Technology: A Threat And Enabler To National Security In The Digital Era

Jol Keegan

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Australian Security Summit in Canberra. The summit, principally for public sector delegates dealing with national security challenges, did a great job of attracting top speakers and senior current and former bureaucrats for their candid assessments of the global challenges of radicalisation, terrorism, and transnational crime.

What struck me was that this event – tangibly more than similar events I had attended in the past – was permeated by an undercurrent of technology enablement. Indeed, technology featured in the vast majority of presentations and roundtable discussions.

On reflection, the fourth industrial revolution, powered by the digital economy, has well and truly landed on the doorstep of national security policymakers and practitioners. While technology has always been a feature, they have not had to deal with  today’s ever-increasing pace of technology advancement.

“Technology enablement” has a ring of great promise to it for positive national security outcomes, but perversely, it also applies to the perpetrators of radicalisation, terrorism, and transnational crime. These perpetrators are incredibly agile with access to a highly distributed technology workforce not constrained by geographic boundaries or organisational infrastructures. They are not bound to procurement rules that for public-sector organisations are historically well-founded and seek to provide the best value for money for taxpayers. They operate at the bleeding edge of technology with a huge appetite for taking risk, simply because they can.

Bleeding-edge technological advancement in the 20th century was heavily influenced by that century’s depressing propensity for global warfare, including the Cold War, and by the space race. But this century has seen the emergence of a staggering array of technology innovation by sectors such as retail, finance, and utilities. Those with nefarious intent are harnessing those commercial advancements, whether to radicalise, plan and equip terrorist acts, commit crime, or conduct cyberattacks.

As @Richard Walton, one of the key speakers at the summit, suggested, in the context of globalisation and a digitally connected world, this has created a global, networked radicalisation and terrorism threat. He suggests the threat requires nations to have integrated systems, policies, and practices, and these need to be internationally as well as domestically focused. He has published similar insights when discussing how the UK tackled the 2012 Olympics counterterrorism effort.

So, how do governments and their national security agencies stay at the bleeding edge of technology to counter highly sophisticated, agile threat actors while managing risk? Some simple suggestions come to mind.

First, agencies should look to broaden the pool of technology providers beyond the traditional defence, aerospace, and space industries that served societal advancement so well in the 20th century. The co-existence and integration of specialist national security technologies with the latest, greatest commercial advancements could offer some powerful combinations for capability enhancement.

Secondly, identify and support business startups to plug holes in capability gaps. Agencies need not do this alone, but can draw on the university sector, research sector, and larger partner companies to help such startups navigate their way to commercial viability for the mutual benefit of all. University Innovation Districts open up such possibilities, a case in point being 22@ in Barcelona. The University of Canberra seeks to learn from this model as it develops its campus as part of a push to transform Canberra into a knowledge economy.

Finally, agencies need be innovative in the act of procurement itself. They should consider long-term service arrangements or innovation partnerships with industry rather than point-in-time hardware or software purchases. As a simple service arrangement example, companies can now purchase access to compressed air on an industrial scale from Kaeser rather than air compressors per se. In this service-based model, customers benefit continually as the provider innovates, without the risk of having to keep on investing on new products and capability.

To conclude, the digital economy does extend to national security. It is time, as Richard Walton suggests, to seek integrated systems, policies, and practices across the national security ecosystem. The more cognisant this ecosystem is of the digital economy beyond the normal purview of national security agencies, I would argue, the better chance of staying ahead of these ever-increasing security challenges.

To learn more about the SAP Institute for Digital Government, visit www.sap.com/sidg, follow us on Twitter @sapsidg, or email us at digitalgovernment@sap.com.

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Jol Keegan

About Jol Keegan

Jolyon brings with him to SAP 27 years of experience in Defence, Government and Industry roles, including Special Forces, Intelligence, Policy, and Program Management. He is responsible for Defence and Public Security across ANZ, building go to market strategies, planning and executing demand generation activities, and being closely involved with accounts in deal support

Digitalist Flash Briefing: IT And HR Work Together To Keep Employee Data Safe

Peter Johnson

Today, we’re taking a look at the collaboration between IT and HR and their mission to ensure employee data safety.

Tune in Monday through Friday for more Digitalist Flash Briefings on disruptive technologies and trends on your favorite device or app.

  • Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
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    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

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Peter Johnson

About Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is a Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership at SAP, responsible for developing easy to understand corporate level and cross solution messaging. Peter has proven experience leading innovative programs to accelerate and scale Go-To-Market activities, and drive operational efficiencies at industry leading solution providers and global manufactures respectively.

Digitalist Flash Briefing: The Landscape Of Finance In Cybersecurity

Peter Johnson

Today, we’re taking a look at the landscape of cybersecurity and the need for finance organizations to get engaged.

Tune in Monday through Friday for more Digitalist Flash Briefings on disruptive technologies and trends on your favorite device or app.

  • Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
  • Alexa on a mobile device:
    • Download the Amazon Alexa app: Select Skills, and search “Digitalist”. Then, select Digitalist, and click on the Enable button.
    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

Find and listen to previous Flash Briefings on Digitalistmag.com.

Read more on today’s topic

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Peter Johnson

About Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is a Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership at SAP, responsible for developing easy to understand corporate level and cross solution messaging. Peter has proven experience leading innovative programs to accelerate and scale Go-To-Market activities, and drive operational efficiencies at industry leading solution providers and global manufactures respectively.

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Jenny Dearborn: Soft Skills Will Be Essential for Future Careers

Jenny Dearborn

The Japanese culture has always shown a special reverence for its elderly. That’s why, in 1963, the government began a tradition of giving a silver dish, called a sakazuki, to each citizen who reached the age of 100 by Keiro no Hi (Respect for the Elders Day), which is celebrated on the third Monday of each September.

That first year, there were 153 recipients, according to The Japan Times. By 2016, the number had swelled to more than 65,000, and the dishes cost the already cash-strapped government more than US$2 million, Business Insider reports. Despite the country’s continued devotion to its seniors, the article continues, the government felt obliged to downgrade the finish of the dishes to silver plating to save money.

What tends to get lost in discussions about automation taking over jobs and Millennials taking over the workplace is the impact of increased longevity. In the future, people will need to be in the workforce much longer than they are today. Half of the people born in Japan today, for example, are predicted to live to 107, making their ancestors seem fragile, according to Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, professors at the London Business School and authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.

The End of the Three-Stage Career

Assuming that advances in healthcare continue, future generations in wealthier societies could be looking at careers lasting 65 or more years, rather than at the roughly 40 years for today’s 70-year-olds, write Gratton and Scott. The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

It will be replaced by a new model in which people continually learn new skills and shed old ones. Consider that today’s most in-demand occupations and specialties did not exist 10 years ago, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum.

And the pace of change is only going to accelerate. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist, the report notes.

Our current educational systems are not equipped to cope with this degree of change. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is outdated by the time students graduate, the report continues.

Skills That Transcend the Job Market

Instead of treating post-secondary education as a jumping-off point for a specific career path, we may see a switch to a shorter school career that focuses more on skills that transcend a constantly shifting job market. Today, some of these skills, such as complex problem solving and critical thinking, are taught mostly in the context of broader disciplines, such as math or the humanities.

Other competencies that will become critically important in the future are currently treated as if they come naturally or over time with maturity or experience. We receive little, if any, formal training, for example, in creativity and innovation, empathy, emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, persuasion, active listening, and acceptance of change. (No wonder the self-help marketplace continues to thrive!)

The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

These skills, which today are heaped together under the dismissive “soft” rubric, are going to harden up to become indispensable. They will become more important, thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will usher in an era of infinite information, rendering the concept of an expert in most of today’s job disciplines a quaint relic. As our ability to know more than those around us decreases, our need to be able to collaborate well (with both humans and machines) will help define our success in the future.

Individuals and organizations alike will have to learn how to become more flexible and ready to give up set-in-stone ideas about how businesses and careers are supposed to operate. Given the rapid advances in knowledge and attendant skills that the future will bring, we must be willing to say, repeatedly, that whatever we’ve learned to that point doesn’t apply anymore.

Careers will become more like life itself: a series of unpredictable, fluid experiences rather than a tightly scripted narrative. We need to think about the way forward and be more willing to accept change at the individual and organizational levels.

Rethink Employee Training

One way that organizations can help employees manage this shift is by rethinking training. Today, overworked and overwhelmed employees devote just 1% of their workweek to learning, according to a study by consultancy Bersin by Deloitte. Meanwhile, top business leaders such as Bill Gates and Nike founder Phil Knight spend about five hours a week reading, thinking, and experimenting, according to an article in Inc. magazine.

If organizations are to avoid high turnover costs in a world where the need for new skills is shifting constantly, they must give employees more time for learning and make training courses more relevant to the future needs of organizations and individuals, not just to their current needs.

The amount of learning required will vary by role. That’s why at SAP we’re creating learning personas for specific roles in the company and determining how many hours will be required for each. We’re also dividing up training hours into distinct topics:

  • Law: 10%. This is training required by law, such as training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Company: 20%. Company training includes internal policies and systems.

  • Business: 30%. Employees learn skills required for their current roles in their business units.

  • Future: 40%. This is internal, external, and employee-driven training to close critical skill gaps for jobs of the future.

In the future, we will always need to learn, grow, read, seek out knowledge and truth, and better ourselves with new skills. With the support of employers and educators, we will transform our hardwired fear of change into excitement for change.

We must be able to say to ourselves, “I’m excited to learn something new that I never thought I could do or that never seemed possible before.” D!

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