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Navigating Stormy Seas

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

It’s been a mixed week. Large parts of the UK are now under local lockdown with Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Leeds, Stockport, Wigan and Blackpool the latest areas to take measures. This means that some 15 million people, or nearly 1 in 4 of the population, are now under local lockdowns.

Elsewhere, a policeman tragically lost his life when he was shot in a custody suite. More antimask protests in Central London on Saturday brought arrests, and Rishi Sunak has introduced the Job Support Scheme – an alternative to furlough – as he recognises that the situation is likely to be with us for at least another six months and probably a lot longer.

Last week I wrote about winners and losers. If your organisation is to be the former, now is the time to ask yourself the following three questions.

1. As an End-User how has your risk profile changed?

Over the last few months, your organisation’s risk profile will have changed, and will continue to do so in what is a highly fluid situation. A number of developments will have a material impact on the risk profile of your organisation.

Cyber security was up an astonishing 273 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, placing new and unparalleled threats to businesses that now rely on connected, remote workers. Turning to physical threats, we have seen a higher risk around empty or partially occupied buildings, while I have written before about the circumstantial evidence that crime is on the rise. Civil unrest and greater disobedience, as seen this weekend, compound these threats.

Then there is the increased health and safety risk for lone workers and those who remain working from less populated buildings, as well as the shop workers who are facing increasing aggression and even violence in the workplace.

Finally, the speed of change in how we work, and where, means that our workplace may be connected digitally – but is increasingly remote and disparate. How do organisations protect teams that are now scattered around the country?

If you haven’t done so already, undertake a detailed reappraisal of your risk threat and learn how it has changed. This will allow you to identify the real risks, realign investment where necessary, and mitigate new threats. If you need assistance then simply click here to contact us at Reliance High-Tech.

2. How can you do more, for less?

Many businesses are feeling financial pressures – and even those that aren’t are being more careful with their money, ensuring that any investment delivers best value.

Agile solutions that better meet the needs of the rapidly changing situation we find ourselves in are proving popular with organisations. At Reliance High-Tech, we are seeing a strong growth in recurring revenue, with particular interest in rapidly scalable and deployable solutions which fit well with cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) models. In many circumstances these are now seen as preferable alternatives to infrastructure projects that carry capital expenditure implications and impact on cashflow.

This is not completely unsurprising as we are all now beginning to trust what we have considered for a while, but needed a leap of faith to execute. As I wrote before, the world didn’t stop spinning when the pandemic struck and, despite all our fears, the ‘internet’, broadband and digital connectivity for the vast majority has remained rock solid, despite a surge in home demand.

For the purpose of this discussion I shall refer to ‘the cloud’ as a singular mystical place where things are stored, where stuff happens, and where many complex applications which run our lives exist. Of course, in its true sense ‘the cloud’ is not one, but many places and many computers, spread globally, where almost limitless computer power can be harnessed to deliver applications and services remotely, without the need to have all the processing power or storage on your site.

‘The cloud’ is the platform that allows us to access our bank accounts, save and share smartphone pictures online or stream the boxsets we have watched in our spare time. Google is in the cloud and that seems pretty reliable: many world-leading, multi-billion pound business run their companies on SAP and Salesforce in the cloud, and yet up to now the security industry has been slow to adopt the benefits of this revolution. That we often forget about this remarkable technology, so seamless is its role in our online lives, is proof of its reliability. In which case, why wouldn’t we trust the cloud for our electronic security needs also?

The simplest answers are education, trust, risk and design. Running remote, hosted or cloud services can carry risks – but with the correct design or hybrid models, and a little thought, there are many opportunities to consider. Even if only for storage!

With a better understanding of your risk profile, consider what elements of your electronic and physical security systems can be moved to the cloud, so your organisation can reduce cost, gain efficiency and be better placed to scale up, or down, as your situation demands. As a privately owned independent business Reliance High-Tech can give you impartial advice on what options are available.

3. What’s going to give you competitive edge?

In the face of economic gloom, there’s clearly going to be less expenditure overall, which is going to create economic pinch points. These may include reduced revenue, cut-throat margins and reduced profitability.

Competitive edge in the current climate might mean greater innovation, such as developing new products and solutions that meet new customer needs; or pivoting parts of a business to new online offerings. Equally, it might involve lowering costs, improving productivity, or differentiating the business.

While job protection is important, it goes hand in hand with company protection, and it’s clear that businesses will face tough decisions on right-sizing workforces to manage the economic impact of the pandemic. Technology has a crucial role to play in supporting people and these changes.

Business leaders need to look across their organisations to identify sources of added value and the resulting competitive advantage that will make them winners, rather than losers.

How can security help?

This is all well and good, you may say, but you may wonder how security can help.

For a start, too many old or traditional security systems are expensive, inefficient and not very resilient in terms of failure or attack, given the technology advances in recent years.

For example, with CCTV a good proportion of the cost and energy consumption relates to data storage. More often than not, the footage required for theft, attack or break-in is usually identified within a short timescale such as a few hours, up to perhaps 72 hours covering a weekend. That said many systems will record for a week, a month, or longer especially for compliance reasons.

Even by reducing the amount of storage required locally, and archiving longer term backups to the cloud, can have a significant impact on the up-front investment cost, reliability and maintenance of a system. It also brings additional benefits such as increased resilience, redundancy, and instant scalability up and down, when needed, rather than guessing how much to purchase. For the most cost conscious, you can now even ‘rent cold storage’, which does not provide instant access, but is a very cost effective method of archiving data off site, to be retrieved later if required.

Given the uncertainty of real estate, deploying virtual or cloud-hosted models, applications or storage may represent a much more attractive form of investment, providing greater flexibility and protecting cashflow at time when large capital expenditure projects may not make financial sense.

And, if you have dismissed a move of core processes to the cloud for the time being, consider what other value you can extract from your existing security system. Your existing access control, video surveillance or intruder system could provide you with better insight into how your organisation runs, how your building runs, how people move around, where time is lost and won.

For a relatively modest outlay, bolting on some analytics or AI (artificial intelligence) to an existing system, you could better understand the risks your people face and, in so doing, increase health and safety measures, boost wellbeing, gain efficiency and enhance productivity – all while making cost savings by aligning your existing resources to the areas where they will have the greatest impact.

These are challenging times, and they could remain so for some months still. But by asking the right questions and allowing technology to provide the answers, businesses will be better placed to navigate stormy seas for the benefit of the ship, its cargo, and those who sail on it.

Stay safe