Combating cyber threats

Combating cyber threats in the new normal

by | Aug 10, 2020 | Analysis, IT Security

A holistic strategy like threat lifecycle management and some specific measures such as browser isolation are both equally important.
Share to lead the transformation

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the information security priorities of enterprises drastically. With remote working becomes a new normal, IT and cybersecurity risks have grown manifold. The go-to-market needs of users have also transformed, and meeting client expectations in real time have become a challenge in the new environment. Combating cyber threats now needs a multi-pronged approach.

Despite stressed technology budgets, there has been a massive surge of optimism in the cloud and managed services solutions market due to organizations’ innate need to drive agility and scale. Businesses are continually looking at new-age solutions that could help their workforce deliver exceptional results even in the work-from-home environment.

Since millions of people are working remotely, there has been a deluge of new cyber and IT security threats that organizations are witnessing. According to a recent cyber threat report by SonicWall, a leading cyber security player, ransomware continues to be the most concerning threat to corporations and the preferred tool for cybercriminals, increasing a staggering 20% (121.4 million) globally in the first half of 2020. Moreover, 7% of phishing attacks capitalized on Covid-19 pandemic while there was 50% rise of IoT malware attacks. The report said it analyzed threat intelligence data gathered from 1.1 million sensors in over 215 countries and territories.

According to the Covid-19 Threats Report by McAfee Labs, the first quarter of 2020 saw significant increases in several threat categories. During this time, cybercriminals seem to have exploited the vulnerabilities caused by the pandemic and tried to make a substantial impact on the networks. The report states that the new mobile malware increased by 71%, primarily due to trozons, and total mobile malware grew by about 12% over the previous four quarters. Interestingly, new IoT malware saw a 50% increase.

This emerging threat landscape has compelled organizations to aggressively focus on disruptive technologies and solutions that could enable them to innovate confidently and provide consistent value to their clients without breaching trust.

Let’s look at how organizations can enhance their security architectures during these unprecedented times and reduce IT security risks.

Focus on threat lifecycle management

A continuous focus on the entire threat lifecycle management (TLM) provides much-needed assurance for tackling any unforeseen scenarios. Organizations need to evaluate the information assets that they need to protect continually, and then take advanced measures for detecting and mitigating cyber threats.

The depth and quality of threat intelligence softwares can help enterprises achieve the much-needed IT security resilency, even for employees who are on their home networks. Some of the major companies that are providing robust threat intelligence management solutions in the market are: IBM, Dell, Trend Micro, Symantec, Check Point, F-Secure, McAfee, and Juniper.

Upgraded tools and methodologies

As cloud deployments become more and more intricate, organizations should ensure to assimilate multiple ways of inventory classification and include them in overall asset management strategy. In the multi-cloud environment where organizations want the best of public and on-premise worlds, the list of cloud applications can change very quickly. Hence, enterprises should have the necessary tools and methodologies to know:

  • List of cloud inventory on their network
  • Why they exist
  • Are they still important?

Incident response automation

By employing security automation in cloud environments, organizations can control the damage at the right time. Automated incident response tools enhance the detection capabilities of vulnerabilities and threats. It accelerates the response time in the event of a security alarm and free up the time of security teams to focus on high-impact alerts. Some of the leading players in this segment are: FireEye, IBM, AT&T, Symantec, Verizon, and DXC Technology.

Browser isolation technology

Enterprises have been using sandboxing, a software management technique to isolate various enterprise applications from critical resources, as part of their efforts to strengthen security against new-age threats. However, in the current environment, information security practitioners consider web browsers as a chief target for cyber attacks and recommend to implement isolation technologies to physically isolate an employee’s web browser and related activities from the local machine and the network.

This model enables enterprises to track and identify the routine infiltration points on their networks and take remedial measures immediately.  Major vendors operating in this segment include Symantec, Cyberinc, and Web Gap.

There are also other tools available through which organizations can quickly isolate affected systems and analyze the breach methodology to prevent such instances in future.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Tik Tok Ban news: Could Oracle acquire TikTok

Tik Tok Ban news: Could Oracle acquire TikTok

Enterprise software major Oracle seems to have won the fiery bidding for TikTok’s US operations after Microsoft’s confirmation that TikTok has rejected its acquisition offer. Speculations are rife that Oracle is close to becoming ByteDance’s technology partner. It is, however, not clear whether TikTok video-sharing social app’s technical partnership with Oracle also includes majority ownership rights.

“ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for Tik Tok video users while protecting national security interests,” says Microsoft in a statement.

The Beijing-based video-sharing social network giant had been facing a ban threat by the US government due to data leakage and security fears. The Trump government had earlier given a Diktat to TikTok to either sell its American operations to a US company or shut down the local operations.

The development has left many industry onlookers flabbergasted as Satya Nadella-led Microsoft was the favorite to ink a deal with TikTok for its US operations from ByteDance. Not only does Microsoft have a fat purse, but it also delivers the best capabilities and engineering science to address the data protection concerns brought up by the US.

Given the ongoing geopolitical tensions, many Chinese companies are facing heat in countries like India and the US.

Earlier this year, Washington had barred telecom equipment major Huawei from selling next Gen 5G equipment and solutions in the US marketplace. India, too, had banned over 100 Chinese apps, including TikTok, early this year, traveling along with a border clash between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

Tik Tok ban: India’s response

It is highly unlikely that India will revoke the ban on TikTok’s operations unless Oracle acquires a majority stake in TikTok’s global operations as well as addresses New Delhi’s concerns related to security, data privacy, and user permissions.

India was Tik Tok’s largest overseas market, with over 200 million users when it shut down its operations in the country. The industry is abuzz with the reports that TikTok is exploring a backdoor entry in India through a local partner.

It would be interesting to watch if Oracle, the world’s second-greatest software company by market capitalization, can succeed in getting TikTok back in the Indian ecosystem.

Google’s new kid in India

After India banned TikTok in June this year, several companies tried to create TikTok clones to tap the massive audience who were left in the lurch after the Tik Tok ban in India. Surprisingly, none of the local alternatives were able to entice users and disrupt the authority TikTok enjoyed in the short-video segment.

Now, in the latest attempt, Google-owned YouTube has launched a new feature called Shorts, in beta version in India as an advantage of the Tik Tok ban. YouTube says that Shorts is a new way to express yourself in 15 seconds or less. “We’re excited to announce that we are building YouTube Shorts, a new short-form video experience right on YouTube for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones,” the company says in its official blog post.

Clearly, even if Tik Tok fails to earn a rejoinder, the competition in the short-video format is not going to stop in India.

 

 

 

Online project management tools: Top office suite analysis

Online project management tools: Top office suite analysis

In the wake of the work-from-anywhere scenario, cloud-based Team management software platforms are witnessing a substantial uptake. Industry onlookers expect this market to see an average of 25% y-o-y growth for the next three years.

The collaboration and productive project management tools enable businesses and professionals to leverage the power of the cloud to deliver the day to day business tasks virtually from the workplace of their choice. These solutions allow organizational teams to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the cloud and collaborate online through chat, video conferencing, and cloud storage to accomplish various day to day tasks.

While Google’s G-suite and Microsoft owned Office 365 are primarily ruling the team management software market, there are many others, such as Zoho workplace, IBM, and Hancom, eying to make a splash in the productivity suite market.

For the solution providers, the typical market opportunity in this place can be segmented mainly into three categories: individual professionals, small and medium businesses (SMBs), and large enterprises.

The Enterprises and IT leaders have many elements to look at before building a deployment decision. Motivators could include factors such as licensing costs, backup, security, purpose, empowering the mobile workforce, or ease of use.

To help you decide the best fit solution for your organization, Better World provides a quick online project management tools comparison of the cloud-based productivity solution offerings of three top players: Microsoft, Google, and Zoho.

Microsoft 365: For team management

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is simply the cloud-based variant of the Microsoft Office application suite. It includes email, document creation/editing, contacts, calendars, IM, online meetings, video chats, and web interface.

Many large enterprises prefer Microsoft’s 365 because of its well-established presence in both desktop and online productivity suite arena. Moreover, Microsoft’s consistent focus on industry-centered innovations, flexible buying options, and full integration capability with Windows always help the company get brownie points from its loyal users.

Microsoft also offers Team, a collaboration platform that enables enterprise users to share documents, conduct online meetings, and collaborate in real-time.

Familiarity with Outlook: One of the vital components that operate in favor of Office 365 adoption is the strong brand recall and understanding of Outlook email client amongst corporate workers. Most of the corporate workers are comfortable working with the Outlook email client. And organizations do not desire to produce unnecessary anxiety and disrupt their business continuity by switching to any other productivity partner.

One Drive: MS’s enterprise-grade cloud storage platform, One Drive, offers seamless user experience in terms of hosting documents and files in Online, On-Premises, or Hybrid cloud. Moreover, the enterprise search engine capability also enables users to track and find relevant documents or files at their convenience by inserting appropriate keywords.

Fully integrated with Windows: Additionally, Microsoft’s core resources, i.e., Word processor (MS Word), chart editor (MS Excel), and presentation editor (MS PowerPoint), have always been favored by the traditional computer users. All the online documents are fully integrated with the offline edition of MS Office without any fears related to formatting errors. They also include plenty of pre-built templates for enterprise users.

Many Office apps and services are also available on the pay-as-you-use model. Thus, some companies buy a basic plan and then add different services according to their business need.

Click here to know more details about the various plans offered by Microsoft.

Google’s G-Suite: For office management

Google sticks with a cloud-native and browser-centric approach and has already proved its productivity suite mettle in the consumer space. With G Suite bouquet of offerings, it is right away taking big strides to further beef up its enterprise market share.

Google’s G-Suite includes offerings such as Gmail for business, audio, and video conferencing capability, interactive and shared calendars, spreadsheets, presentations, auditing accounts, log analysis, among others.

Clean interface: The most crucial advantage that the company offers is the clean, simple, and intuitive email interface. Granular controls can be implemented by IT heads of what data or files can be portioned out and what necessitates to be checked. Nevertheless, one of the areas which annoy users is the poor integration of Gmail with Contacts and Calendar apps, something which may be intricate to navigate.

Team Drive: Google’s productivity suite of offerings includes Team Drive, a shared space repository, which allows a specific set of users or teams to search, store, access, and download files and documents from any entitled network device.

On-the-go collaboration: While Google apps (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) may lag behind Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) in terms of characteristics and pre-built templates, they outperform MS Office when it comes to the on-the-go collaboration. Google’s robust online ecology and experience enable the company to drive a seamless and smooth document live collaboration experience for its users.

Click here to know more details about the various plans offered by Google.

Zoho Workplace: Cost-effective for SMBs

Hyderabad based global engineering firm, Zoho Corporation, has gathered much interest in recent times. The company offers Zoho Workplace, a single unified cloud office platform that brings together collaboration, productivity, and communications tools and integrates them into other business processes.

Launched in 2005, Zoho’s office suite includes word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, databases, note-taking, and web-conferencing. To compete closely with Google and Microsoft, the company has recently integrated its nine existing productivity tools more firmly than ever.

With over 15 million users in 150 countries, Zoho is still seen as an emerging player in the productivity suite market and not necessarily a threat to the tech behemoths, Google, and Microsoft. Nevertheless, it provides a significant advantage to SMB’s and independent professionals as it is the least expensive amongst all three.

Click here to know more details about the various plans offered by Zoho Workplace.

 

 

 

Technology trends for businesses in 2020

Technology trends for businesses in 2020

In the times of COVID-19, when enterprise leaders are facing tremendous pressure to keep their businesses agile and profitable, the dependency on technology trends for business to overcome some of the challenges have increased.

Amidst the strong emphasis on social-distancing to contain the crisis, work-from-home is the new usual, resulting in rising business complexities. From school, yoga classes to grocery shopping, employee onboarding, medical consultation, and client interactions, everything is being conducted virtually. This is not just unprecedented, but also a unique experience for each one of us since not many were ready for such a sudden and abrupt shift.

These new habits, primarily enforced by the pandemic, have created significant losses to the economy and forced old businesses to modernize quickly. There is already a shift in services, and organizations are reinventing their operating models. Efforts are being made to leverage the potential of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), digitization, collaboration tools, and risk management to drive growth and innovation.

In light of the above, let’s look at some of the top technological trends that are expected to redefine the IT of the Future.

Digital transformation in business

COVID-19 pandemic has turned into a decisive catalyst for digital transformation. Technology leaders are now reasonably convinced about fast-tracking their digital transformation efforts to navigate the current crisis and stay profitable. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses also realize the importance of creating a robust virtual presence to beat the odds. The enterprises have no option but to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to adjust to the new normal. 

Enterprise technology leaders firmly believe that the current crisis has given a growing sense of belief and visibility to organizations on the best ways to tackle any future disruptions. (See: Chandresh Dedhia, Head of Information Technology, Ascent Health)

One of the biggest challenges that many enterprises are still facing is to drive the mindset shift of their employees. The next six to twelve months will witness a strong effort from enterprises of all scales to adopt technology advancements, change their organizational structures, and inculcate new dynamics of virtual behaviors within their larger teams. Learning resources and tools which can help in upskilling and reskilling will be in demand.

Updating business continuity plans

Covid-19 is proving to be the litmus test for many organizations to stay resilient and operate without any disruption. The disruption caused by the pandemic was a nightmare for many enterprises as they were not well-equipped to manage an upheaval of such magnitude. In the months ahead, organizations will be seen implementing and integrating new and advanced technologies in their Business Continuity Plans (BCP). Modernization of applications and tools to check employee health, emergency response, and data backup functionalities will be strengthened and restructured. 

The focus will be on deploying technology solutions that not only drive remote working but also help reduce operating expenses and increase business resiliency.

Application of AI in business

There is a growing organizational interest to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) technology to accelerate growth, innovate, and disrupt the market. The next couple of years will see enterprising testing and deploying several AI-capabilities to predict human behavior and fortify their market share. 

A recent study commissioned by global consulting major EY and trade association body Nasscom says that 60% of Indian executive leaders believe that AI will disrupt their businesses within three years. (See: Enterprises jump on the AI bandwagon but seat belts are few and Covid-19 lessons for accelerating AI usage).

Once the offices resume their physical centers, tech-leaders will strongly rely upon AI-based intelligent data processing and contactless technologies to ensure their employee maintain social distancing.

Implementing Chatbots to address customer grievances will be accelerated. The banking sector, for instance, has already taken aggressive steps to deploy innovative AI-based chatbots and tools to provide 24*7 customer support to their customers. (See: ICICI Prudential extends coverage of conversational AI Ligo and AI in banking now geared for a takeoff)

AI will specifically drive colossal traction for the industries which operate in the retail and supply chain. Since a majority of the consumers will continue to shop online for an indefinite time, AI-driven technologies will enable businesses to identify consumer purchasing patterns, launch new products, and provide an exceptional experience to their customers.

Stay tuned at Better World for the second part of the enterprise technology trends series, which will focus on technologies such as Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and Cyber Security.

 

 

 

 

Vodafone Idea Ltd: Could rebranding change the future?

Vodafone Idea Ltd: Could rebranding change the future?

Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), one of the leading Indian telecom operators, has recently re-branded its identity as ‘Vi’ (read as We) as part of its consolidation efforts to integrate the two brands: Vodafone and Idea formally. Vodafone’s Indian arm and Idea Cellular had amalgamated their operations in August 2018 to survive in the highly competitive Indian telecommunication market. 

However, despite the merger, the consolidated Vodafone idea ltd entity was still carrying the burden of two separate identities from the customer service and sales operations viewpoint. Also, there was a little awareness amongst consumers about their alliance.

“As the integration of the two businesses is now complete, it’s time for a fresh start. That’s why we believe that now is the perfect time to launch Vi, one company that combines the strengths of Vodafone India and Idea. Vi’s focus will be to deliver to citizens and businesses in India a superior network experience, better customer service, and leading products and services.” said Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group PLC in a company statement.

The re-branding exercise is an attempt to strengthen brand positioning and lessen the company’s operational expenditure of upholding two distinct brands. The development has come on the heels of Vi’s decision to raise Rs. 25,000 crores through share sales and other tactical means to clear the aggregated gross revenue (AGR) dues. Earlier this month, the Telco received much-needed respite after the Supreme Court, India’s apex law body, provided Vodafone an extended time frame of 10 years to pay the AGR dues it owes to the Indian government.

Indian telecom’s changing equations

India’s telecom sector had over a dozen companies operating until a decade back. However, Jio’s entry and its untenable pricing pushed several money-losing carriers to exit the business or get amalgamated. Since the arrival of Jio, the erstwhile telecom behemoths Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are also struggling to retain their customers.

RJio currently commands 33.47% of the wireless market share, Airtel 28.31%, and Vi 27.57%, according to the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI).

It is worthwhile to note that Vodafone idea ltd (now Vi) had lost 6.3 million subscribers in March, while 1.2 million customers departed from the Bharti Airtel network. In the same period, Reliance Jio, on the other hand, added 4.68 million subscribers.

Interestingly, Vodafone and Idea together had over 400 million customers when their merger was announced. The combined subscriber base of VIL had shrunk to around 300 million by April 2020. On the other hand, RJio is now the biggest Indian Telco with close to 400 million subscribers.

Attempt to regain market share

The industry onlookers believe that Vi’s revamp initiative is aimed at invigorating the brand that resonates with the style quotient of both young and enterprise customers. After the arrival of Reliance Jio, both Vi and Bharti Airtel have been trailing in subscriber market share and trying several branding tactics to fortify their position.

While the current rebranding exercise may generate user interest in the short-term, Idea Vodafone (Vi) will need substantial efforts to regain its market share. The telecom space is getting evolved with the two significant players RJio and Bharti Airtel, competing from neck to neck. While Bharti Airtel may as well have lost considerable subscribers, the company has strong foundations to recover from the onslaught of Jio. 

Jio is sitting on a hotbed of opportunities to build a Jio ecosystem and has already raised Rs 1,52,056 crore from top tech investors earlier this year. (See: The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold). Vodafone Idea, too, needs to entice massive equity infusion to unload the severe financial challenges it has been facing and change its dwindling fortunes.

Vodafone Idea or Vi said that it would continue to invest in 4G wireless technology to strengthen network coverage and capacity, a statement that it should firmly adhere to hold back its customers.

With the 5G era at doorsteps, technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will get rapid enterprise deployments. And as such, it will be network superiority that will make the difference. 

 

 

Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital

Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital

In Focus

Sunit Vakharia

Chief Technology Officer
U GRO Capital

The critical goals of implementing technology are innovation, secure operations, and ease of business.

There is an adage that every adversity brings a unique opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that there is a degree
of truth to it.

There is no doubt that the implication of COVID-19 has put tremendous stress on organizational budgets, focus areas, and operating policies. However, as the scale of this unparalleled event unfolds, many organizations are also developing new business models and strengthening their virtual capabilities to create fresh revenue streams.

In a recent interaction with Better World, Sunit Vakharia, Chief Technology Officer, U GRO Capital, shared insights around the current mindset of technology leaders and the importance of technology-led solutions to navigate the current crisis. (U GRO Capital is a highly specialized, technology-driven lending organization that focuses on providing customized, sustainable solutions to small and medium businesses.)

Excerpts from the interview:

Better World: How has COVID-19 impacted your business? How have you leveraged technology to achieve business resiliency?

Sunit Vakharia: While the unpredicted COVID-19 epidemic has threatened our sense of normalcy, it has also pushed people to innovate and reimagine the conventional business models.

At U GRO Capital, we’ve utilized the current situation as an opportunity to scale our business digitally. U GRO Capital provides loans to small and medium-sized companies. We extensively focus on technology and analytics as enablers to onboard our customers and disburse money as and when required by them.

Technology has played a pivotal role in expanding our operations and customer base during the COVID-19. Even before the spread of the pandemic, we were equipped to deal with a fully remote working situation. We’ve been using remote collaboration tools such as Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams, among others, since the commencement of our operations in 2018. All U GRO employees can work from anywhere, and there is no location constraint for anyone, helping them stay connected and manage client expectations. Similar engagements have been done with our vendor partners. All our technology developments and meetings with partners happen in an agile way over online platforms, and I am happy to share that significant efficiency has been observed in this new operating world.

We continue to build and deploy digital platforms. All aspects of sourcing new customers, servicing, and collecting documents are being done digitally. This has been the basis of our philosophy. We rolled out the digital KYC verification and digital document collection process during the days of the pandemic-induced national lockdown when our executives could not visit customers. These digital processes are clear differentiators for us.

Through our platform, we ensured that the entire communication and verification process runs through our video solutions. From the photograph of the factories to geo locations, customer coordinates, survey inputs, and the related verification, all procedures can be completed through this platform. This solution has helped us onboard our customers digitally and curtailed our visits to customer premises. We use statistical predictive models to assist, understand, and underwrite our customers better. Through AI-driven models, we assess our customers’ business requirements and offer the best product for their long-term growth. We have incorporated machine learning and analytics capabilities in our assessment solutions to drive exceptional customer experience.

Nevertheless, there are a few requirements that cannot be completed digitally, for instance, submission of post-dated cheques or specific covenant necessities. Still, I am sure, over time, we will devise solutions for that as well.

Better World: How have IT spending priorities changed due to COVID-19?

Sunit Vakharia: U GRO Capital’s management provides tremendous support and encouragement to foster innovation and to build scalable yet secure platforms. COVID-19 has pushed enterprises to leverage tech and to find new ways to empower their stakeholders. They are focusing on more unique capabilities to facilitate remote working.

In the current scenario, technology leaders will continue to evaluate infrastructure, applications, and security for supporting their employees, partners, and customers. Many technology spending priorities are being rationalized from the perspective of the new normal. Focus on digital transformation has been amplified, and enterprises are swiftly turning to automation and analytics to make smarter decisions. At U GRO, our focus will continue to be on innovation, and we are working towards developing new business lines and automating end-to-end supply chain processes. We are also planning to introduce a unique secured loan product very shortly. We’re building platforms in such a way that makes sure our core platforms remain constant while our ecosystem gets evolved incessantly.

Sunit Vakharia

Chief Technology Officer at U GRO Capital

Sunit is a senior strategic executive with over 19 years of rich experience in technology implementation. He has an exceptional understanding of the financial ecosystem, analytics, and data-based insights.

Sunit is a constant learner and has essayed various roles on the strategic IT leadership and execution fronts, notably in solving business problems through technology delivery, program management, business transformation, and client relationship management.

Before U GRO Capital, he had worked for global multinationals such as HSBC, Merill Lynch, SAS, Accenture, and ICICI Bank.

Top skills

  • Strategic Leadership
  • People Management
  • Process Improvement

Honors/Awards

  • Most Valuable Business Partner
  • HSBC Technology Winner
  • HSBC Technology Runner Up

Education

  • Strategic Thinking and Leadership, University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School Leadership Management Training
  • Bachelor of Engineering, Instrumentation, University of Mumbai

We use multiple digital channels to facilitate customer interaction, and this will continue to be a focus area for us.

Better World: Where are you on your cloud journey? In case of multiple clouds, does orchestration pose a challenge?

Sunit Vakharia: We are a cloud-native architected organization. We have zero presence on physical infrastructure, an approach that will remain applicable in future. We do not feel the need to build a private cloud for our business. We operate on a self-service model, and hence do not need any physical infrastructure. The SaaS model works best for us. However, we may explore the possibility of using a hyper cloud approach for some of the use cases. This is largely because, at times, a specific cloud becomes expensive for certain use cases.

At this moment, we do not need to orchestrate multiple clouds, as we are using a single public cloud provider. In the near future, if a need arises, plenty of orchestration tools are available in the market.

Better World: As a technology leader, how critical is it to balance the short-term revenue requirements against long-term technology implementations?

Sunit Vakharia: There is a strong understanding of what needs to be prioritized. The current COVID-19 situation is undoubtedly complicated. It requires leaders of all departments, and not just technology, to make a thorough evaluation of all investment decisions because ultimately, you’ve to run business.

The critical goals of implementing any new technology are innovation, secure operations, and ease of business. Their importance can vary for different organizations, depending on their nature and scale of business. Many young enterprises make the mistake of implementing a technology solution because someone else is doing that, which is wrong and misleading. All technology implementation decisions should be finalized after getting answers to these questions: Is it making sense for my organization? Will it help my customers and the business we operate? Will it help in driving our future aspirations and the business goals we intend to achieve in the next quarter?

For instance, at U GRO Capital, we did not make investments in Blockchain technologies, which is exciting, yet some time away from the overall ecosystem maturity. So, we will not look at such pieces now and can explore them at a later stage when it makes real-life business sense for us. But what we want to do is to enable our customers and the sales team to work efficiently, keeping in mind the social distancing measures; and limit the physical visit and interaction during the collection of documents or at the time of money disbursement.

U GRO Capital’s customers are small enterprises, and we do understand that they need handholding. So we need to implement solutions that are relevant and more comfortable for our customers to understand and use.

Better World: You mention security as a key focus area for enterprises. Can you share some of the initiatives taken by U GRO Capital to enhance your information security architecture?

Sunit Vakharia: We’ve invested in the Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) platform. It is a cloud-based endpoint protection platform, which is designed to overcome the confines of legacy security solutions. The platform protects entire traffic from malware attacks, ransomware attacks, and other potential threats coming through either the web or emails, as those are already predicted. We are also implementing industry-leading Enterprise Threat Protector DNS for controlling what can be accessed on our networks. Besides, a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution from Microsoft has been deployed. That means all the emails that typically come to us are getting monitored, thus ensuring that our teams do not get spam emails.  It also helps us detect and block sensitive data transmission.

We are also working to implement a privileged/password access management (PAM) solution, which means anyone who wants to access our infrastructure, our database, or the applications need to request access. The request will come for approval to our information security team, which will review it and open up the entrance to the network border. PAM solutions ensure that there is no illegal access through the internet. Through PAM, all network access, control, monitor, and infrastructure can be audited. This enables us to see the tasks or actions done by a specific individual.

Information security is a continually evolving area, and we will continue to invest in solutions to strengthen our IT security defense on an ongoing basis.

Enterprises jump on the AI bandwagon but seat belts are few

Enterprises jump on the AI bandwagon but seat belts are few

Artificial intelligence (AI) is swiftly moving to the mainstream and emerging as a powerful engine for many organizations, prompting them to jump on the AI bandwagon to accelerate growth, innovate, and disrupt the market. The Indian government and industry bodies are extensively focusing on building an AI ecosystem that could help the country to develop and implement cutting-edge solutions (See: New CII forum formed to help build an AI ecosystem)

However, according to a recent study, Indian enterprises need to beef up their risk-management capabilities to leverage AI’s potential and dodge threats that may emerge after scaling up AI deployments.

The study titled, Can enterprise intelligence be created artificially?, commissioned by global consulting major EY and trade association body Nasscom, says that 60% of Indian executive leaders believe that AI will disrupt their businesses within three years. Yet, only 25% of enterprises have deployed AI solutions. Over 500 top CXOs across India participated in this survey and shared their AI adoption journey highlights along with the critical challenges faced by their companies.

The findings of the EY-Nasscom survey also disclosed that the majority of the enterprises are still battling out governance and risk management concerns for mass AI adoption. According to the EY-Nasscom survey, 74% of the respondents said that they had established a formal strategy or obtained C-suite sponsorship to initiate or scale up their AI programs. However, despite riding the AI bandwagon, a whopping 88% of the respondents stated that their risk management frameworks required improvements to address AI-specific concerns in areas such as ethics, accountability, and explainability.

After a couple of years of rigorous prototype testing and its applicability in the modern-day technology ecosystem, Indian enterprises are now finally waking up to the potential of AI and plan aggressive deployments. There is a broader understanding that AI adoption will help enterprises strengthen their cost-optimization efforts, operational efficiency, customer experience, and revenue growth. The time is now to move away from the development aspect to model validation.

A good governance structure is missing

AI tools are largely statistical models. They can be customized and come in wide ranging forms. Such models have their benefits and challenges.

One of the critical advantages that AI offers is its incredible competence to simplify the decision-making process. The integrated analytics and data science act as a catalyst for transformation, enabling enterprises to review in-depth insights and make precise decisions. It empowers leaders to transition time-consuming, complex, and repetitive tasks to AI-driven tools, thus assigning more meaningful responsibilities to them while freeing up the resources.

It is a well-known fact that various AI tools, such as robotic process automation (RPA)  and natural language processing (NLP), need diverse technology combinations to demystify their true potential.

Like every technology, AI deployment needs strategic planning and strongly interconnected governance models to make it a success in any ecosystem. Some of the core risks allied with AI include algorithm-related bias, legal compliance, concealed cyber attacks, programmatic errors, and overdependence on the technology. AI systems handle vital and sensitive organizational data, and hence, these risks, if not appropriately managed, can cause ambiguous and misleading results, leading to massive loss of corporate reputation and revenue.

“AI needs to be understandable, auditable, and grounded on reliable data. Integrated governance is needed to promote the reliability of data gathering, storage, and its usage, with adequate safeguards built-in through a robust risk management framework. Almost half of the surveyed enterprises state that their data strategy, specifically as it relates to harmonizing data from disparate datasets and strengthening data security, has significant scope for improvement to ensure AI-program success,” the EY-Nasscom study adds.

Some of the other elements that may influence the AI-success in any organization include the availability of accurate data, the digitization level of an enterprise, and the maturity of the partner network.

Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM

 “As industry witnesses a rapid advancement in new technologies, Artificial Intelligence increasingly becoming an imperative for businesses across industries. Implementing AI will not only catalyze the innovation to stay competitive but also generate long-term value for enterprises. The NASSCOM – EY survey is ready reckoner that AI adoption is a critical competitive lever. It enables business leaders to infuse technology at speed.” 

Vijay Bhaskaran, Partner – Technology Consulting, EY

“AI has immense capability to unlock exponential value for businesses and navigate the complexities of the ever-evolving digital economy. However, enterprises too need to equip themselves with the right AI platform that can help them rapidly adopt and scale AI solutions, resulting in faster, smarter and future-ready businesses. It is our constant endeavour to help organizations transform by automating intelligently with our unique propositions in artificial intelligence (AI) consulting.”

Nitin Bhatt, Partner & Technology Sector Leader, EY India

“AI holds tremendous potential in helping companies innovate, enhance competitiveness and generate significant long-term value. AI adopters have already achieved remarkable success in transforming their business models, operational processes and stakeholder experiences. As business leaders continue to push the frontiers of technology and the future success of AI will be driven only by our inspiration and imagination.”

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join to get the latest updates from Better World.

You have Successfully Subscribed!