Weekly comment on the pressing IT issues.

“Help Don’t Hinder”

Technology has always teased the business world with endless promises of greater productivity. But has it ever delivered on such lofty goals? Forbes magazine, in their article ‘How Technology Can Transform Workplace Humanity’, stated that “One could argue that technology has done more to harm humans than to help them”. We are spending too much time interacting with screens, on tedious tasks, as opposed to with humans and being productive.

They go on to suggest that if leveraged correctly, technology has the ability to positively influence and support humanity rather than push it away. It can help engage, recognise and protect those we care about and the people who work in organisations.

Citing historic introductions of technology such as time clocks and mechanically punched time cards were initially thought to be tools of productivity, helped companies pay employees correctly for the hours they worked, but ended up being a tool used to discipline workers for a range of tardy timekeeping offences, they believe that technology introduced into the workplace is rarely seen in a positive light.

To change this an alignment needs to be created between people and technology. This can be done by mirroring a person’s tech use outside the organisation with internal systems and allowing work and life to blend in a way that is nearly seamless. Technology can be harnessed, using cutting-edge AI developments to coordinate calendars, meetings and projects, to fight cybercrime and even to enhance the physical work space so the environment will adapt to your needs and preferences, automatically adjusting the lighting, window tint, seat and desk height and temperature. Now, who wouldn’t want to work like that? That approach really would start seeing productivity gains.

Transformation is currently occurring across the technology spectrum, especially within the networking industry. The MIT Technology Journal took a deep look at how new technologies such as software-defined networks (SDN) and intent-based networking moving networks away from their position of being a little bit left behind in development terms.

The combination of these two technologies, where the SDN platform allows for the reconfiguration of an entire network from a central management console, intent-based networking operates at a higher level. It would allow users to tell the network what they want, such as streaming more content and the network figures out how to achieve that goal.

Early adopters to intent-based networking include Netflix, who when they see spikes occurring, for example when some particular content becomes popular – which can happen within hours, if not minutes – then their network automatically scales up with no human intervention – a network managers dream.

A network managers nightmare, of course, is the ongoing battle with cyber crime. Most organisations have in recent years taken precautions and steps to mitigate their risk, but have they done enough? The only way to tell is to undertake a maturity style assessment, as recommended by the website CSO online.

Their article ‘3 Common Cybersecurity Maturity Failings’, suggests that to date most such assessments are flawed due to a range of shortfalls, such as people with little skill or knowledge overestimate their own ability in this field, through to a common misunderstanding about what constitutes ‘good security’.

To distil it down to its essential essence, the three mistakes that CSO online observe are first that too many organisations rely on prevention. They place too much faith in antivirus, vulnerability management, intrusion prevention systems and firewalls, it is a key part of a cyber security strategy but on its own, it can be breached. It needs to sit alongside the other two pillars of threat management which are detection and response.

The second mistake is relying too much on technology, especially monitoring technologies. A business will wait to be automatically alerted rather than deploying analysts and skilled engineers who can more often than not see the early stages of an attack or breach, based on their lengthy experience.

The final failing that is being made is still that there is no management buy-in, if executives understand that cyber security is critical to the business, the organisation will have a greater focus on it. If not then they remain at risk, of course, this shouldn’t be seen as the last in the three, but actually the first! But perhaps they have all been burned a bit in the past by technology that was designed to help, but actually hindered. Oh well.

External Links

Forbes : How Technology Can Transform Workplace Humanity

MIT Technology Review : Networking On A New Level

CSO Online : 3 Common Cybersecurity Maturity Failings

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