INTERVIEW: Unpacking ESET South Africa’s Approach to Innovation in 2021


After a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic upended the way we live, work and socialize, Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET South Africa, has revealed to IT News Africa the innovations and challenges expected to impact businesses in 2021. Here’s what transpired:

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to adapt to a new, remote way of working; How has ESET risen to this challenge?

With the interrupted electricity supply affecting our business throughout the years, we had made the decision some time back to ensure that all employees were mobile and as off the grid as possible. This meant equipping all employees with laptops and backup power and connectivity, both at work and at home. This meant that when COVID-19 hit, we were able to adapt quite quickly. 

We also took learnings from the trends we were seeing in the usage of our own ESET software. We moved to the consumption of software applications from the cloud as much as possible. Our dependency on on-prem infrastructure ended when we moved our telephone system to cloud PBX and VoIP options. 

Our biggest physical challenge was providing good connectivity to employees who live in areas without fibre or those who did not have stable connectivity options. Luckily, Rain provided a great temporary network option.

By far our biggest challenge was providing emotional support to all employees. We noticed that there was a big strain on employees and their families due to the actual health risk fear, as well as the day-to-day difficulties of being at home and juggling household responsibilities with kids, parents and other family members. Due to this, we implemented safe rotational options for employees to work from the office which was helpful for those that needed the option.

We ensured that there was daily communication with all employees, checking in frequently to see how they were. We also provided a mental health first aid workshop to highlight the emotional difficulties that people might be facing, normalising their struggles, and allowing for candid sharing of concerns.

What kind of investment is ESET making in South Africa when it comes to digital-first strategies?

Many of our digital-first strategies have already been in place for years when it comes to technology and applications used in our business (our team was been able to work remotely before lockdown). 

Our product has also been available online for over 15 years and we pride ourselves on ensuring that our products are delivered electronically within minutes.

Our biggest digital-first strategy investment change over the last year, which will continue into this year, is the shift of marketing spend from onsite events to an increased focus in the digital marketing arena.  While our face-to-face events will continue when safe, our enhanced digital strategy will assist us in growing online awareness that directly results in awareness and sales for our partners.

How has ESET been able to innovate during this time of rapid digital adoption?

ESET globally, with its increased demand for cloud management products, has adapted quickly to provide the necessary infrastructure for cloud clients so that clients do not need to have the infrastructure set up themselves. This allows ESET clients to save costs of on-premise hardware and software, and the manpower needed to manage them.

What are some of ESET’s biggest challenges when it comes to developing new business solutions?

With the rapid move to cloud-managed products, and the quick uptake of cloud products consumption of ESET clients, the challenge has been to ensure the technical infrastructure needed to support the cloud-based clients is sufficient and scalable for the increased demand.

ESET has always had a great vision in the world of multi-layered technology and continues to produce cybersecurity software that keeps up with the constantly changing cybersecurity landscape.

How does ESET ensure that its technology is safe for business?

Multiple factors are in place to ensure that our technology is safe for business. These are:

  • Our multi-layered approach to detect threats from all threat vectors.
  • Constant investment in the best Research and Development teams – Human Expertise. 
  • Teams of researchers distributed globally to react to new threats 24/7.
  • A LiveGrid preventative system that constantly provides threat information from ESET users globally to researchers to analyse and developers to create malware patches.
  • Easy to use software to ensure users can manage and keep software up to date.
  • We offer managed cloud products for those that do not have the technical expertise.
  • We also offer managed services consumption of the product so trusted partners globally can assist clients with installations and management of the software.
  • Have enterprise-grade endpoint products with addition EDR products for proactive malware monitoring and employee detection and response by security experts.
  • Machine learning in the software.

Where is ESET going in 2021? 

Undoubtedly the trend towards cloud products will continue to grow exponentially. Additionally, although it will take some years for all ESET users globally, and especially in South Africa, to make the move, we see a dramatic uptake in consumption of our software monthly rather than the traditional annual licensing. The uncertainty and pressure that the pandemic has put on business make the monthly consumption model even more compelling. 

For many years, our loyal ESET MSP partners in South Africa have offered ESET products with their managed services to their clients monthly. We see this growing substantially to allow all types of users to consume monthly in the form of license subscriptions and expect this to eventually be the biggest form of consumption.

We also believe that our new business bundle products, including all products to cover multiple layered security stack, support the move to simple and easy to understand product sets due to their ease of deployment and their ability to be consumed monthly. 

Staff writer