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Aaron Rodriguez explains how COVID-19 has impacted businesses in Panama

The changes brought about by the pandemic have had a permanent impact on all sectors of industry, from manufacturing to retail and hospitality, healthcare and education. In this context, going back to the way things were in the past will be impossible. Latin American countries such as Panama have suffered various impacts due to this pandemic. Aaron Rodriguez, with his experience in the field, explains how the way of doing business in this country has been affected.

It is clear that the “new normal”, for most organizations, will continue for some time. Companies don’t expect their security priorities and current security concerns to change significantly over the next two-years. In many Panamanian organisations, the rapid changes to security infrastructures and networks in response to the pandemic will likely be permanent.

Security strategy changes that have had the greatest impact include a greater focus on security education for employees (39%), improving network security, threat prevention (37%), and expanded endpoint and mobile device protection (37%). 27 percent of respondents said that they had increased security projects in 2020. This indicates that most people responded to the pandemic by reimagining their business models.

“Over the last year, we have seen cybersecurity transform from systems protection to business enabler, enabling remote and secure operation with the visibility needed to trust the business. But equally, I have noticed that part of the implementations of companies have been done without the planning that would normally have been done. It is important now to go back and analyze the existing environment from a security point of view,” Rodriguez explains.

In addition to strategy, the priorities for 2022 have also migrated. Security for employees working remotely was identified as the main challenge, followed by protection against phishing and social engineering attacks, maintaining secure remote access, and protecting cloud applications and infrastructure.

“If we can interpret how markets have reacted and businesses are evolving to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic, it is clear that we are facing an unprecedented paradigm shift,” Rodriguez notes. “Disruptive technologies such as robotics, Big Data or artificial intelligence have found their perfect moment.”

Thanks to social distancing, you will observe how companies in Panama, especially those linked to the healthcare sector, will turn their eyes to digital processes. The pandemic has only accelerated this process, where already the McKinsey global institute in 2017 estimated that by 2030 it could affect 400 to 800 million jobs globally.

It is important that people are trained in these technologies and other areas of opportunity that these new business models and technologies are paving their way. The rise of virtual meetings and people working from home has challenged the traditional model and has led to increased labor competition for jobs. However, companies have noticed that rigid schedules will no longer be a rigid norm, so they will be challenged with greater openness to improve work-life balance.

Rodriguez notes, “The results are in and motivation is higher, leading to a direct increase in productivity compared to traditional structured models. Just as outdoor experiences and contactless payments will also come with a more optimized and resilient organizational culture change.”

What is certain is that these changes, for better or worse, are here to stay, and with them, we must learn to navigate the challenges that this pandemic brings. It is more than clear that entrepreneurs must be more open to the adoption of new business models that contribute to permanence. But we will also have the great challenge of strengthening the ties between the organization’s leadership and employees, as well as with customers.

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