ALGORITHMS, ETHICS, AND THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN RESOURCES

The world is undergoing a consequential paradigm shift. The primacy of climate as a mainstream socio-political and economic issue is forcing businesses to reengineer longstanding operating models in the pursuit of sustainable outcomes, while consumer-driven pressure on sustainable distribution models and events like the recent COVID-19 outbreak are a wake-up call for global enterprises to confront their own supply-chain dependencies.

Beneath these challenges is a shifting technological bedrock. We are collecting data at an unprecedented and exponential rate, mining the complexities of the world in greater depth than ever before, all the while regulatory landscapes struggle to reign in practices and protect consumers that want to participate in the world with greater privacy and security safeguards.

Employers and their employees are simultaneously grappling with the often over-dramatised rise of AI, trying to ascertain whether dystopic fears around vast job displacements will impact them before they have the time or capacity to evolve into prophetically touted roles that are yet to exist. This, then, is a small snapshot of the world we live in, and for Human Resources professionals, it is a world of immense opportunity.

Human Resources professionals have specific opportunities to empower employees with a lived purpose and to genuinely pursue business for the better; to have serious conversations around algorithmic ethics, employee privacy and wellbeing; and to train employees in analytical methodologies and explore pragmatic approaches for transitioning people into new roles. Connect Media and Australia Post gathered leading Human Resources executives from around the country to candidly confront these challenges and opportunities.

BE WELL AT THE TOP

VARIO FROM PINSENT MASONS and Connect Media gathered leading national General Counsel in defiance of the enduring stigma surrounding mental health in Corporate Australia. The General Counsel in attendance had a depth of varied experience across both in-house and private practice settings, and should be complimented for the level of candour and vulnerability displayed in a conversation that relied heavily on lived experiences.

Together, we interrogated a number of interwoven challenges, including: diverging generational approaches to communication and privacy; confronting the failings of reflexive institutional responses and entrenched attitudes towards mental health; reconciling competing responsibilities to the individual and the organisation as an entity; moving beyond processes and demonstrating leadership through modelled behaviour; and creating support networks at the heights of corporate leadership.

UNBOXED THINKING

Achieving the twin goals of digital convenience and security is a dynamic undertaking in today’s hypercompetitive, digitally entangled environment. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and businesses must reckon with this exponential rate of discovery to satiate the immense appetite consumers have for mobile, seamless interactions.

A once unfathomable number of devices are now destined to be connected under the Internet of Things, creating new opportunities for organisations to build creative, engaging, personal experiences. But each one of these consumer touchpoints is a source of vulnerability, and cyber-criminals have displayed their ability to evolve and mutate their attack patterns with pace and ferocity.

Ultimately, to deliver efficient, intuitive services in this frenetic technology landscape, organisations must intimately understand their consumers and strike an appropriate balance between immersive user interfaces and security. GBG gathered leading security, fraud and digital experts from all corners of the national economy to explore how the country’s leading organisations are walking this line on the way to securing competitive advantage.

DEMYSTIFYING PROCESS AUTOMATION

The current digital age is evolving at an exponential rate without historic precedent. Consumer demands for seamless, reliable experiences are driving businesses to dismantle legacy systems and build flexible, integrated processes. These new efficiencies are obscured in a chaotic and contested technological environment; one where transformative solutions are entangled with false promises and pitfalls. Businesses leaders must be able to discern returns from rhetoric, distinguishing mature solutions from prophetic exaggerations to integrate processes that reflect and advance customer outcomes.

DOCUSIGN and Connect Media gathered leading finance, legal and procurement executives from all sectors of the national economy to explore the factors that are arresting digital momentum in Australia. Their conversation uncovered a number of shared frustrations, as well as aligned opportunities – this is what they had to say.

FLEXIBLE BUT NOT VULNERABLE: SUPPORTING REMOTE WORKFORCES

INTRODUCTION

Businesses are beginning to accept that our current operating environment, defined by distance, is not a fleeting affair. The seemingly immutable practices that defined the way businesses interacted with each other and their employees have been upheaved on a global scale, creating new behavioral and structural precedents such as recruitment beyond proximity that bear ongoing commercial significance.

The reflexive, near-instinctive steps that businesses took to enable remote workplaces following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are falling under heavy scrutiny as the longevity of these practices and the value they yield becomes apparent.

Enterprises reflecting on the lasting business case for remote work are confronting the redundancy of legacy perimeter defence methods as the parameters for effective cyber-security recentre around identity. Security threats are compounded by behavioural and processes challenges that stand in the way of employees reaching their full potential under a mandatory remote work regime.

In response to these challenges, OKTA recently arranged for leading digital professionals from all sectors of the national economy to virtually interface on the current state of work. Their conversation illuminated shared challenges around securing remote workplaces and revealed strategies for empowering a truly flexible workforce. This is what they had to say.


SECURITY CHALLENGES: IDENTITY AND ZERO TRUST

The context for work has evolved as companies become physically dislocated from their employees. The firm’s digital footprint has ventured outside familiar perimeters to lay tracks in new territory, and security vulnerabilities are the corollary for this mobility.

The parameters for secure work are fundamentally shifting: attack vectors are being remapped to directly target home environments; employees risk becoming apathetic towards, or at the least unsure of, expectations around data handling and remote information exchange; and the danger of disenfranchised individuals becoming antagonists of security breaches is amplified by reduced visibility across remote work locations.

The sheer scale and speed at which businesses adopted blanket remote work policies, while necessary, has amplified these threats considerably. To operate with confidence in this new commercial landscape, businesses must ensure that information is being viewed by relevant parties in unquantifiable locations and across unseen devices. This is an imposing but surmountable challenge, provided businesses can recognise the vital role identity plays in ensuring that workforces do not introduce vulnerability to the workplace.

Identity empowers businesses to abandon perimeter defense methods in favour of zero trust principles. By bringing the strongest representation of security to the user, wherever they may be, businesses can allow the right people with the right access to the right resources in the right context. The effectiveness of identity as the foundation for an enforceable security policy hinges on the fact that cyber-security antagonists only succeed when they compromise identities – every attack is levelled through some form of compromised identity.

Businesses will only succeed as defenders and build their security posture in meaningful ways when they drive past passwords to secure identities. Identity is the child of context – by continually assessing location and actively managing devices, businesses can generate a unique profile of characteristic behavior. These profiles can then be leveraged to make immediate and informed decisions around when and how certain applications are being accessed.


BUSINESS CHALLENGES: A BROADER PERSPECTIVE ON FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility has been subject to many varying corporate interpretations. In too many business cases, flexibility has become synonymous with remote work policies that enable employees to engage with the company on personalised terms. While this definition carried some weight prepandemic, it is of little differential utility now that entire industries have been forced to abandon their offices and routines. Instead, it may be helpful for businesses to think of flexibility as the practice of empowering people to realise the full value of their skills.

It is important to recognise that remote work on the scale we are currently witnessing poses several behavioural and processes challenges that can inhibit employees from realising their full potential in line with this broader painting of flexibility. Businesses that apply a service design lens to their actions to counter these challenges will be in a stronger position to compete when our operating environment corrects, and employee choice once again becomes a factor in remote work practices.

Beyond software requirements and hardware limitations, one of the most immediate challenges tied to remote work has also proved to be the most obstinate: being remote first makes it incredibly difficult to be present. Physical separation always threatens to fester into isolation, not only from colleagues and friends but from the company’s mission that serves to connect, inspire, and motivate action.

When combined with any number of external market pressures threatening job security, it becomes very difficult for employees to sustain performance let alone generate momentum for new initiatives under the spectre of disconnection. This mindset affecting relatability is not sustainable from an individual or business perspective, and stems from the fact that the rituals of a physical workspace do not naturally translate to virtual environments.

Constant, two-way dialogue an interactive experiences have emerged as favourable remedies for stagnation from separation, with many businesses reporting a spike in virtual team events that serve to channel information up and down the corporate hierarchy. When well executed, digital engagements are an effective vehicle for both incentivising action back to core values as well as aligning employees behind a shared mission. Constant dialogue is not without its own dangers, including the erosion of the line between professional and private life.

For some businesses, the fact that the boundary between work life and private life is collapsing is being celebrated an opportunity for greater authenticity, connection, and representation, particularly as employee generated video content gathers momentum as an effective vehicle for both communication and development. It is thereforecritical that leaders reassess the communication strategies and business processes that surround remote work to better support, connect, and enable employees.


CONCLUSION

The swift transition to remote work practices has had a sweeping impact on the security posture of Australian businesses. The inefficacy of legacy perimeter defense methods is being cast into stark relief as businesses move to enable a set of technologies built on identity that aspire to a flexible workforce. But the challenges of supporting a remote workforce extend beyond security.

To empower a truly flexible workforce, businesses have had to reengineer processes and adopt new modes of communication to connect and inspire otherwise disparate employees. It is fair to say that our current businesses climate is defined by a crisis of identity, in terms of both security and wellbeing. The ability of businesses to defend the identity of their employees in this wholistic sense will prove consequential for success in the uncertain times that lie ahead.

Email [email protected] to schedule a meeting and learn more about Okta.

STORIES ARE BEST SHARED

The fourth industrial revolution is rapidly outgrowing its adolescence. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate that is simply unprecedented in human history. And consumers are reaping the benefits, with new competitors arising on the back of consequential technologies to cater to hyper-personal requests.

Established enterprises are reflecting earnestly to identify their own vulnerabilities and build resilience moving forward.

Improving working capital efficiencies is a crucial yet often overlooked dilemma within this wider recalibration. Consumer driven change is so entirely pervasive that the most fundamental structures underpinning business operations are feeling an impact.

Pressures and expectations are steadily growing on financial executives to absorb this consumer-driven change. In response, AMEX united CFOs from a wealth of industries to give this dialogue the volume it deserves. This conversation unearthed a number of shared frustrations, as well as shared opportunities – this is their story.

KEEPING COMPLEXITY MOVING

Deepening fissures in globalisation, hostile trade wars, a drift towards isolationism and populism—all signs of a global paradigm shift impacting the movement of goods. Combined with reduced automation costs, consumer demands for seamless service delivery and renewed attention to sustainability, finance and procurement professionals are re-evaluating their priorities for continued success in the digital age – and transparency is climbing to the top.

LEASEPLAN and CONNECT MEDIA gathered leading finance and procurement executives from all sectors of the national economy for a candid and honest discussion on how businesses are navigating this shifting landscape. Our conversation unearthed a number of shared frustrations, as well as shared opportunities – this is what they had to say.

DIGITAL INNOVATION THROUGH COLLABORATION

We are mining the complexities of the world around us in greater detail than ever before. While this ongoing interrogation has yielded great advances and insight, it is also taking a toll on us as employees. In too many cases, systems and processes designed to bring people together in the workplace are causing undue distraction and disengagement.

The situation, however, is far from helpless. As humans we have a tremendous ability to create – the task before us is to make sure that spirit does not lie dormant. DROPBOX is dedicated to this pursuit, making it their mission to unleash our creative energy by creating an enlightened way of working – not by overengineering a complex problem, but by removing all the noise and all the friction.

As part of this mission, DROPBOX and CONNECT MEDIA gathered senior digital, marketing and business intelligence leaders from the retail sector to hear how they are supporting collaborative spaces, where the frustration lies, and where spaces for creation exist. This conversation unearthed a number of shared frustrations, as well as shared opportunities – this is what they had to say.