Technology and Culture: A Chicken and Egg Debate

By Joseph Do, CEO MindLink

Embracing digital technology is not just a business necessity, but also a smart cultural move. The evolution of technology has invariably prompted cultural change within organisations across the globe, but should it act as the primary driver for it?

Whilst technology can act as a trigger, it is an organisation’s culture that has the power to nurture forward-thinking tech adoption and ultimately improve long-term business growth.

The global business proliferation for technology that bridges the gap between social and enterprise means organisations are being forced to evolve to meet the changing technological needs of their workforce.

For example, The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is making a whole host of additional communication and technologies available in the workplace. Research shows that by 2016, 1.62 billion mobile devices will be in use on a daily basis in the workplace. It is because of findings like this that organisations need to be open to change and willing to embrace the forward-thinking nature of employees and the culture of business.

It is down to business leaders to take an open approach to new technology and consider how it will impact the people within their organisation. Just because a company has a progressive, corporate culture doesn’t necessarily mean employees understand how best to utilise digital tools. People will have to want to learn to yield and progress, so training remains essential if culture and technology are going to work together and have a real impact on company performance and revenue.

The spread of collaboration tools has cemented online communication as a completely new mode of operation for employees. Businesses should be looking to invest in smart collaboration tools instead of viewing them as an expense.

So first things first, what are the key components of a tech-friendly corporate culture?

Support

Without sufficient investment in staff development and training, technology will never reach its full potential within a business. Providing the right level of technical support and offering training to employees shows a company’s commitment and sense of support. It is important to go beyond just making tools available to a workforce and hoping people will naturally adopt them.

Open

The future success of a business relies on being open to new ideas and embracing new processes and structures rather than being resistant to them. It is up to business leaders to have an outlook that not only accepts, but also understands, how technology can benefit their business. No good will come from holding onto antiquated communication, leadership, management or sales structures in the hyper-connected, modern business environment.

Trust

As with most relationships, trust is key. Businesses must trust their employees if they want to capitalise on the potential of a fully mobile, collaborative workforce. Many people would agree that you can’t fight the BYOD culture (and in effect any digital culture) and why should businesses want to? This ‘always on’ way of working is an advantage for an organisation if it ensures precise guidelines for usage and compliance are laid out and sufficient security policies are in place. Establishing communication as well as knowledge sharing platforms will enable staff to work more efficiently and in a more connected way, whilst also helping businesses to benchmark the productivity of employees no matter where they are.

Collaborative

People within the organisation need to be open about sharing knowledge and insight in order to benefit the wider company rather than their own personal development. This means the mentality of a workforce is vital to maximising any new technology, especially when it comes to collaboration tools and software. A collaborative culture is needed before any new technologies are introduced while everyone needs to be working towards the same goals. If this collective attitude is commonplace within an organisation then there will be a natural fit when collaborative technologies are introduced.

There is no question that technology impacts working practices, but a receptive and open corporate culture must exist for technology to have a positive effect on business processes – rather than a disruptive or, worse still, damaging impact on performance.

Cultivating the right attitude at every level of your business is the best place to start building the solid foundations that will support technological innovation. There should be a symbiotic relationship between technology and corporate culture, as neither technology nor culture can succeed in improving a business’s performance in isolation.

Beach to Breach – Reducing BYOD Security Risks During the Summer Holidays

By Sean Newman, Field Product Manager at Cisco

It’s the time of year when people start booking their summer holidays, and for employers it is vital that they ensure their BYOD policies are rigorous enough to protect their business against any potential data breach while their staff are away enjoying a fortnight in the sun.

The balance between work and social life has become more blurred with employees able to access websites, social media and emails from their smartphones or tablets in or out of the office anytime and anywhere in the world. As a result, concerns around BYOD have increased. While companies recognise the benefits of mobile technology in terms of productivity and competitiveness, they are not always focused on the risk this poses in terms of potential cyber-attack.

There is no doubt that adoption of mobile devices in the workplace presents a challenge that is as much a question of policy and control as it is about the technology itself. According to analyst firm TechMarketView, over 10 million UK employees are predicted to be using personal devices in the workplace by 2016.

Manufacturers are pushing tablets as the must-have device for everyone in the family, whether it’s a high-end iPad from Apple or the new cost-effective Hudl from Tesco. What does that mean for the enterprise? It means an influx of new devices coming onto the network because, you can bet your life they won’t be staying just for the home.

For the IT security team this has the potential to be a real headache as they count the ways in which the BYOD trend complicates their work lives. And, as the transition from desk-bound computers to laptops, tablets and smartphones continues gathering pace, it’s no surprise that hackers are choosing mobile devices as their next target. It makes economic sense and they are simply ‘following the mobile money’.

The issue with employee-owned mobile devices is that they can access corporate resources outside of the control of the corporate IT function. This means it can be difficult to identify even basic environmental data for these devices, such as the number and type of devices being used, and the operating systems and applications they are running.

The proliferation of mobile devices and their growing use in the workplace has fuelled a rapid growth in mobile malware, significantly increasing the risk to individuals and their employers. Research indicates that 79% of malicious attacks on mobiles in 2012 occurred on devices running Google’s Android operating system, according to US authorities. Given the lack of even basic visibility, many IT security teams certainly don’t have the capability to identify potential threats from these devices.

However, despite the pitfalls, the benefits of BYOD are often too strong to ignore.  So, in order to regain control in this mobile world, IT security professionals must be able to see everything in their environment, so they can establish risk level and then secure it appropriately. For most enterprises, the right solution is to implement BYOD policies that clearly define the proper use of employee-owned devices in the enterprise and then have enough checks and controls in place to enforce those policies.

At the end of the day, security of mobile devices is ultimately a question of three phases:

  • Before – establishing control over how mobile devices are used and what data they can access and store.
  • During – Visibility and intelligence is vital if security professionals can hope to identify the threats and risky devices and monitor their activities on the corporate network
  • After – when the inevitable happens and the network is compromised by a threat, be able to retrospectively review how that threat entered the network; which systems it interacted with and what files and applications were run to ensure it can be cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Whilst employees need to remember the risks of spending too long exposed to the sun, when they are on holiday, organisations need to ensure the risks posed by their mobile devices don’t expose corporate assets to misuse or theft, otherwise they won’t be the only ones getting burned.

2014 ­- An Any Device World?

By Paul Steiner, Managing Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa at Accellion

The workplace has always been at the forefront of technological developments. The office of today is almost unrecognisable to the workplace of 40 years ago. A recent report, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Economic and Business Research, showed that worker productivity is nearly five times higher than it was in the 1970s and could increase by another 22% by 2020. But what does the year ahead hold?

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BYOD And The Challenge Of Device Fragmentation

By Stephen Midgley, Vice President, Global Marketing at Absolute Software

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon has been around for a number of years. Even where the IT department hasn’t implemented a specific BYOD policy, many users are still choosing to work through their own personal devices. Often, employees are keen to overcome the limitations of the hardware that the IT department provides, which is often seen as slow, old and inefficient, and instead turn to their own quicker and more powerful consumer products. What this means is that in most corporate environments, you’ll find that the average user now has multiple devices, ranging from a smartphone and possibly a tablet, to a laptop and desktop computer.

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Generation Y’s Hardening Stance Against Corporate BYOD/Bring-Your-Own-Cloud Policies

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking

Fortinet® (NASDAQ: FTNT) – a global leader in high-performance network security – has published global research revealing the growing appetite of Generation Y employees to contravene corporate policies governing use of own devices, personal cloud storage accounts and new technologies such as smart watches, Google Glass and connected cars. Based on findings from an independent 20-country survey of 3,200 employees aged 21-32 conducted during October 2013, the research showed a 42% increase in the willingness to break usage rules compared to a similar Fortinet survey conducted last year[1]. The new research also describes the extent to which Generation Y have been victims of cybercrime on their own devices, their ‘threat literacy’ and their widespread practice for storing corporate assets on personal cloud accounts.

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A Workforce Possessed – How To Manage Our BYOD Addiction

By Andrew Hindle, director, Ping Identity

We are a workforce under the spell of constant connectivity – our professional and personal lives quickly and irreversibly merging into one. No place and time of day is exempt from the demands of the always-on generation. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly a third of UK citizens now access work from their bedrooms, with around a fifth even logging in from a club, cinema or famous landmark. It gets stranger – 20 percent have logged on from a medical establishment or a sporting event, while 17 percent felt the need to stay in touch with work during a date. If you thought nature offers a well-needed escape from the digital obsession, think again. Fourteen percent of UK employees disclosed that their garden shed was their place of choice to access work applications.

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Should You Move To VDI?

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking

An increased demand to work from home or on the road is pulling businesses away from the traditional , company provided desktop work station as the sole location of work. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allows users to access their computing environment from any device by using server-based computing.

Dell have created this great infographic to show the potential pitfalls of bring your own device (BYOD) and how VDI solves these problems.

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Is BYOD A Help Or A Hindrance For IT Managers?

By John Fenech, Solutions Architect Manager, ShoreTel

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has become less of a trend and more of a ubiquitous buzz-term – can something still be considered a ‘trend’ if it has reached commonplace adoption?  As covered many, many times before, BYOD offers a vast array of benefits to employees and employers, such as improved mobility, the ability to manage a disparate workforce, and improved employee satisfaction as the use of one’s own device consistently proves a popular choice in an enterprise.

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