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How IT Can Save Your Business Money and Make It Work Better

How IT Can save your business money

Technology is an essential part of any modern business, but it can also be a source of frustration, inefficiency, and risk if not managed properly. You need a reliable, trustworthy IT partner to help create and implement a strategic IT roadmap that aligns with your business goals and needs.

We know that IT is essential for modern work, to communicate via email, messaging, video conferencing and apps such as Excel, Adobe and others to enable our businesses. But an IT roadmap is so much more than that. It can allow your business to improve, drive forward, and save you money while doing it.

Let’s explore how…

AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, and decision-making. AI can help your business improve productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction by automating repetitive and complex tasks, enhancing data analysis and insights, and providing personalised and intelligent services. For example, you can use AI to:

Streamline your workflows and processes. 

Use chatbots, virtual assistants, and robotic process automation (RPA) to handle customer inquiries, bookings, invoices, and other administrative tasks.

Optimise your operations and performance. 

Utilise machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing (NLP) to analyse large and diverse data sets, generate forecasts and recommendations, and detect anomalies and patterns.

Innovate your products and services. 

Tools such as computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language generation (NLG) to create interactive and engaging experiences, such as face recognition, voice assistants, and content creation.

Used correctly and responsibly, AI can save your business money by reducing labour costs, increasing efficiency, and minimising errors. It can also make your business better by enabling you to offer faster, more innovative, and more personalised solutions to your customers and stakeholders.

The next big thing in AI? – Microsoft Copilot. Those lucky enough to use it this early have already seen how it can revolutionise our work. And this is just the start. Copilot is just going to get better.

 

Cloud Technology

Cloud technology delivers computing services, such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence, over the internet (the cloud). The Cloud can help your business improve scalability, flexibility, and collaboration by allowing you to access and share resources on demand, from anywhere, and on any device. For example, you can use cloud technology to:

Expand your capacity and capabilities. 

Use cloud infrastructure, platform, and software as a service (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) to host your applications, data, and systems on the cloud without investing in and maintaining your hardware and software.

Enhance your agility and responsiveness. 

Cloud orchestration, automation, and integration can help manage and coordinate your cloud resources, workflows, and processes and adapt to changing business needs and demands.

Empower your team and partners.

By using cloud collaboration, communication, and productivity tools, you can work together, exchange information, and deliver results regardless of location, time zone, and device.

Cloud technology can save your business money by reducing capital and operational expenses, optimising resource utilisation, and leveraging economies of scale. It can also improve your business by enabling you to access and leverage the latest technologies, innovations, and best practices in the cloud.

Our cloud platform of choice is Microsoft Azure. Azure provides 1000’s of products and cloud services, including the latest in AI. This allows businesses to choose the tools and frameworks that best fit their needs. Whether developing new applications, managing existing workloads, or exploring cutting-edge technologies, Azure offers a flexible cloud-based ecosystem.

 

IT can save you money

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity can help your business improve reliability, reputation, and compliance by ensuring your IT assets and information’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

The right protection can save your business money by avoiding or reducing the costs and losses associated with cyberattacks, such as downtime, data breaches, fines, lawsuits, and reputational damage. It can also improve your business by enabling you to build and maintain trust and confidence with your customers and stakeholders.

A 24/7/365 Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service covering your organisation keeps you protected by a team of experienced threat hunters and saves you the cost of hiring your own managed Security Operation Centre (SOC). As a bonus, your Cyber insurance costs will be dramatically reduced as MDR satisfies many of their policy requirements.

 

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)

UEM or Device management is the administration and control of your IT devices, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and printers, used by your staff and users to access and use your IT resources and services. UEM can help your business improve security, efficiency, and user experience by ensuring your IT devices’ proper configuration, maintenance, and support. For example, you can use device management to:

  • Secure and protect your devices using encryption, remote wipe, and lock to prevent unauthorised access and data loss in case of theft, loss, or compromise.
  • Manage and update your devices using inventory, provisioning, and patching to keep track of your device assets. You can assign and distribute devices to your staff and users and install and update software and firmware.
  • Support and troubleshoot your devices by using device monitoring, diagnostics, and helpdesk to monitor the performance and status of your devices, identify and resolve issues and problems, and provide assistance and guidance to your staff and users.

Device management can save your business money by reducing device downtime, waste, and theft and optimising device performance and lifespan. It can also make your business better by enabling you to provide a consistent and seamless device experience to your staff and users.

At Planet IT, we use Intune to manage our devices and recommend them to most clients. If you want to know more about Unified Device Management, check out our detailed article here: https://www.planet-it.net/uem-unified-endpoint-management/ 

IT Strategy

Software Licensing Management

Software licensing management can help your business improve compliance, quality, and value by ensuring the proper acquisition, deployment, and usage of your software assets and solutions.

Comply with software laws and regulations. 

Software license management can make auditing and reporting easier by verifying and documenting your software entitlements, installations, and consumptions and avoiding software piracy, infringement, and penalties.

Optimise your software investments.

Use software licensing to optimise, consolidate, and negotiate. Evaluate and select the best software license models, types, and terms for your business needs and budget to reduce software costs and complexity.

Enhance your software capabilities.

Managing complex software license subscriptions, renewals, and upgrades is a fine art. You can access and benefit from the latest software features, functions, and improvements and maintain software compatibility and interoperability.

Software licensing can save your business money by avoiding or reducing software over-licensing, under-licensing, and non-compliance and maximising software utilisation and value. Furthermore, it can improve your business by enabling you to leverage the best software solutions for your business processes and outcomes.

By working with a high-level partner like Planet IT, we can secure you better licensing pricing than most other IT companies.

 

IT processes, systems and methodology can save your business money and improve it in many ways. However, managing IT can be challenging and complex, especially in today’s dynamic and competitive business environment. That’s why you need a trusted and experienced IT support provider to help create and implement a strategic IT roadmap that aligns with your business goals and needs.

Speak with James Dell today to find out how we can help you transform your business with IT – [email protected] or reach out on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delljames/

Meet Maciej Owsiany. What exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Technical Architect

Let’s start with an easy one… what exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Well… I’ll do my best to describe that title as we all know it is comprehensive and contains many small bits and pieces.

In a few words, a Technical Architect helps businesses understand how the technology works that they might commit to buying and implementing within their company.

There are a few types of Technical Architect. One is a pre-sale Technical Architect, which is precisely what I do in my role. I often engage in conversations with businesses before the sales process. In the typical jargon, I use simple terminology to speak to executives about existing or new technologies. I often change technical language to something more straightforward for the client to understand so they can more comfortably decide to implement a solution within their organisation.

A big part of my role as Principal Technical Architect is to create IT roadmaps, where we look at the overall existing infrastructure for the business and project changes within a specific timeline to achieve better outcomes, essentially acting as your IT Director or CTO, providing that long-term technical vision for the business.

How does that fit within the Managed IT Support Area of Planet IT?

Within the MSP business, the Technical Architect role is a glue between a client and the infrastructure team. That’s looking after that business on a day-to-day basis. We all try to work together to achieve one goal, and that is, first of all, to make the client’s life easier by implementing technology which works for them first but at the same time makes the infrastructure team happy as they will have to then look after that solution and support the client after it has all been implemented.

A big part of my experience that massively helped me within my role was being a technical liaison. I was a part of the helpdesk and onsite team, assisting clients within the MSP business for over ten years. I saw the major struggles that companies were going through and often had to work under pressure to resolve those problems. I always say that I have been on the other side of the fence and not only seeing technical issues from one side of the monitor 😊.

 

What sort of clients do you like working with?

In our role here at Planet IT, we help over 90 support clients from various sectors, such as pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and consulting. We also manage highly demanding organisations like schools, hospitals, and critical care businesses, where technology has to be delivered on point as those clients are highly dependent on it. Working with companies with a straight mission and vision for their business is much easier as we can focus on longer-term goals rather than short patches. Those kinds of companies often stick to the plan and implement changes that Technical Architects put in the IT Strategies.

 

What technologies do you like working with?

This might sound like a broken tape, and as we hear more about the security solutions, most of us probably think…. oh, not again!

Unfortunately, the world we live in has pushed us to focus even more on the security aspect of every business.

We often work in a hybrid mode, which always makes technical departments very busy, and every aspect of security behind the hybrid working solution requires addressing accordingly.

I am not even sure where to start, as we can talk about it for hours, but mainly these days, we do not work from one secure parameter, such as the office. We do not use only one device to access business data. As everybody knows, and I am sure that most of you agree, we tend to use many devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, to access our data.

From a technical perspective, it is our main goal here at Planet IT, and I am sure many other companies, too, secure that data and the devices from which it is accessible. In the technical department, we regularly speak about new technologies that can help secure the data and make sure that in the event of losing a single device, which, let’s face it, is not really hard these days, mitigating the risk of accessing it by someone who should not is achievable as quick as possible.

Using the right technologies, such as Microsoft Intune, is something that we work on daily here at Planet IT, and I can happily say that it makes me almost very proud that many businesses are deciding to make the right move and shift towards it.

 

What technologies are you looking forward to seeing in the future?

Virtual reality and all the AI-facing technologies that we can hear about are things that everybody is talking about at the moment. Many big companies are introducing solutions that can help us with our daily tasks, whether at work or at home, and some of them we might have seen in futuristic movies a long time ago. We all know for a fact that this is happening. We are testing some of these solutions here in Planet IT that might help businesses internally.

 

What challenges do you face in your role?

As I have mentioned, in participating in the Security Summit conversation regarding bridging gaps between technology professionals and executives, the challenge often is to try to convince the senior management team to invest in IT. I have been on many calls when I heard someone saying my system is not broken, so why must we make those changes?

Our job is to ensure that clients understand the importance and often the urgency of the changes that need to be made. Surprisingly, today, we still see many businesses that have not moved from their onsite server operating system, which is not supported anymore, and that is just one example. That may be because they are using bespoke and legacy applications, and the migration might not be that easy, but as long as there is someone who is willing to start a conversation with us and is open to a change, I call it a success as we can then have a discussion and try to face and resolve the current situation.

 

You were recently named the Planet IT MVP – Tell us about that. How did it feel?

That is a huge privilege, and I have to say that I am very grateful to be chosen by Planet IT team and voted for an MVP award, which I think stands for the most valuable player (I have been watching those basketball playoffs for a long time, and I know what that is 😉).

This all happened while I was climbing Kilimanjaro. I remember that my friend happened to catch the internet signal in the middle of nowhere for just 1 hour during our 7-day trip! I wanted to see what happened in the big world, and when I found out about winning…!! We then lost internet access, so I could not even say how happy I was. I feel like this is a team achievement, and although I was lucky enough to get awarded the MVP title, I cannot thank the entire Planet IT team who stands behind it enough!!!

 

What makes you tick outside work?

I love overall physical activity, whether walking, hiking, or training… I love it all!!! Why…? It is probably because during those, I don’t have to think about anything else, and I don’t need to analyse any solutions 😉.

 

The Cyber OODA Loop Explained: Enhancing Cyber Defence with Rapid Decision-Making

The Cyber Observe Orient Decide OODA and Act Framework

If you follow the world of Jocko Willink or listen to his podcast, especially the one with Andrew Huberman, then you will have heard about the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) loop.  

Willink used this model during his time in the Navy Seals to help him overcome challenges. This article explores how the OODA loop can be utilised in cyber response, especially in highly stressful situations, to enable you to see the woods from the trees. 

What is the OODA loop? 

Observe

The first step in the OODA loop is observation. In the context of cybersecurity, this involves actively monitoring our network, systems, and external threat intelligence sources. Key activities include: 

Security Bulletins and Advisories: Regularly track security bulletins and advisories from trusted sources. Stay informed about vulnerabilities and emerging threats. 

Threat Intelligence: Gather information on adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Understand their modus operandi to anticipate their moves. 

Incident Detection: Implement robust detection mechanisms, including network intrusion detection systems (NIDS), firewall logs, and user behaviour analytics.

Orient

Orientation is about making sense of the observed data. Here’s how it applies to cyber defence: 

Assess Applicability: Evaluate how the observed threats align with your organisation’s assets and operations—Prioritise based on criticality. 

Operational Issues: Consider operational constraints, resource availability, and potential impact. What can realistically be addressed? 

Risk Assessment: Quantify the risk associated with each threat. Understand the potential consequences of inaction.

Decide

Decisiveness is crucial in the face of cyber threats. Make informed decisions: 

Prioritise Remediation: Decide which vulnerabilities or incidents require immediate attention based on your risk assessment. Create a remediation strategy. 

“Duelling” OODAs: Recognise that adversaries also operate within their own OODA loops. Act swiftly to disrupt their plans.

Act

Execution is where the rubber meets the road: 

Rollout and Monitor: Deploy patches, updates, and security controls. Continuously monitor for any “breakage” caused by changes. 

Active Defences: Implement active defences such as honeypots, sinkholes, and application whitelisting. Deceive, degrade, and disrupt adversary actions. 

Cyber OODA Loop

Continuous Cyber Loop

Remember that the OODA loop is iterative. As you act, new observations emerge, leading to further orientation, decisions, and actions. Adaptability and agility are essential. 

Organisations face an ongoing battle to protect their digital assets in the volatile landscape of cyber threats. Initially developed by military strategist Colonel John Boyd, the OODA loop provides a robust framework for decision-making and response. Let’s explore how this loop can be applied to enhance our defences against cyber-attacks. 

In an outbreak or live cyber-attack, it can be challenging to remain calm whilst taking the first steps to deal with the situation and do the right thing. We recommend taking time to run an OODA loop model in your mind. In doing so, you can find a better, more effective way to tackle the challenges.  

Those of us who are often in a position where a decision needs to be made fast, risk missing alternative more effective ways due to time pressure. However, this model will give you the best chance to see a clearer picture, so you can make more informed decisions.  

Application Of the Loop in Cyber Security

The first step is to observe the incident and analyse your data:  

  1. What has happened?  
  2. Calmly analyse the facts and the unknown.
  3. Assess the worst possible scenario and the potential impact on your business.
  4. Think of your next steps.  

Once facts have been established, decide on the action and how you will proceed with the informed decision. Hopefully, the decision stemmed from the Observe and Orient model. 

The Act is the last step which puts the plan into action. At this point, you should also be planning to perform another OODA loop to cover the previous loop; sometimes, you may even be running multiple loops at once. The ability to place a cognitive weight on having time to make the right decision is key in a high-pressure scenario. 

If you are looking for further reading, then you can also look at the following: 

Mandiant APT1 Model: Map control implementations to the adversary model. Identify opportunities to detect, deny, and disrupt attacks. 

MITRE ATT&CK Matrix: Align techniques with tactics. Understand where defences are effective and where gaps exist. 

By embracing the Cyber OODA loop, organisations can transform reactive responses into proactive defences. Rapid decision-making, continuous adaptation, and a deep understanding of the threat landscape empower us to stay ahead of cyber adversaries. Remember: in cyberspace, surprise favours the prepared mind. 

If you want to talk to Planet IT experts about how we can help you with your cyber security, planning and innovation, then please call 01235 433900, or you can email [email protected], or if you would like to speak to me directly, you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected]. 

 

Cloud Security Posture Management, Why you need it!

Cloud Security Posture Management

It’s time to discuss the importance of moving to an Opex model, the drive towards consumption-based usage and the impact on technologies like Microsoft Azure, as well as the importance of protecting Cloud resources and security when you move resources to the cloud. This article looks at how we put these principles into practice in Cloud Security Posture Management.

What is CSPM And Why Is It Important

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is critical for any business moving its infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. CSPM helps organisations identify and remediate security risks in their cloud environments, to ensure their data and applications are protected. This rather preventative approach helps avoid any disasters!

When moving to the cloud, businesses must ensure that their security posture is robust and able to withstand the unique challenges of the cloud environment. Once you move to the cloud, you are placing only some, but not all, of the responsibility for the service provided.

In this shared responsibility model, the level of understanding of your risks is critical. This is why CSPM tools are so essential. They provide a comprehensive view of the security posture of an organisation’s cloud environment. It allows them to identify and address vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that could expose their data and applications.

Automation and Benefits Of CSPM

One of the greatest benefits of CSPM is the ability to automate the process of identifying and remediating security risks. Taking the human out of the equation often results in a better, faster, and more secure platform in the long term.

This is particularly important where the scale and complexity of the environment make it difficult for businesses to keep up with the constantly evolving threat landscape. CSPM tools can automatically scan the cloud environment for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. This alerts security teams to potential risks and provides the information needed to take action.

CSPM also gives businesses greater visibility into their cloud environment, allowing them to monitor activity and detect unusual or suspicious behaviour. With the correct visibility, you can trust that the systems you have in place are configured and protected to the required standard.

The dynamic nature of the environment can make it difficult for businesses to keep track of changes and activities. CSPM tools provide real-time visibility into the cloud environment, allowing security teams to identify and respond to potential threats quickly. Being able to see who has made changes, what risks you have, and the overall nature of your cloud posture is invaluable.

Complying with Standards and Regulations

Many businesses are subject to strict regulatory requirements, and failure to comply can result in significant fines and reputational damage. CSPM tools can help businesses ensure that their cloud environment complies with relevant standards and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance. If your business needs to hit Cyber Essentials, ISO 27001 or PCI-DSS, then CSPM is the way to go

In summary, CSPM is essential for businesses moving their infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. It gives businesses the visibility, automation, and control they need to ensure their cloud environment is secure and compliant. By implementing a robust CSPM solution, businesses can protect their data and applications from threats, reduce the risk of non-compliance, and maintain the trust of their customers and stakeholders.

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help your business secure its cloud environment and the benefits a CPSM could have for you, please call 01235 433900 or email [email protected]. If you want to speak to me directly, you can contact me via DM or at [email protected].

 

Unleashing The Power Of Microsoft 365 Copilot

Copilot for Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Copilot for 365  is a chat-based tool that integrates into other 365 applications such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and SharePoint. It can learn and understand data from these locations, giving it the ability to answer questions, summarise documents, and more. Copilot is also integrated into the applications, allowing you to use it in real-time to draft emails, summarize emails or Teams chats.

 

Watch our webinar about unleashing the power of Copilot for your organisation

 

How will Copilot change the way we will work?

Microsoft Copilot for 365 won’t be coming after your job anytime soon.  Copilot 365 is there to help make your job more efficient and effective by cutting down the time you would have spent reading unimportant emails or messages, drafting base documents and emails and so on.  It will help you improve your time management skills, professionally write emails and recap your entire working days.

The security and compliance around Copilot

However, Microsoft Copilot 365 poses new security and compliance challenges for businesses as it has access to so much data.  Examples of risk can involve data leaking to the wrong user or a compromised user which could be could be devastating.

Currently, Copilot has inbuilt rules and compliance policies to stop certain actions such as users requesting sensitive data like payslips or contracts. It also has built-in security to only show data that the user would be able to access natively.

It is on Microsoft’s roadmap to integrate this policy into Purview to allow IT admins greater control over copilot security.

If you are eager to harness the full potential of Microsoft Copilot 365 to elevate your business through AI integration in your daily operations, then please call 01235 433900 or email our team of experts at [email protected]. As your trusted Microsoft Solution Partner, we seamlessly guide you through every step – from licensing to integration – ensuring that your investment not only meets but exceeds expectations.

Integrating Generative AI

Integrating Generative AI, Machine Learning and AI

In the dynamic landscape of technology, integrating Generative AI, Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become imperative for businesses to stay competitive and innovative.

 

Not since the dot.com era have we seen such a dramatic shift in technology, which has become a part of our everyday lives. 

 

Businesses must adapt and integrate AI, ML and GenAI into their short and long-term IT strategies. To enable employees to access AI tools from their workstations, mobiles and any web-enabled device. 

 

More than ever, IT professionals ought to be committed to developing robust strategies that leverage these technologies to enhance operational efficiency, customer experiences and overall business outcomes. This article will explore key considerations and recommendations for incorporating Generative AI, Machine Learning, and AI into your IT strategies in 2024.

Understanding the Business Objectives:

 

As IT leaders, you must align the adoption of Generative AI, ML, and AI with the broader business objectives.

 

Due to a lack of consideration for your business’s strategic objectives, the improper use and implementation of these technologies may have little or no effect on achieving organisational objectives. In other words, these tools should be complementary and continuously aligned with the organisational strategy. For instance, some technologies may not necessarily support the direction of the business. The same principle applies to the implementation of strategic IT decisions.

 

Conversely, the judicious use of AI can elevate customer service satisfaction and increase operational efficiency, which can lead to gaining a competitive advantage in some shape or form.

 

Crafting an effective IT strategy based on individual business merits will help choose technologies tailored to individual needs that will support development and growth.

 

Talent Acquisition and Skill Development:

 

Investing in talent is crucial for successful implementation. IT leaders should assess the existing skill set within their teams and identify the gaps. This is crucially important as well as your current team’s skill including knowledge of working with IA set vs. AI delivery services.  

Hiring or upskilling employees in areas like data science, machine learning, and deep learning ensures that the organisation has the expertise to drive AI initiatives. Not only focusing on the team who will support it, but your IT strategy must also focus on how you train end users to understand, leverage and validate where AI is used.

 

Establishing a Data-Driven Culture:

 

Generative AI and ML rely heavily on data. IT leaders must foster a data-driven culture within the organisation, emphasising the importance of high-quality, relevant data. It has always been a challenge for businesses to hold data regardless of its quality, relevance, or ability to be reused, ingested, or understood by a system. With AI, both structured and unstructured data can be used, but the data still needs to be relevant if you implement a system to reduce the amount of time your business spends on answering customer queries based on previous fixes but don’t check the previous fixes for validity you are likely to suggest non-solutions and harbour distrust in the system. This involves implementing data governance practices, ensuring data security, and promoting collaboration between IT and business units to derive meaningful insights. Tools like Microsoft Purview are a great place to start when looking into your data and its governance.

 

Creating a Robust Infrastructure:

 

IT leaders need to invest in a robust and scalable infrastructure to support the increased computational demands of AI applications. For most, this will mean looking at a transparent Cloud and edge computing strategy, moving away from private and co-located data centres on dedicated hardware to pooled and shared, scalable solutions like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This becomes critical when you consider that for some AI workloads, you will need specialised hardware such as GPUs, which may be essential IT infrastructure components to ensure optimal performance or gain the results your business requires. For those who want to remain on-premises, then your strategy needs to directly reflect a hybrid cloud approach as you will not be able to run many of these tools in your environment and will instead need to run the toolset where it is best suited be that with the vendor or on a public cloud instance.

 

Implementing Explainable AI:

 

As your strategy reflects how your business increasingly relies on AI-driven decisions, you must ensure that your business, customers, and staff can maintain faith in the solution; therefore, transparency becomes critical. As IT leaders, you should prioritise adopting Explainable AI models that provide clear insights into how AI algorithms arrive at specific conclusions. This transparency builds trust both internally and externally. This is easier said than done with some of the current Generative AI toolings, and therefore, your IT Strategy should reflect how you will tackle this when selecting the tools you will work with.

 

Security and Compliance:

 

Ensuring the security of AI systems is paramount. As an IT leader, you must integrate AI technologies in compliance with industry regulations and standards. Now, most of these AI tools currently take little consideration for the regulations and standards your business might have to reach, be that HIPPA, PCI-DSS, or ISO. Therefore, it will fall to you and your strategic approach to ensure that safeguards are put in place and that you remain in control of your data, its sovereignty and how it is being used. Additionally, implementing robust cybersecurity measures is essential to protect sensitive data and maintain the integrity of AI applications; this does not stop with just placing anti-virus on a system; you will need to think beyond this and engage with the right security partners.

 

Continuous Monitoring and Improvement:

 

AI models require ongoing monitoring and refinement. IT leaders should establish mechanisms for continuous evaluation of AI systems, identifying areas for improvement and adapting strategies based on real-world performance. Regular updates and adjustments ensure that AI applications remain effective and aligned with evolving business goals. Remember that even though a model is good today, it will still be better in 6 months or a year. Also, the data set will age out on models, therefore, you need to ensure you understand how and when this will be updated to support your business. 

 

Collaboration and Communication:

 

Successful AI implementation requires effective collaboration between IT and all business units. IT leaders should facilitate communication, break down silos, and encourage cross-functional collaboration to ensure that AI initiatives align with the overall business strategy. No man is an island, and if you make your safe in this landscape, you will quickly fall behind. While implementing your IT strategy, you engage a cross-business group and work with them to support you in understanding how to engage the wider business and provide training, support, and guidance to maximise uptake and effectively communicate the changes coming.

 

In 2024, the strategic integration of Generative AI, Machine Learning, and AI into IT strategies is critical to business success. IT leaders must align these technologies with business objectives, invest in talent and infrastructure, foster a data-driven culture, prioritise security and compliance, and ensure continuous monitoring and improvement. By adopting a holistic approach, you, as an IT professional, can position your organisations at the forefront of technological innovation, driving sustainable growth and competitive advantage in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your IT strategy or implementing AI into your business, then please call 01235 433900, or you can email [email protected], or if you would like to speak to me directly, you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

Technology and Cybersecurity; The Trends and Predications for 2024

technology trends in 2024

Time waits for no man and the last 12 months have truly shown that neither can technology or cybersecurity. Tech will not be held back. Governments, companies and individuals cannot stop the march of technological progress. Therefore as I sat down to pen this article for the third year in a row it was very clear to me that the last 12 months have seen such a huge advancement in technology that my predictions might need to be a bit bigger for technology in 2024!

You can read the previous year’s articles HERE and HERE.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Cybersecurity

Artificial Intelligence is set to play a pivotal role in cybersecurity. In 2024, we can expect AI to be more sophisticated in identifying and mitigating cyber threats. Machine learning algorithms will continuously adapt to new attack vectors, providing a dynamic defence mechanism. The integration of AI in security operations will enhance threat detection, response times, and overall resilience against cyber attacks. Because of this as business we need to be aware of how the providers of your technology are using AI and how the bad actors will also be using this. It is also going to be critical in 2024 to review where and what data is being held and used to train these AI models inside of your cybersecurity products.

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

Zero Trust Architecture

The concept of Zero Trust Architecture is gaining momentum as organizations recognize the need to move beyond traditional perimeter-based security. In 2024, expect more widespread adoption of Zero Trust principles, where trust is never assumed, and every user, device, and network interaction is thoroughly authenticated and authorized. This approach ensures a more robust defence against insider threats and external attacks. What this will really mean in 2024 is that the traditional edge and VPN systems many businesses have come to rely on since the pandemic will start to be replaced with ZTNA solutions.

 

Quantum-Safe Cryptography

With the advent of quantum computing, the cryptographic landscape is under threat. To counter this, 2024 will witness a surge in the implementation of quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms. Organizations will prioritize updating their cryptographic protocols to ensure that sensitive data remains secure even in the face of quantum advancements. This is a space to watch and an area of huge growth for security.

 

5G Security Challenges

As 5G networks become more prevalent, so do the security challenges associated with this technology. In 2024, expect a heightened focus on addressing the unique cybersecurity risks posed by 5G, including increased attack surfaces, potential for IoT vulnerabilities, and the need for robust encryption to protect data transmitted over these high-speed networks. Businesses that rely heavily on remote working and mobile working will need to be very aware of this and keep a close key on the risks in the area.

Ransomware Resilience

Ransomware attacks have been on the rise, and 2024 will be no exception. Organisations will increasingly invest in developing and implementing robust ransomware resilience strategies. This includes regular data backups, employee training programs, and the use of advanced threat intelligence to proactively identify and neutralize ransomware threats. For me there is only one answer to this and that will be that every business will need a full MDR (Manage Detection and Response) product in place looked after by a dedicated security team.

 

Biometric Authentication Advances

Biometric authentication is evolving beyond fingerprint and facial recognition. In 2024, we can anticipate advancements in behavioural biometrics, voice recognition, and other innovative authentication methods. These technologies offer a more secure and user-friendly approach to identity verification, reducing reliance on traditional password-based systems. This wont change the world in 2024, but will start to see the shift away from the standard passwords systems we are use to.

Regulatory Compliance and Privacy

With the growing emphasis on data privacy and protection, regulatory frameworks are continually evolving. In 2024, organizations will prioritize compliance with stringent data protection regulations. The focus will be on ensuring transparent data practices, implementing robust security measures, and demonstrating accountability in handling sensitive information.

Generative AI fuelled Social Engineering Attacks

When looking at looking at the risk profile of 2024, it is clear that the trajectory started in 2023 will continue with generative AI being used by bad actors to generate more believable , more dynamic and ultimately harder to detect social engineering attacks. It has been well documented that in 2023 around 80% of all attacks started with compromised identities and as we all continue to invest in better MFA technologies and drive brute force attacks from success the more we will see a direct pivot to using social engineering attacks to compromise the security practices we have in place.

Businesses must strive to educate their employees about the common ways to recognise they are being deceived, this cannot just happen once a year as a tick box exercise you need to be driving change with-in your business and adopting a clear training plan into 2024. Because of this it makes identity protection the most critical protection that companies should look to strengthen or invest in for 2024. Otherwise, adversaries will continually target and successfully comprise this weak spot.

Cost of Living and Financial Impacts on IT and Security Budget

We have seen some unpredictable and unprecedented global impacts over the last 4 years, these have all taken an impact on the global finances which in turn are now starting to reflect in the budgets of businesses across the UK and EMEA. Because of this in 2024 a trend we are all going to need to be aware of is the tightening on IT and Security budgets as the ever tightening purse strings will mean that businesses need to make better choices about where and how they spend money. In these scenarios you need to focus on how to make the most of what you have but also there will be a need to be strong on conveying the value to the wider business on investing or maintaining your IT and Security products and services.

Conclusion

As we step into 2024, the intersection of technology and cybersecurity promises both challenges and opportunities. Embracing innovative solutions, staying informed about emerging threats, and fostering a cybersecurity-conscious culture will be essential for individuals and organizations alike. By proactively addressing these trends, we can collectively build a safer and more resilient digital future.

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your planning for 2024 then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected] or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

2023 – Technology Winners & Losers

Amid widespread technological innovation as well as failuresLewis Kitchen

As usual for this time of year, we always think it’s a bit of fun to look back at the last 12 months and see how technology in 2023 has shaped up – who were the winners and who fell flat of expectations over the year.

Winners

AI

AI has made a huge impact in the year 2023. ChatGPT was released by OpenAI on the 30th of November 2022 and quickly took over the internet, receiving the most user signups out of all applications.

ChatGPT is a predictive language model. Although these existed before, OpenAI was the first to make it commercially available. Unlike other chatbots that are designed to perform specific tasks, ChatGPT is a conversational model that can respond to any query from its large database.

This caused a chain reaction among the big companies to push out their AI and gain some of the market share. AI will change the way we work next year with Microsoft CoPilot coming out for enterprise companies.

Cloud Adoption

As always, Microsoft and Amazon have been pushing for more control over the Public Cloud space. As a result, more companies have migrated services to the cloud or running Hybrid setups with it. At Planet IT we have seen a huge increase in growth for customers wanting Microsoft Azure to run their infrastructure. This will continue into 2024 and from 2025 we will expect to see more than 90% of businesses being cloud only.

Losers

Microsoft Windows Operating Systems

2023 saw the end of life for Windows Server 2012, this forced a lot of companies to upgrade their server or utilise Microsoft’s offering for extended 2012 support in Microsoft Azure. This will become a common occurrence as Microsoft looks to end its support for its aging operating systems such as 2016 and 2019 in favour of moving you to the Azure Cloud.

Twitter / X

Twitter was brought out by Elon Musk on the 27th of October. And depending on what side of the fence you sit on this, is either bad or good. The acquisition has been a topic of debate in the media. Some examples include Elon’s hostile takeover of Twitter; renaming Twitter to X; promising an open-sourced algorithm; banning bots and hypocrisy about free speech.

X has been under pressure from watchdogs and civic organisations. This is due to its inability to combat propaganda. For instance, spreading misleading information on the Russia-Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas war, and the upcoming presidential election.

Securing Tomorrow: Navigating Cybersecurity in 2024 (Amidst the Rise of Generative AI)

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

As we plunge deeper into the digital era, the evolution of technology continues to shape the landscape of cybersecurity. 2023 has been a landmark year for the uptake and integration of Artificial Intelligence into our business, lives and technologies. However, now it’s time to look at cybersecurity in 2024

2024 will mark a significant milestone. The widespread adoption of generative AI technologies propelling us into uncharted territories. Not only are we learning about how to use these technologies and leverage them to make our business more effective and our work lives that little bit easier, but at the same time we are trying to understand how this technology should be legislated, managed and secured. While these advancements bring unprecedented opportunities, they also usher in new challenges. Especially with the escalating risks posed by malicious actors utilising AI to launch smarter, more efficient cyber-attacks. In this article, we delve into the future of cybersecurity and explore crucial measures businesses should undertake to fortify their defences against AI-driven threats.

2023 has been a year of seismic change in the IT landscape. Most of this initial change has been driven in part by the wave of generative AI products that have come to the market. Starting with the introduction of ChatGPT from OpenAI and then the race to get GenAI into every business and every consumer as quickly as possible. This is not the only change that has dramatically affected the market but it is the starting point from which most of the other shifts have occurred.

Because of this, when looking at what 2024 looks like, we need to consider these rapid changes. We can’t just look at today’s landscape. We need to consider what is the risks of the following 12 months are going to look like

The Proliferation of Generative AI:

Generative AI technologies, fuelled by machine learning algorithms, have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in various domains, from content creation to problem-solving. However, with great power comes great responsibility (“Ben Parker – Spiderman (just before he dies [SPOLIERS]”), and in the realm of cybersecurity, the advent of generative AI presents a double-edged sword. While businesses and individuals can leverage GenAI to increase their productivity, remove manual tasks or understand complex situations, Cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging these technologies to automate and enhance the sophistication of their attacks.

AI Cybersecurity event

AI-Driven Threats: A New Frontier:

The integration of generative AI in cyber attacks introduces a new level of complexity and efficiency. AI-driven threats can adapt in real-time, learning from defensive measures and continuously evolving to exploit vulnerabilities. From intelligent phishing schemes to adaptive malware, businesses now face a formidable adversary that can circumvent traditional security protocols with unprecedented agility. This enables bad actors to push RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) and enable less skilled individuals to trigger and deploy increasingly complex attacks on businesses with little to no knowledge of what the attack does or how it is written.

So how do we move forward? As a business what should you be doing to protect yourselves, your staff and your business from the wave of GenAI that isn’t hear to help you out? I have collated Five steps that I called the Business Imperatives for Cybersecurity in 2024:

Investing in AI-Powered Defence Systems:

To counter the rising tide of AI-driven threats, businesses must invest in cutting-edge, AI-powered defence systems. These systems should not only detect known patterns but also employ advanced machine learning algorithms to identify anomalous behaviour indicative of potential attacks. Your £10 a year subscription to a nearly free Antivirus or Antimalware platform is no longer enough, the companies who are not innovating in this space and failing behind and they are doing so quickly. In 2024, EDR/XDR – Endpoint Detection and Response or (X)Extended Detection and Response are now a minimum, for nearly all businesses from SME/SMB to Blue Chip a managed SoC (Security Operations Centre) or Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service is a must. The level of protection on your client devices has never been more important especially as the edge of the network dissolves and users and businesses embrace remote working.

Continuous Training and Skill Development

The human element remains crucial in the fight against cyber threats. Regular training and skill development programs are imperative to equip cybersecurity teams with the knowledge and expertise needed to combat evolving AI-driven attacks effectively.

When looking at what we do moving forward we have to start with the human aspect of protection “The Human Firewall” as I like to call it. Training your end users has and always will be the most critical line of defence a business has. Now I have said this before and I will undoubtedly say it again in one of these articles or at a keynote. If you fail to train your end users to not only use the technology in front of them or understand the risks they pose as users to the data and information security of the business you will undoubtedly risk a catastrophic failure. Users are the most risky part of your business, they move, they are forgetful and they tend to be overly sharing even when you have specifically told them not to be. What we will need to do as we step into 2024 is train end users to understand the risks of AI, what it does/doesn’t/can/cannot do with data.

Once they understand this you will need to wrap true security awareness training around this. The training will need to be broad but also deep to ensure that users do not fall into the trap of not knowing the breadth of the risks but also don’t end up receiving such high-level input they never really understand how deep that rabbit hole can go.

microsoft intune

Zero-Trust Security Architecture

Adopting a zero-trust security architecture is paramount in the age of AI-driven threats. Rather than relying solely on perimeter defences, businesses should implement robust identity verification, continuous monitoring, and strict access controls to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. We need to build systems, services and business with Zero Trust at the core. When my team is asked to work on a solution for a customer or migration to the cloud, this is where we begin the days of trusting the perimeter of the network to defend us are gone. We need robust Zero Trust across every system, platform and service. If you don’t have Zero Trust you have too much trust!

Collaboration and Information Sharing

Cybersecurity is a collective effort, and businesses should actively participate in information sharing and collaborative initiatives. At Planet IT, I make this a core of what we do with regular information-sharing sessions, events and webinars (including this blog!). Building a strong network of industry peers and sharing threat intelligence can enhance the collective ability to thwart sophisticated AI-driven attacks. If you don’t know where to start with this reach out to [email protected] and we will get you connected with like-minded individuals across the UK and EMEA and help you build your network of peers.

Regulatory Compliance and Ethical AI Usage

Beyond technological solutions, fostering a cybersecurity culture within an organisation is paramount. Employees should be educated about the potential risks associated with AI-driven threats and encouraged to adopt best practices, such as vigilant email scrutiny, regular password updates, and reporting suspicious activities promptly. This starts from the first day they join your business and should be a continued journey throughout their time with you. The days of training once worrying later are gone. We must be keeping our staff as up-to-date as we are, bringing the business with you is the hardest part of the battle with AI and Cyber Security in 2024.

As we stand on the precipice of a future dominated by generative AI, the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. Businesses must proactively adapt to the evolving threat landscape by embracing advanced technologies, fostering a cybersecurity-conscious culture, and collaborating with the broader industry. By doing so, they can not only defend against the rising tide of AI-driven threats in 2024 but also pave the way for a more secure digital future. Just remember, AI is Amazing but if you fail to understand it, properly protect it or secure it then it’s a disaster waiting to happen!

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your security and understanding of AI then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected] or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

 

How to create and implement a cloud strategy

How to Create and Implement a Cloud Strategy

Cloud-based solutions are helping organisations achieve greater agility, efficiency, and innovation, and even increasing end-user satisfaction. That said, moving to the cloud is not always just as simple as clicking a few boxes and pressing go. It can be a drawn-out or complex process. Any cloud migration strategy requires careful planning and execution to ensure a successful outcome and avoid the typical major pitfalls. 

In this article, we will explain what your cloud strategy should include, why you need one, and how to create and implement one for your organisation.  

We will also share some tips and best practices from our experience as a Microsoft Solutions Partner specialising in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and cloud migration specialist. 

 

What is a cloud strategy? 

A cloud strategy is a concise viewpoint on the role of cloud computing in your organisation. It defines what you want to achieve with the cloud, how you will get there, and how you will measure your progress and results. 

A cloud strategy is different from a cloud implementation plan, which offers the “how” rather than the “what” and “why”. A cloud implementation plan details the specific steps, actions, and resources needed to execute your cloud strategy. 

You need a cloud strategy because it helps you: 

  • Align your cloud solutions with your business goals and user needs. 
  • Communicate your vision and direction to your stakeholders and partners. 
  • Identify and mitigate the potential challenges and risks of cloud adoption. 
  • Optimise your costs and benefits of using the cloud. 
  • Monitor and evaluate your performance and outcomes. 

Cloud Strategy

What if you don’t prepare for the cloud properly? 

Without a clear and coherent cloud strategy, you may end up with: 

  • A complex and expensive technology estate that does not meet your expectations or requirements. 
  • A lack of coordination and collaboration among your teams and departments 
  • A loss of control and visibility over your data and processes 
  • A reduced ability to respond to changing market conditions and customer demands. 

So, where do you start? 

If you have to ask that question, then you probably need a helping hand.  

Feel free to call one of our Cloud Specialist Architects to get the plan rolling. Call 01235 433900 or email [email protected] and ask about a Free Cloud Readiness Assessment.  

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