The Year That Changed Security: How the Pandemic Shaped the Use of Technology in 2020 and Going Forward

person working from home at computer with baby
Alan Stoddard headshot
Alan Stoddard, president, Cognyte Software North America

To say that the year 2020 was challenging is a huge understatement. In March of last year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life around the world. Regular business operations and the economy came to a halt. Businesses such as those in retail, stadiums, casinos, hotels and restaurants were particularly hard hit. Unemployment spiraled, as did frustration and discord.

In June, organizations in the U.S. private and public sectors were under mounting pressure to restart their operations as quickly as possible in order to compensate for lost revenue and jumpstart the economy. With social distancing and other measures in place to help reduce the spread of the virus, organizations turned their attention to a critical question: “How do we resume operations while protecting the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and community?”

This journey required a critical element: the insight to adapt. As organizations restarted operations, they had to consider many factors. Adjusting to rapidly changing situations demanded an approach that addressed the potential threats while instilling confidence that meaningful steps were being taken. They needed a strategy that kept people safe and healthy, and also ensured that operations could run smoothly. As circumstances evolved, adapting to daily changes and implementing workplace health and safety tools were essential to staying in business.

There was an increase in the deployment of mobile applications to provide remote health checks of employees. Security and IT managers saw a sharp rise in new IoT use cases as businesses implemented new processes. The underlying driver to everything was that access to information was critical, as was the ability to respond quickly to situations (such as outbreaks), and connected, intelligent digital transformation plans would be beneficial.

Overall, stakeholders learned that they needed more ways to gain insight into the solutions and processes that could help them make more proactive decisions to stay safe and secure. Moving into the next wave of IoT, data capture and analysis, here are some of the ways in which organizations are expected to leverage this technology.

Tackle Mission-Critical Challenges

The challenges are different based on industry, physical infrastructure and geographic location, but all have direct effects on operational integrity. Security and IT managers must adjust their strategies for business continuity, digital transformation, and safety and security based on their specific requirements; for example, a residential building has different needs than a corporate facility. To address their challenges, organizations will leverage processes and IoT technologies in unique ways to protect people, property and mission-critical assets.

Focus on the Things That Are Within Control

A focus on protecting what matters most depends on an organization’s direction, but it always incorporates employees, processes and property. Maintaining vigilance over current risks while ensuring safety and compliance is critical to ensuring high levels of protection. Minimizing disruptions can be achieved with an IoT-centric, scalable approach that enables businesses to support operations and protect highly dispersed teams.

Implement Processes and Policies That Are Unique

Adaptability is critical – whether in regard to regulations, standards, procedures or new technologies. Technology is essential to ensuring a high level of safety and health, and now it plays a more vital role than ever. For example, mobile applications on IoT devices are being used to provide remote health checks of those entering a building, while collaboration tools enable security leaders to work together seamlessly even when in different locations. These immediate access points to information help leaders to be more proactive with health planning and ensure awareness of new and ongoing issues.

Remain Pragmatic Above All Else

Luckily, several solutions were brought to market to make reopening easier. Some focused on managing and monitoring temperatures through video, others on social distancing and utilizing health and safety intelligence platforms that provide complete oversight across a given environment. No matter the function, all of them help leaders realize more vital risk awareness, more resonant threat detection, and more in-depth insight. Used together, they helped enable facilities to get up-and-running quickly through the development of effective return-to-work strategies.

In 2020, we learned that adaptability is critical. In 2021, we know that the ability to embrace change quickly and effectively improves efficiency and operations. Knowledge, contingency plans and technologies are essential parts of proactively preparing for future challenges. As we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, maintaining this awareness will enable security and business leaders to be better positioned to implement protective measures and provide much-needed peace of mind.

Alan Stoddard is president of Cognyte Software North America.