Thriving in the Endemic Future with Technology

Attributed to Hana Raja, MD of Cisco Malaysia

Businesses and organizations have shown incredible resilience as they navigated uncertainty and changes of the pandemic, demonstrating the importance of being adaptable and quick to act in the face of rapidly evolving circumstances. As Malaysia seek to enter the endemic phase, we look at the technology pillars that will allow organizations to drive an inclusive and sustainable recovery and be future-ready.

  1. Hybrid work is here to stay, and businesses need to enable employees to work seamlessly and securely regardless of their location and device.

The need for an efficient workforce is greater than ever, and this requires flexible and accessible working options. According to the Cisco Future of Secure Remote Work report, 60% of organizations here had more than half of their workforce working remotely during the pandemic, and 35% are expecting this to continue post-pandemic. Implementation of hybrid work should no longer be treated as a temporary fix, rather a long-term approach to help organizations remain agile in the face of uncertainties and prepare for the future of work.

A hybrid future of work calls for a robust tech infrastructure that is flexible and allows users to seamlessly and securely connect and collaborate regardless of location. Platforms such as the Cisco Webex Suite provides workers with a single access point to collaborate across distributed teams and offices, as it allows them to meet, call, message and run events in one place. Businesses also need to take a cross-architecture approach to their entire IT and networking infrastructure to ensure seamless, secure access, edge-to-edge security, and a modernized data cente. Having the right tools will enable a culture of inclusiveness, connection, and innovation for businesses and employees to thrive.

  • Cybersecurity will remain at the heart of the new normal

In fostering a seamless hybrid work environment, cybersecurity must be foundational to any digitalisation effort. A Cisco study found that 62% of organizations in Malaysia experienced a jump of 25% or more in cyber threats or alerts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while another study revealed that 60% of cybersecurity technologies used by Malaysian companies are considered outdated by security and privacy professionals.

Because cyber attackers are increasingly adopting new and sophisticated strategies, organizations need to ensure they have a solid cybersecurity infrastructure that supports all digitalization efforts and provides visibility across their userbase and entire infrastructure, or risk losing critical data. One such security model is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a cloud-based, as-a-service model that converges comprehensive networking and security functions to support the hybrid workplace. It is designed to provide strong, secure edge-to-edge access — including data centers, remote offices, employees, and beyond. This is a vital approach to secure access to applications from any location and is especially relevant to today’s hybrid work environment.

  • Full-stack Observability and actionable insights will be key to delivering exceptional digital experiences

Malaysia offers a fertile ground for digital transformation with 98% mobile and 89% internet penetration among the population. As applications become the primary way consumers interact with businesses, companies need to deliver a high quality, always-on, and trusted experience. To achieve this, organizations require visibility of their entire IT infrastructure, commonly referred to as Full-Stack Observability, to enable IT teams to monitor various aspects of their IT set up, understand the usage of applications, identify issues, and address them in real-time. This requires synchronicity and alignment of multiple teams within the IT department – from network operations to application developers and security operations.

Utilizing Full-Stack Observability while leveraging automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will enable teams to have visibility over every networking domain, cloud, application, code, and everything in between. This will in turn further enhance the customer experience and feedback loop. With the accelerated pace of technology adoption over the last two years, businesses should review their digital transformation strategy to ensure that their IT infrastructure is modern, integrated, and reliable.

  • Closing the digital divide and building digital talent through upskilling and reskilling.

Malaysia’s growing digital economy brings with it a greater demand for talents with digital skills in the tech industry. PIKOM has stated that 97,909 jobs in the digital industry were offered in just the first half of 2021 and this will remain high with the rising demand for skilled talent.

As Malaysia’s digital economy grow with the accelerated adoption of internet-enabled services, more needs to be done to ensure that technology is not only used to fuel productivity, but also close the digital divide to power an inclusive future for all so no one is left behind. In addition, we need both technology to enable these activities AND people with the skills to keep the networks up and running. It is crucial for organizations and the workforce to build their IT skills. The growing uptake on reskilling and upskilling opportunities offered through the workplace, government initiatives and personal efforts have shown that building digital talent has expanded beyond focusing on existing tech talents but applies to the entire workforce. An inclusive recovery includes providing these skills to all who need them.

Initiatives such as the Cisco Networking Academy provides the resources to help people from all backgrounds participate and develop new critical skills in areas such as networking, IoT, cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the digital economy.

  • Sustainability will become a business imperative

As the pace of innovation continues to accelerate in today’s digital-first world, technology will play a critical role in powering an inclusive, sustainable future as businesses realize their sustainability goals. Government-led mandates such as the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance further ensure that boards and companies integrate sustainability considerations in their strategy and business operations.

Sustainable practices will make a strong case for business success—bringing enhanced brand reputation, improved risk management, greater efficiencies and in turn, lower costs. As a company, Cisco has set ambitious goals to reduce our emissions by 60% by FY22, improve the power efficiency of our products, and commit to more sustainable packaging.

In recent years, technology and innovation have underpinned the continuity of our economic and social activity and will certainly continue to drive our work to ensure a recovery that truly does benefit all. Along with our partners, Cisco is committed to building an inclusive future in Malaysia powered by our technology, scale, extended ecosystem, and support for communities to create new possibilities for tomorrow.

(1055 words)

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