Slack brings data residency to the UK

Bobby Hellard

24 Apr, 2020

Slack is launching data residencies in Europe and the UK so organisations can have greater control over their data by choosing where it is stored.

The announcement follows the launch of residencies in Germany, France, Australia, and Japan in October.

Traditionally Slack stores data in the US, but to help its global customers have more control over their data, the company is opening up data residencies outside of the US, which includes one in London.

The move is designed to tap into those organisations currently not using Slack as they’re unable to store data locally and comply with industry regulations, such as those in financial services, the public sector, and healthcare.

“We’ve listened to our customers regulatory concerns around having their data hosted outside of the country or region where they operate, and our expansion of data residency into the UK is in direct response to their requests,” Ilan Frank, VP of product, enterprise at Slack told Information Age.

“We are making data residency technically and financially accessible so that users have the freedom of where they want to store their data.”

Slack is one of a number of cloud-based services that enable remote working to see a huge spike in usage since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the UK is the third-largest global market for the company, behind the US and Japan, in terms of daily active users.

User-generated data, such as message posts, files, and searches, can now be stored within the desired region, according to the company, and regardless of whether the data is in transit or rest, it’s always encrypted.

Although existing customers can move their organisation’s data to a new residency region, the entire business must be rooted in a single region.

Google says all advertisers will now be subject to verification checks

Sabina Weston

24 Apr, 2020

Google has announced that, starting this summer, all advertisers will have to be verified before they are allowed to buy ad space on the search engine’s platform.

The announcement is Google’s latest effort to make their advertising practices more transparent, following the recent surge in online coronavirus scams, which take advantage of users’ fear of contracting the virus by selling fake medical masks. Earlier this week, the NCSC reported that it had taken down 2,000 online scams, of which 471 were from fake online shops.

Director of Product Management, Ads Integrity John Canfield, said that “advertisers will be required to complete a verification program in order to buy ads on our network”.

“Advertisers will need to submit personal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country in which they operate. Beginning this summer, users will start to see disclosures that list this information about the advertiser behind the ads they see,” he explained.

Prior to this decision, only political advertisers had to be verified by Google in order to run election ads on their platform. Since introducing the programme in 2018, Google has verified political advertisers in 30 countries.

As part of the new initiative, Google will start verifying advertisers in phases in the United States, before expanding the programme worldwide. The tech giant predicts that the process will take a few years to complete.

“This change will make it easier for people to understand who the advertiser is behind the ads they see from Google and help them make more informed decisions when using our advertising controls,” wrote Canfield. “It will also help support the health of the digital advertising ecosystem by detecting bad actors and limiting their attempts to misrepresent themselves.”

AWS launches automated data transfer service AppFlow

Bobby Hellard

23 Apr, 2020

Amazon Web Services has launched an automated SaaS data transfer services, called AppFlow, to boost data privacy and security for its customers.

AppFlow is a fully managed service that automates the bidirectional flow of data between AWS and SaaS applications, without the need to write integration code. 

The service also works with AWS PrivateLink to route data flows through the cloud giant’s network instead of over the public internet, which results in stronger data privacy and tighter security, according to AWS. It can be used with no upfront charges and customers will only pay for the number of flows they run and the volume of data they process.

AppFlow is for customers with large datasets used for data lakes, analytics, machine learning, and IoT workloads, but it also takes the strain out of combining data from multiple sources and reduces silos and backlogs.

Rather than spending days writing code to build custom connectors and data transformations across different SaaS applications, AppFlow allows customers to configure private, bidirectional data flows between AWS services and SaaS apps without coding.

The service comes with a simple interface, according to AWS, which builds and executes data flows between sources in minutes. What’s more, it automatically encrypts data at rest and in motion using AWS or customer-managed encryption keys. This also includes controls to restrict data from transferring via the web for applications that are integrated with AWS PrivateLink.

“With Amazon AppFlow integrating directly with Salesforce Private Connect, joint customers will be able to establish a secure, private connection for passing data back and forth between the Salesforce and AWS platforms,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP & GM of platform, trailhead, and developers at Salesforce.

“And because these connections can be set up by Salesforce admins in just a few clicks, companies can cut down on costly and timely engineering resources, and begin doing more with their data faster than ever before.”

AppFlow is currently available in a number of countries across US, Asia and Europe – including the UK – with more regions being announced soon.

Google Cloud CEO: Coronavirus will create a new digital normal

Bobby Hellard

23 Apr, 2020

The coronavirus will create a new normal based on digital processes and accelerate business transformation, according to Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian. 

Speaking at NetApp Insight, Kurian called the potential impact of the pandemic “shock momentum” and said the world will “reimagine and create new opportunities” for what comes after the crisis. 

Since March, businesses around the world have been forced to use remote software and quickly change their operations to accommodate employees in lockdown. For Kurian, this has separated the leaders in digital transformation from the “laggers”.

“Many traditional businesses and ways of doing things will be reimagined digitally,” Kurian said. “For example, conferences and events that once were physically held together will now be complemented with digital events. 

“The business strategy operations and technology platforms of every institution will be reconsidered for the fact that agility, speed and resilience will become paramount as opposed to the traditional definitions of strength: size, scale, predictability and efficiency.”

Of course, digital transformation was a priority long before any mention of COVID-19, but the rapid impact of the pandemic will force every institution to prioritise services and products to be remote and digital, according to Kurian. 

“Schools will be complemented with much more significant online curriculum and telemedicine will bring the skills of doctors and nurses to places where medicine previously couldn’t reach,” he added.

The rapid scale of the crisis has accelerated the use of a number of technologies once thought to be the biggest disruptors to businesses and jobs. AI, automation and cloud computing have instead become tools that keep us connected to work as opposed to things to replace us. 

However, as the crisis dies down and the world goes out into the “new normal”, more and more businesses will need to embrace digital technologies. According to Kurain, leaders will transition quickly from the idea of business continuity to business transformation.

“Everything will have to be about speed and agility because as we said before, speed is the new scale,” he said. 

Zoom 5.0 adds 256-bit encryption to address security concerns

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

23 Apr, 2020

Zoom has rolled out a flagship update comprising data encryption and front-end security-centric functionality as part of the company’s 90-day plan to address privacy and security gaps. 

The company hopes the implementation of the 256-bit AES-GCM encryption standard in Zoom 5.0 will give users concerned over the security of meetings some reassurance that their data is protected from cyber criminals. 

With the added layer of encryption, Zoom Meeting, Zoom Video Webinar and Zoom Phone data will be protected against tampering, the company insists, with this latest update providing a level of confidentiality that wasn’t present in previous iterations.

The standard will take effect once all accounts are enabled with GCM, with system-wide account implementation set to take place on 30 May.

Zoom was previously criticised for not using end-to-end encryption to safeguard meetings despite claiming to on promotional materials.

The network improvement comes in addition to Control Data Routing, which allows account administrators to choose which data centre regions their account-hosted meetings and webinars use for real-time traffic. This measure was announced by the company earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the front-end user interface (UI) will be overhauled to include a host of additional functionality, from host controls to passwords for cloud recordings.

“We take a holistic view of our users’ privacy and our platform’s security,” said Zoom CPO Oded Gal. “From our network to our feature set to our user experience, everything is being put through rigorous scrutiny. On the back end, AES 256-bit GCM encryption will raise the bar for securing our users’ data in transit. 

“On the front end, I’m most excited about the Security icon in the meeting menu bar. This takes our security features, existing and new, and puts them front and centre for our meeting hosts. With millions of new users, this will make sure they have instant access to important security controls in their meetings.”

As part of the major update, users will be given a central security hub, which can be accessed through a security icon on the host’s interface. Hosts can, for the first time, report a user to Zoom, and disable the ability to participants to rename themselves, among other controls. The virtual waiting room, meanwhile, will be enabled by default so hosts can control who can enter meetings at all times.

The latest version of Zoom will also support a new data structure for larger organisations, allowing them to link contacts across multiple accounts so people can seamlessly search and find meetings, phone contacts or chats.

Improvements to the dashboard will allow account administrators to view how their meetings are connected to Zoom data centres, which includes any data centres connected to HTTP Tunnel servers, as well as Conference Room Connectors and gateways.

The company has ploughed its resources into resolving a host of well-documented security issues which have arisen since the video conferencing platform was thrust into the spotlight following an explosion of user activity.

While many have opted to use the service in light of the coronavirus pandemic forcing employees to work from home, a string of organisations have instead banned the platform, including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Google.

Making the case for screenless content

David Howell

30 Apr, 2020

Screenless devices have seen massive expansion over the last three years. According to Strategy Analytics, 20% of UK households now have a smart speaker. In the US, which currently leads the world in smart speaker adoption, the figure is currently 30%, with Loup Ventures predicting that number will rise to 75% by 2025.

While we live in a time where visual content seems to be king, audio remains an important part of the consumer landscape. Radio consumption has continued to be buoyant, and with a renaissance in audiobook purchasing coupled with the rise of podcasts, screenless content is set to become an essential business channel over the next decade.

In a late-2019 report, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) stated: “Audio is an emotive modality: sound influences emotion. This is why music is a central cultural marker. It’s also why a speech can inspire millions to action. The ability for brands, therefore, to lean into audio as a method to tell meaningful, personal stories stands as a primary benefit of this channel.”

Businesses, then, need to adjust how they use content to reach their audiences. With increasing screen demands on consumers, many are escaping into audio as not just respite from screen time, but to obtain new experiences and education. Brands need to understand how sound is now an essential component of their communications.

Steve Austins, co-founder of the podcasting company Bengo Media, tells Cloud Pro: “Audio has survived because it’s a simple, effective and convenient form of communication, and it’s personal too. Over the last two decades, I’ve seen first-hand how important radio presenters can be to people – and how personally they take it when you make changes! A presenter is in a listener’s life day in, day out. Often, they spend more time with them than they do with their own friends and family.”

Audio is the new video

The ease of access to audio content is one of the key drivers behind the massive expansion of this content. Smartphones now have a raft of apps that connect with the leading audio content providers. Wireless earphones have also made accessing audio content convenient and smart speakers are now an essential part of everyday life.

Podcasts have also become incredibly popular: In 2019, over seven million people in the UK listened to a podcast each week according to Ofcom, an increase of nearly a quarter (24%) on the previous year. 

“Podcasts are transforming the ways people listen to audio content, just as on-demand video is changing how people watch television. It’s fantastic to see how UK radio broadcasters, as well as newspapers and other media companies, are embracing podcasting and offering more choice about what we listen to than we’ve ever had before,” commented Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s director of market intelligence, at the time.

The interesting thing about podcasts from a business perspective is their current low level of competition. There are now approaching a million podcasts in the marketplace. Compare this to 80 million Facebook business pages and it’s clear how podcasting can potentially be more effective for brand communication. 

What’s more, over 60% of podcast listeners will listen to the podcast to the end. Ads and promotions placed in a podcast are listened to, unlike ads in video, which are often skipped. According to research from the BBC, brand mentions in the podcast deliver on average 16% higher engagement and 12% higher memory encoding than the surrounding content.

Speaking to Cloud Pro, Alex Orosciuc, tech lead at JBi Digital, says: “There is much that today’s generation of audio content makers can learn from radio. Those who are making audio content, like podcasts, are standing on the shoulders of giants, and the medium has well and truly exploded in recent years. At the rate at which the landscape is changing, however, it could be argued that radio can learn from podcasts and other, newer forms of audio content as well.”

Podcasts are, though, just one type of audio content all businesses can explore: Audiobooks have exploded over the last few years driven mainly to the range of great apps that are available on smartphones. Deloitte predicts 2020 will see audiobook sales increase by 30%, generating £115 million.

Other forms of new audio content are also being produced. The New Yorker regularly creates audio versions of its features, for example, and blogging platforms like Medium also encourage their writers to record an audio version of their work. Businesses, meanwhile, are beginning to develop spoken-word versions of reports and whitepapers. 

“I think the most significant factor around audio content is that there is no trend to what content is being consumed,” says Mark Kendrick, founder of Ventoux Digital. “Unlike mainstream media, the podcast has found success in reverting from broadcasting to ‘nichecasting.’ Take a look at the top 100 podcasts in Apple Podcasts, and you’ll note that there is a real mix from crime to football to news to comedians to businesses. You get to see that there is an audience for everything, so make something which you are passionate about, and it finds like-minded people.”

Screenless strategies

Developing an audio strategy for your company is now essential, but there are obstacles to success that organisations may not have had to consider in the past.

Bengo Media’s Steve Austins advises: “Creators need to remember that audio is an intimate medium. You are talking to one person, not many people. Also, be clear and descriptive – people can’t see you or what you are describing, so you need to create a vivid picture with your words. 

“Sound quality is also really important. Bad audio can result in a very unpleasant listening experience, with erratic sound levels and distracting background noise becoming hugely irritating. This is especially the case for headphone listeners.”

Marek Wrobel, head of media futures at Havas Media Group, highlights another major hurdle. “One of the main challenges for advertisers is making screenless content actionable, as, with no screen, listeners can’t simply click on a banner and land on a website,” he says. “Historically, some brands have used discount codes which can be then applied in the purchase journey and therefore made it possible to measure the impact of the audio content.”

“However, this solution can only work for certain use-cases,” he continues. “Audio platforms have started experimenting with interactive ad formats. One such format is ‘shake-to-action’, which asks the listener to shake their phone while listening to open a website that they can browse after they finish listening. Spotify has worked with Unilever on voice-controlled audio ads – the idea is that when a user hears an ad, they can say “play now” and be taken to a piece of relevant content.”

The future of your business communications will have a growing audio component. The IAB concludes: “A world where consumer touchpoints are increasingly screenless is rapidly approaching, and brands must represent themselves without visuals. This requires a shift toward audio-first creative or at least equal amounts of audio and visual. In the same way, brands have spent the last century, creating recognition with visual branding, the immediate point of access for marketers is to be creating the same recognition sonically.”

Advertisers have for decades been honing their skills to attract our visual attention to their messages. However, humans react faster and with more emotion to sound than to visual content. Radio has shown its longevity and its abilities to connect with an audience. Audio in the broader business context is mostly unexplored. Make 2020 the year your business becomes a sonic communicator. 

How AI as a service is changing the game for business

Lindsay James

28 Apr, 2020

Over the coming decade artificial intelligence (AI) will add $13 trillion (£11.2 trillion) to the global economy, according to a recent report in Harvard Business Review. The opportunities this presents to businesses are huge and those already using AI are experiencing greater productivity, sustained competitive advantage, and increased sales leads

Despite this, many businesses are failing to realise the technology’s full potential, or even try it out at all.

“While there is broad agreement regarding the potential impact of AI, the reality today is that tangible results achieved through AI implementations in most companies have been disappointing,” says Jeff Grisenthwaite, vice president at AI solution provider Catalytic. “Companies are struggling to scale past the pilot phase and the initial handful of high-priority use cases.” 

There’s one key reason for this: Lack of resources. While the majority of organisations recognise that AI can turn their data into value, they don’t have the skills to effectively implement it. This is because traditional AI needs a lot of expertise around machine learning, engineering infrastructure and more.   

This is where AI as a Service (AIaaS) promises to make a difference. In the same way that Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) models have transformed how enterprises purchase and implement technology over the last ten years, AIaaS is expected to become just as widely used. Indeed, according to analysis published in February by Orbis Research, the AIaaS market is expected to see tenfold growth in value over the next five years, increasing from  was already valued at over $2.38 billion (£2.04 billion) in 2019 and is expected to exceed $22 billion (£18.9 billion) by 2025.

Removing roadblocks

AIaaS refers to AI services that are developed by third parties to target specific needs. Thanks to the growth and accessibility of the cloud, providers are able to deliver these AI solutions as a service that can be accessed, refined and expanded in ways that were unfathomable in the past. 

By enabling users to circumvent the prolonged and resource-heavy nature of development, businesses benefit from a quicker, more flexible, and more cost-effective way of working. “AIaaS allows AI to be used by a broader group of people who are not necessarily well-versed in technology,” says Hossein Rahnama, CEO at contextual experience design business Flybits. “When interdisciplinary groups leverage AI with business as a mindset, the impact is going to be much higher.”

Flybits is already reaping these rewards, says Rahnama: “AIaaS enables expedited testing, and a faster time to market. It also allows us to train and find more effective talent at a much faster pace. For example, in the past, I would need to hire someone with a decade of experience. Now, I look for someone who knows how to use the technology tools.”

As well as negating the need to employ specialised talent, AIaaS offers a raft of further benefits. For example, it removes the need for organisations to gather appropriate data, prepare it, and use it to train their software. An algorithm can only be as successful as the training data it is exposed to,” says Hiten Shah, research analyst in Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision team. “AI algorithms exposed to and trained on a diverse data set which is a true representation of a larger world can be considerably more accurate than algorithms with access to limited data.  With AIaaS, algorithms get deployed in various use cases in different environments and the resulting learning from these deployments enables developers to further develop more complex and accurate algorithms.” 

Another benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated is the potential to democratise AI – AIaaS enables more people to benefit from the technology, regardless of their knowledge and computing infrastructure. “Departments throughout the enterprise will have the ability to infuse AI into their day-to-day work, improving customer experiences, and optimising business outcomes,” says Grisenthwaite. 

AIaaS is best applied into high-volume, digital business processes such as the analysis of documents, emails and other text using natural language processing and optical character recognition. The opportunities here are seemingly endless. “We’re seeing AIaaS adopted across industries to help solve unique business issues and innovate new areas,” says Levent Besik, director of product management for Google Cloud AI. “For example, in the healthcare industry, it is reducing workloads for doctors and nurses by intelligently triaging patients. For media organisations, it is connecting journalists to global audiences with accurate language translation. We’re also seeing customer service teams implement it to reduce customer service wait times and increase customer satisfaction by automatically responding to common requests.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, is using AIaaS to digitise its physical archive of over five million photos. “With Google Cloud, they can securely store their images, easily search for photos, and find new insights from the data locked even on the backs of images,” explains Besik. 

Elsewhere, multinational retailer Walmart is using AIaaS in its Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), to facilitate the tracking of items and purchases. Out-of-stock notifications will automatically be triggered to internal apps that alert associates when to re-stock.

The democratisation of AI

As the question from customers shifts from how AI works, to what it can do for their business, the technology will continue to transition from an elite niche to a mainstream tool, just like personal computers. This transition will result in a fundamental shift in how builders and businesses develop and deliver products and services. 

According to recent figures from KPMG, it’s expected that by 2022 many companies will devote over half of their AI spend to third-party services with managed services, microservices and application stores being important trends to watch in this space.   

Funding for AI startups is also on the rise. “A look back shows what is, perhaps, the most impressive growth statistic: we’ve seen a 592% increase in funding for AI technologies in only four years,” says Ji Li, data science director at CLARA analytics. “Clearly, this points to an anticipated AIaaS surge as these companies continue to grow and mature, particularly as vertical markets become more comfortable with the AI value proposition.” 

This sets the scene for a very promising future. “As more organisations embark on the journey to get AI into production, more IT leaders will turn to AIaaS to overcome skills and technology gaps,” says Magnus Revang, research vice president at Gartner. “As a result, we expect explosive growth in the next few years. By 2023, over 50% of enterprises will be using AIaaS to enhance their application portfolios, up from less than five percent today. I’m excited to see what this future looks like.”

Cisco and Google Cloud join forces to improve SD-WAN integration

Carly Page

22 Apr, 2020

Google Cloud and Cisco have joined forces to develop the “industry’s first” application-centric multi-cloud networking fabric.

The jointly developed automated solution, called Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Hub with Google Cloud, combines Cisco’s SD-WAN services with Google’s software-defined backbone to ensure application performance is optimized and secured across the enterprise network.

The two firms claim this new service, which is aimed at those who have or are planning to deploy a hybrid multi-cloud strategy, will guarantee applications and networks have shared service-level agreement settings, compliance, and security coverage, as well as provide reliable application performance and optimized user experience.

Google notes that customers will be able to automatically provision a reliable, global network that grows with their businesses needs and be able to publish all of their services in a single place with the ability to define the intent of how the network should treat those services in an automated fashion.

“With tighter integrations between Cisco and Google Cloud, this solution will bring an end-to-end network that adapts to application needs, and that enables secure and on-demand connectivity from a customer’s branch, to the edge of the cloud, through Google Cloud’s backbone, and to applications running in Google Cloud, a private data centre, another cloud or a SaaS application,” said Shailesh Shukla, VP of Products and GM of Networking for Google Cloud.

“We believe by combining the core technology strengths of both Cisco and Google Cloud, we can provide best-in-class, cloud-delivered enterprise networking solutions that make network management easy for our customers and allow them to meet their business needs with agility,” Shukla added.

Cisco and Google Cloud intend to invite select customers to participate in previews of this solution by the end of 2020. General availability is planned for the first half of 2021. To learn more, read Cisco’s blog and visit our partnership website.

The partnership builds on Cisco’s and Google’s earlier efforts to make their products work better together. Back in 2017, the two companies announced a hybrid cloud partnership that will allow IT managers and application developers to use Cisco tools to manage their on-premises environments and link it up with Google’s public IaaS cloud.

Life under lockdown – why we miss office work culture

Sabina Weston

23 Apr, 2020

On 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures were being introduced in an attempt to slow down the spread of the highly-infectious COVID-19 virus. Daily life changed from one day to another. As hospitals filled with new patients, offices were abandoned. Restaurants and cafes closed. Many public transport stations became completely empty for the first time in decades, if not centuries. For the employees who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs and work from home, life went on, one way or another.  And while there are many social media posts extolling the virtues of working in tracksuit bottoms all day, other people have found their work/life balance has suffered tremendously. 

To mark the first full month since Britain went into lockdown, we spoke to some workers who are feeling the downsides to working from home and asked why they are looking forward to returning to the office.

Productivity – lost in communication?

Working from home can be isolating, especially for those who are used to spending up to 40 hours a week in a busy environment with an abundance of social interaction. Charlie Worrall, Digital Marketing Executive at web design agency Imaginaire Digital, misses the simplicity of face-to-face communication with colleagues.

“Having never had to work from home before, this has all been a new experience for me. It’s really come to make me appreciate how good our office really is,” Worrall tells IT Pro. From his perspective, shifting the day-to-day conversations to a digital sphere has heavily impacted the quality of communication.

“I find that the simplest of conversations tend to become drawn out, for example, instead of just asking the person next to me a question, I instead use the likes of email, Whatsapp or Slack to contact them. If they don’t reply for a while I might call them and eventually get the answers I needed. All of this just creates an inconvenience, however, I completely understand why we need to go through the process of a lockdown and take social distancing very seriously.”

Kerry Sheahan, Head of Content & PR at FSE Digital, a digital agency specialising in search marketing, counts technical difficulties and the change in coworker interactions as the main downsides to working from home during the lockdown.

“We’re a digital agency, so obviously we’re all well-versed in using digital tools, but sometimes people forget there’s a difference between using digital tools for marketing, and general IT knowledge. I could write you an essay on the intricacies of on-page SEO elements, but if my Outlook stops working I’m FaceTiming our IT guys,” she says.

“The other thing for me, is that while we’re all making an effort to stay connected, you don’t see people’s initial reaction to your ideas. We all tend to be polite over email, and if we jump on a call, we’ve normally had a quick brief on what we’re going to cover. For me, someone’s honest opinions to new marketing ideas we’re bouncing around comes in that split-second reaction they can’t control when you first share your ideas.”

Her colleague, head of SEO Sam Mead, agrees. “Even though we are using technology to stay connected, we’re missing that ability to shout across the office or just approach somebody for an update or catch up. Ultimately this is leading to certain aspects of projects being slowed down, and reducing productivity in some ways,” he says.

Security is everything

According to a new survey from Atlas Cloud, a UK-based managed service provider that specialises in managed cloud services and hosting solutions, more than half of homeworkers (57%) believe their company should be doing more to help them be more productive. While four in five office workers (79%) now based at home believe the lockdown has proven they can work efficiently in such an environment, around a fifth (19%) said they need their company to act urgently to enable them to work productively during the lockdown.

Atlas Cloud CEO, Pete Watson, thinks the current situation is “the largest overnight change in British working habits since the outbreak of the Second World War”. 

“Our research shows that the majority of office workers believe they need more help from their employers to cope with the technological challenges of working from home,” he says. 

A third of workers (34%) said their work was being hampered by the poor performance of their home internet connection, while 24% complained of having to log in to too many separate software packages and apps while working from home. One in five respondents said they could not access the computer files they need while working from home (22%) or complained that the quality of the laptop, desktop or tablet they were using to work on from home was negatively affecting their work productivity (20%).

Using your work tech at home also creates a security nightmare. According to Watson, “office workers may not be working from home as safely, from a business and cyber security [perspective], as they could be”.

A quarter of employees are using a personal laptop for home working, with half of them admitting to storing work files on their personal device, which raises considerable concerns about the security of business information.

Cyber security is an issue that businesses will have to deal with if working from home is here to stay. In only one month, the coronavirus lockdown has already drastically changed the traditional working landscape, showing everyone that a meeting really can be an email. In fact, it might mark the end of office culture as we know it, with employees never returning en masse to their desks. But despite the slog of a commute or annoying lack of soy milk in the cafeteria fridge, many people miss the experience of working together in person: priceless social interactions, a quick nod to approve a decision, the sound of laughter at an inside joke, or some priceless gossip by the coffee machine. Dear Office, we miss you.

Coronavirus crisis spurs SAP to remove co-CEO Jennifer Morgan

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

21 Apr, 2020

SAP will part ways with its co-CEO, Jennifer Morgan, a matter of months after she took up the mantle alongside Christian Klein following the departure of former chief Bill McDermott last October.

The ERP software giant has restructured to adopt a ‘sole CEO model’, which means Morgan, who has been at the company in various capacities since 2004, has been squeezed out. The co-CEO will depart the company on 30 April. 

The changes have come in light of “the current environment” which requires the company to take “swift, determined action” supported by a clear leadership structure.

“With unprecedented change within the world, it has become clear that now is the right time for the company to transition to a single CEO leading the business,” Morgan said. 

“I would like to thank Hasso Plattner for the opportunity to co-lead this great company, and I wish Christian, the Executive Board, and SAP’s talented team much success as they drive the company forward.”

The decision to part ways with the SAP veteran comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is wreaking havoc in all sectors across the global economy, including major IT and tech companies. 

SAP, incidentally, has sustained growth in revenues and profits during the first quarter of 2020, suggesting the sudden move to restructure its leadership is precautionary. The strong showing is headlined by a 7% rise in revenue.

However, the company has conceded the decision to shift its leadership model has come “earlier than planned” as it needs to focus on ensuring continuity, and unambiguous decision-making, during the crisis.

“Throughout SAP’s transformation, Jennifer has always been laser-focused on customers, partners, shareholders and employees,” said sole CEO Christian Klein. 

“It’s thanks to her that we have established a strong position in experience management solutions. I know she will always be a champion of SAP.”

Morgan joined SAP in 2004 and was appointed co-CEO with Klein in October 2019 when McDermott left. He now serves as the chief of the cloud software company ServiceNow.