TechConnect: NCS, Singtel, Trustwave tackle digital transformation challenges
Singapore, July 7, 2016
Around the world, digital technologies are enabling organisations of all kinds to reinvent themselves to become faster, smarter and more responsive to stakeholders, said speakers from NCS, Singtel and Trustwave during the recent NCS TechConnect conference in Singapore. Underlying all of those transformations are massive amounts of data that must be managed, analysed and protected.
“Digital transformation is about the rational and deliberate use of digital technologies to change the way we operate and compete,” said NCS CEO Chia Wee Boon. “In the near future, we [will] be experiencing an explosion of digital technologies.”
New mindsets and models
Singapore’s government, which announced its ‘Smart Nation’ programme in 2014, has recognised the need for such transformation for years now, Wee Boon said during his presentation at TechConnect. NCS, he added, is helping to advance the Smart Nation initiative with the help of IntelliSURF, an operating system for improved situational awareness and responsiveness.
Businesses are also seeing the benefits of shifting to new, more agile and customer-focused models. Where traditional companies have cultures that plan from the inside out and emphasise reliability and stability, digital businesses are all about customer experience.
“Digital transformation will change the future engagement of [how we] work, live and play,” Wee Boon said. “At every touchpoint, there is digital technology involved. The digital consumer is tech-enabled to make life easier for him.”
Digital transformation projects NCS has helped implement to date include managed WiFi and analytics for Singapore’s MRT rapid-transit system, a digital traffic light system, a Safe City Test Bed in Singapore’s Little India and an automated pharmacy dispensing system.
Insights from mobility data
In another presentation, Wee Tee Lim – who is regional head of sales and channels for DataSpark, a Singtel company – said organisations can reap many benefits by applying analytics to mobility data gathered by telcos. Such data can help cities better manage growth, ageing populations, pollution and other challenges.
For instance, Lim said, DataSpark’s GeoAnalytics tool is “bringing a fresh way of looking at Singapore”.
He gave the example of service disruptions along the rail system. By analysing data from mobile customers, DataSpark was able to identify preceding conditions that could help to predict early signs of problems.
Insights from mobile data can also help cities and countries see how movement and “life-space” patterns evolve as populations’ needs change. Understanding these patterns better can, for example, enable government agencies and other organisations to make adjustments to building and transport development to accommodate ageing citizens’ needs.s
“Analytics will play a key role in effectively engaging with existing communities and reaching out to new members,” Lim said.
Security in the IoT era
As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows ever larger and more pervasive in our lives, keeping devices, securing data and organisations will become an increasing challenge, said Lawrence Munro of Trustwave.
Information security is no longer the sole responsibility of IT teams, said Munro, who is EMEA director for the SpiderLabs team at Trustwave. With ever-more smart and connected devices for consumers, enterprises and cities, keeping things secure requires everyone’s participation.
One reason is because such networked systems are attractive to criminals. Munro said a one-month ransomware campaign – which involves criminals locking you out of your own IT systems until you pay for access – can see a return on investment of 1,425 per cent. In another example, a criminal investment of just $5,900 could yield a profit of $84,100.
When things ‘go wrong’
Thwarting attacks is a constant challenge for businesses. Munro cited a report from the SANS Institute that found hundreds of different kinds of devices were “complicit” in breaches to healthcare organisations.
More recently, he added, researchers in the US reported they had been able to break into devices connected via smart home platforms. In tests, they were able to set off fire alarms, remotely access PIN codes to unlock doors and reset timers on other household devices such as lights.
These are just a few of the more high-profile examples of what can happen when networked devices and systems “go wrong”, Munro said. Organisations, he advised, should take precautions by demanding security as a feature, patching devices, asking plenty of questions and following the principle of ‘least privilege’.
“Security is everyone’s responsibility”, Munro said. “There’s a lot of science and it can be learned”.