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The Journey to Net Zero Requires a Mindset Change



Kevin Teehan, the Vice President for Corporate Strategic Services at HID, says a good starting point is to embed sustainability as part of the company’s core purpose

How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Evolving technologies, such as 5G networks and artificial intelligence (AI), will enable more end-to-end, cloud-based solutions while reducing environmental impact. In the security industry, teams are already leveraging the cloud and IoT to deliver seamless end-user experiences utilizing connected architecture, multi-applications, and mobile devices for secure access that simplifies complexities optimizes processes and reduces resources.

A great example is commercial buildings. Cloud and IoT not only enable access control through mobile devices such as smartphones and watches, but they can help reduce the amount of energy consumption in commercial offices, as they can power lights, HVAC, and ancillary devices only when a space is being used. A key advantage of mobile access is the fact that users take far more care looking after their expensive smartphones compared to plastic access cards; which are quite often lost or misplaced.

What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
HID’s sustainability approach is embedding sustainable values into our standard business practices. As such, our economic, environmental, and social indicators are a part of our organization’s success and culture. Key commitments include green building design for existing operations, remodels, and new construction; and an ongoing focus on global best practices for managing sustainability over the long term. We are positive stewards of our environments and drive this commitment through ongoing education and engagement.

Our products are met with the same level of stewardship. They feature Green Circle Certifications for dematerialization, energy efficiency, and product circularity, all of which offer our customers a more sustainable solution by keeping the product lifecycle at the forefront. Digital transformation has also driven HID to invest its R&D efforts in the mobile credentialing and digital identity and authentication space, developing products that reduce the need for plastic cards, in the case of HID® Mobile Access, and paper waste, in the case of digital IDs.

It’s also important to note that our global reach allows us to help customers in regionally specific ways thanks to our proximity to those markets. We have offices and manufacturing locations in several countries, giving us the flexibility to optimize shipping logistics and in turn maximize carbon emission reduction.

How do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?  
HID has collaborative Green Teams across the globe that host local environmental events, helping to build a culture of commitment and duty of care. Recognizing that we are the industry-leading manufacturer of trusted identity solutions sets the bar high for how we conduct business. Our culture, ambitions, and priorities enable and empower us to move beyond a key process indicator (KPI) and do more good for the planet, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (6,8,9,11,12, and 13) through all functions of our business areas and opportunistic ventures. Globally, we support causes such as World Children’s Day, One Tree Planted, Habitat for Humanity, and various Community Clean Up programs.

Additionally, HID has aligned with science-based targets to reduce our carbon footprint by half by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050. We are working diligently across all aspects of our portfolio, embedding real estate, supply chain, quality, value analysis and value engineering (VA/VE), product innovation, and operations to enable opportunistic ideation to meet these ambitious targets. We recognize there is no planet B, and we are doing our part to be good stewards by engaging in our local communities as often and as much as we can.

Are there local or regional initiatives that encourage companies to adopt best practices?
The global case for sustainability is evident through the effects we see from climate change, and organizations across the globe can unite by taking action. Building capital investments into a company’s short- and long-term strategy to minimize its environmental impact is key. Connecting with local municipalities, understanding the struggles and the issues in the community, and working together to find solutions help build trust and resilience.

Partnering with the municipalities on local government incentives is a great catalyst for the sustainability journey. As a best practice, it is good to be certified to ISO 14001 for Environmental Management or 50001 for Energy Management; both standards set the framework for continuous improvement, ensuring objectives and targets are at the core of an organization’s growth strategy.

We encourage our local offices to partner with local municipalities on Community Impact Programs, for example. We also design our facilities based on LEED and WELL best practices. As such, we are proud that our corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas, has achieved LEED Platinum Certification and that our Galway facility was recently recognized as a finalist in the Galway Chamber of Commerce Business Award for Sustainability.

What challenges are there on the journey toward net zero, and how can technology help solve those issues?
The journey to net zero requires a mindset change and transformation of the current infrastructure and systems that support our global economy. New critical minerals will be in great demand, such as lithium for the production of batteries used in electric vehicles, and the long-term effects of such minerals on the environment have yet to be fully investigated. The key will be transitioning from carbon intensity without compromising practicality, affordability, and longer-term sustainability. We will need a lot of ingenuity and innovation.

A recent example of how HID is using technology, innovation, and ingenuity on the journey to net zero is our Placard team in Melbourne, Australia. HID acquired Placard, the largest manufacturer of secure cards in Australasia in 2019, and through innovation and partnerships, Placard has partnered with Rigoli Group not just to simply recycle but upcycle Placard PVC surplus, including offcuts with magnetic strips, inlays, and chips. Another local company, Think Fencing then takes the finely milled powder and incorporates their own additives to upcycle this into household products such as fencing and decking. And this is only the beginning. As this technology is adopted by other businesses, we anticipate more products emerging from our plastic surplus. This is a great example of how our manufacturing sites across the globe demonstrate HID’s “think globally, act locally” mentality.

What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
It is important to have strong alignment among departments and regions, a sustained governance model, and defined investments to support global and local initiatives. A good starting point is to embed sustainability as part of the company’s core purpose and integrate it into strategies such as product development, travel programs, facility selection, design, and management.

It’s also important to understand that people are at the heart of sustainable development, moving beyond words and turning ambitions into actions. Preserving the company’s overall culture while empowering the local micro-cultures and celebrating successes keeps the momentum going. In simple terms, the journey for a better, sustainable planet is about culture, commitment, collaboration, and celebration.

Cyber Security

Databases Are the Black Boxes for Most Organisations



Nik Koutsoukos, the Vice President of SolarWinds, says databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale

Tell us about the SolarWinds database observability platform.
Nearly everything a modern business does from a digital perspective requires data. Thus, databases are among the enterprise’s most valuable IT assets. This makes it critical for organisations to ensure their databases are optimised for performance and cost.

That said, databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale. Not only are there different types of databases that serve different purposes, but they are also populated by different types of data, adding to their complexity. The implications of not having visibility into your databases can be anywhere from a costly annoyance to a significant issue that causes business service disruption. For example, most application performance issues, between 70% and 88%, are rooted in the database.

For this reason, databases have largely been seen as a black box for most organisations. You know what goes into it. And you know what comes out and how long that took. However, the complexities that occur within the black box of the database are harder to discern.

This is where the SolarWinds Database Observability comes in. This offering is built for the needs of the modern enterprise environment and helps ensure optimal performance by providing full, unified visibility and query-level workload monitoring across centralised, distributed, cloud-based, and on-premises databases. Organisations armed with SolarWinds Database Observability enhance their ability to understand database implications as new code is deployed, utilise real-time troubleshooting of database performance issues, and isolate unusual behaviour and potential issues within the database.

How does database observability help IT teams track and manage infrastructure, applications, and possible threats?
Database observability collects data about the performance, stability, and overall health of an organisation’s monitored databases to address and prevent issues, and provides deep database performance monitoring to drive speed, efficiency, and savings. With SolarWinds Observability — which supports MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server database instances — database performance, responsiveness, and error rate are conveniently displayed in dashboards.

Moreover, alerts can be configured to notify admins by email or other methods when user-defined thresholds are crossed. This allows them to identify and remedy issues before they can develop. By gaining insight into the activities taking place inside their database instances, teams can understand user experience as well as ensure systems can scale to meet demand.

What sort of enhancements has your observability platform received recently?
Just this November, we announced major enhancements in the Database Observability capability within our cloud-based SolarWinds Observability platform. SolarWinds Database Observability provides full visibility into open-source, cloud-enabled, and NoSQL databases to identify and address costly and critical threats to their systems and business. It is now possible to navigate across all of the samples collected globally, giving IT teams an empirical distribution of random samples, which resembles the main workload.

What factors according to you will drive the adoption of observability tools in the MEA region?
The Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa (META) are riding a wave of rampant digital transformation as organisations seek to remain competitive. According to IDC, digital transformation spending in the Middle East will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the five-year period, topping US$74 billion in 2026 and accounting for 43.2% of all ICT investments made that year. As organisations continue to shift workloads to multi- and hybrid-cloud environments, the complexity of their IT environments still continues to increase. This raises the potential for visibility and monitoring gaps which ultimately translate to underwhelming or outright frustrating experiences for end users.

Tell us about the top three trends you foresee for 2024.
There are clear signs of the continued adoption of cloud technologies to allow enterprises to become more agile, giving engineering teams the ability to focus on their core competencies and expand and contract on demand.

The adoption of Kubernetes is also increasing as the refocusing introduced by the cloud enables the move to microservices-based architectures which require sophisticated orchestration management.

Finally, we are starting to see an uptick in Vector databases, as applications demand better handling of relationships between data points.

What is going to be your top priority in terms of strategies for 2024?
We will continue to deliver on our vision of making observability easy. OpenTelemetry is driving observability, but data collection is nothing if it can’t provide insights. So, we aim to ensure the data is both collected and curated such that users find it easy to consume and extract valuable insight.

Regionally, through 2024, we will continue to focus on our key markets of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the ongoing enhancement of our product portfolio, and the strengthening of our channel ecosystem to create more markets for our business and for our partners.

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Cyber Security

Helping Companies Stay Ahead of Cyber Threats



Ahmed El Saadi, the Vice President for Middle East and Africa at Splunk, says Splunk’s observability solutions empower IT teams, to effectively manage and optimise complex environments

How has the regional security threat landscape evolved recently?
The regional security threat landscape has witnessed a significant evolution in recent years. The Middle East and Africa region has become a prime target for cyber threats due to its rapid digital transformation and strategic importance. Cybercriminals are leveraging advanced techniques and exploiting vulnerabilities to launch sophisticated attacks on organisations and critical infrastructure. Threat actors are increasingly focused on data breaches and ransomware attacks. Moreover, the rise of cloud computing, AI, and IoT has expanded the attack surface, making it essential for organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity defences.

Splunk recognises the evolving threat landscape and helps organisations stay ahead of cyber threats. Our comprehensive cybersecurity solutions provide real-time threat detection, incident response, and compliance reporting. We leverage AI and machine learning to analyze vast datasets and identify anomalies, enabling proactive threat hunting. By empowering organizations with actionable insights and the ability to detect and respond to threats swiftly, Splunk enhances the regional security posture and helps protect critical assets.

As the technology landscape shifts with the emergence of technologies such as AI, automation, cloud, and so on, how is Splunk supporting the partner ecosystem to sustain and stay relevant?
Splunk understands the importance of a strong partner ecosystem in navigating the evolving technology landscape. We actively collaborate with our partners in the Middle East and Africa region to ensure they can sustain and stay relevant in the face of technological advancements. Splunk provides comprehensive training and certification programs to enable partners to build expertise in our solutions and stay up to date with the latest industry trends.

We also offer extensive technical support, including partner enablement resources, co-marketing opportunities, and joint go-to-market initiatives. Through our Partner+ Program, we foster strong relationships with our partners, empowering them to deliver value-added services and solutions to customers. Moreover, Splunk’s open and extensible platform allows partners to develop their own applications and integrations, further expanding their offerings and differentiation in the market.

By supporting our partner ecosystem, Splunk ensures that organizations in the region have access to knowledgeable and skilled partners who can help them leverage emerging technologies effectively and drive digital transformation.

Why, according to you, should companies leverage AI, and how can Splunk help with that journey?
Companies should leverage AI to unlock the full potential of their data and gain actionable insights that drive innovation and competitive advantage. AI enables organizations to process and analyze large volumes of data at scale, identify patterns and anomalies, automate manual processes, and make data-driven decisions in real-time. By harnessing AI, companies can enhance operational efficiency, optimize customer experiences, and discover new business opportunities.

Splunk plays a pivotal role in helping organizations embark on their AI journey. Our platform integrates AI and machine learning capabilities, empowering organizations to leverage AI effectively. Splunk provides customizable ML tools to detect anomalies, predict system failures, and automate responses to threats or disruptions. We enable organizations to derive valuable insights from their data, automate critical processes, and respond promptly to issues. With Splunk, companies can unlock the power of AI to enhance operational resilience, drive innovation, and accelerate digital transformation.

What sort of market strategies do you have for the Middle East region?
Splunk has developed robust market strategies to address the unique needs and opportunities in the Middle East region. Our market strategies focus on three key pillars:

  1. Partnerships and Collaborations: We foster strong partnerships with local organizations, including technology partners, system integrators, and value-added resellers. By collaborating closely with these partners, we ensure that our solutions align with regional requirements and are tailored to local market dynamics.
  2. Customer Success and Enablement: We prioritise customer success by offering comprehensive support, training, and professional services. Our team works closely with customers to understand their specific challenges and provide tailored solutions that drive business value. We enable customers to extract maximum value from our platform and accelerate their digital transformation journey.
  3. Thought Leadership and Community Engagement: Splunk actively contributes to the regional tech ecosystem through thought leadership initiatives, industry events, and community engagement. We share best practices, insights, and success stories to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. By participating in industry events and engaging with local communities, we aim to drive awareness, knowledge exchange, and technological advancements in the region.

Through these market strategies, Splunk aims to establish itself as a trusted partner for organisations in the Middle East, helping them navigate the complexities of digital transformation, strengthen their cybersecurity defences, and drive operational resilience.

What are the challenges faced by IT teams in managing complex environments, and how does Splunk help them overcome those challenges?
IT teams face numerous challenges in managing complex environments, including the need to monitor and troubleshoot a wide range of systems, applications, and infrastructure components. The increasing scale and complexity of IT environments make it difficult to detect and respond to issues promptly, leading to downtime, performance degradation, and customer dissatisfaction.

Splunk helps IT teams overcome these challenges through its observability solutions. Our platform provides end-to-end visibility into IT environments, consolidating data from various sources, and offering real-time insights into system health, performance, and user experiences. Splunk’s AI-powered analytics enable proactive detection of anomalies and predictive identification of potential issues, empowering IT teams to take preemptive actions and prevent disruptions.

Furthermore, Splunk’s automation capabilities streamline IT operations, enabling teams to automate routine tasks, accelerate troubleshooting, and improve incident response times. By leveraging Splunk’s automation features, IT teams can focus on strategic initiatives and deliver better customer experiences.

Overall, Splunk’s observability solutions empower IT teams to effectively manage and optimize complex environments, proactively identify issues, and ensure the smooth functioning of critical systems and applications.

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Artificial Intelligence

Cybersecurity Defences Employing AI Can Combat Threats with Greater Speeds



Emile Abou Saleh, the Senior Director for Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Proofpoint, says a proactive approach to cybersecurity robustly protects organizations against a wide range of threats in an increasingly complex digital landscape

What have we achieved so far in terms of use case scenarios of Gen AI in the realm of cybersecurity?
Generative AI has gained considerable attention in the news lately, and like any new technology, there’s a lot of excitement around it. Today’s Generative AI tools go beyond traditional chatbots; they are becoming more advanced. Generative AI’s potential reaches far and wide, benefiting professionals across different industries. Financial advisers can use it to analyze market trends, educators can tailor lessons to students’ needs, and it’s also proving useful in the field of cybersecurity. Security analysts can leverage Generative AI to examine user behaviour and detect patterns that could indicate potential data breaches.

One of the standout features of Generative AI in cybersecurity is its ability to quickly and accurately process vast amounts of data related to emerging threats. Security administrators can use these tools to run queries quickly, and in just a few minutes, these tools can summarize current credential compromise threats and highlight specific indicators to watch out for.

Why according to you should cybersecurity companies leverage generative AI?
Our lives and work cultures are forever changed, with so many people working and interacting digitally—and the velocity of business and the volume of corporate data we generate growing exponentially, across multiple digital platforms.

Many organizations across all industries have found that implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into business systems has helped them to ensure continuity, with one main aspect being increased productivity. When looking at this from a cybersecurity point of view, there are many ways AI and machine learning (ML) can bolster an organization’s overall cybersecurity posture.

Today’s threat landscape is characterized by attackers preying on human vulnerability. Proofpoint research shows that nearly 99% of all threats require some sort of human interaction. Whether it is malware-free threats such as the different types of Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Email Account Compromise (EAC) like payroll diversion, account takeover, and executive impersonation, or malware-based threats, people are falling victim to these attacks day-in and day-out. And all it takes is one click, from one employee for a threat actor to infiltrate an organization’s systems, no matter how complex the environment.

To stop these types of attacks, organizations need to deploy a security solution that can stay ahead of the ever-changing landscape and adapt to the way humans act. AI and ML are critical components in a robust cybersecurity detection strategy. It’s faster and more effective than manual analysis and can quickly adapt to new and evolving threats and trends. Cybersecurity defences that employ AI can combat such threats with greater speed, relying on data and learnings from previous, similar attacks to predict and prevent their spread.

What are the cybersecurity challenges facing companies with the adoption of AI and how can they be overcome?
With the adoption of AI, organizations face a set of cybersecurity challenges that need immediate attention. While AI has shown remarkable progress in defending against common threats, it has also opened doors for cybercriminals.

Take phishing: AI has the potential to supercharge this threat, increasing the speed and accuracy in which these phishing emails are sent to victims. However, it’s important to remember that many social engineering emails aren’t designed to be “perfect” – they are intentionally written poorly to find people who are more likely to engage.

That’s also only one part of the threat. Headers, senders, attachments, and URLs are among the many other threat indicators that are analyzed by robust detection technologies. Even where there would be a substantial benefit to having better-crafted emails, like many business email compromise scenarios, there is a lot of other information the threat actor needs to have access to. They need to know who is paying what money to whom and at what dates, which they probably have already accessed in a different way. They don’t necessarily need AI assistance when they already have access to that person’s inbox and they can merely copy an old email.

It’s crucial for organizations to note that no matter the attack vector, or how complex it is, the majority of cyberattacks require human interaction to be successful. By tricking just one employee, threat actors can circumvent security tools and siphon sensitive corporate data. Organizations must implement a people-centric cybersecurity strategy, consistently training employees at all levels of the business, in cybersecurity best practices so they are aware of the latest cyber threats and are able to detect them, report them, and not fall victim to them.

How can organizations use their resources effectively to leverage Gen AI to gain a competitive edge in the cybersecurity landscape?
To effectively leverage Generative AI and gain a competitive advantage in the cybersecurity landscape, organizations should focus on two vital aspects. It is firstly essential to embrace a people-centric security model for data loss prevention, acknowledging that individuals often play a pivotal role in the movement of data. This approach encompasses content awareness, behavioural analysis, and threat awareness, granting in-depth insights into how employees interact with sensitive data.

Increased visibility facilitates real-time detection and prevention of data loss incidents. Secondly, organizations should integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies into their cybersecurity practices. For instance, in email security solutions, AI and ML swiftly identify and thwart phishing campaigns, malicious URLs, imposter messages, and unusual user activity in cloud accounts. A proactive approach to cybersecurity robustly protects organizations against a wide range of threats in an increasingly complex digital landscape.

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