Tag: COVID-19

The Workplace of the Future Is Here. Are You Ready?

We’re experiencing a fundamental shift in the way that we work. Times have changed and our approach to business and the workplace needs to change with it. Rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to significantly disrupt labor markets, and will likely transform almost all occupations to some degree.

Workplace

This technological shift, along with globalization, social values, demographics, and the changing personal expectations of today’s workforce has had a tremendous impact on the business landscape, disrupting models and radically changing where, when, and how work is done. An ability to improve the effectiveness of the workforce, develop and move talent around the business, and manage human capital risks is crucial in the digital age. As a result, companies who want to grow and remain competitive need to focus on harnessing and adapting the talents of their workers, and their uniquely ‘human’ skills.

Navigating change: The Future of Work Is Here report

Much has been written about the future of work and the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) on the workforce. The scenario is often played out as if we, the human race, have no control over the outcome. But this is simply not true. The changes that we’re currently experiencing, including the shifting landscape as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are ultimately driven by humans.

In light of this, GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand, has produced ‘The Future of Work Is Here’ report with the aim to help professionals and organizations navigate this change. The research unpacks findings from over 106 countries and 8,000 respondents. With insights gathered from more than 100,000 students over the past 12 years, the report provides a deep understanding of how the workplace is changing as attitudes and values shift. It also explores the rise in remote work and what it means for the future.

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The 21st-century employer meets the 4IR

Humanity continues to embark on a period of unparalleled technological advancement, offering significant challenges and opportunities in the coming five, 10, and 20 years. According to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, ‘’We are at the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Unlike the previous industrial revolutions­, the current one is not changing what we do, but rather, is changing us.’’

In the 4IR, lines between the physical, digital, and biological worlds are blurred. Owed to advances in AI, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies. The 4IR is paving the way for transformative changes in the way we live and work, radically disrupting almost every business sector. As AI and increased automation takes control of more repetitive tasks, the discovery of entirely new categories of jobs are emerging.

From an employer’s perspective, retention of skilled employees becomes increasingly important as a strategic priority. Organizations need to recognize their current employees’ strengths and focus on upskilling to fill skills gaps and remain agile in an ever-changing workplace. As highlighted in the report, HR professionals and talent managers have both turned to reskilling and upskilling their teams to respond to the significant changes catalyzed by the 4IR.

Anticipate the workplace of the future

Empowered by universal primary education, marked progress in adult literacy, improved healthcare, global access to social networks, and mobile money, the workplace is changing so fast that it’s hard for many organizations to keep up.

Digital technology has changed the way employees interact with each other and their employer: teams are more matrixed, more remote, and more flexible than ever. This has upended the traditional worker-manager relationship, and has reshaped how employers and employees see one another. We are also living longer and navigating change at a more rapid rate, which means that we will need to master a variety of skills to keep up with the evolving workplace.

Despite technology being the most radical driver of change, other global trends are proving to be just as impactful.

Other important factors that will shape the future workplace include:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion

In the age of intelligent technology, focusing on innate human needs is imperative to maintaining growth and remaining competitive. The demand for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is more than just another target to meet. Companies are called on to make meaningful cultural change in order to foster inclusivity.

There are many benefits to having multi-generational teams working together. Research shows that age diversity can improve cognitive performance, and can also lead to more creative thinking and innovation.7 By viewing age and generational differences as an opportunity, organizations can shift focus to the abilities, experiences, and knowledge of individuals, leading to innovation and productivity.

  • Freedom and flexibility

Previously, being able to work from home was rare and considered a ‘perk.’ As the population demographic and way of life changes, flexible and remote work is proliferating.9 Used to describe any role that breaks the traditional norm of a rigid 9-to-5, five-day week structure, flexibility offers more freedom over when, where, or how employees can fulfil their particular roles. Organizations are starting to recognize this and act on it – since 2016, there’s been a 78 percent increase in job posts that provide work flexibility.11

  • Agility to change management

To grow a suitable candidates pool and foster a workforce that is able to adapt to change and innovate, it’s critical for human resources (HR) and learning and development (L&D) professionals to prioritize a culture of continued learning in their organizations. This will not only allow them to remain agile in the face of disruption, but will also create a more engaged workforce that has the tools to drive innovation for the future. If employees are taught how to build a learning mindset, it will help prepare them for dealing with a constantly, even abruptly, changing environment.

  • Whose responsibility is continuous learning?

Most respondents agree that continued learning should be a joint responsibility between the business and the individual. Our survey found that employees feel individually accountable for continuous learning whereas talent management and HR view it as being more of a business or joint responsibility. This misalignment may mean that employees are unaware that their employer is willing to support them to learn. On the other hand, HR and talent management may view continuous learning as too important for business to have no responsibility for.

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Discover the alternative workforce

According to research conducted by Upwork, nearly two-thirds of companies have remote workers, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic increasing this figure, with possible permanent effects.21 This has given rise to what can be known as the ‘alternative workforce’.

As defined in ‘The Future of Work Is Here’ report, a remote worker is someone who is employed by a company, but works outside of a traditional office environment. Post-COVID-19, GetSmarter predicts that companies will expand the acceptability of remote work, and will provide more choice and flexibility to full-time contract employees to work wherever they can get their best work done, including away from the office.

A gig worker, defined in the report as someone who works part-time, on contract, and has no long-term employer-employee relationship, could work anywhere from a local co-working space, a coffee shop, or in a city across the world. While this is becoming an increasingly attractive option for those looking for more flexibility, predicts that the rate at which remote work is adopted will outpace the rate at which companies adopt the gig economy, with only nine percent of HR and people managers indicating that they hire ‘giggers’ to fill skills gaps that exist within their teams and organizations.

The Surviving Power of an Intelligent Enterprise

Due to the constant innovation happening across all industries, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to sustain themselves in the market. According to a survey conducted by Accenture, over 93% of executives believe that their organizations’ existence is in jeopardy, as it is becoming difficult to catch up with the demand of the dynamic marketplace.

Power

The current draconic times with regards to the economy brought up by the COVID-19 crisis are rendering the approach and business model of most organizations redundant. Therefore, it is imperative for CIOs to develop a cohesive model, like that of Intelligent Enterprises that will help to keep up with the rapidly changing business landscape. This will help them to successfully tackle the dynamic nature of the market and to circumvent its uncertainty.

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An intelligent enterprise can be best defined as an organization that is able to anticipate and adapt to the constantly changing marketplace, fulfill its customer expectations, stakeholder’s demands, and shows a sign of a strong ecosystem. Moreover, the organization would also have a flexible infrastructure that allows strong collaboration in a digital ecosystem, is progressive in self-management and its operating model – among other things.

The current unreliable marketplace, it is imperative for companies to strive towards being an Intelligent Enterprise, if they are to sustain and thrive. The good news is, it’s never too late to adapt.  Because, even though there are many companies that are able to scale their business in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, the actual number of these organizations is still very low.

Hence, below are a few steps CIO can take to reshape their organization into an intelligent enterprise:

Reshaping the Enterprise  agility

Organizations across all industries have reaped the benefits of agile operations. Having an agile operating model enables rapid responsiveness. It ensures that all the employees feel safe, connected and seen. It also ensures rapid responsiveness, and scalability – two features that are priceless during the current times.

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With the pandemic hovering over the business operations, organizations should set up crisis command centers that will help their employees, who are working remotely, to focus on critical business issues. This will help enterprises to endure the current crisis and will prepare them for future as well.

Reviewing End-to-End Value Chains

The pandemic has presented executives with an opportunity to rethink the customer behavior and their organization’s supply channels. As the business landscape is witnessing a massive shift, CIOs need to think about their sector, business partners, distribution channels, and integrated planning as well as forecasting capabilities. Furthermore, applying these practices to the enterprise’s technological infrastructure to evaluate and to increase its capacity, stability and security -can elevate the efficiency of the business operation.

Rethink the Way You Work

The current pandemic crisis has forced business leaders to take a closer look at the way they run their business operations. It has helped them to identify business-critical activities; which work requires proximity to products, customers, and partners.

Alongside these, the crisis has also revealed CIOs which of their business partners are resilient and are prepared to face a crisis. An Enterprise’s initiatives and responses during this economic crisis will redefine the speed at which it can innovate, pivot, invest and make informed decisions.

The crisis has shown that there’s nothing structured or certain about businesses and the marketplace. Hence, it is essential that organizations adopt an Intelligent Enterprise mindset that will enable them to transform business practices, operations, and systems. These will transform the organizations to be more agile and resilient and will pave the way for a sustainable future.

Types of Cyber Security Threats in 2020

Never has there been a more dangerous time for your business and your data. The threat landscape for businesses today is filled with many different security threats and attack vectors used by hackers and other malicious individuals. On the world scene, 2020 has already been a challenging year for businesses across the board with COVID-19.

Threats

Coupled with the current pandemic and the cybersecurity threats that have been very prevalent and growing in recent years such as ransomware, there are many different cyber risk types in 2020 that your business needs to prepare for.

First of all, what is a cyberattack? What are the types of cyber security threats? How can your business minimize the risk of a cyberattack on your business-critical data?

What Is a Cyber Attack?

cyber attack refers to a type of attack that is carried out by cybercriminals using a computer or group of computers to attack another computer, group of computers, or network. Cyber attacks have become all too common in today’s world largely due to how organizations have evolved in the way they carry out business.

Today’s businesses, no doubt including your own organization, heavily use technology to carry out business-critical operations and support their organization’s data. Data has been referred to as the new gold of this century as it represents the most valuable asset that a business possesses.

When you think about the fact that organizations rely on their customer data for day-to-day operations, selling, buying, turning a profit, making projections, and performing analytics, it is at the heart of just about every operation. What’s more, most businesses are expanding the way they are using and ingesting data.

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What Do Hackers Want?

There are generally three objectives behind cyber attacks:

  1. Disrupt or damage – This is often the objective that is highlighted by many of the cyber attacks that make headlines, including massive ransomware attacks. With these types of cyber threats, the attacker is looking to disrupt the normal business continuity of your organization to benefit in some way. A great example of this is ransomware. With ransomware, a ransom is demanded by the attacker to allow your business to return to normal operations and regain access to data.  Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are another familiar type of attack that can prevent businesses from carrying out operations.
  2. Steal – Attackers can also have the objective to steal highly sensitive or valuable information, often to sell on the black market. These types of cyber attacks often result in damaging data leaks that result in a heavily damaged business reputation and potentially other consequences as a result of fines or legal implications.
  3. Infiltrate – Another aim of attackers is to infiltrate your organization’s network and slyly stay hidden, moving laterally through the network looking to ultimately compromise an administrator account.  Businesses can be compromised for literally “hundreds of days” or even years, without knowing it.  Below are figures from the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report:
    1. The average time to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days
    2. The average time to contain a breach was 73 days, for a total of 279 days

The potential damage, stealing of data, and widespread compromise that can happen in the meantime can be enormous and catastrophic to your business.

Who are behind cyber attacks?

You may wonder who is behind cyber attacks that are commonly carried out on your business today.  These generally fall within two categories of cyber criminals who may have differing motivations for what they do.

  • Insider threats
  • Threats from the outside

Who or what comprises each group of cyber criminals?

PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION

A very common but often overlooked threat to your organization is insider threats. Insider threats come from the very ones that you typically trust within your organization – your own employees.  While we certainly are not imputing bad motives on all employees, it only takes one unscrupulous employee to do major damage to your business.

Additionally, well-meaning employees can inflict data loss or data breach on your organization accidentally. Without thinking an end-user can accidentally expose sensitive data to the masses.

The top types of data security threats from insiders are as follows:

  • Disgruntled or unscrupulous employee intentionally damaging or leaking data from your organization
  • Malicious IT admin with administrative access to business-critical systems
  • Careless or even trusted employee who accidentally carelessly exposes, leaks, or damages critical data

Additionally, without controls over third-party applications in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments, well-meaning employees could unintentionally install third-party applications that may in themselves have malicious intent or are “leaky” and expose sensitive data to others.

CYBER CRIMINALS

The other more commonly discussed types of security risks to your organization is the threat from attackers on the outside.  There are many different sources of cyber attacks from criminals on the outside.  This includes:

  • Organized criminal hacking groups or experienced individual hackers
  • Professional hackers working for an organized criminal hacking group
  • Nation-state hackers working for various governments
  • Amateur hackers who are simply looking to gain experience

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Cyber Attacks in 2020 – Current IT Security Threats

This year has presented challenges on a world scene that no one could have predicted.  The Coronavirus or COVID-19 has brought about sweeping changes in the way organizations are carrying out business throughout the world.  Most have shifted the workforce to a majority working from home.

With the shift in how and where employees are conducting business activities, hackers are following suit to capitalize on the shift in the workforce as well as even preying on the situation at hand with COVID-19.  Attackers know that employees working from home are more distracted than when working on-premises and most are extremely curious and interested in the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic.

This leads to a situation where employees are even more likely to fall victim to phishing attacks or malicious websites that lure employees with relevant COVID-19 headlines or subject lines.  In fact, a recent report by ZDNet highlighted the new threat that is evolving where attackers are looking to directly exploit the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways.

In Italy, which has been extremely hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, attackers are targeting users with Italian email addresses with messages claiming to be from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the email, attackers have attached a legitimate document from WHO, however, they are also dropping a Trojan on the end user’s machine that steals banking information and also turns the end-user computer into a bot that can be used in widespread cyber attacks.

Attackers are also targeting corporate environments with emails supposedly from contractors or delivery agencies noting how their services will be adjusted during the pandemic. Thinking the emails are legitimate again, corporate end users can be enticed to click on the attachment that drops malware on their system.

Other low-level scams have emerged using SPAM emails claiming to have a cure for the Coronavirus or asking for money or financial information for imparting the so-called medical advice.  Users who disclose their financial information will, of course, have that information compromised by the attacker.

In an apparent foreign state attack, the U.S. Health Agency was hit amid the COVID-19 outbreak.  Foreign state attackers have apparently been using directed attacks to disrupt and spread misinformation during the current pandemic.

As it turns out the risk from COVID-19 is not just a physical virus infecting individuals, it has been the catalyst that cybercriminals are using in 2020 in a large way to infect both unsuspecting end-users as well as organizations alike.

In addition to the cyber attacks directly related to COVID-19, attackers are still using many of the common categories of cybersecurity threats they have used in recent years to attack end-users and your organization in 2020.  What are the various types of cyber security threats and how are they classified?

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