Dec 18, 2020

What will the cybersecurity landscape look like in 2021?

Georgia Wilson
4 min
Geert van der Linden, Executive Vice President of Cybersecurity, Capgemini on his predictions for the cybersecurity industry in 2021...

As the year draws to a close, it is a time for reflection, learning and planning for the year ahead. 2020 was indeed a challenging year on many levels. For cybersecurity teams, the move to the ‘new normal’ stretched capacity and agility – but, on a positive note, it also highlighted the significance of cybersecurity at an executive level.

While 2021 will present evolving threats and new challenges, it will also offer some new tools and technologies that will help cybersecurity leaders to make cybersecurity a business differentiator, rather than it being viewed as a reactive – ‘putting out fires’ – department.

Below, we take a look at the biggest trends that cybersecurity teams should be aware of for the year ahead.

The new face of the CISO

The CISO was traditionally viewed as the department of no. It was seen as cautious and a blocker to change. But cybersecurity has begun to move away from being a backroom function. This evolution was quickened by COVID-19, which highlighted just how essential cybersecurity is to successful business. Next year, rather than being seen as a roadblock to innovation, the cybersecurity department will continue to move to be viewed as an enabler. For the CISO, this means a new, boardroom-focused role, where they are responsible for shaping the business as much as other C-level executives are.

Intelligent, real-time threat detection and response

Breach detection and response time are moving to become instantaneous – which in itself will become the normal in 2021. With more IoT devices than ever before, organizations do not have the luxury of time in responding to breaches. Take, for example, a self-driving car. If an attacker was to hack this while on the road, the impact could be detrimental to human safety. The focus on speed both in the detection and in remediation is essential. At the center of this is automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

While AI is used commonly for detecting threats, it’s at a relatively nascent stage when it comes to actually responding to them. We know that less than 18% of organizations make significant use today of AI for cyber threat response. However, AI can significantly reduce the time taken to create a virtual patch for a detected threat or develop new protection mechanisms for evolving technologies.

Next year more organizations should be using AI in the form of security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) technologies, which enables the collection of security data and alerts from different sources. SOAR allows incident analysis and triage to be performed, leveraging a combination of human and machine power. This helps define, prioritize and drive standardized incident response activities according to a standard workflow through connections to data sources and platforms.

The consumerism of security

It’s estimated that there will be three internet of things (IoT) devices in existence for every person next year. At the same time, social commerce continues to rise, with more brands focusing on direct-to-consumer selling and relationships via social media platforms. Both these levers offer an expansive attack surface in the form of connected devices, digital storefronts and engagement tools. Cyberattackers will look to exploit platform vulnerabilities and use phishing attacks.

For consumer-focused organizations, this means a higher risk of data breaches and loss if the right protocols and technologies are not in place for defence. As a result, product and platform security will come to the forefront next year, particularly as organizations realize the huge value that consumers place in trust, privacy and security. 

For cybersecurity professionals, the task for next year is one of evolution. COVID-19 has heightened the importance of cybersecurity as a business enabler, giving cybersecurity leaders an opportunity to become more involved in business strategy and innovation. With the right technologies and roadmaps in place for security, organizations can move forward with confidence into the new year – armed with the knowledge that they have fostered the resilience and agility needed for success.

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

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.

  1. 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
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. 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
  5. 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.”


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