A seismic shift in trust for the connected enterprise
Futurists create predictions for the technology trends and landscape every year. However, nobody could have predicted the events of 2020, nor the fundamental changes they brought to the idea of remote working.
Until this year, office workplaces remained central to the idea of a modern enterprise. Historically, established businesses have foundations built in the last century, and the corporate world is still primarily defined by the baby boomers—a group that entered the workforce before mobile phones, personal computers, and the internet even existed.
The concept of remote working used to raise concerns over productivity and motivation. This is why many organizations have not enabled remote working as part of their normal business practices before now.
Organizations that were still largely built around an office-based model have had to scramble the hardest to set up remote working capabilities.
The four waves of remote working
According to Boston Consulting Group, there are four waves of remote working. The first wave occurred a decade ago and was designed to save costs. In recent years the second wave aimed to offer remote work to attract and retain talent or tap into global ecosystems and partnerships across organizations’ supply chains.
Now, we’re in the middle of the COVID-19-induced third wave. Remote working has been embraced as a business continuity tool to stay functional during COVID-19. We are now seeing a shift in thinking of remote work as “the new normal,” deployed as a tool to achieve competitive advantage. We will start to see remote working deployed at scale across key industry verticals and extend into next-generation technologies.
“CIOs now need to think about how to make this happen,” says Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific at Verizon. “Following the accelerated efforts to bring digital transformation projects ahead of schedule to cope with COVID-19, what we know is that the new normal will be different. Organizations wishing to drive sustainable competitive advantage will have to resolve a set of challenges across both technologies and people, and piece together talent attraction and retention, employee engagement and partner engagement effectiveness in a cohesive manner.”
Underlying this wave will be the emerging deployment across key industries of a set of new technologies now taking shape, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and spatial sensing and mapping. Organizations will also need to continue making digital transformation front and center of any future strategy. And overlaying trust will be critical for CIOs in evaluating any current and emerging technology.
Establishing zero-trust for remote workplaces
When most people talk about remote working today, they are really talking about working from home. CIOs’ challenge is that most current workplace constructs cannot be fully scaled to support a flexible remote working model.
One of the key areas a CIO will need to consider for an employee to work remotely effectively is establishing a zero-trust security implementation that strengthens the protection of sensitive information outside physical offices.
Sensitive information includes customer, financial and personal data, which are fundamental for all organizations, large and small. Many companies have historically restricted access to sensitive data to on-premises devices, so shifting to employee homes (as needed) may be largely unprecedented territory.
Security issues also become more complex when data and applications utilize hybrid storage, i.e., a mix of on-premise and cloud storage. So the challenge is to protect access to sensitive data while maintaining the availability of resources.
Organizations need to adopt robust protect, detect, and respond mechanisms.
- Protect—CIOs will need to establish a security architecture designed to support remote working, e.g., one that leverages strong identity management, multifactor authentication, VPN, trusted mobile endpoints, network segmentation, and post-authentication access controls. The use of personal devices for work also has to be weighed, as this may pose challenges when it comes to corporate-wide malware propagation and data privacy issues.
- Detect—Consider implementing fully integrated risk monitoring and detection capabilities for work-from-home devices to identify potential security breaches. Organizations need to build deep, end-to-end, integrated data and analytics capabilities to detect breaches early while working to reduce the impact of phishing attacks.
- Respond—How will your organization deal with a security threat? This is obviously easier within an “internal” environment and more complicated in a remote work model with multiple mobile endpoints. Cyber-risk monitoring enables organizations to manage their security posture. CIOs should also consider retaining professional support services to assist in the event of a security breach.
Looking ahead to 5G and mobile edge computing
Looking ahead, CIOs will need to contend with 5G and mobile edge computing (MEC). In particular, 5G will enhance remote working, spurring more digital transformation initiatives.
Any zero-trust environment will need to consider the impact that 5G and MEC will have on an organization, along with other technical building blocks. When 5G is available, it is expected to deliver faster download speeds, greater capacity, and better quality communications, thus addressing stable connectivity issues in certain locations. However, it can also accelerate any unsecured access to networks, potentially opening up greater vulnerabilities than before.
The time is now
COVID-19 upended the world in an instant. It’s critical to begin strategizing and implementing the technical building blocks outlined here to enable your organization to rapidly scale, adapt, and become future-ready for remote working. And given pre-pandemic remote working trends, it’s safe to say that we’re well on our way to the fourth wave of remote working. Start now to ensure you’re capturing your employees’ and customers’ needs, and be sure to create alignment across the organization as we pivot toward the new normal.
Verizon can help your organization address zero trust deployments across current and future technology networks. For more information about trust in the connected enterprise, click here.
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