PwC: Time to invest in cyber skills
Cyber skills should be offered to employees in a bid to optimise an organisation’s cyber software if they are to stay ahead of attackers, say consultants PwC.
“Cyber security needs to strike a balance between technology, process and people,” says Daisy McCartney, PwC’s cybersecurity culture and behaviour lead.
“Often, we see clients buying new technology, but their people don't have the skills they need to get the best out of it,” says McCartney in the new report, Thinking beyond the firewall: cyber skills for the future.
Cyber security is about more than installing firewalls, is the message from PwC in the report. “It’s about helping your cyber team develop the skills they need to stay ahead of the attackers, while ensuring that everyone in your workforce - no matter what they do - has the secure behaviours, attitudes and beliefs they need to keep your organisation safe.”
A survey into cyber security strategy for 2021 revealed 42% of UK organisations plan to increase their cyber headcount in the next year. Security intelligence (46%) and the ability to work with cloud solutions (40%) were cited as the most important skills for new employees. This was followed by communication (38%), project management (38%) and analytical skills (37%).
“This reflects the evolution of the industry, with cyber teams now required to work collaboratively with the rest of the business to develop a strategic, analytical approach to cyber security,” says the report.
How to hire the right talent
According to PwC there are lots of cyber security skills frameworks available, with some referencing over 600 different skills – so where do you start?
“There’s a lot out there, and it’s already too complex,” says McCartney. “We broke it down for the typical organisation, setting out the specific knowledge and skills that most cyber security teams will need.”
PwC advises that organisations should initially assess their aspirations for their cyber strategy and then carry out a skills maturity assessment to look at the capabilities that already exists in the workforce. But cyber threats are dynamic and attackers develop new techniques all the time, so skills can quickly become outdated.
“Organisations need to keep up - and that's hard,” says McCartney. “They need to build and continually develop a cyber workforce that can keep pace with the evolving threat landscape and the attackers they face.”
Create a secure culture
Organisations need to take a holistic view – considering technology, processes and people - when it comes to cyber security, says PwC who warn against just rolling out an e-learn and expect results.
“There’s a common misconception that cyber attacks are successful because of human error. In reality, attackers consider the whole ecosystem; the human aspect is just one vulnerability they look to exploit,” points out the report.
As PwC cyber workforce specialist Holly Rostill neatly puts it: “An attacker is a human, so your defences need to be, too.”
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.”