Vendor Highlights

Stephen Cavey on Hybrid Remote Work

In the first part of our Vendor Highlights, we get to read a blog by Stephen Cavey, the Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist of Ground Labs, about the advantages and challenges of maintaining a virtual data management strategy amidst hybrid remote work.  We will then cover Artificial Intelligence(AI) by looking into our partners IBM AI tool.

Over the last twelve months, businesses across industries have been forced to adapt to the realities of distributed work. As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up and business leaders begin to consider reopening physical locations, no doubt distributed work will continue to play a significant role in corporate culture. Especially now that businesses have realised the direct benefits of remote work, many will be compelled to maintain flexible arrangements to compete and retain talent in the post-pandemic economy. In fact, according to a recent survey from Gartner, 47% of business leaders said they intend to permit employees to work remotely full-time.

Rather than embracing full-time remote work after the pandemic, experts anticipate that more businesses will adopt a hybrid model where a portion of the workforce works remotely and in-person throughout the week, offering workers optimal flexibility based on their preferences and schedule. According to the same Gartner report, more than 80% of respondents said they plan to allow employees to work at least part of the time remotely. However, the prospect of a hybrid remote workforce raises a significant challenge: tracking and protecting dispersed data across in-office and remote work from home environments.

From confidential financial data to intellectual property and customer information, businesses must have a firm grasp on where regulated and sensitive data resides at all times to maintain compliance and thwart possible data breaches. This task becomes even more challenging to manage when employees work across multiple devices-both in-person, and remotely-and information is not always stored in the same consistent manner. Examples of such locations may include: within localised folders; synced onto cloud storage folders; local hidden data in temporary storage and deleted items; removable or home network storage or shared across applications, including internal chat apps.

As the business world approaches a hybrid work environment, organisations should follow best practices by putting systems and policies in place to locate and secure sensitive information.

Set a clear standard of ownership over all devices

Especially as workers begin to return to the office while some continue working from home, it is imperative to establish a clear standard for device ownership that is the same for both in-office and remote employees.

While many companies already uphold a complete device ownership policy where the company owns all devices, some businesses allow employees to use their own devices or a mix of personal and company-owned devices. These scenarios should be avoided unless there are adequate software controls that containerise and separate corporate data from the individual’s data and provide controls, such as remote wiping of the corporate data.

At the outset of the pandemic, many IT teams did not have time to prepare or establish a clear standard, which forced employees to use their own devices from home to remain productive. Now that we are one year into the global remote work experiment, businesses have the opportunity to review and prepare for the hybrid remote model and consider whether complete device ownership or BYOD with adequate controls is most appropriate.

Define company-wide security protocols

Outside of setting a standard for device ownership, organisations should carefully review their existing security policies and establish new best practices that are communicated with the entire workforce.

As workers enter a hybrid work environment, it is essential that they are fully aware of the organisation’s policies around devices that can or cannot be used or shared with others. While it is easier to implement a policy mandating that only company-owned storage devices may be used for storage of company file data when all workers are in the office, this becomes less practical and more difficult to maintain when employees are remote a significant portion of the week. There is a higher likelihood of violation.

For example, one common scenario that many organisations face is remote employees allowing a family or other household member to use their device for non-work reasons, such as external e-learning or streaming. This situation becomes more prevalent with full-time remote workers, and it becomes even murkier when employees work from home and in the office for a portion of the week. Ensuring that this risk is incorporated into future security education of staff and included in your new employee onboarding process will help reduce the risk of unapproved users on company devices.

Know where your data resides

Regardless of how robust your security practices might be, there will always be the risk of company data being stored in unknown or unapproved locations. To prepare for this situation, organisations should conduct regular housekeeping of the data stored across servers, databases, workstations and in the cloud—a practice known as data discovery. Deploying an ongoing and automated data discovery strategy not only identifies potential breaches in compliance but it establishes a baseline level of confidence in the security of an organisation’s most critical data.

While the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic caught many IT teams off guard, businesses now have the opportunity to put best practices in place with the understanding that remote work is here to stay. Hybrid remote work will have a lasting impact on the modern workforce, and organisations that uphold clear security standards and implement robust processes to achieve data awareness will be the most equipped to thrive in the next wave of the digital economy. Here is the original source of this blog


IBM on Artificial Intelligence | Watson – Leader in the Quadrant

Gartner, a global research and advisory company, has named IBM a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Insight back in 2019 for its market research report category. Insight Engines, according to Gartner, “combines search with AI to deliver actionable insights derived from the full spectrum of content and data sourced within and external to the enterprise.”

According to an article, “Magic Quadrant is a series of market research reports published by IT consulting firm Gartner that rely on proprietary qualitative data analysis methods to demonstrate market trends, such as direction, maturity and participants.”

Data plays quite a role in businesses. Not only do organisations use data to streamline their processes, but they also mould their services and products based on their development. However, with thousands or even millions of data a company amasses every day, finding the specific data that aids in a particular business context is a challenge.

With Watson Discovery, IBM’s AI-powered search engine, searching for the correct data has become easier and faster. With its technologically advanced approach to data finding via basic and usual language search, it allows businesses to reach hard or impossible insights to extract by other means.

Three features that make Watson Discovery stand out amongst the industry options include:

  • Smart Document Understanding – subject matter experts have the option to teach Watson Discovery the locations of all the critical information inside documents with different visual layout and formatting.
  • Watson Knowledge Studio – Watson Discovery also can learn language nuances such as product names and project or organisation jargons.
  • Relevancy Training – SMEs can also teach Watson Discovery which information or data is the most relevant to any given context depending on the questions being asked.

This means that Watson Discovery boosts business value through data with its Enterprise Search. It also improves the employee relation with natural language AI search. In fact, testimonies have already piled up from those who have started using the AI solution within their business function. Woodside, an Australian energy company, has seen a decrease of 75% of time spent amongst its employees searching for expert knowledge.

Debunking Notions about IBM’s AI

However, despite its efficiency, IBM’s AI is still introduced to organisations as a business tool. Therefore there are some misconceptions about its system. So, here is a list of debunked preconceived notions about Watson Discovery:

  1. Despite its powerful capacity to help your business in amassing and discovering relevant data, it is not magic. It also needs to be trained and tailored according to your organisation’s needs and preferences.
  2. AI needs a team of IT professionals to teach its system the correct information and data.
  3. You need to subscribe to IBM Cloud Pak for Data to optimise Watson AI.
    • Virtualise data regardless of its location and source
    • Run on any servers and systems while keeping up with the constantly changing environment
    • Have an all-in-one console to amass, systematise, and evaluate data

In simpler terms, Watson Discover provides answers based on the keywords you use in your search or the general relevance of the search results. It continuously learns your organisation’s processes, operations, nature, and overall stature, thereby providing only the best possible solutions to your inquiries over time.

Artificial Intelligence Explained

With all the information about Artificial Intelligence available anywhere, it can get overwhelming. To be quite frank, we all still have a few reserved thoughts on AI being a part of our business operations. That is why we are inviting you to join us in our webinar this coming 19 May 2021.

We will be joined by Chris Hockings from IBM and Kelvin Heath, our very own Chief Security Officer, as they talk about AI in general and how it serves its purpose from a Cyber Security standpoint.

To reserve your spot, click here.  Or, to speak with a Vectra Representative about Artificial Intelligence or anything cybersecurity-related, click here.