Cyber Security

The importance of women in cybersecurity for innovation, investment and enrichment

By Stephanie Schultz, Executive Director at Trusted Computing Group

Cyber SecurityAccording to Small Business Trends, 2018 saw 20 percent of all jobs in technology held by women.

Of those companies in the Fortune 500 with three or more women in leading positions 66 percent saw an increase in ROI, found Women Who Tech. Since then, as we fly through 2020 into the new decade, women are becoming an ever-more prevalent and disruptive force within the tech market – particularly cybersecurity. In almost seven years I have worked in the cybersecurity sector with Trusted Computing Group (TCG), I have witnessed first-hand the enrichment their work has brought to the perspective of the industry, and how this has diversified its strategies for a more successful industry position.

Inclusion Sparks Insight

In my experience, women – though a minority in the technology sphere – have been leaders in the development of the industry. This success in leadership positions stems from the unique and refreshing perspectives brought by women to problem solving and identifying gaps in the market and demand within the industry. Being so deep in the technology we work on, it is easy to lose sight of who will ultimately benefit from it; the consumer. End users are the ones shopping, buying our devices and engaging in the community and a huge portion of this behavioral demographic are women.

Similarly, women engage with things differently in the ways they utilize and perceive things, such as IoT home devices where data is stored. As gender norms merge and more men adopt activities which used to be women-centric, understanding and implementing these perceptions is becoming more valuable. It is beneficial to understand consumer behaviors complimentary to and beyond a male-centric space, making gender diversity a key element to improving development, marketing and design strategies, creating well-rounded solutions and exceling in the market.

Within TCG, our male colleagues have nothing but the utmost respect for the women in the organization because it is recognized that they are good at what they do. Even among lively debates between parties in the conference room, I have never seen anyone brush off or dismiss or demean anything the female leaders have to say – it is always very mutually respectful, and we have an appreciation for one another. Being a member organization, I believe, allows for more diversity, welcoming a broad range of professionals from their member companies. This level of diverse collaboration, especially on the formation of global security standards, can only strengthen the quality of the work we do, and I am proud to manage and contribute to this.

Securing the Future

My role in TCG is largely engaging with the Board’s strategic direction. Beyond daily billing and legal admin, it is important to keep track of current technology trends and how they are progressing. Without considering the future of the industry and only focusing on the present, emerging opportunities will be missed – every device security aspect the consumer becomes aware of should have been considered by cybersecurity professionals five years in advance. In that respect, I facilitate the board to think about the direction of the organization for the future, collaborating with global government entities to ensure their perspective is also considered and their specialist security requirements of confidentiality are met. From the viewpoint of a woman in the organization, I work directly and regularly with other senior role women, from Work Group chairs to editors, to ensure that work from every division is promoted and driven towards a marketing angle. In doing so, my goal is to encourage everyone to follow through with their work beyond the technical development stage to present it in a usable and consumable way, reaching those beyond the cybersecurity sphere to increase TCG’s impact, reach and opportunities.

Despite my experience in my field, I am still committed to educating myself further so that I can offer my best to my organization. I am currently studying for my Master’s in Business Administration, with a focus on globalization, leadership and management. These are topics that will never sunset and are valuable to ensuring that security is prioritized and acknowledged by the rest of the technology industry. There are a lot of product developments and start-ups where security is, understandably, not a key concern due to the extra costs and likelihood of attack. Most companies don’t consider the resilience of their device security until it’s too late, but I want to change this. In progressing my professional development through the means of education, I want to drive cybersecurity to become a constant, standard practice in company product development from my position with TCG. As technology advances and ever changes, so will attacks – I want to see cybersecurity at the forefront of the industry, readily implemented to alleviate consumer concern.

To achieve this, it is crucial that we adopt as diverse a range of perspectives and ways of thinking as possible, to connect with as many surrounding sectors as we can and emphasize our value in ways that resonate with them. Women are an integral part of this strategy and must be seen as such in the path to encouraging this growth. As more female voices are highlighted in TCG and its member companies, making women more visible and the growth made evident internally, we hope to encourage female engineers who are interested in cybersecurity to join the work we are doing. TCG has been around for 20 years, and during this we have learned that building a force of diverse, new and younger talent in this way is key to keeping the mission alive and ensuring the success of businesses now and into the future.

About the author

Stephanie SchultzStephanie Schultz started her career industry association consulting and management working with homecare and hospice providers at the state and federal level to influence and advise policy makers on regulations and procedures to expand access to care. Her experience in advocating for and managing industry groups made moving into the world of cybersecurity standards a good fit. Stephanie joined TCG to provide administrative and specification development support and started representing TCG in the marketing efforts. Stephanie joined the Board of Directors assisting with the development and implementation of strategic efforts, relationship building and team management. She is currently an MBA student at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.


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data, coding

Data driven innovation: why the marketing team must be the custodians of consumer privacy  

data, coding

Shallu Behar-Sheehan, Chief Marketing Officer at Trūata

Data privacy has never been a more important issue for consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the topic into the spotlight, with constant questions over track and trace practices, and confusion about collecting and storing citizen data.

Globally, the evolving privacy laws now dictate how and why brands must protect today’s consumer when it comes to personal data. Brands increasingly know more about their audiences through their digital appetite, often without ever meeting them. However, finding a way to make sense of, and utilise, the data that can be collected through their customers’ digital footprints, while adhering to laws and regulations, has become a big challenge.

For example, Spotify is known as a music streaming service which has now developed into a successful model for collecting vast amounts of consumer data based on their preferences. This helps Spotify to drive business decisions as well as create unique and tailored experiences for an audience of more than 180 million users, including 83 million subscribers across 65 markets. This business model is a blueprint, both for cloud-native companies and established enterprises, and highlights how, transactional personal data is one of the world’s most valuable assets.

Balancing monetisation and trust

The balance between data privacy, data monetisation and consumer trust is a complex one to find. It can be challenging to understand exactly where the responsibility lies for ensuring that the personal data collected by a business is kept private.

Consumers desire a personal relationship with brands and a customised experience (driven primarily by their own data), but at the same time, don’t want to risk their data being mishandled or misappropriated. In fact, our recent Global Consumer State of Mind Report has revealed that 61% of global consumers said they would stop using brands if they ‘stalked’ them online with too many personalised offers. They want the unique experience they desire but not at the expense of their privacy, and 77% believe they should own their ‘digital selves’.

The main issue is consumers aren’t really sure where their data is going or what is being done with it. Consequently, we’re seeing a disconnect between the brand and its consumer. When consumers don’t understand the consent they give, the shortcomings of the techniques being used to ‘anonymize’ their data aren’t always evident. All too often customers have become accustomed to clicking past mechanics such as privacy notices, without really making a proactive, and more importantly, informed choice about sharing very personal and private information?

It’s not that the public don’t care about their data as recent research has revealed that 65% of consumers are concerned with the way their data is collected. What they expect is peace of mind that a level of ‘digital trust’ has been built – and this is currently where there is a disconnect. Our report shows that if trust isn’t established with a brand, 77% of consumers would take their own steps to reduce their digital footprint. However, brands that behave ethically and transparently with data will be able to win this trust, with 66% of people  being more likely to be loyal to a brand if they trust them to use their personal data appropriately.

Issues over data responsibility

One of the key problems that surrounds the use of personal data is responsibility – responsibility for whose role it is to educate the public on exactly how their data is being collected. While some brands may say the right things in principle, they are less forthcoming in detail which can only create confusion and more distrust.

When vague and trite mantras are all that is being offered, consumers find it hard to trust the organisations they are dealing with. In fact,  62%  state they will continue to use companies who are open when explaining what they do with the data they hold. However, with many brands and companies shying away from doing this, consumers have little choice but to carry on being wary - even to the point of avoiding brands where they can’t easily verify the reputation for privacy.

Who should be held responsible?

The responsibility for data protection and compliance is often given to IT, legal or privacy teams, even though they are not front of house and rarely interact with consumers. Therefore, traditionally these teams are not viewed as impacting or being responsible for brand value. The problem worsens if the team with responsibility for data protection has little interaction with the marketing team who are responsible for delivering the brand experience.

While brands need data to understand more about their consumers, ensuring privacy and transparency are key considerations for building and maintaining loyalty. Marketers can’t build lasting, reciprocal relationships, and consequently, can’t build meaningful predictive datasets without that loyalty and trust.

When marketers take the reins and use their position to educate and communicate clearly and confidently with consumers about their brand’s adherence to data protection laws, consumers will regain confidence in the brand’s commitment to data privacy best practice. Ensuring consumers feel comfortable with the way their data is being used will make it easier for brands to collect more data in the future in order to achieve valuable insights. Consumers must be sure that third parties do not have access to their data and that it is protected from being exploited or sold for commercial gain without their agreement.

Data privacy: the heart of brand management DNA

Marketers must take the lead role in planning, strategising and guiding the responsible use of data within their organisations and champion a privacy-centric consumer experience. Given they are on the frontline, CMOs must instigate collaboration with CIOs and CDOs, to ensure privacy considerations are deeply embedded into business strategies. This will ensure all are aligned in consumer trust and delivering a model that puts privacy first. In a world where brands increasingly rely on data to innovate and grow, trust and data privacy are too important for marketers to ignore when brand reputation can so easily be damaged beyond repair.

So, what do marketers need to know?

Data privacy and transparency are crucial in the new trust economy

Understandably, consumers want to keep their personal data private. If brands can assure them of this, then they are likely to be more successful. In fact, 64% of global consumers agree they would engage with brands that make it easy for them to control how their data is used. Today, trust is regarded as a highly valuable currency with transparency being a key factor in how consumers interact with brands. Without an understanding of the trust economy, businesses simply will not survive.

Another recent study shows that GDPR-compliant companies outperform their competition across a range of metrics. Thus, the ability to assure consumers of data privacy can provide a commercial advantage, with transparency winning hearts and minds. By embracing privacy-enhancing practices and technologies, such as anonymization, brands will stand to profit. However, this must be done in the right way, otherwise they risk it backfiring and harming the company’s reputation.

Many companies say they anonymize consumer data in order to comply with GDPR and similar data protection laws, but recent academic research demonstrated how easy it is to re-identify an individual from a so-called “anonymized” dataset. The frequent misuse of the term ‘anonymization’ is something both companies and consumers should be aware of. A better and more robust approach would be to have a separate expert organisation independently carry out the anonymization and only release aggregate insights.

The value of genuine data privacy

Marketers know the value of data that is securely anonymized. As they interact with consumers more than IT or legal teams, they understand this better than anyone else in the company. Marketers recognise that only rigorous, proven, data anonymization lets them build long-term digital trust with consumers. They are also aware of the “digital creep” label that is associated with brands who misuse consumer data to deliver a personalised experience. This is likely to turn consumers away from their brands, our research shows that 45% of consumers say data tracking for personalisation is invasive, 32% even go as far to say it’s creepy, and 24% say sinister.

As marketers have this understanding and can relate with consumer desires, they need to establish a reciprocal relationship with them. A ‘you trust us with your data, and we’ll not only look after it, but provide you with a valued tailored experience’ model. Building this relationship on privacy-enhanced analytics, will highlight the value of the marketing team to the business, ensuring they remain integral to the growth and vision of the organisation. We know that data is such a powerful commodity, and it’s now time for organisations to put data privacy matters into the hands of marketers and empower them to be the true custodians of their consumers’ privacy, and the overall brand experience.

About the author

Shallu Behar-SheehanShallu Behar-Sheehan is an accomplished international marketer with over 25 years’ experience in creating and delivering integrated strategic revenue generating marketing initiatives across the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia (EMEAR), North America and Asia Pacific (APAC). Acknowledged as one of the Top 20 Women in Tech by B2B Marketing and one of the 100 Most Influential B2B Technology Marketers in Europe by the prominent online tech community Hot Topics, Shallu has helped technology organisations significantly raise their brand profile in highly competitive environments. As an innovative and award winning leader, Shallu has proven team management skills and a strong track record of spearheading industry leading campaigns against aggressive business targets, which deliver timely and impactful returns on investment.


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Technology Trends

Open source: the pathway to innovation 

Joanna Hodgson, Director, Presales for UK & Ireland at Red Hat 

tech woman handsOpen source technology has seen widespread adoption over the past ten to fifteen years as organisations cross-industry have caught on to its undeniable benefits.

As the largest open source company in the world, at Red Hat, we believe in the power of open source and its ability, from both a software and cultural perspective, to push the boundaries of technological capabilities. Here’s why.

What is open source and why does it matter?

Open source refers to technology designed to be publicly accessible and open to modification by anyone. It’s designed to be a collaborative and community-driven effort, whereby developers from all around the world can look into the source code, detect any flaws, and make iterations and improvements. By virtue of being ‘open’ and freely available for anyone to work on, it tends to lead to more reliable software and bring products faster to market.

What are the benefits of open source?

Open source software is by definition ‘open’, offering companies full visibility and transparency of the code - this means bugs and defects can be identified much more quickly than in proprietary software, leading to enhanced security. As Linus Torvalds, the founder of the open source operating system Linux, once said: “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”.

Secondly, it doesn’t include many of the costs associated with proprietary software, such as licensing fees - this is a big perk for businesses, allowing them to significantly reduce operating costs. Then there is the added cost of wanting to switch to a different software provider down the line; using open source software helps to avoid the pitfall of getting locked into using an expensive proprietary vendor.

Open source also enables companies to better customise their software. Unlike proprietary software that is developed within the four walls of the company and based on limited input, open source software is typically better tailored to the customers’ needs, as the users themselves can add their preferred features while the technology is in development.

Who gets to contribute to open source?

A common misconception is that you need to have existing coding knowledge or expertise to contribute to an open source community. This isn’t necessarily the case, since the philosophy of open source goes beyond just the source code or software. There are a wide variety of general skills that can be applied to an open source project, such as documentation, testing, running a website, handling issues, promotion, writing and graphic design.

The barrier to access is far lower than with proprietary software models, where you’ll likely need to be working for the software provider and have specific expertise. Regardless of who you are or what your professional background is, if you’re passionate about a project and have the time and relevant skills, then you will be welcomed onboard.

The fact that you don’t need to be invited to start contributing to an open source project can be daunting to begin with, and that’s why mentoring new contributors is an important part of the process. Existing community members are encouraged to walk new joiners through their first ‘commits’ (a developer term used when committing the initial code to a repository), whether that’s fixing someone’s documentation or even just correcting a typo. All forms of collaboration, no matter how small, will help to move the project forward.

It’s worth adding that the experience gained from working on an open source project is invaluable to an IT career. Employers will see this type of contribution outside of someone’s day job as clear evidence of their passion for technology.

How do open source communities encourage female contributors?

Female contributors are definitely becoming more widely recognised. And even though there is still more work to be done, throughout my career I’ve encountered more women in the context of open source than in proprietary software, and I’ve witnessed more inclusive meritocracy within open source companies. Besides the fact that open thinking is an essential part of supplementing the open source, open communities, by their design, make it much easier for individuals from all backgrounds to participate, have a voice, and share their experience and skills.

It’s been proven time and again that the more diversity you can bring to a project, the better the outcome is, as you’re benefitting from a greater variety of perspectives, ideas and experience. For this reason, I’d argue that open source is both the fastest and most inclusive way to innovate.

About the author

Joanna HodgsonJo is a technologist at heart and is fascinated by how technology can be applied to business and social challenges. She has worked in the IT industry for 24 years, mainly in technical presales and professional services, including senior business and technical leadership roles.

At Red Hat, Jo leads a team of solution architects helping clients solve business problems with open source software. She is a busy coach and mentor to many technical professionals and loves this part of her role.

Jo believes the IT industry must attract a more diverse workforce to deliver its full potential and actively encourages women to enter and remain in technical careers.

Would be great to hear your thoughts – Jo would be able to write an article about a technical topic relating to open source and cloud, or a more advice-led piece for women in tech.


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How diversity has the power to unlock innovation

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of Chargifi

DiversityDiversity is a superpower. Brands that have a diverse workforce foster creativity and become a melting pot of ideas.

Employees from different backgrounds, makes a company unique in its own skin.. But even beyond that, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building our tomorrow, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it. What an unimaginable catastrophe that would be. This makes the notion that diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is just about brand reputation or – even more detrimentally – a compliance issue rather than a huge business asset, a monumental mistake.

The world is going through a dramatic technological change and for many businesses, that means breaking the glass ceiling and launching a ship into new waters, just as we are at Chargifi in the wireless charging industry. Whilst this is an exciting endeavour, it requires someone to dare to be the first, to challenge conventional ways and to step outside of a comfort zone to create new opportunities.

When we launched Chargifi in 2012, people were sceptical about wireless charging. Chartering in new territory requires a test and learn mindset and it’s this very way of thinking and learning that has been the critical foundation to our culture. Innovation requires someone to be brave, whether that means convincing a local neighbourhood cafe to prototype the trial of your product or service (as we did at Chargifi) or sparking conversations with some of the world’s biggest enterprises’. Courage in culture is the key to unlocking this brave nature.

There is no doubt leaders are the principal architects of an organisational culture that will stand as a firewall against exclusivity. A deeply embedded and established culture, one that is expressed in member self-image, expectations and guiding values – to the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas and personal expression – is so vital to a thriving and progressive workforce.

Culture is not and should not be treated as a tick-box exercise. There is no one-size fits all model and it’s vital leaders appreciate their role in spearheading its evolution. Diversity has genuinely been a foundation of making the Chargifi brand and product what it is today. Even when we were a 10-strong team, we were a creative mix of nationalities from across the world, and for some, joining the team meant committing to a courageous relocation to the UK, a feat in itself. We have always chosen people who are the best at what they do and the best fit for the company. Needless to say, experience has taught us that those who do not recognise the need to adapt, fail to bring together a diverse team with different skills, ideas and experiences. In doing this, a company will ultimately fail to understand different viewpoints, make informed decisions and drive solutions.

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of ChargifiAbout the author

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of Chargifi

Chargifi was born as a result of Dan spending six months traveling around the world in late 2012. He realised that he made strategic decisions about the venues we visited because of the availability of power sockets, so he could recharge and reconnect with friends and family back home. If he had gone traveling in 2006, he would have a connection problem: WiFi wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today. Now, the problem is power – simply staying charged.


How digital disruption has transformed the workforce featured

How digital disruption has transformed the workforce

By Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer for cloud based resource specialists, Cranford Group.

How digital disruption has transformed the workforceThe way tech has exploded – and how it plays a crucial role in absolutely everything we do now – is no great surprise.

It’s allowed people to be smarter and more productive in their job roles, and has created business opportunities that simply weren’t there five, 10 or 20 years ago.

But the way in which automation and machine learning have truly transformed a workforce isn’t down to just one particular event. Instead, it’s a continuation of developments which keep impacting – and modernising – the way in how companies operate today.

And, organisations are being held accountable when navigating all the twists and turns that come with tech, in a bid to remain relevant during the ever-evolving online landscape – which shows no signs of slowing down.

But, whilst innovation is crucial, digital disruption has had a huge hand in underlining just how important soft skills are in business – something which may not have been such a consideration for many companies.

Customer centricity is everything

Tech has also outlined how important it is for leaders to be flexible during flux, be a team player, communicate effectively with departments, and ensure they place the same importance on their own staff, and value them as much as the end user.

For example, digital developments have provided workers and employers with the power to move away from the traditional 9-5 working day. They can now operate remotely, and speak to customers, colleagues and clients from anywhere – regardless of time zones. Technology has opened the doors for staff members to use it to their advantage, and realign their roles, in order to suit their own lifestyles.

Not only that, but it’s allowed more organisations to realign their change management processes, which are now a core part of many growth plans for businesses operating in a modern-day society.

Gone too, are the days of a company’s 12-month plan that was once set in stone because everything is evolving too fast for time-restrictive goals. Organisations must now be prepared to consistently tweak and update projects, and strategic plans in-line with ever-changing market requirements, in order to discover ‘utopia’ – before their competitors do.

Tech should make operational tasks slicker

Firms should use machines to their advantage – as an enabler to everything they do – to ensure a more agile approach when completing tasks. AI and automation have the power to conduct the day-to-day repetitive and mundane duties that were previously done manually, releasing teams to shift their focus towards their own improved productivity and customer needs.

A key thing to remember is that – while digital disruption continues to deliver incredible results and make lives easier – there’s still a genuine need for humans to work alongside robots, in order to achieve the greatest outcome.

Savvy systems have certainly helped departments to modernise and widen the net for both their business and customer needs, but to stay ahead of the curve, companies must still work hard to build relationships with their key marketplace, and do the things that machines can’t.

Those that are willing to evolve with the disruption brought about by innovation, and remain agile and flexible to change, should be on track to enhancing their productivity, and maintaining a happy, engaged workforce that always keeps end users at the forefront of their minds.

Tech shouldn’t be a scary prospect for companies. It must be embraced and used correctly, in order to help modernise workforces and continue to assist in positive, operational growth throughout unpredictable change.

Rachel McElroy,About the author

Rachel McElroy is passionate about a variety of tech topics including digital disruption, tech skills development, agile working, remote working, women in tech, talent on demand, and DevOps. She is currently penning a white paper which will take a comprehensive look at the effects of technology and cloud adoption on the workplace. Covering topics from AI to diversity, and change management to leadership, such contributors to her research include Microsoft, ServiceNow, Alibaba Cloud, Cloud Industry Forum, AutoTrader, Ensono, Cloud Gateway – to name just a few! An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator, Rachel spoke at Cloud Expo Europe in March 2019 and in February, was appointed as a judge at the UK Cloud Awards 2019.