- New release of Quest Enterprise Reporter enables organisations to easily secure workloads and meet compliance requirements across hybrid-cloud environments with support for Microsoft Office 365
- Recent enhancements to the business’ flagship security solution Change Auditor help organisations significantly improve their security posture
- New Quest IT Security Search gives IT teams the power to take action and conduct fast security investigations and forensic analysis with a single-pane-of-glass view
Quest Software, a global systems management and security software provider, today announced new releases and updates to its Microsoft Platform Management business security solutions portfolio that make it easy for IT teams to manage and secure Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD) environments. The newest releases allow organisations to meet rigorous compliance requirements and secure hybrid environments from potential threats. To reinforce the company’s commitment in supporting the customer journey to the cloud, the new security and compliance offerings present a correlated view across both on premise and cloud infrastructures which give IT administrators the power to react quickly to potential threats and improve security across the enterprise.
The new release of Enterprise Reporter v3.0 allows administrators to secure and manage the entire Microsoft stack with added support for Office 365 – Azure Active Directory (AD), Azure Tenant/Subscription/License, Exchange Online, and OneDrive for Business – with built-in reporting and visibility including users, groups, permissions, and other configurations. The company’s flagship security and compliance solution, Change Auditor, has also added Office 365 support and auditing of Azure AD, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business to deliver in-depth forensic insights and reporting on all key configuration, user and administrator changes in these cloud environments. Now, organisations can combine these security and compliance solutions into a single-pane-of-glass with the integration of IT Security Search, a web-based interface, using natural search language to help IT and security teams perform fast security incident response and forensic analysis. To further help customers secure their AD environment, Quest has selected the analytics engine from Fortscale Security, Inc. to add robust threat detection capabilities to Change Auditor. Threat detection models typical user behavior and combs through hundreds of millions of events to pin-point potential external attacks and internal rogue users, allowing companies to react quickly to potential threats as well as maintain security and compliance.
Quest continues on the fast track of innovation as a newly independent company and is committed to delivering both on premise and SaaS software solutions that help customers meet their toughest technology challenges as they leverage the cloud. The newest releases of Quest’s Microsoft Platform Management security and compliance solutions come on the heels of the recent launch of Quest On Demand, a simple to use SaaS offering that addresses the challenges organisations face in managing a variety of productivity platforms that comes with Office 365 deployment.
“As an independent software vendor, Quest invests and innovates in areas of critical importance to our customers. We see many organisations making the journey to the cloud and we’re committed to making this journey easy by delivering tools that complement their investment in Microsoft and make it simple to manage and secure environments both on premise and in the public cloud,” said Michael Tweddle, President and GM, Quest Microsoft Platform Management. “The Quest Microsoft Platform Management portfolio of security and management tools gives organisations powerful insight into business critical workloads wherever they reside so they can react quickly to potential threats and avoid business impact.”
Helping Customers Meet Security Requirements to Support Hybrid-Cloud Environments
According to a Special Report issued by Technology Business Research, Inc. titled, Hybrid is Driving Cloud and the Overall IT Opportunity, the use of hybrid cloud (a combination of cloud services) and hybrid IT (a combination of cloud services and on-premises assets) is the new reality for most enterprises, with 51% reporting at least one workload leveraging a hybrid cloud or IT deployment method. The report goes on to note that the growing hybrid adoption is a reflection of increased customer readiness and wider availability of technology from vendors for managing and integrating assets across cloud and on-premises environments.
Quest is helping organisations make this journey to the cloud with innovative tools that are easy to use and keep sensitive business workloads secure. The newest capabilities of Change Auditor, Enterprise Reporter and IT Security Search arm IT teams with solutions that identify and remediate security issues experienced in hybrid Microsoft environments.
Feature/benefits of each solution include:
- Quest Enterprise Reporter enables greater visibility of access and permissions into workloads managed across Microsoft on-premises, hybrid and cloud infrastructures and provides detailed, customised reporting to enhance security across Azure AD, Exchange Online and OneDrive for Business in addition to Active Directory, File servers, Exchange on-premises, SQL servers, and more.
- Quest Change Auditor helps organisations easily detect, alert, analyze, remediate and prevent insider attacks, as well as accidental changes, across Microsoft on-premises, hybrid and cloud environments. Change Auditor recently added support for Azure AD, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business cloud workloads and now supports in total 16 different platforms for enterprise-class auditing. A central console eliminates the need and complexity for multiple IT audit solutions across on-premises and cloud-based environments. Additionally, Quest will bolster the Change Auditor solution with richer threat detection capabilities that will arm IT teams with an even stronger security footprint.
- Quest IT Security Search is an intelligent tool that uses simple, natural search language to provide IT teams with a single-pane-of-glass view of critical data scattered across on-premises and cloud data sources. It makes it easy to search, analyze and maintain business critical data stored in silos with an intelligent “looking glass” that makes it easy to perform fast security incident response and forensic analysis. When coupled with Quest security solutions, Enterprise Reporter, Change Auditor, InTrust, Recovery Manager for AD/Forest Edition, and One Identity Active Roles, IT teams can speed security investigations and compliance audits, and quickly troubleshoot in the event of an outage or security breach.
“Quest is a great example of the kind of valued partners that bring choice and innovation to the Microsoft ecosystem,” said Ryan McGee, director, Security Product Marketing, Microsoft Corp. “We are pleased to see Quest’s strong commitment to helping customers manage and secure hybrid Microsoft environments by continuing to deliver innovative new tools to help ensure the highest level of security in Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Office 365 productivity platforms.”
How robotic technology will disrupt the manufacturing industry
By Marga Hoek, author of The Trillion Dollar Shift
Robotics technology has the potential to disrupt industries across all sectors – but its impact on the manufacturing industry will be transformative. Not only can robots increase productivity, efficiency and profit margins but adopting this tech for good will be a key way for the manufacturing industry to transition to a more sustainable future.
Driving productivity & efficiency
Manufacturing processes are faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective when humans and robots work together. Studies show that idle time is reduced by 85% when people work collaboratively with a human-aware robot, rather than in an all-human team. Modern robotic automation is key to reshaping production processes to become more efficient and reliable. They deliver significant benefits for companies and investment is often recouped within just 18 months.
Robots in manufacturing can allow businesses to monitor the production lines from anywhere and pinpoint issues quickly, allowing for production to continue smoothly and efficiently, ensuring companies surpass consumers’ expectations of supply chain speed and reliability. Intelligent industrial service robots are an upcoming industrial tool that will amplify manufacturing capabilities and allow businesses to safely operate faster, in places humans could never go, and with cognitive and physical capabilities not yet imagined.
Transitioning to a sustainable future
Robots are a vital way to reduce pollution and emissions from manufacturing operations. For starters, they reduce our reliance on larger vehicles and machines that are harmful to the planet. Robots’ ability to be extremely accurate and minimize errors is also hugely important in sustainability efforts to reduce waste. Robots also aid businesses in their energy-saving process because they do not require as much energy to operate as humans do. Where humans need facilities with sufficient lighting and heat, robots can work under cold and dark conditions. This drastically reduces the amount of energy used in the manufacturing production process. It is estimated that for every 1C reduced in factory heat levels, there is a potential saving of up to 8%. In addition, up to 20% of energy savings can be reached if the plant turns off any unnecessary lighting.
Case Study: GE
Tech giant GE is a brilliant example of how robotics technology can both boost the bottom line and sustainability.
GE is at the forefront of robotics manufacturing technology. Their value proposition is tightly tied to productivity in field service and manufacturing and offers potential cost savings within operations. While delivering industrial-grade service robotic systems that enable automation, productivity and safety for GE and its customers, the company works closely with GE business units, GE customers and strategic partners across the globe to envision, shape and build intelligent robotic technologies from idea to commercialization.
GE’s recent $125 million investment project at its Decatur refrigerator plant boosted production capacity, added new “smart” technology and increased the site’s workforce. This includes auto guided vehicles, or AGVs, that move materials through the assembly process and more than 50 robots that perform heavy lifting operations and repetitive tasks.
The expansion project, announced in June 2018, allowed GE Appliances to increase production to meet growing demand for its freezer-refrigerators, which are top-rated in the industry for both quality and reliability. The expansion created 255 jobs, bringing total employment at the plant to 1,300. The project boosts production capacity by 25 % and ensures early compliance with 2022 refrigerant changes, making the Alabama plant a super site for GE. GE Appliances said Industry 4.0 technology additions at the Decatur facility include data visualization, 3-D scanning, rapid prototyping and other smart automation that provides the operations team with real-time data to make better and faster decisions.
Achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Utilizing robotics technology within the manufacturing industry can help to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for a healthier planet, to be met by 2030:
SDG 3 – Good Health & Wellbeing: Collaborating with people, service robots work with shoulder-to-shoulder and over long distances, to fulfil dull, dirty and dangerous work.
SDG 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth: Presenting new growth opportunities for businesses and creating new jobs at manufacturing plants
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure: Manufacturing value proposition of robotics ties tightly to productivity and brings potential cost savings into those operations.
SDG 12 – Responsible Production & Consumption: Providing a new and rich data source for companies to produce products responsibly
Marga Hoek is a global thought-leader on sustainable business, international speaker and the author of The Trillion Dollar Shift, a new book revealing the business opportunities provided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Trillion Dollar Shift is published by Routledge, in hardback and e-book. For more information go to www.margahoek.com
RPA, the software robots that finance and banking professionals need to hear about.
By Rory Gray, Vice President of Sales at leading software automation firm, UiPath, explains what role Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can play in improving the efficiency of finance and banking departments.
Pre-coronavirus, the finance and banking industries were already facing a myriad of challenges. Now, this myriad is quickly becoming ever more complicated. There is increasing pressure to react to declining business health, be flexible to changing customer behaviour and to adapt to evolving workforce dynamics.
Unfortunately, for these teams, improving agility is easier said than done. Many processes involve legacy systems, paper-based documents and unstructured data. These processes are time-consuming and mundane, leaving finance and banking professionals hard-pressed to fit in client-centric and strategic work.
Take processing invoices. The way it’s done hasn’t changed for years in many organisations. It often involves a member or members of the finance team receiving the invoice by mail or email, approving it manually, printing, signing and submitting it to Accounts Payable. An AP Clerk then has to pick it up, read it, verify the approvals, extract the data and input it into to the accounting package. This all takes time and costs money. What’s more, it’s dull and prone to errors. People don’t want to spend their days doing it.
Imagine if processes such as invoicing, but also loan processing, credit card disputes and many more, could be automated. Finance and banking teams would spend much less time copying, pasting and printing and could refocus on business health and transformation.
RPA is the key to finding more time in the day
Robotic Process Automation or RPA, is software that can work just like a human. It can use AI capabilities to read and interpret data from both physical and digital documents. It can extract the necessary information and it can transfer this to multiple IT applications. It’s a software robot – or digital assistant.
For finance and banking professionals, RPA could help them break free from the time constraints caused by inefficient and complex legacy operations by passing rule-based repetitive tasks to software robots. This saves time and money – and allows people to focus on the tasks that can make a difference to the business.
RPA can help carry the burden of compliance
With data extracted, processed and formatted by software robots, employees will also no longer have to carry the full and heavy burden of compliance.
However accurate we aim to be, the reality is that processing data is always open to mistakes. This is exacerbated by ever shifting market regulations. Software robots, however, are programmed by finance and banking professionals to strictly follow the same steps every time and thus do not fall victim to the same blunders as all humans inevitably do.
Of course, many regulatory compliance functions will often need to involve some human validation or decision making. While the robots work around the clock without fatigue to complete tasks, professionals can still intervene if there is an inaccuracy that requires the personal touch or a loop in the workflow where a decision is needed. Therefore, time-consuming compliance tasks can be passed to software robots, but humans ultimately remain in control.
This in turn provides better risk management and compliance, higher accuracy, better cycle times and improved throughput.
RPA in practice
This may all sound very futuristic, but in practice, many firms are already using RPA to free up employee time, improve compliance and save money.
For example, a leading smart infrastructure solutions firm we work with has created a software robot affectionately named Archie, which has taken over the responsibility for processing all invoices.
Pre-Covid, the 400,000 invoices received by the firm each year were dealt with manually. With Archie this is now fully automated freeing up on average 11 minutes per invoice of time which employees can now use to focus on value-adding activities. It also means that no employee needs to come into the office to process the invoice, nor does any paper need to be passed around the team. Thus helping to keep the workforce safe.
With all this extra time, finance and banking departments can focus on adapting to and thriving in the current crisis. Moving away from data processing and towards advisory roles where they can best use their strategic skills.
Consequently, businesses will benefit during the pandemic and beyond and employees could see their roles shifting away from the mundane and towards tasks that keep them on their toes. A rare win-win in a difficult time.
WeWALK joins Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility Programme Using artificial intelligence to change the lives of the visually impaired
WeWALK, the smart cane designed for people who are blind or with low vision which is now in use across 37 markets, has joined Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility programme to accelerate WeWALK’s capability by developing and validating a human behaviour model for visually impaired users and creating a Voice Assistant designed for the visually impaired, providing the right mobility information when needed and allowing for even greater control of the WeWALK mobility experience.
Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility $25 million 5-year programme is aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capability for the more than one billion people around the world with disabilities. Through grants, technology, and AI expertise, the program aims to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions and build on recent advancements in Microsoft Cognitive Services to help developers create intelligent apps that can see, hear, speak, understand and interpret people’s needs.
WeWALK’s new Voice Assistant will be released later in 2020 and will have immediate usability benefits, improving the user’s confidence as they mobilise. The assistant will be built on clearly derived requirements and natural usage patterns and the challenge that WeWALK is seeking to overcome is to make the assistant truly ‘smart’ and dynamic, where it will effectively categorize and deliver on the user’s commands in a host of different environments.
WeWALK’s human behaviour model is due for release in 2021 and is of significant importance as currently there are no accurate models for how a person who is blind moves and how their mobility holistically evolves, especially after receiving orientation and mobility training. As a result, healthcare, government, and mobility trainers cannot effectively track how a person who is blind mobilizes and whether or not intervention has had benefit. By using WeWALK’s built-in IMU (inertial measurement unit) sensors, including the gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass, as well as data collected from a connected smartphone, the model can be implemented and expanded organically through daily usage. The first stage will be rigorous data collection and user testing, followed by data manipulation and classification to ensure that optimum reliability and system usability can be achieved.
Commenting upon WeWALK’s entry into the program Jean Marc Feghali, R&D Lead at WeWALK. “By working on these two objectives, WeWALK can set the standard for visually impaired mobility for both the individual user and the organisations that support them. We are now rigorously collecting mobility data with novel experimentation, validating our work by continuously engaging our users to ensure an exceptional product powered by Microsoft’s best. Being a part of the Microsoft family truly excites us, bringing us closer to mobility trainers, researchers, and the global visually impaired community.”
Mary Bellard, principal innovation architect lead at Microsoft adds “At Microsoft, we believe AI solutions built thoughtfully by and with the disability community have incredible potential to offer meaningful independence in people’s daily lives. That’s why we’re thrilled to support WeWALK on this important assistive tool that stands to empower the millions of people around the world who use a white cane.”
With the power of Microsoft AI, WeWALK’s impact will be wide-reaching explains Kürşat Ceylan, WeWALK’s co-founder & CPO “As a blind person from birth, I know that it is very important to get the right habits of using a cane from a young age. It is amazing to see how WeWALK can enhance this aspect of our lives with high tech, making training and orientation more effective. I believe that the smart cane will be a symbol for the fully independent journey people who are blind or with low vision.”
Selected as one of the best inventions of 2019 by TIME Magazine, WeWALK is a member of YGA Ventures, which is an ecosystem of impact entrepreneurs. The team envisions WeWALK as a platform for continuous and collaborative development, putting it at the forefront of cutting-edge assistive technologies. This is exemplified through WeWALK’s collaboration with Microsoft, where WeWALK participated in Microsoft’s 2019 AI for Good in the UK.
The WeWALK smart cane is currently available on the market and can be purchased on the company website www.wewalk.io. The free WeWALK mobile app which provides various features such as VIP friendly navigation and public transport tracking capabilities is also available for immediate download on both iOS and Android devices.
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