Even the international pandemic couldn’t slow the world’s fascination with electric vehicles (EVs).

In 2020, a Consumer Reports study found that 31% of drivers were considering an EV as their next auto purchase. When it came to millennials, an astounding 78% expressed interest.

Looking into the future, Ernst & Young predicted that, by 2036, more than half of all new cars sold in the United States would be zero-emission battery EVs.

Through it all, the ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corporation was listening and planning. 

With the environmentally conscious consumer in mind, the Vancouver-based designer and manufacturer had been developing a three-wheeled, single-passenger EV called the SOLO since 2015. As interest built, the company went on an aggressive growth trajectory, extending manufacturing operations in China, breaking ground for an American plant, increasing its trade show, test drive and pop-up presence, and launching a service repair network.

But there were going to be complications, and ElectraMeccanica knew it.

The enterprise architecture needed to identify and analyze the elements needed for execution were not yet integrated. Business processes had to be standardized.

There was no sales or delivery system yet. Potential drivers were required to call customer service for a test drive or reservation, rather than scheduling those services online. Make-to-order processes were manual.

But unlike other companies that had been forced to convert operations from the time-worn, inefficient processes of the past, ElectraMeccanica was brand new, and grasped the urgent need for supporting technology to accommodate its rapid growth ambitions.

As a result, ElectraMeccanica opted to be “digital from the start” – before the first EV rolled off the assembly line in 2021.

Cruise control

As its name implies, the company’s flagship vehicle, the SOLO was engineered for a single occupant. The electric sports car was designed specifically for living in the city, where drivers tend to just pick up a few groceries at a time and navigate their vehicles into small spaces.

Still, the guiding force behind the SOLO’s development was sustainability. Although it was safe to drive on the highway, with a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 100 miles, the primary appeal was that the SOLO would emit zero emissions.

The year 2021 would prove to be the most transformative one in the company’s short existence. But first, it had to create a solid, digital foundation for its operations, including finance, sale, distribution, service, and supply chain.

Digital roadmap

With the assistance of PwC Canada, a member of the global professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), ElectraMeccanica was able to develop its digital-first strategy and roadmap.

The technology that would shepherd the company through this crucial period came from a suite of products from SAP, including SAP S/4HANA as ElectraMeccanica’s core enterprise resource planning system.

With this base, the company was positioned to create user-friendly, real-time business-to-consumer processes, along with an effective finance system, reliable supply chain, and integrated vehicle tracking.

The digital framework ensured that repetitive work tasks were eliminated – and the company now had a strong foundation to launch future projects.

Rolling down the highway

Confident that all contingencies were covered, ElectraMeccanica began serial production of the SOLO and the first-ever commercial deliveries. By the fourth quarter of 2021, 61 customers were driving their EVs.

Reservations and test drives were easily scheduled via ElectraMeccanica’s homepage, while order management was automated.

The company not only produced a world-class digital customer experience in record time but exceeded its own expectations.

For its “digital from the start” approach toward shaping the future of transportation, ElectraMeccanica was honored as a finalist at the 2022 SAP Innovation Awards, a yearly event that highlights organizations using SAP products to change both business and society. You can check out ElectraMeccanica’s Innovation Awards pitch deck here.

Before the end of 2022, the company plans to release a fleet of cargo EVs, each with enough room to run an effective delivery operation.

Looking beyond what’s being developed, CEO Kevin Pavlov noted that the comprehensive system it created to handle its launch will enable ElectraMeccanica to “future-proof our business and empower more informed operational decisions” as the history of EVs continues to be written.

View ElectraMeccanica’s Innovation Awards pitch deck here.

Digital Transformation

The once-common architectural pattern of backhauling network traffic to a central data center or headquarters has been augmented due to the rise of SaaS applications. SaaS uses content distribution systems that replicate data to points of presence around the world for closer and faster access. The applications are designed to use the nearest point of presence to serve content to the end-user.

The 2022 EMA Network Management Megatrends research reveals, “it is the first year that network operations teams have recognized public cloud, SaaS applications, and cloud-native application architectures as the most critical drivers of their network management strategies.”

Organizations still have to connect and secure multiple dispersed endpoints that need access to an ever-expanding enterprise network. Everything from branch offices and mobile users to cloud platforms and SaaS applications has its own separate requirements for connectivity and security.

This is where SASE (secure access service edge) comes in. SASE can be boiled down to an architecture that identifies users, devices, and network traffic, to deliver secure access to the appropriate application or data. It typically addresses the challenge of highly distributed environments where you need to secure access to corporate resources – no matter where users or applications are located.

However, even if SASE architecture aims to provide a set of unified capabilities, the reality check is different regarding actual deployments. Contrary to expectations, many organizations still take a multi-vendor approach, whether it is to avoid vendor lock-in, select best-of-breed components, or leverage existing investments.

As a result, the modern wide area network (WAN) edge infrastructure involves multi-vendor technologies such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and next-generation firewall (NGFW). This complex mix makes it difficult to monitor the infrastructure and detect misconfigurations. And this lack of visibility can quickly turn into performance issues or security breaches.

Understanding the user experience

As organizations embrace the advantages of SASE, many are facing gaps in understanding the end-user experience. Although individual components provide some degree of native monitoring, network operations are running short of options to detect and resolve the root cause of user experience degradations, especially when multiple ISPs and network device vendors are involved.

To deliver reliable edge networking, network professionals need advanced analytics capabilities to gain insights into the end-to-end performance, traffic management complexities, and hybrid WAN configuration. This can typically be referred to as Experience-Driven NetOps. With network teams already stretched thin, it becomes increasingly critical to adopt approaches that correlate user experience issues with the offending WAN edge component or carrier provider so that triage and root cause identification is completed in just a few clicks.

When IT employs continuous monitoring of every app, user, and location across the extended enterprise network, they can proactively detect network and application performance issues before they ever impact end-users. So while this will ideally help speed up mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR), it will, at the very least, accelerate mean-time-to-innocence (MTTI) when issues are blamed on the network team but are really the fault of a third party.

You can learn more about how to tackle the challenges of modern networks in this new eBook, Guide To Visibility Anywhere. Read now and discover how organizations can create network visibility anywhere.

Networking

As Chief Digital Officer for KPMG UK, Lisa Heneghan is charged with leading enterprise-wide transformation for the auditor and tax giant, delivering better client experiences and ensuring that KPMG is “fit for the digital age”.

“I’m responsible for all things technology related in the firm,” Heneghan says. “When you break that down in KPMG, that actually means I have all of our [2,000] client-facing technologists, our internal technology organisation, and I’m also responsible for the digital transformation of our business.”

A CDO’s focus on client outcomes

Heneghan has been at KPMG since 2011 but took on the CDO role three years ago, overseeing the technology function across the audit, advisory, deals, and tax departments. She says the role has changed over time, from establishing the appropriate technology foundations to building the right team; Heneghan has recently built out a CTO team to help develop KPMG’s three-year transformation plan.

Lisa Heneghan, CDO of KPMG UK

KPMG

“When I started the job, it was more about putting in place strong foundations in terms of capability, architecture and security,” she says. “This involved understanding the landscape and identifying a route to the cloud and building an IT organisation to support the future and, critically, putting in place structure and governance to drive sustainable change.”

“Stage two was more about rolling out the tools to support our people to do their jobs – physical tools, collaboration tools – and establish new ways of working. Now, we are able to focus on our integrated value chain and how we simplify and optimise.”

Her focus now is firmly on improving experiences for KPMG staff and clients.

“I always maintain that focus on the clients: what our clients need and how we work with them,” says Heneghan, who similarly acknowledges KPMG’s auditing challenges in recent months.

“A big part of what I’ve got is our client-facing technologists. So, I spend probably half of my week working with them and working on the big transformation programmes that we’ve got for clients. The other half of my time is where I’m linking into global… to make sure we are connected, and that we can bring the value from global.”

Digital ninjas and hybrid innovation centres

KPMG’s digital transformation journey has four pillars, Heneghan says: developing the digital brand, building digital culture, ensuring the organisation has strong technology foundations and installing tools and technologies.

Strong technology foundations boil down to improving architecture, security and capability, and embedding the technology function within the business through KPMG’s team of CTOs, who have built the roadmaps for transformation. Building a digital culture, meanwhile, relies heavily on KPMG’s “digital ninjas” programme to drive the adoption and use of technology put in place.

KPMG’s Digital Ninjas are experts who offer one-on-one sessions, presentations, and respond to ad hoc IT enquiries

KPMG

Since the onset of the global pandemic, and the introduction of hybrid and remote working, KPMG rolled out Microsoft Surface devices and Microsoft Teams for company-wide communication – but it quickly realised that there were differing levels of technical literacy. The auditor turned to its digital ninjas for help.

Focusing explicitly on Microsoft skills, digital ninjas offer one-on-one sessions, presentations, and a response to ad hoc enquiries on everything from how to use Teams to OneDrive and OneNote, as well as SAP’s Concur and Pointprogress’s MyTime mobile timesheets.

“We’ve now got nearly 1,000 Ninjas within the firm…in all offices in the UK. It really builds into the demographic of our organisation, where we have an average age of 28.”

“They’re people who have a day job to do, and they’re learning within those businesses, but they’re digital natives; they understand and are passionate about technology. They want their experience here to be as good as their experience at home,” Heneghan says.

Results from the Digital Ninjas programme include: 

Helping to drive 100% adoption of Microsoft Teams (equalling more than 15,000 KPMG UK colleagues using the tool). All staff now use Teams as their go-to collaboration tool.Training more than 5,000 KPMG staff in Microsoft Teams in March 2020, when the pandemic first hit and the company moved to virtual working.Training more than 500 NSPCC staff on using Microsoft products – enabling their staff to connect and support children and families who most need their support during COVID-19.Digital Ninjas are helping define and improve hybrid working culture. As one such example, in hybrid meetings, Ninjas have found it feels more inclusive if those attending virtually speak first.

KPMG has also trained 30,000 people in the programming language Python, while the professional services firm is experimenting with new ways of working through Ignition, its technology innovation, insights, and collaboration hub at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London.

The Ignition centre facilitates sprints and innovation sessions and aids staff and partners in brainstorming more significant “complex operating model type issues”, Heneghan says.

Career progression for women in tech, plus skills gaps

Encouraging women to pursue tech careers is close to Heneghan’s heart and perhaps unsurprisingly so, given almost half of KPMGs technology workforce is now female, thanks largely to the firm’s IT’s Her Future initiative.

“We’ve had a massive increase,” she says. “We started off focusing on bringing in people as females at the graduate level, and then building that up, and then we started to focus on how do we help them to progress? Because it’s incredibly important that you keep building that pipeline.”

“As of July 2021, 43% of the overall technology teams are female. Women span a whole array of technology roles at KPMG, including data engineers, data analysts, artificial intelligence experts, developers, software testers, information security analysts, cloud engineers…the list goes on.”

IT’s Her Future initiative is now trickling into universities and colleges, too.

“We have dedicated streams which work to encourage girls from universities into technology apprentices and graduate programmes. We also hold external events for young women looking to embark on a career in STEM so they can see the options available to them at KPMG.”

The firm is now exploring other ways of working with higher education. For example, its relationship with the University of Nottingham focuses on advancing local data analytics skills and capabilities.

Specialists from the university’s Data-Driven Discovery Initiative (3Di) and KPMG are working together to develop new research and provide insight that will enhance data and analytics services for businesses, and the partnership will hold events to support the innovative ideas of small and medium sized enterprises in the East Midlands Region and provide data skills training to help close the digital skills gap.

The collaboration between KPMG and the University of Nottingham forms part of the university’s new programme, Digital Nottingham, which has ambitions to transform the East Midlands city through data science, technology and innovation.

IT Leadership

Mike Potter, the former interim executive director, digital transformation and group CIO of utility company Thames Water, has been named chief digital officer by the British government.

Potter has held senior IT roles in both public and private sector over the last 20 years, including as interim chief digital information officer at the HMRC in 2017. The appointment was approved by now-interim prime minister Boris Johnson, and announced at the same time as the government’s appointment of Chief People Officer Fiona Ryland.

The announcement of the new chief digital officer comes after many months of external recruitment. As previously reported on CIO.com, Joanna Davidson plans to retire after her 18-month stint as the executive director of the Cabinet Office’s Central Digital and Data office (CDDO), and recruitment for her successor was overseen by a panel comprising civil service COO Alex Chisholm, CDDO non-executive chair Paul Wilmott, and Gina Gill, CDIO at the Cabinet Office.

Potter’s primary duties will include owning the vision and strategy for digital, data, and technology (DDaT) for government, and providing the “professional leadership of the DDaT function, including setting cross-government workforce strategy”, according to an earlier job posting for the position.

The announcement comes weeks after the announcement of the UK’s latest digital strategy, which promises to deliver better citizen experiences, improved accessibility, shared data between central departments, and to upskill civil servants – but which left many public sector technology leaders with a sense of deja vu.

Potter will lead a team of 200 specialists in the CDDO and will report to Chisholm. The CDDO is responsible for setting DDaT strategy in collaboration with government digital leaders, and for monitoring the health of the delivery of major digital and data programmes. In recent months, it has actively tried to improve collaboration across government departments, and to reduce work duplication.

“As the new Government Chief Digital Officer, Mike will be harnessing the unprecedented opportunities for digital technologies and data across the Civil Service, strengthening UK Government delivery both immediately and in the years to come,” Chisholm said in a statement.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to take on the role of Government CDO and I’m delighted to be returning to public service at such an important time,” added Potter, who has also formerly held senior roles in Cabinet Office, the Environment Agency and NHS Blood and Transplant.

“I’m looking forward to working with colleagues across the civil service to continue to grow the digital skills we need for the future and deliver the roadmap for digital and data.”

Government IT

Due to social distancing imposed over the last couple of years, the cyber industry has accelerated in all areas of life across Africa, especially in health in a relentless quest for solutions for the Covid-19 crisis. Africa has advanced with entrepreneurs who have tried to make the most of digital opportunities in a sector that has major shortcomings. Most notably, the chronic shortage of skilled personnel on the continent, which the WHO detailed in a June 2022 report predicting a shortage of millions of health professionals in Africa by 2030, an increase of 45% since 2013, when last estimates were made. Yet the report also envisaged a “promising future” for e-health on the continent, noting that a new wave of mobile technology is radically changing the way health care is delivered in urban and rural communities.

However, numbers and opinions of the overall situation aren’t encouraging.

As of November 2020, 34 member states in the WHO African region have developed digital health strategies, but these have so far only been implemented in 12 countries.

Africa has low maturity, is the least advanced in infrastructure, and lags behind the global average in legislation, policy and compliance, standards and operability, and infrastructure according to the Global Digital Health Index Indicator 2019.

Between telemedicine, awareness and prevention through mobile health promotion applications, monitoring of patients and epidemics via electronic medical records, the scope of e-health is wide and there are many levels of difficulty to overcome so called “medical deserts” in Africa, according to Hadi Zarzour, manager of Africa and the Middle East at Evolucare, a French company that publishes health software and an expert in health information systems.

“Today in Africa, there’s a growing ambition to go digital because it allows us to secure data,” says Zarzour. “We no longer lose the patient’s data as we used to do with paper. The information is preserved and digital allows us to store, trace and archive this data for better medical follow-up and to avoid bad communication of medical information.”

CIO, Digital Transformation, Medical Devices, Startups

Altering your approach as a CIO is critical in leading digital transformation within healthcare organizations. The goal of healthcare digital transformation is to achieve clinical, financial, and operational strategic goals, but this journey is complex and requires the mobilization of technology, resources, processes, and talent.

Every aspect of what healthcare organizations do is affected by digital transformation – from enhancing the patient experience to making data-driven decisions and automating processes. With so much at stake, the CIO cannot go it alone.

Here are four steps for CIOs to focus on when they are leading digital transformation in healthcare:

Focus on the true meaning of a digital transformation journey for your healthcare organization

Too often, healthcare executives are seduced by cutting-edge technologies. Blockchain, virtual reality, and wearable gadgets may be popular now, but they aren’t the same as digitalization.

Instead, leaders must ensure their organizations avoid shiny objects. CIO must build consensus around a shared definition of digital transformation, focusing on the company’s ability to enhance clinical, financial, and operational performance.

Technology can revolutionize healthcare only if healthcare organizations take a thoughtful, patient-centered approach. This method emphasizes using technology to advance long-term strategic objectives such as providing services, entering new markets, and forming partnerships with other companies to create alliances and strengthen connections between patients.

Become the chief “impact” officer as the new CIO brand

Shift your attention away from “information” or “technology,” as these aren’t prerequisites for joining the digital revolution. While the CIO, CTO, CSO, CNIO, and CMIO are all likely to play essential roles in the digital transformation process, it affects every level and department of an organization.

Transformational progress necessitates the buy-in and engagement of executives across the company hierarchy. The new buzzword is impact; be the chief impact officer.

Create sustainable vs. quick wins

This isn’t a one-and-done project. It’s a complex, all-encompassing corporate plan that must be implemented as part of an overall business strategy and attitude.

Consider the impact of your strategy, sustainability, alignment, and other topics as the company goes through its plan. Consider these themes in each area while executing your strategy.

Sustainability – The transformation program aims to deliver stated business and clinical outcomes over the next one to three years to maintain them for seven years.

Alignment – Make sure your transformation initiative aligns with your company’s primary objectives and has measurable clinical, operational, and financial effects.

Enterprise-wide mentality shift

Culture can make or break your digital strategy. Here are two crucial foundational qualities needed for success:

Doing things differently – As a leader, encourage alternative solutions to problems by challenging the status quo. Every opportunity should be looked at in terms of how it may be improved, even if things are going well. Your teams will be able to copy your behavior when they see you driving change.

Make a decision – It’s a disadvantage to linger on making a final decision until you have all the information. Because transformation is new, and there may not be enough data elements to back up a decision. CIOs must be comfortable making an informed selection even if complete facts aren’t available. Remember: not making a decision is a decision.

Transformation in healthcare is a journey, not a destination. And it requires a new way of thinking for CIOs. You must focus on the meaning of digital transformation, become the chief impact officer, make sustainable wins vs. quick ones, and shift the enterprise-wide mentality. With these steps, digital transformation can be a success. 

Digital Transformation, Healthcare Industry

Digital transformation goes well beyond reducing physical assets to bits. Digital transformation leverages software to re-invent the entire LBGUPS (Learn, Buy, Get, Use, Pay & Support) business value chain.

I suspect almost all reading this post are involved in digital transformations at work and see it in action throughout daily life. For example, over the past two days, I’ve:

Designed a customized pair of sneakers online and had them shipped to my houseOrdered lunch from a quick service restaurant and had it delivered in under an hourReviewed a proof-of-concept product design with colleagues and business partners simultaneously located on three separate continents—whom I have never met in person—using video conferencing Microsoft Teams and several SaaS design platformsBeen frustrated talking to a call center to unwind a purchase I made online

We all see the blending of the physical and digital worlds accelerating, and the rate of change in digital spheres of commerce is outpacing what is happening in the “real world.”

This digital transformation requires businesses to bring together data, applications, and users in a secure way—across digital and hybrid environments that are distributed, complex, and expanding.

What’s fueling accelerated digital transformation?

Cloud and edge computing

Computing itself has undergone a digital transformation and it is now dramatically more efficient to consume processing as a service. The shift to the public cloud from private data centers has been swift and sweeping, and cloud-based applications are the new standard. In fact, 85% of enterprises will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025 and 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms.

Likewise, edge computing continues to mature, bolstered by ever more powerful, available, and diverse wireless networks. Bringing computing and analytics closer to data sources allows for faster processing and opens new possibilities for IoT applications. With a projected eight-fold increase in applications at the edge, edge computing is fundamentally transforming the ways businesses handle, process, and deliver data.

Abundant bandwidth

Gone are the days when enterprises were hampered when it comes to speed. Legacy-constrained telco connectivity should no longer constrain business solutions. With widely available broadband, dedicated Ethernet options, plus access to private wireless networks, IT leaders have access to more modes of bandwidth than ever before. The task turns to orchestrating this diverse connectivity model for optimized cost and performance.

A hybrid approach to the modern workplace

Traditional networking and security structures were oriented around the once universally accepted practice of employees working inside an office building. Data and applications sat inside data centers. Employees accessed the Internet within the confines of the on-premise network. It’s not as though remote work wasn’t a factor at all, but the on-premise employees and data within a tightly guarded perimeter was the norm.

Fast forward to today and the unexpected success of work-from-anywhere has spurred on new levels of digital innovation, with long-distance collaboration happening easily and seamlessly. With network access required well beyond a company location to a user (which increasingly could be a bot or software application, rather than a person) wherever it may be and on whatever device the call is from, the number of endpoints has grown exponentially.

Enter the need for integrated networking and security

The past few years have been a digital whirlwind, and as digital business expands, it becomes more and more clear just how inextricable security is from the equation. CIOs earned a bigger seat at the table through the course of the pandemic, and it put them front and center in boardroom-level conversations around cybersecurity.

The implications on security of the above three trends fueling digital transformation are profound —we need to protect data and applications that may be located anywhere, to which there are plentiful and multiple bandwidth paths, from end users that are increasingly not even human.

CIOs are challenged with securing an ever-more cloud-reliant, distributed, data-driven, and bandwidth-consuming enterprise with largely the same resources at their disposal. Addressing the security needs of this new reality comes in part through a unified networking and security approach that not only covers networking from edge to cloud and back again, but better protects an ever-growing attack surface.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a term first coined by Gartner, is a framework that integrates networking and advanced security in a single, unified, cloud-delivered service—and it’s currently one of the fastest-growing network and security categories.

SASE is SD-WAN-as-a-service and security-as-a-service. Let’s look at each:

Software-defined wide area networking

Offering more flexibility at low cost, software-defined networking, or SD-WAN, abstracts network control from the connectivity layer and enables real-time monitoring, reporting, and analytics across network nodes.

SD-WAN architectures support modern, distributed, hybrid workforces, offering key benefits like network resiliency, application visibility and optimization, automated bandwidth management, and performance and availability of cloud-based workloads.

Capabilities like application-aware routing help to reduce the threat surface by segmenting mission-critical systems from less-critical ones. Secure tunnel traffic encryption, meanwhile, helps securely connect sites across geographies. And finally, single-pane-of-glass monitoring allows IT teams to monitor all traffic and ports from anywhere, identifying and mitigating risks and problems as they arise.

Next-gen security architecture

An integrated security infrastructure that is capable of meeting the demands of a cloud-first, hybrid world needs to not only identify potential attacks, but also constantly monitor, prevent, and mediate them. An effective integrated security architecture should include key functionality elements like:

Managed UTM: Managed Unified Threat Management (UTM) rolls several security functions like intrusion detection, Layer 7 firewall, application control, and content monitoring into a single managed solution, delivering one management and reporting point and eliminating the need for multiple systems. With on-premise and cloud-based solutions available, managed UTM provides enhanced monitoring and greater visibility for resource-strapped IT teams.Firewall-as-a-service: Many legacy firewalls are ineffective against modern threats on a distributed network. Managed firewall solutions allow for customized rules based on specific needs, helping protect against external threats to a LAN network.Cloud access security broker: A cloud access security broker sits between cloud users and cloud service providers to enforce enterprise security policies, leveraging tools like single sign-on, authentication, credential mapping, and more.Secure web gateway: Secure web gateways filter unwanted access, software, and malware as employees access the Internet.Zero-trust network access: (ZTNA) enables safe and secure access to enterprise applications for remote users. Zero trust operates on the assumption that trust is never implicit, only offering access to specific applications or services, as opposed to an entire network.

In addition to the above security elements, two others exist outside the strict SASE framework and are also necessary, including:

DDoS mitigation: Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks flood traffic to a server, website, or network resource, overloading systems, slowing down services, and making networks more vulnerable to future malicious attacks. Effective DDoS mitigation detects suspicious and malicious traffic, drops and rate-limits traffic as a first line of defense, diverts traffic to scrubbing centers, and allows clean, legitimate traffic to continue to access the network, minimizing dips in experience or access.Managed detection and response: Through managed detection and response, organizations work with their internal cybersecurity team or third-party partners to quickly detect, analyze, investigate, and actively respond to threats via mitigation and containment, and then remediate any harm.

As digital transformation continues to evolve, taking on seemingly new definitions with each passing year, the imperative to digitally innovate and create a secure networking environment capable of supporting that innovation compounds in lockstep. The need for a new approach to networking and security—and a trusted managed service partner that can deliver flexibility and security—is now more apparent than ever before.

Be ready for tomorrow’s security threats with the next generation of secure networking solutions, with Ethernet, SD-WAN and advanced security, from Comcast Business.

To learn more visit https://business.comcast.com/enterprise/products-services/secure-network-solutions

Digital Transformation

The shift to a digital business environment in financial services began well before the pandemic pushed it and other sectors to more rapidly embrace digital transformation. As customers have become increasingly digitally savvy, they demand that financial services firms be more responsive to their needs. Those organizations that don’t make that change risk losing their customers to those that adopted an agile, customer-centric approach to business.

The financial services sector is also subject to more rigorous regulatory requirements than some other industries. Protection of PII data is critical, as financial services firms are extremely popular targets for hackers. Even in the best of times, financial organizations were under constant threat of a cyberattack. During the pandemic, that threat multiplied exponentially.

Three-quarters (74%) of banks experienced a rise in cyber crime since the pandemic began in 2019. However, for many financial services organizations, security and agility traditionally haven’t been mutually achievable—oftentimes, one was sacrificed for the other. That won’t work in today’s digital environment, where customer experience is the top priority.

Customers today want a user experience that is seamless across devices and environments. These days, it’s not unusual for a customer to access a bank’s mobile app to check their account balance, deposit a check or chat with a representative. Customers want to be able to transfer money to anyone, anywhere; get an answer instantly regarding their loan application; and have access to their deposits right away, with no hold on their funds. They want to initiate a transaction online and have the option to finish it in the branch via a rep (either in-person or via video) who can also let the customer know about service offerings that may be beneficial to them. And they want all these things with minimal friction or delay.

Enabling these customer-centric services requires a level of agility not seen traditionally in financial services organizations. Organizations must also ensure their data is protected and compliant. SD-WAN can help financial services organizations achieve network agility and security. Its benefits are myriad and far-reaching, able to accommodate the services that enable financial services organizations to provide customers with the highest-quality experience from anywhere, on any device. Its design provides for fast, efficient movement of data on the network while ensuring security and data integrity.

An SD-WAN overlays traditional or hybrid WAN infrastructures and locates the software or hardware nodes at each location and in the cloud. Then, based on policies defined by the operator, SD-WAN steers the traffic along the best path to ensure data moves along the fastest route.

The application-aware nature of SD-WAN enables IT administrators to determine the most intelligent path for their applications and push, manage and update policies for optimal application and network performance across locations. And because a SD-WAN is centrally managed, all provisioning and changes to the network and applications are done from one location—reducing the time and resources necessary to manage the network. Additionally, all security policies can be managed centrally, enabling IT administrators to implement security updates to all devices and users on the entire network quickly and easily, to help enable compliance.

With a software-defined infrastructure, it is also easier to collect network usage information, which could help organizations better detect anomalous behavior that could point to a security breach or attack. When combined with managed security services and solutions such as next-generation firewalls and secure web gateways, SD-WAN can provide financial services organizations with an infrastructure that offers security as well as the performance necessary for providing high-quality customer experiences.

Comcast Business offers a unique set of secure network solutions to help power financial services organizations. Its portfolio of security offerings includes DDoS mitigation, managed firewall and unified threat management, all designed to complement its SD-WAN technology.

Be ready for tomorrow’s security threats with the next generation of secure networking from Comcast Business. Learn more about Comcast Business Secure Network Solutions.

SD-WAN

Cybersecurity is top of mind for everyone. For IT teams, the list of concerns has been magnified by a more dispersed workforce and the need to assess the risks associated with a proliferation of connected devices, the vanishing perimeter and the ever-changing threat landscape. The increased adoption of cloud computing also poses inherent challenges. All these variables force the need for organizations to transform their security postures to protect against cloud infrastructure vulnerabilities. However, the increased complexity of a distributed application architecture brought on by digital transformation continues to challenge even the largest security operations. As a result of the rapid digital transformation, security postures may need to be updated and adjusted to support this increased complexity.

The uptick in remote work setups and more digital-first business models are pushing organizations to apply secure access no matter where their users, applications or devices are located. To provide the level of security necessary to protect the variety of new systems implemented, many enterprises are shifting to more cloud-friendly and behavior-based security approaches. The secure access service edge (SASE) framework in particular enables businesses to upgrade their network edge and security simultaneously, and then managed network and security services can provide much needed expertise and support in a quickly evolving field.

Hybrid model brings new challenges and security vulnerabilities

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2022 report, people want the freedom to work where and when they want. To accommodate this trend and maintain operations as usual, it is critical for IT teams to help safeguard employees, facilities, data, reputation, and products. In many hybrid scenarios, workers are moving between secure office environments with enterprise network monitoring, firewalls, event and data analytics to vulnerable home networks that may have rogue devices, weak passwords or outdated equipment.

There is no one-size-fits all security posture, and IT leaders need to regularly assess their vulnerabilities to ensure that security spans every new internal digital process, external product developed, and Internet opportunity created.

In an accelerated digital transformation environment, the mix of on-premises and private cloud systems makes securing data even more complex. For this reason, the zero trust approach must be considered. With zero trust, it shouldn’t matter where employees are working. Security inside and outside the organization needs to be based on policies developed for their specific needs. Scaling this approach can be daunting, but the key is to focus on all threat vectors that could impact securing corporate infrastructure, cloud environments, and home networks while ensuring a great user experience and application performance.

Securing the shift to the cloud

As organizations look to build and sustain resiliency in the next phase of their digital transformation, they need to consider the security and risk implications of this journey to the cloud. Again, there is no one-size fits all protection and the security requirements for cloud differ from on-premise architectures. The evaluation process needs to involve a higher level of third-party scrutiny for cloud-based applications. For this, the expectation is that security needs to be incorporated at the development level through a “dev-sec-ops” model. This will prove to be a competitive advantage for all cloud application development going forward.

With an increase in remote users and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, data moving from the data center to cloud services, and more traffic going to public cloud services and branch offices than back to the data center, the need for a new approach for network security continues to increase. Unfortunately, weak security for cloud-based services opens the door to bad actors. SASE is a framework approach that addresses the need to connect network and security to secure all traffic flows. Legacy network technologies and approaches may no longer provide the levels of security and access control digital organizations need. These organizations demand immediate, uninterrupted access for their users, no matter where they are located.

The SASE framework is the convergence of network and security services. This framework brings geographically disparate end points together with a common security policy whether you’re in a coffee shop, at home or in an office. The SASE framework is somewhat of an evolution of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) — taking the application awareness and traffic steering of wide area networking (WAN) and building upon that by extending to the cloud and providing security end to end. This approach allows the flexibility for deeper security protections as the extension of the network continues – further evolving businesses on their zero trust, multi-cloud, and edge computing journeys.

Managed network and security: Considering a partner

The last 2+ years have stretched the limits of IT teams across the board. Their plates are filled with digitally-based business challenges that they probably never expected and enhancing their cybersecurity posture likely tops most of their to-do lists. The sheer scale of work is emphasizing the value of managed services, including managed security. Trusted partners can provide a strong understanding of their network and find the best solutions for their business.

Working with a service provider that has a broad purview of the threat landscape can help a company reduce a threat before it even reaches the organization’s systems. In fact, 57% of respondents to a recent IDC survey on managed security services claimed that the top reason for engaging with managed security service providers is to protect against advanced security threats. Managed security providers that offer flexible delivery models across on-premises, hosted, and cloud environments can provide broad threat visibility for proactive detection of and response to malicious activities.

Conclusion

Cyberthreats are continually evolving, becoming more sophisticated, and more difficult to detect. At the same time, digital transformation to support a more remote workforce and customer experience is increasingly more mobile. Employees will continue working from anywhere and applications will continue to migrate to the cloud. More SaaS platforms will be adopted. As organizations look to optimize their security posture in this new environment, the need to shift towards software-defined networking, with advanced security enabled within the WAN and cloud environments, is more apparent than ever.

Be ready for tomorrow’s security threats with the next generation of secure networking from Comcast Business. Learn more about Comcast Business Secure Network Solutions.

Network Security