Why many brands think that hybrid work environments are here to stay, and how security is critical in navigating the digital economy

Published December 2, 2022, 1:03 PM

by Enzo Luna

Prior to COVID-19, major multinational firms experimented with the concept of a hybrid workplace, with only a tiny percentage of workers actually engaging in it.

The concept was not entirely new, but the pandemic hastened the global transformation and forced businesses to move to workplaces that are safe, secure, and capable of carrying on normal operations while under strict procedure and lockdowns. Today, as we slowly recover from the pandemic, many companies are beginning to see advantages in their bottom lines, including less overhead costs and increased staff morale and productivity.

According to Microsoft Philippines, adopting a hybrid work environment enables firms to be more nimble and flexible, positioning them for what the future may hold.

Vett Watson, Lead for Modern Work and Security Business, Microsoft Philippines, emphasized this topic  during the recently concluded CXO Innovation Summit 2022, which was hosted by VST ECS Phils, Inc. last November 22-25.

According to Watson, based on Microsoft Work Trends Index Report,  hybrid work is here to stay.

“We firmly believe embracing flexibility is going to be the way to go,” Watson added.

Watson guides attendees on how to Secure Experiences for Hybrid Work from Chip to Cloud featuring Microsoft’s platform and devices.

Furthermore, Watson stated that hybrid work would differ from organization to organization and department to department. And there are still many things that require recommendations.

The 2022 Work Trend Index highlights critical trends based on an external study of 31,000 people in 31 countries, including the Philippines, as well as an analysis of trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365 and labor trends on LinkedIn.

“The point is, that we need to understand that work is not where you are. It’s getting things done  for the delivery of the outcomes for your organization. And so there’s this push shift that we’re advocating with our customers today and our partners to understand that we need to think  about productivity from a perspective of, business results. And so as part of that, one of the things that we’ve launched as part of Microsoft 365 in our productivity and collaboration stack, is something called Microsoft Viva Goals, which helps organizations develop their OKR framework objectives so that they can start looking at what  are the business objectives at the high level, at the corporate strategy level, and how they trickle down those KPIs all the way to individuals in the field,” added Watson.

Lope Doromal, Jr., IBM’s Automation Technical Specialist and Author at IBM Supply Chain and Blockchain Blog, stated that the emphasis on hybrid work is also on the technology side of things. Lope stated that IBM was one of the first companies in the Philippines to adopt a remote work setup as early as 1999, allowing their employees to work from home, employees’ cars, customer locations, and anywhere.

“A big part of this setup was really the change in mindset of the managers in terms of, you have to trust your people that they’re doing their work. Even if you don’t see them every day in the office,” Lope stated.

Lope talked about in his keynote how AI and Automation are used to help analysts connect the dots between threats, helping companies prevent attacks.

The need for additional protection and safeguard resources

According to Ching Ping Wong, Regional Business Development Manager at Fortinet, while companies and businesses are increasingly thinking about allowing employees to work from anywhere, organizations must also recognize the need to implement additional safeguards, such as multi-factor authentication, to allow users to access resources in a safe and secure manner.

“Besides having just the SD-WAN part of things, there are also businesses going into a secure service security certification or SSD where they will have not just security on-prem but also security in the cloud,” said Wong.

Fortinet is seeing an increase in demand for its services, which is being driven by enterprises’ need for a refresh of their security measures, additional protection to support “work from anywhere” setups, and organizations’ need to consolidate and integrate their assets.

CXO Innovation Summit: Cybersecurity

CXO Innovation Summit 2022 covered the significance of hybrid work environment, data security, and the current rise in ransomware attacks against businesses. Ransomware assaults have increased dramatically in recent years, and the damage they cause is expanding to a wide range of industries, including the electricity industry, which relies heavily on data. Organizations experience system outage, financial losses, and significant security mishaps after an attack.

“I think from a cybersecurity standpoint, we’ve seen the acceleration in cybersecurity threats but we also see security as an opportunity for organizations to really build trust  with their customers and partners. In correlation to AI, we see that infusing AI through our security capabilities will also help augment organizations in the Philippines today that are trying to up their security posture,” added Watson who also shared that Microsoft has investments around data and AI security.

Huawei recognizes the rise in cyber threats as the digital economy grows, which is why they invest a lot of time and effort in developing products that go through a very rigorous security procedure. 

“In Huawei we are heavily focused on infrastructure. So what we’ve done is, if you will look at across all our product sets, every single component will have this particular chip designed for artificial intelligence. We are not a security company but we understand the importance. One of our flagship products is the storage. One thing we do is, storage is where data lives and hackers in particular, they actually are targeting those very important data. So what we’ve done is we’ve use artificial intelligence to determine if there is a ransomware. On the fly, we are able to determine those types of infections,” said Arnie Alvarez, CTO & IT Director, Enterprise Business, Huawei Technology.