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OFFICE IN THE CLOUD: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

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Aidan Simister

By Aidan Simister, Director of UK Sales, Intermedia EMEA

Despite the fact that it has had such a transformational effect on so many businesses and marketplaces, many organisations are still too afraid to adopt cloud computing.

I have seen a large number of flimsy barriers placed in cloud computing’s path over the last few months, from it posing an increased security risk to the prospect of losing control. Some businesses have always had an in-house IT person and cannot see life continuing without them.

Many of these points have been put together by traditional tin vendors. After dismissing cloud at its inception, some vendors have missed out on its benefits and are now desperately trying to play catch-up after the horse has already bolted.

Unwitting cloud adopters

Aidan Simister

Aidan Simister

I like to sit back and soak up these conversations, before asking “have you tried cloud before?”. The answer will inevitably be “no”, but often without realising it, many companies are actually already using the cloud for very important business functions. If the cloud is so dangerous, why are they using Salesforce? It’s a cloud-based CRM system. Why are they putting financial information on Sage, which is all saved in the cloud?

A lot of organisations are already unwittingly using the same technology they feel too afraid to use.

Look at it this way: a good in-house IT employee comes with a cost – not just their wages, but also training, the tools to do their job with,  the in-house IT infrastructure and server room within which they work – and the technology required to protect the servers from external breaches. Not only does all of this cost money but it will also take up physical office space at a time when it has become even more costly than ever. Many mid-market businesses will simply not be able to afford that. With an office-in-the-cloud provider like Intermedia your data is stored in an air-cooled, purpose-built and secure UK data centre. With a traditional in-house system, if your office burned down, what would you do? How about if somebody tried to break in – do you have a secure room, or is all that business-critical equipment just sat in a back room?

And what if that employee left the organisation, taking all your login details and passwords with them? It would take a long time to change passwords and cancel inactive logins, and sometimes this never happens, leaving the organisation exposed. With an office-in-the-cloud system, you can stay firmly in control and these can be instantly re-assigned in a few clicks.

Stick to your strengths

I see businesses of all sizes scaling up in-house IT resources to cope with the ever-growing demand to service users as well as managing on-premise systems. But if you do not deliver IT as your core business function, then you should look at the technologies that are available to help you become more productive. Concentrate on what you are good at, and spend less time and resource on being an IT enabler.

Once it is understood that these fears are misplaced, you are free to move forward as a more agile operation. You must be lean to survive as a modern business, and running an office in the cloud means that if you need to open an office on the other side of the world tomorrow, as long as an internet connection is available, you will be able to. You can’t do that with traditional server room technology, no matter who you are.

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81% of Business Managers in the Manufacturing Industry Agree that a Modern IT infrastructure Accelerates Innovation, Creativity, and Productivity

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81% of Business Managers in the Manufacturing Industry Agree that a Modern IT infrastructure Accelerates Innovation, Creativity, and Productivity 1
  • 83% of business decision makers are convinced that slow running networks and applications are inhibiting these three success factors
  • 78% of IT decision makers believe that innovation, creativity, and productivity of the employees is being limited by the technology in their companies, and 94% within this say it is costing their company money

  • 86% of business decision makers in the manufacturing industry believe that digital performance is critical for business growth

LONDON, 22nd September, 2020 – Riverbed® today launched its expanded ‘Rethink Possible: Visibility and Network Performance – The Pillars of Business Success’ Study, focused on the manufacturing industry, a critical sector for Germany. The study revealed that 81% of business decision makers in manufacturing companies are convinced that IT infrastructure plays a crucial role in enabling their organisations to be innovative, creative, and productive. And, when limited, IT infrastructure inhibits these three success factors enormously (83%). 

The Study – which lays out the indisputable link that business and IT decision makers see between strong IT infrastructure and the manufacturing industry – further revealed that 40% of business decision makers in the manufacturing sector consider IT investment to be the most important business objective at present. And that a further 35% of business decision makers in the manufacturing industry prioritise digital transformation. This means that IT expansion in manufacturing is currently more important than traditional corporate operations such as financial rationalisation. Almost two-fifths of the business decision makers (39%) stated that they had pushed digitalisation in their companies to the greatest possible extent, whilst 52% are still in the process of implementing it. 

The vast majority IT decision makers in the manufacturing industry (93%) say that a well-functioning infrastructure plays an even greater role in creativity, innovation and productivity than it does for business decision makers. At the same time, 94% of IT managers say that limitations of these three factors costs organisations a lot of money.

Other key findings from the Rethink Possible: Visibility and Network Performance Study include:

  • IT and business leaders agree that digital performance is crucial for business growth (86%) and staff retention (80%)

  • 88% of IT decision makers reveal that employee satisfaction falls considerably when systems are slow

  • More than two-thirds of IT decision makers (68%) consider network transparency in their companies to be sufficient

  • The majority of IT managers (82%) would, however, like to see more investment in network transparency

  • And finally, at least six in every ten IT decision makers (63%) acknowledge that there’s a lot of catching up to do in preparing management for the challenges of digitisation.

“The Study shows that the majority of the manufacturing industry recognises the importance of having an efficient IT infrastructure. In the coming months and years, as manufacturing returns to a ‘new normal’ way of working, companies will have to invest even more in technology to fully implement digital transformation,” comments Colette Kitterhing, Senior Director UK&I at Riverbed Technology. With remote working expected to continue and an overall shift towards a more distributed workforce as a result of the pandemic, the performance of corporate networks is also becoming increasingly important for those sectors where the focus has so far been on the automation of equipment rather than their IT infrastructure. However, the convergence of manufacturing plants and IT is creating new challenges, and the opportunities offered by digitalisation are being fully exploited. To ensure that networks and applications deliver the necessary performance and work efficiently, the IT team needs complete transparency. This is the only way for employees to be truly innovative, creative and productive in times of digitalisation.”

Rethink Possible: Evolving the Digital Experience

With 86% of IT and business decision makers in the manufacturing industry believe that digital performance is critical for business growth, technology is the enabler in this process. Riverbed’s portfolio of next-generation solutions is giving customers across the globe the visibility, acceleration, optimization and connectivity that maximizes performance and visibility for networks and applications.

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Sectigo Selected by Baidu to Provide SSL Services for All-New Baidu Trust SSL Certificates  

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Sectigo Selected by Baidu to Provide SSL Services for All-New Baidu Trust SSL Certificates   2

Sectigo, a leading provider of automated digital identity management and web security solutions, announced that Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), a leading Chinese search engine with more than one billion daily page views, has chosen Sectigo to provide the back-end services for the company’s all-new Baidu Trust SSL Certificates. Baidu will offer Sectigo Domain Validated (DV), Organization Validated (OV), and Extended Validation (EV) certificates white-labeled under the Baidu Trust product line, greatly expanding Sectigo’s footprint in Asia.

“Baidu is committed to making the complicated world simpler through technology. This mission includes providing our customers and users with best-practice security technologies and a seamless experience,” said Roy Zhang, Leader of Enterprise Application Ecology Products, Baidu division. “We have chosen Sectigo to supply the infrastructure for the new Baidu Trust SSL Certificates because the global CA is highly trusted and offers a certificate type for every use case, from authenticating small personal websites to large enterprise domains. Our customers can choose from many trust products, ranging from basic DV SSL certificates to more premium EV SSL certificates, based on their individual needs.”

Sectigo has issued more than 100 million certificates worldwide and offers the widest selection of white-label-ready SSL product options available from a leading certificate authority. Baidu’s Trust offering, available today to website owners in China, leverages this legacy of trust to enhance the security assurance for millions of internet users across Eastern Asia.

“Trust is a key component of Sectigo’s brand. We are not only providing trust through our certificates, but also as a proven technology partner with decades of experience,” explained Michael Fowler, President of Partners and Channels at Sectigo. “Asia and China, specifically, are experiencing an unprecedented shift to conducting business and sharing information online. Baidu and Sectigo have proven successful in their industries and collaborated to bring the best SSL security to greater China.”

“Baidu’s choice to use Sectigo for their Baidu Trust SSL certificates underscores the confidence that leading internet brands have in our products and team—and we look forward to a successful partnership serving companies across Asia and China though a shared vision of excellence,” added Fowler.

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How AI and ML are changing insurance for good

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How AI and ML are changing insurance for good 3

By Alan O’Loughlin, Director of Analytics and Statistical Modelling, International and John Beal, Senior Vice President of Analytics at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions

The Insurance industry has been dealing with vast volumes of data for years, but analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques are increasingly being used to help insurance providers make faster data driven decisions.  Given the exponential level of data available today with AI/ML, insurance providers can now efficiently extract new insights into their customer’s needs and create stronger long-term value.

Personalising Insurance Pricing

Starting with how the market calculates premiums, the insurance sector now has access to thousands of data points to help them calculate premiums. Machine learning algorithms expedite the identification of the most predictive attributes driving claims losses – the most recent data points being historical cancellation data and gaps in cover.

This helps insurers become more competitive, match their risks to the most appropriate pricing strategies and write the risks that meet their underwriting appetite. In turn, customers get more personalised quotes based on their unique risk characteristics across any line of business

Achieving a single customer view

Personalisation within any sector works best of course when you really know who you are dealing with. Today, an explosive amount of data is collected, but it is vastly under-utilised as many organisations do not have the expertise to bring data together from different parts of the business to create a single customer view.  Add to this, the amount of mergers and acquisitions in the insurance market over the past few years and the challenge of managing multiple customer databases.  Linking and matching technology using policy history data to find common threads helps overcome this problem to create one consolidated view of the customer. Optimised matching algorithms are also the most accurate and relevant data is reviewed, reducing consumer friction during the quoting process.

Normalisation makes sense of masses of data

In the same vein, as organisations aggregate massive volumes of data, the value of cleansing and normalisation can’t be overlooked. One example, as usage-based insurance develops, whether through aftermarket telematics devices, smartphone apps, connected vehicles, even in the future from smart home data, all that data needs to be gathered, normalised, standardised. That way, any consumer can enjoy an improved shopping experience based on their needs and preferences, no matter the device brand and insurers have consistent quality standards and outcome decisions for all consumers.

Making Vehicle Data work for insurance

Data normalisation is already helping insurance providers understand the presence of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) on a vehicle at the quotation stage.  An ADAS classification system has been created using machine learning to scan millions of lines of car manufacturer vehicle data to logically sequence and classify vehicle safety features and component’s intended operation or purpose.  Extraction and proper classification of this type of data is extremely difficult, time consuming and error prone without the use of AI/ML

Thinking big, starting small in motor claims

At the claims stage in motor insurance, image recognition technology is being used to capture damage or invoices, run a system audit, and if the claim meets the approved criteria, it is automatically paid without human involvement.  This kind of virtual or ‘touchless’ claims handling is speeding up claim settlement times, cutting costs and improving the customer experience.  The ability to quickly analyse years of historical policy and quote history at the consumer level will add an additional level of security prior to a carrier releasing any claim payments.

Alan O’Loughlin

Alan O’Loughlin

Building context through AI and ML

Staying with motor insurance, telematics data can be used much more broadly than originally intended through AI and ML.  From the point of impact through to claim resolution, telematics data can allow insurance providers to get on the front foot at first notification of loss (FNOL), helping to deliver a better consumer experience post-accident, whilst providing invaluable insights regarding the circumstances of the collision.

AI/ML techniques communicate the conditions before, during and after the time of the accident.  Data points like air bag deployment impact sensor activation and g-force metrics can be analysed to understand claim severity and bodily injury potential.  In addition, by combining vehicle build data, carriers can understand the repair cost and potential impact to expensive ADAS features.  Insurance providers can instantly also help their customers with emergency services, vehicle rentals and repairs through instant analysis.

Taking the pain from home insurance applications

Moving into home insurance, we know that conversion rates of people shopping for home insurance is quite low due to a number of hard to answer questions along the customer journey. Rebuild costs is a classic example.  Prefill and data validation solutions are now helping to solve that problem but they are only possible through a huge amount of modelling, linking and AI-ML techniques to pull all the data together to return accurate and up-to-date information on the person and property.

Putting customers in the picture

AI is also at work in the commercial property insurance arena.  It can provide valuable insights regarding a potential location for a new branch or business relocation – footfall, crime rate, exposure to perils or other local circumstances that increase risk. This insight when provided to the customer enables them to take preventative measures if they do go ahead in that location, decreasing risk and loss costs, whilst helping to improve customer experience and retention.

AI and ML can help in the democratisation of data

Finally, AI and ML techniques are helping consumers take advantage of their individual data points which in turn provide the most accurate and updated view data to the insurance providers they choose to interact with on their own schedule.

A good example is the way driving behaviour data from aftermarket devices, or in the future, direct from the connected car gives a clearer picture of someone’s driving risk on the road.  Drivers then benefit from being judged based on their individual behaviours, rather than paying premiums based on average driving habits.

This requires transparency. Each time a consumer applies for insurance they consent to their data being used to provide the insurer with the best information possible, so they can set an appropriate premium based on the risk. Within insurance, we are focusing more than ever on educating consumers about how their data can be used and evaluated in a way they control and understand.  AI and ML automate and process the data consumers are happy to share – supporting greater choice, improved fairness and reduced friction with more personalised insurance protection.

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