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CEM in 2022: Another Big Learning Curve

2022 was an unforgettable year of events that impacted people and organizations around the world. It included the tail-end of COVID-19 upheavals, a rise in cyber incidents, increasingly extreme weather, the war in Ukraine, and much more. It seemed like organizations faced a new crisis every week that challenged their people, supply chains, and IT systems to be even more resilient than they already are.

So, what did we learn about managing it all?

To find a few answers, I spoke with BlackBerry AtHoc Vice President of Product and Services Ramon Pinero. With a career in critical event management (CEM) spanning more than 20 years, I knew he'd be able to provide a unique take on the major CEM-related trends of 2022.

The following are Ramon’s comments from our conversation.

Trend 1: Increasing Cyber Incidents Unified Physical Security and Cyber Operations

“The increase in cyber incidents during the pandemic had a negative impact on already-stretched IT teams, so it wasn’t surprising that by 2022 there was an increase in investment in cybersecurity. This coincided with the expansion of the jurisdiction for business continuity professionals. Those same individuals responsible for keeping people safe during the pandemic had to incorporate cyber incidents into their plans, something not traditionally in their wheelhouse. However, given the brand reputation damages that can result from a cyberattack, including the impact on revenue and the effects on people and morale, it's understandable that business continuity departments are now incorporating cyber into their playbooks.

“This also factors into something that began before 2022: The expansion of IT’s jurisdiction puts it on a collision course — and an eventual convergence — with security. When we think of security within an organization, we often think of physical models: badge access, fire suppression, workplace violence or theft, and cameras and monitoring for suspicious activity. Cybersecurity coming under the umbrella of security overall has manifested in an internal struggle with budgets. Who owns it? Security and facilities?

“Where we once kept Physical Security Operation Centers (PSOC) and Cyber Security Operation Centers (CSOC) separate, we saw these moving closer together in 2022. Where they fully merged, we created the Global Security Operation Center (GSOC). The GSOC has the ultimate responsibility for employee safety: facilities, security, and now cybersecurity, too. Secure communications solutions need to be comprehensive in scope, and security-focused organizations learned in 2022 just how valuable CEM solutions that address that full spectrum really are.”

Trend 2: Disruptive Climate Events Spotlighted CEM's Value

“Extreme weather events are more frequent, and the impacts are increasing. In September 2022, Hurricane Ian pounded Florida. We had parts of the Gulf Coast's weather systems affecting the Eastern Seaboard and witnessed heat and wildfires on the West Coast. If you can't get to work because of weather conditions, or you're unable to work from home because the weather interrupted the internet connection, that's a significant productivity hit.

“I think those organizations most impacted in 2022 were simply not as prepared as the ones who've already experienced those types of situations. What’s exacerbating the impact of these outages is that so much of our work relies on our connectivity, and that's almost the first thing to go. In the past, we would drive to work, sit at a desk, and use paper. We weren’t so reliant on being connected digitally across the globe. Critical event management and public safety alert systems need to work even when internet connectivity is down; for many solutions, that’s a challenge.”

Trend 3: Volatile World News Lifted Mass Notification Demand

“Last year there was an improvement in mass notification awareness to keep people safe, driven by the war in Ukraine and regulatory enactments occurring in the European Union (EU). Here in the United States in California, I grew up getting my Saturday morning cartoons interrupted by Emergency Broadcast System tests. While many member states in the EU don’t really have nationwide emergency mass notification systems, there's a growing call for them now. We’re seeing newer technologies that can achieve that, like cell broadcasts and location-based SMS, to get the word out.”

Trend 4: Safety Awareness Matured Into Safety Necessity

“I think we became safer in 2022 — despite everything going on — because we’ve seen more organizations making deeper investments in CEM.

“Unfortunately, people are still falling through the gaps. There are many places in rural communities that still need broadband access and better and more resilient cellular access available in emergency conditions. This is why BlackBerry invests in technologies that integrate with legacy forms of mass notifications, like sirens. For instance, I live in Northern California and there's a tsunami warning system installed every few miles along the coast.

“More granularly, employers do have a duty to keep their employees safe during the workday. I know there are teams that accept 'good enough.' They ask: ‘Why do I need a critical event management system when I can just blast an email or text message to my staff?’ This approach is risky for both the business and its people because there is no structure, no consistency, and no accountability. There’s not even a guarantee a message has been received, understood, or acted upon. Doing only the minimum without a fully-fledged system and defined plans isn’t a viable safety strategy.”

BlackBerry for CEM

I’d like to thank Ramon for his insights on the evolving state of CEM. In the coming weeks, we’ll speak to other CEM experts about what they believe the industry can expect in 2023. Emergencies and business disruptions happen. It’s how you prepare and respond to them that determines their impact. To discover how customers using BlackBerry CEM solutions are able to deploy their response teams faster and enable them to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from critical events more quickly, talk to a BlackBerry expert now. 

Ryan Burrus

About Ryan Burrus

Ryan Burrus is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry.