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Can your office support the collaboration demands of today?

Rob Quickenden, CTO, Cisilion 

It is clear to see that the hybrid worker is here to stay, but how is the office environment adapting to meet these changes? Online collaboration tools have become the norm. With working life reliant on wireless connected laptops in place of wired connections to the corporate network, but is the office of today struggling to support the demand for this new way of working, and are collaboration tools being used effectively? 

Adaption is vital for an effective office environment 

A survey by Microsoft Surface found that more than four in five UK workers (83%) are still in the same office environment as before the pandemic. Yet, fuelled by an increase in data centres and the growing popularity of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the network optimisation services market is expected to grow to $11.84 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 15.1%.  

The make-up of the office needs to adapt quickly, and tools need to be used effectively to make hybrid working productive. There are some key areas where companies should be focusing their energy and budgets. 

Refresh the office network 

Pre-pandemic, a wireless network may have only been used as a guest network, but now it must support all workers requiring a wireless connection. Almost every meeting or call features video, screen and app sharing and collaborative working. To do this in real-time with good quality audio and video, businesses need the right infrastructure. For example, some networks can’t handle the increase in capacity and minimal latency that video enabled meetings and collaborative working requires.   

With the acceleration of cloud adoption, combined with the birth of AI powered services such as Microsoft 365 Copilot, connectivity needs to be able to be application aware and optimise network traffic in real-time. Your Wi-Fi performance should be the first port of call when exploring a network optimisation project. 

Howard Kennedy LLP, a London based, full-service law firm worked with Cisilion to refresh its core infrastructure to reflect its adoption of hybrid work across the organisation. Due to a higher demand in video conferencing and remote working, it was deemed that its existing infrastructure was no longer fit for purpose for this new way of collaborating. With its ageing Wi-Fi infrastructure approaching end of life, the solution was to optimise its corporate network for low-latency wireless connectivity. Refreshing the existing infrastructure meant switching to Cisco’s Catalyst 9k family of products, providing Wi-Fi 6.  

Collaboration is a requisite for the law firm, and Teams and Zoom enable this perfectly, yet the network needed to withstand ‘everyone on Teams or Zoom all the time’. Wi-Fi 6 ensures that the law firm now experiences hardly any glitches on video calls in the office due to its error correction capabilities. Howard Kennedy benefits from the same network speeds as a wired connection, withstanding the increased demands for connectivity.  

Outdated wired IP telephony 

The higher demand for video conferencing now means that conference rooms with wired IP telephony are now outdated. Video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams and Webex are now second nature.  

On-premises telephony systems that are hosted in company datacentres are now being replaced by cloud-based telephony platforms that can easily integrate with Microsoft Teams and Webex. Not only does this enable improved collaboration, but it also circumvents employees needing to use call forwarding functions to their mobiles. 

Network upgrades needn’t be disruptive 

In most cases, new equipment can be situated in existing wired access points which can minimise disruption. In the case of Howard Kennedy, the installation of its new wireless network was completed over a weekend, causing minimal downtime. A site survey may be necessary to map out the Wi-Fi signal if the office is set across different floors to avoid dead zones. It may be necessary to add additional Wi-Fi points, however, overall a network optimisation project should be straightforward. 

Create an intelligent office space 

Many organisations are transforming their traditional offices into intelligent spaces that are more appealing to work from, are more sustainable and promote a collaborative and inclusive environment that is aware and can adapt to how and where people work. These new “employee hubs” use the network to monitor air quality, people flow, and room occupancy whilst delivering secure, end-to-end cloud-managed connectivity supporting the needs of every employee. 

Changes to layout and the creation of more free-flowing workspaces may be required to suit a larger number of hybrid workers. For example, the higher volume of video conferencing calls means that workers will need space to retreat from the main hub of the office. Therefore, a greater number of smaller meeting rooms or break-out areas may be more appropriate rather than a boardroom and larger conference rooms.  

Encourage the use of meeting technology 

There have been huge advances in meeting room technology, but if adoption isn’t high and people aren’t taught how to use it effectively it’s a waste of money. You can have the best network, great collaboration tools and amazing new energy efficient office spaces equipped with the latest video technology, but without due process for people they amount to nothing. You need to ensure your people know how to use the right tools and how to get the best from them. This is not simply about training; it’s about embedding a mindset of learning too. 

Prioritise cyber security – both in and out of the office 

Security isn’t about a product or a new tool. It’s about ensuring your whole organisation adopts a Zero Trust approach to security rather than simply protecting the legacy network boundary that existed before. This approach ensures that employees have suitable security enabled on their devices, like two-factor authentication. Employees also need consistent training on the latest cybersecurity threats.  

If successful collaboration is achieved it will promote a more empowered, engaged workforce that is highly productive across your organisation, whether workers are in, or out, of the office. 

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Driving business success in today’s data-driven world through data governance

Source: Finance derivative

Andrew Abraham, Global Managing Director, Data Quality, Experian

It’s a well-known fact that we are living through a period of digital transformation, where new technology is revolutionising how we live, learn, and work. However, what this has also led to is a significant increase in data. This data holds immense value, yet many businesses across all sectors struggle to manage it effectively. They often face challenges such as fragmented data silos or lack the expertise and resources to leverage their datasets to the fullest.

As a result, data governance has become an essential topic for executives and industry leaders. In a data-driven world, its importance cannot be overstated. Combine that with governments and regulatory bodies rightly stepping up oversight of the digital world to protect citizens’ private and personal data. This has resulted in businesses also having to comply e with several statutes more accurately and frequently.

We recently conducted some research to gauge businesses’ attitudes toward data governance in today’s economy. The findings are not surprising: 83% of those surveyed acknowledged that data governance should no longer be an afterthought and could give them a strategic advantage. This is especially true for gaining a competitive edge, improving service delivery, and ensuring robust compliance and security measures.

However, the research also showed that businesses face inherent obstacles, including difficulties in integration and scalability and poor data quality, when it comes to managing data effectively and responsibly throughout its lifecycle.

So, what are the three fundamental steps to ensure effective data governance?

Regularly reviewing Data Governance approaches and policies

Understanding your whole data estate, having clarity about who owns the data, and implementing rules to govern its use means being able to assess whether you can operate efficiently and identify where to drive operational improvements. To do that effectively, you need the right data governance framework. Implementing a robust data governance framework will allow businesses to ensure their data is fit for purpose, improves accuracy, and mitigates the detrimental impact of data silos.

The research also found that data governance approaches are typically reviewed annually (46%), with another 47% reviewing it more frequently. Whilst the specific timeframe differs for each business, they should review policies more frequently than annually. Interestingly, 6% of companies surveyed in our research have it under continual review.

Assembling the right team

A strong team is crucial for effective cross-departmental data governance.  

The research identified that almost three-quarters of organisations, particularly in the healthcare industry, are managing data governance in-house. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed had already established dedicated data governance teams to oversee daily operations and mitigate potential security risks.

This strategic investment highlights the proactive approach to enhancing data practices to achieve a competitive edge and improve their financial performance. The emphasis on organisational focus highlights the pivotal role of dedicated teams in upholding data integrity and compliance standards.

Choose data governance investments wisely

With AI changing how businesses are run and being seen as a critical differentiator, nearly three-quarters of our research said data governance is the cornerstone to better AI. Why? Effective data governance is essential for optimising AI capabilities, improving data quality, automated access control, metadata management, data security, and integration.

In addition, almost every business surveyed said it will invest in its data governance approaches in the next two years. This includes investing in high-quality technologies and tools and improving data literacy and skills internally.  

Regarding automation, the research showed that under half currently use automated tools or technologies for data governance; 48% are exploring options, and 15% said they have no plans.

This shows us a clear appetite for data governance investment, particularly in automated tools and new technologies. These investments also reflect a proactive stance in adapting to technological changes and ensuring robust data management practices that support innovation and sustainable growth.

Looking ahead

Ultimately, the research showed that 86% of businesses recognised the growing importance of data governance over the next five years. This indicates that effective data governance will only increase its importance in navigating digital transformation and regulatory demands.

This means businesses must address challenges like integrating governance into operations, improving data quality, ensuring scalability, and keeping pace with evolving technology to mitigate risks such as compliance failures, security breaches, and data integrity issues.

Embracing automation will also streamline data governance processes, allowing organisations to enhance compliance, strengthen security measures, and boost operational efficiency. By investing strategically in these areas, businesses can gain a competitive advantage, thrive in a data-driven landscape, and effectively manage emerging risks.

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The Benefits of EV Salary Sacrifice: A Guide for Employers and Employees

As the UK government continues to push for greener initiatives, electric cars have become increasingly popular. The main attraction for both employers and employees is the EV salary sacrifice scheme.

By participating in an EV salary sacrifice scheme, both employers and employees can enjoy cost savings and contribute to environmental sustainability along the way! This article will delve into the specifics of how these schemes operate, the financial advantages they offer, and the broader positive impacts on sustainability.

We will provide a comprehensive overview of the mechanics behind EV salary sacrifice schemes and discuss the various ways in which they benefit both employees and employers, ultimately supporting the transition to a greener future in the UK.

What is an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme?

An EV salary sacrifice scheme is a flexible financial arrangement that permits employees to lease an EV through their employer. The key feature of this scheme is that the leasing cost is deducted directly from the employee’s gross salary before tax and National Insurance contributions are applied. By reducing the taxable income, employees can benefit from substantial savings on both tax and National Insurance payments. This arrangement not only makes EVs more affordable for employees but also aligns with governmental incentives to reduce carbon emissions.

For employers, implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme can lead to cost efficiencies as well. The reduction in National Insurance contributions on the employee’s reduced gross salary can offset some of the costs associated with administering the scheme. Additionally, such programmes can enhance the overall benefits package offered by the employer, making the company more attractive to prospective and current employees.

Benefits for Employees

1. Tax and National Insurance Savings

By opting for an EV salary sacrifice scheme, employees can benefit from reduced tax and National Insurance contributions. Since the lease payments are made from the gross salary, the taxable income decreases, resulting in substantial savings.

2. Access to Premium EVs

Leading salary sacrifice car schemes often provide access to high-end electric vehicles that might be otherwise unaffordable. Employees can enjoy the latest EV models with advanced features, contributing to a more enjoyable and environmentally friendly driving experience.

3. Lower Running Costs

Electric vehicles typically have lower running costs compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. With savings on fuel, reduced maintenance costs, and exemptions from certain charges (such as London’s Congestion Charge), employees can enjoy significant long-term financial benefits.

4. Environmental Impact

Driving an electric vehicle reduces the carbon footprint and supports the UK’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Employees can take pride in contributing to a cleaner environment.

Benefits for Employers

1. Attract and Retain Talent

Offering an EV salary sacrifice scheme can enhance an employer’s benefits package, making it more attractive to potential recruits. It also helps in retaining current employees by providing them with valuable and cost-effective benefits.

2. Cost Neutrality

For employers, EV salary sacrifice schemes are often cost-neutral. The savings on National Insurance contributions can offset the administrative costs of running the scheme, making it an economically viable option.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This can improve the company’s public image and align with broader environmental goals.

4. Employee Well-being

Providing employees with a cost-effective means to drive electric vehicles can contribute to their overall well-being. With lower running costs and the convenience of driving a new EV, employees may experience reduced financial stress and increased job satisfaction.

How to Implement an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme

1. Assess Feasibility

Evaluate whether an EV salary sacrifice scheme is feasible for your organisation. Consider the number of interested employees, potential cost savings, and administrative requirements.

2. Choose a Provider

Select a reputable provider that offers a range of electric vehicles and comprehensive support services. Ensure they can handle the administrative tasks and provide a seamless experience for both the employer and employees.

3. Communicate the Benefits

Educate your employees about the advantages of the scheme. Highlight the financial savings, environmental impact, and access to premium EV models. Provide clear guidance on how they can participate in the programme.

4. Monitor and Review

Regularly review the scheme’s performance to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your employees and the organisation. Gather feedback and make adjustments as necessary to enhance the programme’s effectiveness.


The EV salary sacrifice scheme offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees in the UK. With significant financial savings, access to premium vehicles, and a positive environmental impact, it’s an attractive option for forward-thinking organisations. By implementing such a scheme, employers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and employee well-being, while employees can enjoy the benefits of driving an electric vehicle at a reduced cost.

Adopting an EV salary sacrifice scheme is a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for everyone.

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Machine Learning Interpretability for Enhanced Cyber-Threat Attribution

Source: Finance Derivative

By: Dr. Farshad Badie,  Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics, Berlin School of Business and Innovation

This editorial explores the crucial role of machine learning (ML) in cyber-threat attribution (CTA) and emphasises the importance of interpretable models for effective attribution.

The Challenge of Cyber-Threat Attribution

Identifying the source of cyberattacks is a complex task due to the tactics employed by threat actors, including:

  • Routing attacks through proxies: Attackers hide their identities by using intermediary servers.
  • Planting false flags: Misleading information is used to divert investigators towards the wrong culprit.
  • Adapting tactics: Threat actors constantly modify their methods to evade detection.

These challenges necessitate accurate and actionable attribution for:

  • Enhanced cybersecurity defences: Understanding attacker strategies enables proactive defence mechanisms.
  • Effective incident response: Swift attribution facilitates containment, damage minimisation, and speedy recovery.
  • Establishing accountability: Identifying attackers deters malicious activities and upholds international norms.

Machine Learning to the Rescue

Traditional machine learning models have laid the foundation, but the evolving cyber threat landscape demands more sophisticated approaches. Deep learning and artificial neural networks hold promise for uncovering hidden patterns and anomalies. However, a key consideration is interpretability.

The Power of Interpretability

Effective attribution requires models that not only deliver precise results but also make them understandable to cybersecurity experts. Interpretability ensures:

  • Transparency: Attribution decisions are not shrouded in complexity but are clear and actionable.
  • Actionable intelligence: Experts can not only detect threats but also understand the “why” behind them.
  • Improved defences: Insights gained from interpretable models inform future defence strategies.

Finding the Right Balance

The ideal model balances accuracy and interpretability. A highly accurate but opaque model hinders understanding, while a readily interpretable but less accurate model provides limited value. Selecting the appropriate model depends on the specific needs of each attribution case.

Interpretability Techniques

Several techniques enhance the interpretability of ML models for cyber-threat attribution:

  • Feature Importance Analysis: Identifies the input data aspects most influential in the model’s decisions, allowing experts to prioritise investigations.
  • Local Interpretability: Explains the model’s predictions for individual instances, revealing why a specific attribution was made.
  • Rule-based Models: Provide clear guidelines for determining the source of cyber threats, promoting transparency and easy understanding.

Challenges and the Path Forward

The lack of transparency in complex ML models hinders their practical application. Explainable AI, a field dedicated to making models more transparent, holds the key to fostering trust and collaboration between human and machine learning. Researchers are continuously refining interpretability techniques, with the ultimate goal being a balance between model power and decision-making transparency.

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