Digital transformation is everywhere – and it’s affecting everyone and every business. Organizations face unprecedented pressure to change the way they do business. Not just that; everything they do must be secure and compliant.  

The last 12 months have seen our experts write about a myriad of topics from the Internet of Things (IoT), Operational Technology (OT) and automation through to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), threat intelligence, incident response and cyber insurance. And there have been posts about simply sharing responsibility for cybersecurity and getting the basics right (subjects we sadly find ourselves covering year after year).

But there is one topic that really grabbed the attention of our Business Blog readers in 2018 – and that’s Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI brings risks as well as opportunities for driving digital transformation. And what its impact on people and also our leaders? 

Find out below with a round-up of our top five business blog posts.

Balancing privacy rights in the world of machine learning and AI

We’re now in the throes of the brave new world of the GDPR – and the sky has not yet fallen in. When our privacy expert Dominic Newton attended Infosecurity Europe 2018, the GDPR was very much in evidence, and speakers across the event majored on it. But the focus was on security rather than privacy, with the rise of machine learning and AI a key theme. 

Surely vendors need to consider the privacy implications too?

Granted, machine learning and AI-based security analytics are the way forward in helping meet the myriad threats we face but the case in favor needs to be thoroughly explained – through DPIAs, privacy notices and good communication. This is about keeping employees’ data safe, and protecting the business. And documented controls are needed too – against mis-use, combining of data-sets for performance management or just snooping.  

In fact, there is a strong argument that it’s actually less privacy-invasive that a machine looks at employee behaviors, rather than some guys in the IT team that you’ll bump into in the break room… a machine doesn’t judge, obeys rules and doesn’t chat to its friends about you – at least, of course, until the machine itself becomes truly sentient and can make up its own mind…

Digital transformation: why leaders need to transform themselves first to drive success

Digital transformation is powering the growth of smart cities, advances in clinical care, and is even being touted by politicians as the Holy Grail to social and economic advancement.  

It’s no bad thing but we shouldn’t forget that, on the flip-side, there are fundamental risks for many people – most notably of skills becoming outdated faster than ever before. Many employees therefore understandably fear the consequences of digitization, and may feel they’re unable to adapt to this new transformation paradigm.

This presents modern business leaders with a very acute set of challenges. To overcome these, they will need a new style of leadership, and a new structure for their organizations that helps drive the right behavior in employees.

So what’s the answer? Kai Grunwitz explains the three main pillars of successful digital leadership: Trust, Empowerment and Accountability (TEA).

Forget Industry 4.0 – we need to build Society 5.0 and sell the benefits to the populace

Society today is split in two. On the one side, there are those who embrace innovation and digitization. On the other, there are the “digital losers” who don’t see the point or are actively hostile to technological progress. They’re skeptical of using new cloud, mobile and smart technologies and they may even fear their jobs will one day be usurped by machines. 

Yet, as Kai explains, technology can help to truly transform and improve society. 

Think about smart healthcare and education, smart cities and even governments. Together they could form the nucleus of a safer, happier, more productive, inclusive and environmentally friendly society: a “Society 5.0” like the kind currently being developed in Japan. In the Far East, they’re already building a secure, empowering, innovative environment where all citizens can participate.

Industry and governments elsewhere around the world must therefore improve development and access to disruptive technologies which could create a newer, better society. But they also need to sell it better to the citizens it could benefit most. 

Until then, many of us will continue to fear digital change. We mustn’t let that happen.

Starting with “why” in the cybersecurity business

Simon Sinek, a well-known thinker on leadership, always says “start with why”. What are our values, and why would clients resonate with those values in the long run? Having joined NTT Security in 2018 to lead Americas marketing, Stephen Bloom had a great opportunity to see “the why” in action.

He found that any managed service, but particularly security, is a trust business; the sophistication of attackers and the scope of exploits are growing exponentially; and people are the core strength. 

So why should this matter to the enterprise or security leader? The key takeaway is this: really understand the values of the partners you trust to support your business, and not just the services line-up, processes, SLAs, and pricing. Does their “why?” align with yours? More on this in future posts. 

The AI revolution: why we need the right frameworks to avoid disaster

We hate to end our ‘top five’ on a disaster but there’s danger ahead if we let AI grow unfettered. Although the doomsday scenarios painted by Hollywood make for great headlines, there are greater risks facing us in the nearer term. 

The first is based around mankind’s existential fears of one day being replaced by machines. Many people are rightly concerned that their jobs could become obsolete as machines get smarter. The second concern is around our over reliance as a society on AI-based technologies. When critical decisions are taken by AI bots, can we be sure they’re the right decisions? 

We’re at the start of an exciting journey here; one which could result in some fantastic wins for us all. But Kai explains that we first need to develop the right social, ethical and even political frameworks to manage the growth of AI, ensuring we use it responsibly and in a way that gets mass buy-in from the populace. That way, the technology wonderland of today doesn’t become the dystopia of tomorrow.