How technology has changed in the last four years
2016 is a Leap Year – but do you remember what you were doing on 29 February four years ago? Were you using the same technology you are now? Were you and your business facing the same challenges you are now in terms of connectivity and security, or have new ones arisen? We have gathered insight from industry experts on what they were doing in the cybersecurity space on the last Leap Year and how this has changed in the last four years…
Luke Brown, VP and GM of EMEA, India and Latam at Digital Guardian:
“In 2012 backdoor exploitation had emerged as the hot new threat on the block. In response to the growing cyber threat, companies upped their total spend on network security. According to a recent study on data security, network security spend increased to 43% in 2012, with more than a fifth (21 percent) of budgets going to database security, 13 percent to endpoint security/anti-virus, 8% to identity management – but just 1 percent was dedicated to data protection.
Today, organisations still only allocate that same 1 percent of their network security budget on data protection. After four years of substantial data breaches, organisations need to turn their current cyber security strategy around. Until corporations evolve their security methodologies by focusing on data protection technologies, rather than network security and traditional anti-virus, data will continue to be at risk.”
Richard Beck, Head of Cyber Security at QA:
“The global security talent shortage is by far one of the biggest challenges we face today, relative to four years ago. Concerns about cyber security continue to grow, but companies are increasingly playing catch up in their attempt to counter ever more sophisticated criminals.
A survey of UK cyber security employers last year by the SANS Institute found that 90 percent had experienced difficulties filling positions. In contrast, QA’s own research found that 70 per cent of those interviewed said they planned to hire cyber security skilled professionals in 2016. But, where will these skilled professionals come from? Everyone is struggling to fill cyber security posts on their team and one organisation’s gain will become another organisation’s loss.
It’s a big problem to fix. QA research also reveals that 40 per cent of organisations surveyed said they didn’t feel confident they had the right balance of cyber skills in their organisation to protect it from threats in 2016. There is no quick fix. It will be a four to eight year cycle to close the gap, according to Cisco.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The good news is that there is a growing acknowledgement that by training and cross-skilling existing specialist staff, companies can begin to address the skills gap. As an industry, let’s aim to ensure the cyber skills gap is well and truly closed well ahead of 2020, the next Leap Year.”
Mark Edge, UK Country Manager at Brainloop:
“On 25 January 2012, the European Commission released its first proposal for a new Europe-wide data protection regulation. Designed to address the changing way people and businesses operate in the modern world, the regulation would tackle issues around personal data on social networking sites and data stored and transferred in the Cloud.
Fast-forward four years and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been finalised and will now come into force. It will impact both European companies and non-European companies that trade or store data inside Europe. The GDPR marks a big step forward – the introduction of penalties of up to 4% of global annual turnover and the obligation to report data leaks are sure to have a significant impact on the way companies approach data protection.
So, if you haven’t already done so, now is the best time to start preparing your business for the implementation of GDPR. By reviewing the way your company collects, stores and shares data with the new regulation in mind, you will be able to ensure your ongoing compliance and avoid fines and reputational damage in the future.”
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”