Building Sweden’s crisis readiness, national security and cyber resilience
Mikael, you joined 4C Strategies in the summer taking over from Klas Lindström. Which part of the company are you heading up?
“I have taken over as head of the Nordic Division. We have our headquarters here in Stockholm and cover the rest of the Nordics from here.”
If we look at the readiness market as a whole, what does it look like at present?
“We are seeing a significant increase in the level of interest in issues relating to crisis readiness, national security and cybersecurity. This has been going on for a few years, driven partly by a higher level of ambition from legislators. We have an entirely different focus on crisis preparedness, civil defence and total defence issues today compared to a few years ago. The idea of enduring peace that has characterised society for rather a long time has changed, not least in civil society.
Whether it is a matter of IT breakdowns, cyberattacks, natural disasters or disruptions in supply chains, there is a greater need for both improved processes and digital support tools. This is where our Exonaut software comes in.”
“We are seeing a significant increase in the level of ambition in issues relating to crisis preparedness, national security and cybersecurity.”
“Today, opinion has shifted as regards society having the ability to manage adverse events; whether these are similar to last summer’s forest fires in Sweden or as a matter of a state on state antagonistic threat.
If we look back over the eight years I have been at 4C Strategies, a field in which I have worked a great deal, risk and vulnerability analysis, has developed considerably and become an important tool for action plans and to be able to measure society’s ability to deal with adverse events. This means that exercises have become much more hands-on.
Here in the Stockholm region, Exercise Sea Eagle has just been held, a major exercise lasting 36 hours, simulating a nuclear accident. The major exercise Total Defence Exercise 2020 is about to get underway and will include many actors in society. Such a major exercise has not taken place for a very long time. In both these types of exercise, there is considerable value in systematically being able to monitor capability, and create a basis for future development. This is an area in which we have cutting-edge expertise, as regards both software and consultant services.”
“Digitalization has given us tools that are now in everyone’s pocket.”
How do you think the industry will develop in the years ahead?
“Due to the increase in the level of ambition in society as a whole, I think it there will be even greater demands on qualitative services and we as providers must always be in the vanguard as regards knowledge in these areas.
Linked to this, we have the opportunities provided by digitalization and we can benefit from the tools that can now be found in everyone’s pocket. Today, you can carry plans with you in your mobile phone to deal with events and easily communicate what needs to be done, but all this must happen in a secure way.”
Is there any competition in the Nordics?
“Yes there is. In the eight years I’ve been here, we’ve gone from a rather limited market with just a few players. These are still there, but we can also see that technical consultants, companies that have previously worked only with information security and perhaps hardware-related security issues, are now starting to offer consultant services as well.
“There aren’t many that can offer a combination of consultant services and software.”
“What I see as unique to 4C Strategies, which means that we are market leaders, is that we have been offering both consultant services and our Exonaut software from the very start, in order to strengthen our customers’ capability within our areas of expertise. And there aren’t many that can offer that combination.
This is also true internationally. We have worked in the area of military capability since the company was founded, so we have a strong brand there and a well-developed product for military exercise and training. Major international players are active in some of this area, such as simulation systems. Our focus on systematic capability development, in which different sources of data – everything from human observations to data from, for example, simulators and drones – are compiled into a unified view, makes us unique in a global perspective.”
So you’re taking over the role of MD for our Nordic operations. How has 4C Strategies changed in your eight years in the company?
“Since I have been part of the company, 4C Strategies has been on an incredibly interesting journey, from having just 30 employees with a newly opened office in London, to today’s global operations. It was recently announced that we are opening an office in Orlando, Florida to support a new client. This will be a new chapter in 4C Strategies’ history, and is testament to our strong product.
We have also been on a journey as regards broadening our offerings. Our Exonaut software was originally a planning tool for the Swedish Armed Forces for large, complex exercises. From there, we have broadened our offering from the military exercise area to a more complete portfolio with risk management services, continuity management and incident and crisis management. Our major strength is that we can combine our consultant services in these areas with specially adapted software for, for example, continuity management.
If we take the example of an actor that is very dependent on complex IT systems, it is incredibly important not only to have planned for disruptions, but also to have effective support so that any disruption can be promptly rectified. Through a combination of development, exercise and software, we provide holistic support.”
“I am enormously proud of all new employees who want to contribute to creating a more secure and safer society.”
We have all been active in the field of national security and preparedness. The common denominator for our clients is that they are responsible for important public services – be it electricity supply, bank services or municipal rescue services.
But the greatest change is all the incredibly motivated, driven and competent employees who have started at the company and taken us in a new direction. People driven by a higher purpose and who are really passionate about helping to create a more secure and safer society.”
We met Christoffer Karsberg, who is an expert on the NIS directive and spoke about cyber security. Is that an area in which you are very active as a company?
“Yes, and the company strengthening in that area is a welcome development.” We see more stringent legislation that imposes demands in the area of information security on authorities and private actors conducting critical public operations. We also see greater awareness of the fact that digitalization not only presents enormous opportunities but also exposes us to new threats and vulnerabilities.”
“To finish with, we are curious to know what you do when you not working at 4C Strategies.”
“I have two daughters, one of whom has just started school and the other will soon do the same. So trying to strike a good work-life balance. Apart from that, I also run marathons. Preferably in the autumn so that I can train for them all through the summer.”
So that’s what you do on your holidays, train for marathons? Is your aim just to get to the end or are you looking to always improve your personal best?
“Yes, exactly, putting my feet up is not my idea of a holiday! I’d like to say that I’m always looking to improve my personal best, but then I’d have to train a bit more.”
How long does it take you to run one?
“Let’s put it this way. When Eliud Kipchoge has already finishes in under two hours, I’m pleased if I’m about halfway round by that time!”
If you want to know more about how we can support you, you’re welcome to contact Mikael Grape at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +46 (0) 760 10 13 73. If you want to drill down into any of our cases you’ll find them here.
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