are used to having a secure line,” Frank says. “They have a lot of doubts about the internet, and I don’t blame them because the internet is sometimes quite unstable. You never know when an internet line will fail.
But the good thing for us is that because we use so many internet lines, we are one of the biggest partners for several local telecom companies. We have a direct line to their process service. We can install sensors and initiate them remotely. This means we don’t have to keep sending people to fix the system when it fails.”
Creating a safer environment
Frank explains how the security industry has evolved over the years to create a safer environment. “It’s not just about protecting your business or your home from theft, but also protecting them from fire or gas leaks,” he says. “Anything these sensors can detect, we have ways of controlling or getting rid of before they can cause harm.
It’s not just about protecting your business or your home from theft, but also protecting them from fire or gas leaks.
There are a lot of ways that this new technology can help customers resolve problems. It can give customers peace of mind when they’re at home or if they have a business.”
The next phase for Frank and his team is to support the healthcare industry.
“There are machines you can use at home and in public areas to test your heartbeat or blood pressure,” Frank says. “We’re collaborating with several local governments to extend these services. For example, we have a machine right in a Taipei mass rapid transit station, and we encourage people who walk past to go in, insert their Medicare cards and upload their heart rates or blood pressure levels to the internet.
The software belongs to the healthcare department. Governments and hospitals can gather this information and it will be useful when people go to the hospital for a check-up or medical intervention. We’re mainly going to use this in residential homes and apartments because we will be focusing on the elderly in the next couple of years.”
Taiwan Secom will also play an important role in the country’s plans to develop smart infrastructure. “Currently, we’re helping cities in Taiwan to build smart roadside parking,” Frank says.
“We will be installing sensors on the ground of these parking areas. Customers can then use an app to find vacant parking spots so they don’t have to keep driving around looking for one, and thus conserve fuel. These are the sorts of things we’re working on right now because we want to improve the lives of people in Taiwan through IoT and technology.”