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Navigating Change with Professional Services

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Written by Ephrem Tesfai, Sales Engineering Manager at Genetec

CIOs and IT decision-makers (ITDMs) across the UAE are looking to maximize investments in digitization and drive innovation after a difficult year which raised the profile of IT leaders in driving critical workplace innovation, according to Cisco’s new Accelerating Digital Agility Research. The main goal of an IT provider’s professional services is to optimise the performance of the solutions implemented at the customer’s premises, and thus to meet their operational needs as precisely as possible. However, over a short period of time since the start of the pandemic, these needs have changed radically, as companies have had to adapt and completely rethink their operating methods to cope with the crisis.

To continue to support businesses and their workforce effectively, there is growing pressure on professional services providers to show agility in line with evolving industry demands, developments, such as the growing trend of working remotely, and the ever-increasing cloud consumption.

Remote services to meet the cloud boom
As a direct result of social distancing measures and mass move towards working from home, cloud consumption has grown dramatically in 2020 and is expected to continue to do so in the years to come. In turn, 49% of IT decision-makers are investing in multi-cloud infrastructure, 48% in cloud security, 47% in network security, and 43% in cloud applications in 2021-2022.

To set up their organizations for success in 2021 and beyond, IT leaders have adapted priorities and strategy to focus on core issues including delivering secure collaboration tools to keep distributed workforces productive, maximizing technology investments from the past year, delivering the best digital experience to employees and customers, embracing cloud “as a service,” and tackling corporate and societal issues with technology.

In the physical security sector, where the cloud has traditionally played a minor role, this has resulted in the emergence of hybrid solutions that allow existing solutions to remain on-site, move to the cloud for specific applications and gradually migrate systems as needed. This new development does add a layer of complexity to those carrying out complex, multi-system, and multi-site physical security projects, including the job of integrators who support them.

For professional services, this means offering services linked to easing the transition to a hybrid or cloud model, but also changing the way these services are delivered and packaged so that they are more consistent with the cloud: remote and longer-term services, covering the entire life cycle of the customer and their experience.

Strengthening cybersecurity services
At the same time, cyber-attacks have increased. Hackers have seen and seized many of the opportunities generated by the rapid and improvised implementation of working from home in companies during the initial containment. Cyber-attacks in UAE increased over 190% following remote working shift and this means it’s likely these types of attacks against remote desktop protocols will continue to occur at a rather high rate.

Cybersecurity cannot be improvised. It involves choosing the right solutions, with several layers of protection such as encryption, authentication, and authorisation, and acquired from trusted suppliers, recognised for their transparency and the reliability of their products. This is essential, but it is not enough. To strengthen their cyber hygiene, companies must also consider every integration, every configuration, every password in the deployment and life cycle of their software and hardware solutions. A multitude of risks must be minimised to ensure the best protection.

Professional services are best placed to assist in protecting not only their enterprise customers but their integrators as well. Both of whom can be confident that their solutions have been optimised by the people who know them best: the people who developed and market them. To build resilience, companies need to be able to rely on services that assess their current cybersecurity, across all components of their infrastructure, and professional services need to take a more proactive approach to build resilience.

Ultimately, despite the pandemic, the premise of professional services remains the same: to deliver value and minimise risk in the deployment of systems, and to ensure that everything works as intended over time. As deployments are now more open to the cloud and the risks are greater and more present there’s unrelenting pressure to adapt at little notice. It is this new reality that professional services must consider.

Expert Speak

Hidden Champions: Behind These Popular Applications Are Hard Drives

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Written by Rainer W. Kaese, Senior Manager of Business Development Storage Products at Toshiba Electronics Europe
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How to Secure MSP Success Brick by Brick

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Written by Roman Cuprik, content writer at ESET (more…)

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Cyber Security

Is Consent the Gateway to Ethical Data Usage Practices?

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Every tech company under the sun is grappling with data privacy and protection policies and laws. However, consent is crucial when it comes to data collection and processing. Having the user’s consent to use their data is imperative. While securing the data after collection is also important, using customer data without their consent causes more serious issues. Without obtaining consent from the user, any data that you use for your business falls under the unlawful use of data regulations.

Users of the well-known platform Glassdoor, which allows individuals to anonymously review their employers, allege that the site collected and linked their names to their profiles without their permission. Glassdoor users have expressed alarm, and the issue has been widely featured on social media and news-sharing sites. They fear that their anonymity could be compromised if data about them is collected and added to their profiles.

The issue here boils down to a single word: consent.

The gray area of obtaining consent
Organizations can knowingly or unknowingly exploit users’ personal data without proper knowledge of data privacy. It is not enough just to get consent from users; explicit consent is required. This includes ensuring the user selects checkboxes during the signup process, enters their email address, authorizes receiving marketing emails and newsletters, and grants the app permission to track user data in specific situations.

But when it comes to verbal consent, there is ambiguity. The GDPR accepts verbal consent but requires written or recorded proof of the consent given. The GDPR states that, “when requested by the data subject, the information may be provided orally, provided that the identity of the data subject is proven by other means.” Therefore, it is better to record or have written proof of verbal consent; one must not assume or misunderstand that verbal consent only includes oral consent.

Often, there is less visibility of data usage for customers. More often than not, customers do not know what they are giving consent for or how their data will be used. Let’s take the case of location data sharing.

Location data can show if someone visited an abortion clinic or a cancer treatment center. People usually want to keep this type of information private and not share it with companies or third parties. When consent is given without knowing what it is for, the act of giving or obtaining consent becomes meaningless.

Why consent is important in ethical data practices
Although you are legally required to obtain the user’s consent to process their data, there is also such a thing as the ethical use of data. When you take measures to protect your customers’ data beyond what the law requires, it promotes trust among your customers.

People value privacy and appreciate brands that prioritize data privacy. Let’s say a consumer is given the option to choose between two brands: one with no privacy features and another that advocates for privacy with built-in privacy features. Which do you think the customer will choose? Obviously, the latter.

Understanding a company’s data privacy policy is crucial to 85% of consumers—even before they make a purchase, a global study determined. Equally as important, 40% of individuals have changed brands after discovering that a company failed to protect customer data adequately, according to the McKinsey Global Survey on Digital Trust.

This is why tech companies go out of their way to demonstrate the privacy features they offer and how user consent is prioritized in these features.

In a way, customers prioritizing consent compels companies to integrate ethical data privacy policies into their systems. But it’s time companies realize that consent is the backbone of data privacy regulations and take customer consent seriously, not just to avoid hefty fines, but to also value the customer’s choice and their right to privacy.

A final word
Organizations worldwide are facing issues with data privacy. What is important when trying to protect your customers’ data is to realize the role customer consent plays. This helps organizations develop features and draft policies with the customer’s consent in mind and to effectively communicate to the customers why they are seeking consent. Without this step, data privacy becomes compromised. So, both organizations and customers need to grasp why consent matters and advocate for the ethical processing of data.

ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corporation that provides comprehensive on-premises and cloud-native IT and security operations management solutions for global organizations and managed service providers. ManageEngine strongly believes in privacy by design and continuously advocates for user privacy. Established and emerging enterprises—including nine of every 10 Fortune 100 organizations—rely on ManageEngine’s real-time IT management tools to ensure the optimal performance of their IT infrastructure. Learn more about ManageEngine’s comprehensive suite of IT management solutions here.

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