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Let’s hear it for BANU

August 15, 2022 by Alistair Enser

No, it’s not a typo. Neither is it some form of banana toffee ice cream dessert. And no, it’s not a character from the Mandalorian. As we enter a new year, what can we do to be an enabler for business and the new usual – or BANU?

There is a strong sense of déjà vu around. It may be a new year, but Brexit is still in the news, and we are under a national lockdown again – the third inside a year.

Indeed, there are trends that have developed over twelve months that are going to stay with us long after lockdown.

What’s changed

Offices as we knew them before have changed forever. Meetings as we knew them have changed, as we embrace Zoom or Teams instead. While a yearn for the days when we can get back and have face to face meetings,  I also struggle to imagine a week when these are not interspersed with Zoom or Teams call as well. Future generations may ask questions about commuting: what was it, why did people do it, and why did they put up with it!?

But apart from the still ravaged hospitality sector and parts of retail, we have certainly seen businesses display greater continuity than in the first lockdown. Many are trading more normally than first time around.

Why is that? I believe it is because they are in better shape. People and businesses are better prepared to continue working remotely. I am sure there must be a case of Covid fatigue: the first lockdown was new and everyone was quite rightly worried. This time around, more is known about the disease, and vaccination is being rolled out. While there are some considerable transgressions, most people are once again following the rules – but they want life to go on. It’s about striking the balance between the two. New processes and a bit of evolution are all helping.

Since March 2020 there has also been greater adoption of technology to keep businesses and householders connected and up and running. We have seen greater uptake in the IoT, a huge acceleration in e-commerce, and tech that makes remote working possible, as well as a greater focus on cybersecurity. Greater trust has been placed in tech – largely because we had to – and organisations have improved processes as a result. As an industry we must ensure we are delivering against this new set of criteria.

Adapting to the new risk profile

The risk profile for most organisations has changed. At Reliance High Tech we protect people, assets and reputations. But the mix of threats now posed has altered dramatically: increasingly, it’s cyber as much as physical, and this means protecting people at home or in remote workplaces rather than packed offices, while maintaining the integrity of sparsely populated estates.

We have already seen a drop in theft, but there has been an increase in violent crime. And, while arrests relating to terrorism are down, Head of UK counter-terrorism policing Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has expressed concern that the conditions for terrorism are ripe given increasing online extremism; reasoning that helps explains the UK’s decision to raise the terrorism threat level to ‘severe’ back in November. The industry needs to adapt. We need to watch and listen and then we can help organisations plan and prepare under ‘BANU’, and help society remain vigilant.

What has stayed the same or benefitted?

At Reliance High-Tech, we continue to be asked about remote services and the cloud, and demand for these services is certainly growing. As a case in point, as reported in ‘Property Week’  Microsoft reported a 775% leap in cloud services in regions that have been social distancing; EE’s network saw a 45% increase in traffic for apps such as WhatsApp; and OpenReach reported in April that average UK data traffic leapt 24% in peak lockdown. Data centres are now expected to grow at up to 15% per year until 2024, to keep up with demand.

Interestingly though, we haven’t seen as much of an uptake in analytics solutions as we imagined. Is it a step too far for some at the moment? Perhaps. But you could say the same thing of Microsoft Teams 12 months ago – days packed with teleconferencing meetings weren’t normal back then.

Is there perhaps still distrust in AI and analytics because it’s still a relatively new technology, and firms are not ready to take the plunge yet as a result? Maybe. But as an integrator and provider we absolutely see the opportunities and advantages in using analytics in the right situations to augment physical human interaction and gain greater insight into how a building, or businesses is used and protected. I would be interested to see your comments on “What does the industry have to do to show the greater value provided by analytics and give confidence to customers to take this next leap of faith?”

Last year was a year of change, This new year ahead of us is a year of adaptation and opportunity. We have much hope on the horizon, businesses are remaining operational, Brexit has progressed and vaccines are being rolled out. Are you ready?