How security and identity will be critical in a post-COVID world

We speak to Lee Odess, CEO of Inside Access Control, about the impact of coronavirus on organisational security measures, and why there must be a push for ownership of every company’s identity approach. 


After the global disruption of COVID-19, Lee Odess generated his own disruption in the physical access space by categorising all the major players according to their capabilities in the market. As CEO of Inside Access Control and with more than 18 years’ experience, it’s perhaps unsurprising The Washington Post once labelled him an “uber-networker” with an enviable track record of creating, developing and leading businesses in the security industry. Lee sat down with us to talk about everything physical access and identity. 

What advice would you give to companies in terms of who they should be speaking to about how security should be managed across the organisation?

It really depends on the business type. I would start with the security department and the people who are responsible for the safety of the space they’re a stakeholder. Then there are the CTOs, CIOs and CROs, all of whom have a different stake in what’s going on. It’s important to bring all of those people together.  

Importantly, you have to figure out who is the ultimate owner. It doesn’t mean that they’re the king and ruler of it. They are just the centrepiece of the value creation. And I can tell you, with everything going on with coronavirus, it used to just be about safety whereas now it‘s now about health and safety. So that’s a whole other conversation that usually involves the HR department, but now it involves risk. So now you have to bring in the risk people because “What’s the risk if I don’t have the system set up to my business continuity? and What’s the risk now for what I have to do around health and safety? 

Everything is shifting. But I would always start with the key stakeholder and then build a team around them.  

What have been the biggest changes in the industry over the past 12 to 24 months?  

What started as a conversation about mobility and convenience has all been disrupted over the past months. But in some cases, they’re accelerating the same type of ideas just packaged differently. So when you talked about mobile and convenience back then, it was all ‘frictionless’ and seamless. Now, though, it’s touchless. 

That’s more a labelling thing where there’s now recognition of the end user telling us the value they want from something that I think as a marketing person within this space we were missing. We were speaking to them about the wrong element. 

So in terms of something that’s changed, it’s the recognition that it’s a value creation. And now it’s very much more about touchless than it is about seamless and frictionless.  

In terms of a change in the marketplace specific to the recent disruptions, what has been the most prominent?

It’s the value awareness. People have always known that when they walk into a place and touch an identity device to it that it will open – that experience hasn’t evolved much. Maybe it’s gone from a key to a card, but it’s still about grabbing something and opening it. 

Let’s go back to identity and awareness. Even if their identity is not known – because they can anonymise it – there are still attributes that can make areas more aware. What I think is important here is that the access control security space is going away from just being just that safety solution of “When bad things happen that’s when you get the safety person involved.” Now there’s more value creation beyond the locking and unlocking of the door. It’s around data, visualisation and experience. 

What’s on the horizon for these changes across the market?

There’s going to be an immediate response because people will have to go back to work and economies will demand they go back. Whether that’s people in restaurants or bowling alleys or gyms, the economy needs to get going again. 

But people want to be able to do that safely. So there’s going to be some immediate kneejerk reactions to make that happen. Maybe that will involve introducing some automatic door openers or biometrics. You can even look to parts of the world that are going back to work right now – they’ve got feverdetecting cameras.

It’s going to be messy and people aren’t going to know how to respond to it. But there will definitely be a shelf full of solutions on the market for them. 

Want more insight into the world of security, identity access management, biometrics and more? Get your fix with the Identity Today podcast, hosted by Daltrey MD Blair Crawford, available via our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app.