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Systems integrators offer these services as COVID-19 lockdown continues

Systems integrators offer these services as COVID-19 lockdown continues
The pandemic has brought the world to its knees. Some businesses have halted work; some are on the verge of shut down, and even more are working remotely. How have systems integrators and consultants been faring?

Brian Schwab, Consultant at S3SDC, said that due to the social distancing constraints, they are only providing compliance auditing, policy and procedure reviews and creation, security document development, and security design review. All of these tasks can be completed remotely by all parties involved, with client contact focusing on email, video conference, or telephone calls

Others have been able to do a bit more, as far as providing sales and support. Bob Mesnik, President of Kintronics, said that his company continues to provide pre-sales support, sales, shipping, and technical support.

“We provide all the presales technical assistance that helps our customers understand the technology, create the system solutions for their applications, and provide choices of various solutions that meet their budgets and requirements,” Mesnik added.

Cybersecurity issues


Cybersecurity threat actors are infamous for taking advantage of a crisis. With the COVID-19 disaster causing chaos everywhere, security analysts have reported an increase in attacks like phishing and malware. This is a serious concern to physical security as well, and some SIs are proactive about dealing with it.

“With the global workforce currently remote for the safety of themselves and others, companies have been at risk for cyber vulnerabilities,” Micah Carlson, Director of Marketing at Convergint Technologies. “Our cybersecurity services team has been working hard to help companies with their cyber hardening policies and the technology solutions they need to prevent breaches during this time.”

But the restrictions are disruptive, and it's not business as usual for most SIs. Christine Lanning, President of Integrated Security Technologies, pointed out that they have been offering remote configurations and remote service, but it is extremely restricted.

 “Our primary vertical markets (DoD, government, critical infrastructure, healthcare) don’t typically allow connection from outside of their network – so we are limited in who we can provide remote services to,” Lanning said.

Tools that help SIs continue work


There are several kinds of systems that are more in demand as health concerns of the pandemic have kicked in. Carlson pointed out that security technology can be used to measure and monitor building capacity, control pedestrian flow, establish quarantine areas, and better manage building entrances and exits. Another benefit of these solutions is the reporting capability of something like access control. By using card reader activity, sophisticated access control administrators can isolate and prevent the potential spread of the virus within their facilities and throughout their workforce.

But to provide such solutions, SIs and consultants should have a proper infrastructure in place. To Schwab, perhaps the most prominent tool that has helped is communication and collaboration software, such as MS Team and Dropbox.

“These allow us to securely transfer large or batch files while enabling us to maintain either real-time contact with clients via chat or video calls,” Schwab explained. “MS Teams also allows us to screen share in conference calls to ensure client understanding and engagement in a two-way communication mode.”

Mesnik added similar comments, suggesting that email, text messaging, and telephones with call forwarding to keep in touch and coordinate all activities.

But a real game-changer has been remote storage. Lanning said her company has been “in the cloud” the last five years, so moving to a remote workforce on the office side was easy.

“We have access to Microsoft Teams, which we are now using more often,” Lanning added. “Virtual teaming technologies help with our collaboration and keeping our weekly project continuity going. We have also put together an on-line training plan for our technicians should we suddenly have to stand down our field installation and service operations. The idea is to keep everyone employed as long as possible, while at the same time completing installations and building our skill sets.”
 


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