First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jasvir Gill: We’re doing well, adjusting to the current circumstances and certainly becoming even more appreciative of friends, family, and all that we have. It’s unfortunate what has transpired with the pandemic, but we’re keeping positive. While we miss the face-to-face with customers, we’ve also come to realize that we can be productive, maybe more so, with online video meetings totally connected with our customers, without getting on a plane and taking a three-day trip.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AlertEnterprise.
Jasvir Gill: I’m a software engineer from India who made a move to America. I had a knack for problem-solving and began working for Kodak as a security consultant. I wrote a software application designed to identify false accounting irregularities, and it was extremely effective. I was permitted to market it to other companies, and it took off. We amassed enough interest to start Virsa Systems, which morphed into one of the fastest-growing private U.S. software companies. Virsa specialized in software to enable companies to automate compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and other government regulations related to financial fraud. SAP Systems, a current world leader in enterprise HR and workforce applications, acquired the company in 2006, which became the foundation for SAP GRC Access Control. We acquired 1,500+ customers globally in three years, and most of the buyers were CIOs and CFOs.
An acquaintance at the Department of Homeland Security shared an incident where an unauthorized person used a Physical Security badge to gain access into a secure area with the potential to harm. What inspired me to start AlertEnterprise is that I realized that the physical access badge—if not controlled holistically across the enterprise—had the potential to do all kinds of damage. Security was/is addressed in department silos, but malicious actors don’t think this way. I saw the opportunity for companies to converge Security across IT/Cyber, Physical, and Operational Technology (OT) to close the gaps and protect the nation’s critical infrastructure industries. And today, our clients are some of the world’s most recognizable brands in utilities, energy, high-tech, financial, healthcare, aviation, and more.
How does AlertEnterprise innovate?
Jasvir Gill: Our goal is to help our customers’ future-proof their Security and, at the same time, make it a true business enabler. Fact is, Digital Transformation is accelerating, and businesses are making large investments in technology like cloud and IoT. A key innovation focus for us is helping businesses leverage their current investments through a powerful integration framework, connecting and securing siloed systems under one platform. This simplifies and automates manual, error-prone processes, proactively enforces compliance, enhances workforce productivity, and significantly lowers operational costs.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Jasvir Gill: COVID-19 has triggered a significant shift in the way organizations address the Security and Safety of their workforce. Working closely with our customers, we saw an increased sense of urgency as IT, HR, and Physical Security leaders realized the days of operating in silos are over and started to embrace convergence. Security Convergence is proving one of the most effective ways to protect the workforce, enforce company policies, and maintain business resiliency through automated, cross-departmental collaboration.
Beating COVID-19 takes a global team effort. So we’ve teamed up with technology leaders like SAP, Qualtrics, ServiceNow, and Safetrust in new connected IT-HR and Physical Security solutions, automating and proactively enforcing business COVID-19 playbooks.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jasvir Gill: We have to deal with what comes our way and not be dissected by it. We have to think of the good that can come of these challenging times. While global quarantines and lockdowns created many challenges, we were inspired by our team’s and customers’ resilient attitudes. We are all committed to putting technology to work to help solve this unprecedented challenge.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and AlertEnterprise in the future?
Jasvir Gill: Well, I start by having a nice cup of tea. There are also lots of self-help books, including a recent one I’ve read called Emotional Intelligence 2.0. You simply have to learn to live with the ways things are, and every morning set out to be the best you can be. Count your blessings and don’t obsess and focus on the negative. At AlertEnterprise, we go to work each day with the mission to help make our world a safer and more secure place.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jasvir Gill: It’s a unique space we fill. We are different because we take a multi-pronged approach to identity and access: Governance, Risk, Compliance, or Three-Dimensional GRC. This method is all-encompassing and holistic, allowing businesses to focus on preparation, detection, and mitigation of threats around Security controls and procedures.
The best way to explain our value proposition is by referring to the device that many of your readers are reading this article on – the smartphone. Not too long ago, we had all separate devices to perform the tasks that one smartphone does today —a pager to text, a mobile phone to call, and a digital camera for pictures. Imagine trying to build your own smartphone using those separate devices. Our story is similar. Other Identity and Access Management solutions only cover one function, but nothing works together. Only AlertEnterprise brings Physical Security, OT, and IT/Cyber together in one platform.