Security (when it comes to Information Technology) has never really been considered a business enabler…  Until now!  5thColumn.  Uncommonly Experienced & Uniquely Capable

Any small business owner will tell you that getting recognized is no trivial thing..  Not only must your products / services be in high demand;  Its an absolute MUST to deliver your wares with exceptional value and a high degree of customer satisfaction.  In my experience, customer confidence and trust are most effectivly gained through demonstration of know-how and an uncommon ability to solve complex issues and deliver creative solutions.  I was particularly frustrated with the generally accepted perception that “Security” is an inhibitor to business objectives.  We needed to identify ways to demonstrate the positive potential security offers relative to an organization or business objectives by getting as creative as possible.  We needed a message that would grab the attention of executive leadership, gain their interest, and evolve their perception of IT Security into one of opportunity…

What follows below is an overview of the concepts, objectives, and a practical example of the 5thColumn differentiated approach. Ultimately, this campaign was the differentiation we sought after allowing us to demonstrate our collective ability to creatively solve business problems while exposing customers to a service provider unlike any they had experienced before.

At 5thColumn, we are constantly looking for ways to deliver solutions that exceed customer expectations.  Regardless of industry, size, or objective, our solutions are consistently simple (not overly complex), effective (meet all primary objectives with little or no impact to operations), manageable (works within the current environment), and ultimately highly secure.

Security can enable your company to do business in ways that effect positive change in culture and in many cases, the bottom line as well. A well engineered solution should optimize existing investments, and create a more personal experience for your consumers in an effort to communicate your commitment to ensuring the safety of their information, building consumer trust,  and increasing brand loyalty.

Goal:  Distill an entire technical proposal for a major national retail business down to one page.  Requirements are related to upgrade existing WiFi network (enterprise wide including stores, distribution centers,  and datacenter) with network access control, BYOD (with posturing, profiling, self registration, etc),  rogue detection / mitigation, intrusion prevention, Identify Management, and Operations Management, all wrapped up with PCI compliance through integrated monitoring as-a-service through our 24×7 operational facilities.

Retailer Requirements :

A. Technology Refresh

B. Wireless upgrade & enhancements to security

C. BYOD enablement for business operations and consumers alike

D. Security, security, and more security

E. Compliance and regulatory assurance

F.  Optimization of IT Operations  Management


The market is reacting very quickly to changes in consumer demands and behavior.  The proliferation of mobile devices combined with location based awareness and real time data access creates educated consumers or customers.  This in turn results in hyper-competitive retail markets.  Retailers need to embrace this evolution and enable customers or they will go elsewhere to fulfill this “consumer experience”.  The race for customer centric / dynamic e-commerce platforms are generating demand at a scale that outpaces Brick & Mortar by as high as 5 to 1. The bifurcation of the traditional business into these two segments will only lead to business management issues unless they can leverage one another to aggressively compliment one cohesive consumer specific experience that it completely unique to that brand.  3.


Retailer has a well established Global brand with consumers in both the “brick and mortar”(B&M) and “e-commerce”(ECOM) markets.  The needs outlined above have created a unique opportunity for Retailer to deviate from the traditional model of point solution competitive analysis for product selection.  This model still has relevance in many markets but the collective experience of in market advisors has identified a more holistic approach.  The proposed formula for success enables Retailers to meet current needs across all business revenue centers, enhance customers experience,  increase performance through business process improvement, extend the return on existing investments by fostering collaboration between the two markets (B&M / ECOM) resulting in a force multiplier. 4.

 Logical perspective

Retailer is in a position to immediately capitalize on these opportunities by leveraging the foundation of their existing investments in core technology sectors including Routing & Switching, Data Centers, and vendor specific solutions from Cisco.  Enhancing their existing infrastructure with new wireless capabilities delivered through identity based networking enables the business to converge their E-Commerce client base with their Brick & Mortar presence to create a brand new customer experience, all its own, and uniquely centric to the retailer & brand. 5.

Security as Business Enabler


With all the concerns and requirements of security, compliance, performance, and continuity fulfilled; The following experience….

A woman (we will call her Jane) is at home browsing and chatting online with her friends.   She is looking through some pictures her friend (Sally) posted online of her new apartment.  They are sharing details and pictures and chatting about them…

(Jane) “Wow… I really like that french door cabinet in the picture” she thinks.   She quickly asks her friend… “where did you get that cabinet from..,  the Red one, with the glass pane doors?”

(Sally) “Oh yeah..  isn’t it great! I got that at the “Retailer” down in Lincoln Square…  Everyone comments about it!”

Jane (excited by the potential to purchase one for herself) immediately opens her browser and in no-time, she is looking at the exact cabinet on the “Retailers” Website / E-commerce platform.

“I wonder if they have any in stock she thinks…” Her online “Retailer” website account lets her check “in-store” availability.   Sure enough..  7 available at 2 locations within 10 miles of your current location.

(Jane) “Honey!   Get the SUV warmed up… we are heading to “Retailer!

Off they go. Arriving at the store,  the woman opens her iPad.   As she enters,  her device is identified by in-store WiFi and she is presented with an opportunity to join the “Retailer’s” WiFi network.

(iPad Message) “Please login for access to our in-store network. You may login using your “” username and password!”

(Jane)-“Wow” she thinks…  “that was easy.”   She quickly enters her personal account details and once again she is presented with a personal greeting….

(iPad Message) Welcome “Jane Doe” to the “Retailer” store in (Town / Neighborhood).  You have 2 items on your “Wish List” that we have in stock today… would you like a directory to locate them here at this location?

Jane is then directed to where the Red Cabinet (Product) is within this specific store…   She identifies it from across the floor.  Her iPad chimes to her….

[iPad] — “Would you like us to put one of these stock items aside for you today?”  _Yes_no

Upon checking the “yes” button,  a sales person is notified and directed to Jane’s location to immediately assist with any final transaction requirements or up-sell any promotional items.

Within hours,  the woman is posting her own pictures of her new cabinet on Social Networks and the opportunity for the process to repeat itself just doubled..  Its not long before one of Jane’s friends sends a quick note:

(Friend 2) “Jane,  when you have a quick minute,  can you send me info on where you got that (INSERT ANY RETAILER ITEM) from?”


This is the type of opportunity that too many organizations are missing out on TODAY!  Consumers are some of the most effective sales people you can find and every effort should be made to facilitate the interaction between your consumers and both of the following:

1.  The ability to provide a robust, personalized online e-commerce experience.  2.  The ability to extend that experience from couch to store and back to couch