The rise in automation – particularly automation powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – is having a ripple effect on UK businesses, creating an impact that goes far beyond products or services.
At one level, automation and AI offer helpful solutions when recruitment is challenging, or where staff can be better utilized in other parts of an organisation. More broadly, there is no doubt that AI can add value to an increasingly digital workplace, and adoption is rising while some barriers remain. Consequently, one in five businesses intend to implement AI across their organisation in 2019.
Some organisations are already experiencing the benefits of AI as it becomes mainstream, and there is a definite fear that those who are not already experimenting with AI will be left behind. When evaluating the impact that AI will have on the future workforce, it is essential to explore practical use cases in business.
AI’s return on investment
For many companies today, AI represents an exciting opportunity to improve efficiency and enhance business performance. At an individual level, AI automation gives workers more options and the chance to be freed from routine tasks so that they can focus on bigger, more rewarding challenges. For many, this means working in a mobile, flexible manner facilitated by Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and remote access to data and work-specific applications and programs, most of which are in the cloud.
AI benefits workers and organisations alike, because it can optimise personal autonomy and convenience while reducing capital costs, especially where there is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place. In 2018, research for the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found that 45% of businesses routinely allowed staff to use personal devices for work. But BYOD must be implemented with care, since it inevitably leads to a number of unknown and possibly unsecure devices being connected to an organisation’s network which can have dire consequences for security.
AI in the fight against cybercrime
At this point, however, key aspects of AI that make it attractive for business begin to interface with a much less ideal use of the technology. AI-powered cybercrime – which, ironically, often mimics enterprise-level AI applications – is a very serious and rapidly increasing threat to businesses and individuals alike. In 2017, just under half of all UK businesses identified at least one cybersecurity breach or attack, and this showed no signs of slowing down the following year. Hacking, phishing and malware are now key threats to businesses of all types and sizes in the UK.
Mobile workers are tempting targets for cybercriminals as mobile endpoints are often a weak point in an organisation’s cybersecurity system. Cyber criminals deal in data: on the dark web, the most mundane personal details can be bought and sold for cash. Greater volumes of data mean greater profit, so criminals have used AI to automate hacking to an industrial scale, harvesting massive volumes of corporate and personal data. Where those criminals deploy or threaten malware, ransomware and distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), companies can lose vast amounts of their data at a keystroke, which is often permanent.
Even where corporate-owned mobile devices are mandatory, if they are not properly protected, criminals can use them as a vulnerable point of entry to the network, and BYOD environments carry an even greater risk. It is more difficult to control the exposure to dangerous websites or applications in non-work settings, which can put an unsecure network at risk.
Yet, while AI has fuelled this situation, it can also help solve the problems that are arising. This is because AI technology has been instrumental in the development of real-time security and device management solutions, which – like cybercriminals’ use of AI and enterprise automation – learns from past experiences, patterns of behaviour and incoming data, and responds intelligently and immediately to evolving threats.
If companies want to stay competitive, they have little choice but to expand their mobile deployment, while ensuring they are protected against evolving cybersecurity threats. By securing all endpoints under a single, integrated enterprise mobility management solution, companies can reap the full benefits of their mobility investments while enjoying the peace of mind that only real-time cybersecurity can bring.