Source: Forbes
01 Mar 2021

By Steve Durbin, Chief Executive of the ISF and Forbes Business Council Member

Investing in people will always pay dividends. Technology is there to help people do a better job

Steve Durbin, CEO at the ISF

The idea that technology can solve all our problems is seductive. It seems like every product vendor claims to have a silver bullet for whatever ails your organization, and we’re all looking for a quick fix. However, I believe the danger is that we can become overly fixated on software and artificial intelligence to solve our problems. I’ve found this belief in technology to be particularly strong in cybersecurity, but most industries have embraced digital transformation. While technology undoubtedly has a role to play, it must go hand in hand with people.

Every product and service we create is ultimately built to serve people. Technology can empower us in many ways, and it can be an incredibly useful multifaceted tool, but it is just a tool; it needs a person to wield it effectively. Deep insights, creative sparks and relevant perspectives come from people. We need to take a moment to step back and remember that everything we do is not technology-related but people-related because people are at the heart of it.

Taking A New Approach To The Skills Shortage

The skills shortage has long been a hot topic in security. Experience is at a premium, but there’s a shortage of experienced people with the right technical skill sets. This experience problem is a bit like the chicken and the egg. Perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place. We’re focused on the shortage of experienced individuals who’ve been through the security processes, who understand how to respond to a breach, who can do all the network configurations and security modeling that’s required. But is that what we need?

From my perspective, we might benefit more by bringing people who already possess other skills that are in short supply within security through the different levels. The challenge that security faces is how to remain relevant and add value to the business. Why not take people who understand how a business functions, such as people from sales and marketing, and support them in acquiring some of the security skills we seek?

The truth is that it’s very difficult to train somebody in the softer, emotionally intelligent skills that security professionals need to be effective in their roles. Why not do it the other way around?

We also need to embrace diversity because through inclusion, we get a fresh set of insights and perspectives on every problem. The most effective teams include a mix of genders and cultural backgrounds. Organizations are operating in a global environment, and they need a workforce that reflects that.

Enabling People To Do Their Best

Investing in people will always pay dividends. Technology is there to help people do a better job. Where possible, it shoulders some of the heavy lifting on monotonous tasks so people are freed up to collaborate, be creative and innovate. Good management will always look for ways to facilitate the workforce, energize them and remove obstacles to their success.

The pandemic has completely broken this old-fashioned notion that for a corporation to be effective, everybody has to be under the same roof. We’re no longer asking people to spend three hours a day commuting to and from work. I predict that few organizations will go back to five days a week in the office (and many workers might even be less stressed as a result). It could open up opportunities for people who have been unable to travel or relocate. The potential recruitment pool just got much wider.

While there are challenges in securing this new landscape, there’s also a lot of opportunities. A key part of this is making it count when people do get together. It’s madness to ask someone to come into an office and then have them sit and do something they could have done at home, but face-to-face collaboration is crucial for success.

Collaborating: Where The Real Magic Happens

Technology is useful, but when people come together to decide how they’re going to use the tools for improvement, differentiation or transformation, that’s where things get really exciting. By reimagining traditional offices as collaboration centers, we can get more value from the limited time people spend together. They may come to the office once a week or once a month; the important thing is to make space for people to come to feed off one another — in a comfortable environment where they can share ideas.

I believe the interactions you would get in these environments could be so much richer and better because people would be there for the right reason. They’re not just there because they have to be. Free of this arbitrary requirement, the daily drudgery of the commute and the grueling office workweek, people can bring enthusiasm and excitement to the table and collaborate to generate fresh, innovative thinking that can drive your organization forward.

Of course, technology will always have an important role to play, but it’s there to serve and facilitate the real heart of every organization: its people.

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