Can we ever eliminate cyber security threats?

High profile data breaches have frequently made the headlines over the last few years, with household names and respected tech brands like Facebook and Uber falling victim to large scale attacks. The fact that some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world have been duped by such attacks highlights just how difficult the situation is.

Cyber-attacks may not be a new concept, but they’re certainly increasing in volume. The growing sophistication of attacks means that measures which once worked to prevent or minimise damage no longer have any effect.

The problem

As the volume of attacks, alerts and threats increases, IT teams are put under increasing pressure. Each potential cyber security threat flagged by the system needs to be explored to determine its credibility and the impact it could have on the business. If a serious threat is identified then the team must take further action to prevent or minimise damage.

Across the world there’s a chronic computer science skills shortage, and the picture is no different in the UK. Businesses are already stretched as the number of unfilled tech roles is set to grow from the current level of 600,000 to 1 million by 2020, couple that with an increase in workload due to the proliferation of cyber security threats and it is perhaps easy to see why so many businesses are struggling to fend off attacks.

The solution

There are many options when it comes to technology which can help prevent attacks. Researchers are developing new ways to fend off threats all the time. More and more frequently, companies are deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in order to support IT teams and free up some of the time it takes to identify legitimate threats. There are now a plethora of cost-effective products available to businesses which utilise AI, data and machine learning to help detect breaches, helping IT teams to detect attacks faster and more accurately, to minimise their frequency and severity.

Taking this time-consuming work away from IT departments frees more time up to shore up cyber defences: ensuring that employees are informed of how they could be used as a conduit for an attack through phishing scams; looking at the security of legacy software; checking old code to ensure there are no weaknesses which could be taken advantage of.

It is unlikely that we’ll ever be able to entirely eliminate the threat of cyber-attacks, but with an increased use of AI, businesses are able to manage the threats more effectively. It takes skill and an in-depth understanding of cyber security issues to implement and maintain these systems. This is why the University of York has introduced the 100% online MSc Computer Science with Cyber Security, for ambitious individuals looking to move into computer science roles.

The course covers specific topics such as cyber security threats and security engineering. It also covers key areas of computer science expertise, including advanced programming and artificial intelligence, giving ambitious students the skills required to pursue a career in cyber security.

There’s no need to take a career break or juggle family commitments as the course is delivered 100% online, with all programme materials accessible from a wide variety of devices at any time. There’s also a choice of six start dates per year and a pay per module option which eliminates the need for a large upfront payment. All this means you can earn a prestigious Masters degree from a Russell Group University in a flexible way that suits you.

Find more information and to begin your application.

What is an Entrepreneurial Leader?

Expectations placed upon leadership are understandably high. We expect our leaders to have perfect strategy and superhuman decision-making skills. The truth is, some of the most important attributes for a leader are curiosity, learning and a constant desire to iterate and improve. Without the ability to listen to others, to embrace new ideas and to change course in the face of new information, success will always be out of reach.

An enquiring nature and an open mind should be true of any leader, but for entrepreneurial leaders it is of paramount importance. Being able to absorb and assimilate new information gives the greatest chance of success. Entrepreneurs thrive on the new and the innovative and are highly desirable to companies of all sizes to help them generate and test out new ideas and to keep fresh and disruptive thinking at the forefront of the business.

The willingness to change

Being able to take on board new concepts and ideas isn’t always enough to enable effective leadership – sometimes it can effectively take ‘unlearning’ what you think you know. There are many examples of new, exciting things being repeatedly rejected by those who couldn’t accept something radical; for example engineer Steven Sasson of Kodak invented a digital camera in 1975, but the company were not convinced by the new technology. They were couldn’t understand why consumers would want to view images on a TV screen when film was so inexpensive. They eventually made the move to digital 18 years later.

Fostering an open culture

Another skill that can be highly beneficial to leadership is a level of empathy that allows you to pick up on how employees are feeling. Approachable and understanding leaders that balance their skills and expertise with a forthright and open attitude may find that their employees are harder-working and more loyal.

In new markets, start-up environments and areas of business that are being created from scratch, the ability to bring together a cohesive team can make all the difference. As technologies and businesses develop, teams must communicate closely and react quickly to cope with the pace of change.

Confidence is key

Having the confidence to look at a range of options, make sound judgements and be decisive is a key business skill. Experience in business can give you a level of assuredness, but it’s also important to have confidence in the people around you. Entrepreneurial leaders rely on their colleagues to fill gaps in skills and knowledge. By using sound decision-making processes, they increase the chances of success in new fields.

An entrepreneurial mindset isn’t just something certain people have and others don’t. It’s a learned skillset which you can develop, given the right environment.

The University of York has a suite of 100% online Masters degrees in Leadership and Management to develop these skills in aspiring business leaders. As all learning materials are delivered completely online, you can study around work or family commitments whenever it suits you. This in turn means there’s no need to take an extended study break and you can apply what you learn as you go, keeping your current grade and salary. There are pay-per-module options available, to reduce large, up-front costs and also the a government-backed loan for those that are eligible to assist with course fees. With six start dates per year, you can begin your studies and personal growth as soon as you’re ready.

Find out more and begin your application.

How do company culture and stress impact on innovation?

While it’s quite commonly assumed that innovation occurs in a sudden “Eureka!” moment, businesses have known for a long time that it can be a gradual process, and that it can be fostered by company culture.

Innovation is critical for success. Not accepting the status quo, going beyond ‘good enough’ and ensuring that a company isn’t just looking to the future, but is actively trying to bring it closer can offer a significant advantage in business.

Is there such a thing as too much innovation?

Innovation is the search for new and better ways of doing things. Facebook, one of the most powerful companies on the planet, lives by the motto “Move fast and break things”, which to many embodies the ethos of never settling and always seeking to shake things up.

Many companies have looked at this ideal and tried to replicate it, but some now believe that the constant search for the ‘new’ is giving employees ‘innovation fatigue’ or ‘innovation stress’. It can quickly become counterproductive.

Recognising and creating the conditions for improvement

It’s important to recognise that innovation can come from every area and level of the business. It’s not the responsibility of one department, team or seniority level. To facilitate an innovative culture, the C-suite must communicate with all employees to ensure that they understand that they have the permission and the ability to innovate.

Employees need to feel engaged and valued. They need to understand and believe in the business goals to give direction to their input. Management that demands something new, better or more efficient doesn’t necessarily give employees the tools to innovate. Allowing everybody at every level of the company to understand what the business wants, where it’s heading and what it aims to achieve helps employees to make strategically valuable contributions.

Support and collaboration for innovation

Something truly new and inventive can be hard to conceptualise and explain. Employees may need support to communicate and deliver their vision. Supporting innovative practice closely will show employees that their suggestions and ideas are valued – in turn helping to keep them on board and working towards the company goals. Even unworkable ideas can become a learning experience, with every small failure informing the next big success.

Managers need a wide range of skills to cultivate a company culture that supports innovation without overburdening employees. The University of York has designed a 100% online Masters degree in Innovation, Leadership and Management to help innovative businesses flourish. All learning materials are delivered online, meaning that you’re free to study whenever and wherever it suits you – and you don’t need to take an extensive or costly career break in order to complete your MSc. It allows you to learn while you earn and apply what you learn to your current role.

There are six start dates per year, so you can start whenever you’re ready, and there are options to pay-per-module. You may also be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan to cover the cost of the course.

Company culture plays a big part in the success of innovation. Being able to demonstrate the right skills could not only play a big part in your own career, but also the future of an entire business.

Find out more and start your application.

The business benefits of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is much more than just the smart fridges or intelligent heating systems that we seem to hear about so frequently. The global market for hardware, software, data and telecoms is set to expand to $520bn by 2021, an incredible doubling in size from 2017.

Businesses are already starting to make the most of the technology, utilising it to monitor processes, boost efficiency and provide insights which can guide company strategy. Here are just a few ways that adopting IoT technology can have a positive impact:

Business insights

In industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare the use of IoT tech is rapidly increasing. By collecting more data and increasing the potential for analysis, companies are gaining a greater insight into their business, its strengths, weaknesses and how their customers use their products. In piecing together this information, there’s the chance to increase efficiency, better meet customer need or increase profits – such as using artificial intelligence to inspect railways and identify faults.

Customer experience

IoT data gives businesses much deeper insights into their customers and how they interact with both the company and its products and services. Making the customer experience as frictionless as possible is something many businesses strive for, particularly in retail. Employing IoT technologies in shopping environments can not only aid the journey, but also provide data to innovate and give shoppers what they want in future, essentially creating a personalised customer experience.

Waste reduction

Enhancing green credentials and making genuine, positive environmental decisions is a key focus for modern businesses. Reducing waste and saving energy is a key part of this and IoT tech can play a big role in identifying inefficiencies that create increased wastage. Leveraging IoT tech that monitors what inventory is on hand, naturally rotates old stock to go out first and prevents overstocking works to reduce waste and prevent capital being tied up in stock that may go out of date and spoil. These kind of surplus prevention strategies can stop wastage and the requirement of expensive storage facilities for unneeded, surplus stock, particularly for refrigerated produce.

New business models

The information provided by the IoT can provide valuable insight into consumers, products and business efficiencies, which in turn can highlight opportunities for innovation and growth. Smart TVs, internet-enabled cars and even coffee machines can all feed usage data back to the manufacturers, providing previously unheard-of insights which can significantly improve the design of the next model or even identify a gap in the market for new innovations.

In order for businesses to successfully use IoT they need experienced employees, with knowledge of how to develop and implement the technology. However, currently the demand for computer science skills far outstrips the supply of qualified graduates, and organisations across industries and sectors are desperate for those equipped with the relevant knowledge in this field. The University of York’s 100% online Computer Science Masters programme is designed for professionals and graduates who may not currently have a computer science background, who want to launch their career in this in-demand and lucrative field.

With six start dates a year you can study around work and home commitments. There’s a pay-per-module option available, and some students may be eligible for a government backed postgraduate loan to cover costs of the course.

Find out more and begin your application.

The big data challenges facing companies today

Big data has become a key part of doing business, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. In the last five years 95% of businesses have undertaken a big data project, according to a survey of Fortune 1000 business leaders. However, the same survey revealed that less than half of those initiatives actually achieved measurable results.

There are a number of common challenges businesses face when it comes to big data, many of which come from the lack of big data experts internally. Companies know they should be using the information they own to inform and progress the business, but they lack the expertise to successfully implement projects.

Understanding

Often, the successful implementation of big data projects requires a degree of change across departments – be it in capturing more data, or changing how it is managed or shared with other teams. If some employees don’t understand the need for change or simply aren’t willing to play their part in bringing it about, then project progress is impeded. In order to minimise this kind of disruption, it’s important to take a ‘top-down’ approach. Once senior management have bought in to the concept, training and workshops can bring other employees up to speed on the importance of the project’s success to the future of the company.

Cost

Regardless of the approach you take to implementation of big data projects – on-premises or cloud solutions – the costs are high. On-premises solutions require a lot of hardware, which in turn requires space, electricity and security as well as administrators and developers to maintain it. While cloud solutions may be perceived as being lower cost, there is still a significant up-front investment needed for setting-up, configuring, training, maintenance and storage.

Of course, you’ll need to allow for future growth too, which will likely incur more expense. To avoid these costs spiralling and getting out of control, understanding the business’s big data requirements and having a clear and robust vision and strategy is essential.

Integration

It’s often the case that departments within a business work in data silos. Information is not readily shared across the whole company, partly due to the different platforms used by different teams not ‘’talking’ to one another.

Big data adoption is reliant on this not being the case. The key purpose of big data is to give one single 360 degree overview of the business; to do this information from every department needs to be accessible. This could mean a change in software for some departments or utilising APIs which overlay existing tools so that data can be shared. It will require a change in working processes for many employees – such as no longer using locally saved spreadsheets in order to make jobs ‘easier’.

Security

Security should be considered at the first stage of project planning. Not only because it is an opportunity for the business to review its existing security and policies (or lack thereof), but fundamentally because security should be built into the business’s big data solution from the very beginning.

A great example of this comes from the medical field; very sensitive patient data is stored all across the world, however the ability to analyse it all could provide great insights for those looking to cure diseases such as cancer. Security is a huge concern though, and in order to analyse the data it need to be decrypted, but now thanks to the use of fully homomorphic encryption, patient data could be analysed whilst still encrypted.

Big data is being collected constantly, but in order to make it us able and provide valuable insights which can drive the business forward, big data projects need to be implemented with a great deal of planning and expertise. However, the skills required to execute projects of this kind are in short supply. The University of York’s 100% online MSc Computer Science with Data Analytics course is designed for working professionals and graduates who want to start a career in this lucrative field. You’ll develop specialist skills and knowledge in machine learning, data analytics, data mining and text analysis via specialised modules and an independent data analytics project. You’ll also develop your core computer science skills such as computational thinking, computational problem solving and software development.

Our 100% online programmes allow you to study around work and home commitments, in your own time. Choose from six start dates per year, with a pay-per-module option available. You may be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan, covering the cost of the course.

Find out more and begin your application.

How global leaders manage multiple cultures

As more and more businesses operate in the global market place, managing teams which work across cultures is a vital skill for leaders. Seemingly simple things such as local customs and cultures can have a huge impact on work ethic and job satisfaction, so understanding them is imperative for leaders to unite teams regardless of the miles between them. But how do you build cross-cultural trust?

The answer comes from insight in three key points: understanding your own thought processes, understanding the cultural differences between team members, and understanding how trust is built between colleagues through shared achievements and individual characters.

Start with the right mindset

It’s essential to recognise that the process of building trust can differ vastly. Workplace trust is established in a huge variety of different ways, through things like relationships, communication, transparency and the dissemination of information. Some businesses pride themselves on high trust environments, where all employees are privy to business-critical information, told about new developments and communicated with as an equal. Other companies have a more fixed hierarchy with information filtered down on a need-to-know basis.

The only constant is that building trust takes patience; it’s essential not to try and force a trust-building strategy that’s a bad fit for the team. People from high trust environments can find it frustrating when they try to bond with colleagues from low trust environments and find it’s not part of the company culture. Likewise, the opposite can be true: those from low trust workplaces may feel overwhelmed in a high trust culture.

Spend time learning about your employees’ cultures

Some cultures are more inclined to trust than others, while others rely on strict social structures to guide personal relationships. Some observation should be made as to how employees naturally act. Allow employees who prefer a one-to-one meeting to open up in private, for example. Rigid hierarchies can prevent some employees from speaking to colleagues or supervisors, which needs to be monitored: allowing colleagues to speak in a manner they feel comfortable is vital.

Understand the importance of results and character in building trust

In the UK, workplace trust is usually results driven; management highlight that success comes from a team effort and that by trusting each other and assisting one another, co-operative working delivers success.

There are places where character is used as a trust builder; usually by management showing that they’re willing to put time, effort and money into employees and their welfare. This kind of perceived benevolence revolves around being a good character and in many countries extends to knowing and caring about employees’ families.

Trust based on character needs time to build credibility, proving that it’s not a hollow gesture and that managers really do care about their employees’ personal lives and wellbeing. Generally in the UK, colleagues can see their personal lives as ‘personal’ and not for work involvement, but to other cultures work is such a big part of a person’s life that there’s much less of a distinction between a ‘work family’ and a ‘home family’. British workers might find some common ground in shared musical taste or hobbies. To other cultures this may seem superficial, as they search for deeper commonalities and build a bond that benefits both parties.

For managers in either style of trust culture, it’s important to show trust. Without leaders displaying trust for their employees, it’s quite difficult to instil a culture of trust across an entire department. When given trust, colleagues’ usual response is to show themselves to be trustworthy, which increases the likelihood that this attitude will spread across the team. Once trustworthiness is established, it can become a form of social currency.

The bottom line? Today’s business leaders are required to operate in an increasingly complex global environment. With the right management, cross-cultural teams have the ability to outperform teams from very similar cultures, bringing a unique perspective to new problems, which leads to increased innovation and efficiency.

The University of York’s 100% online MSc International Business, Leadership and Management places particular emphasis on the challenges associated with global trade. It’s      designed to build knowledge of business practices worldwide while developing a theoretical understanding of the international business environment. As a graduate, your career will benefit from the ethical, socially responsible and international themes that underpin all programme content.

Ideally suited to working professionals, York’s 100% online programme gives you the flexibility to fit your studies around your current commitments. You can access course content and study anytime, anywhere, on a variety of desktop and mobile devices. With six start dates a year, and a pay-per-module fee structure, you can begin whenever you are ready. You may even be eligible for a government-backed post graduate loan to cover the cost of your programme.

Find out more and begin your application.

Six trends highlighting the increased role of CIOs in today’s organisations

IT leadership is changing nearly as rapidly as technology itself. The ready availability of hardware and software is moving responsibility for acquisition and management away from Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and on to managers in other parts of the organisation.      The roles of CIOs and other IT leaders are increasingly focused on enterprise-wide technology strategy and decision making.

Here are some of the key trends highlighting the changing role of CIOs in today’s organisations:

  1. Building high-performing teams
    According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global CIO Survey, most CIOs said that efficient team building was central in helping them succeed in their careers. Senior leaders therefore need to develop a deep network of talent to call upon, depending on how their business needs evolve, as well as equipping employees with the technologies to power greater collaboration and transparency and drive company-wide digital transformation.
  2. Bringing in outside perspectives
    CIOs need to open themselves up to new ways of thinking to keep up with the rate of change, turning to those that can accomplish things they themselves may not have the in-house expertise to do. This will see IT leaders bringing in experts from other areas who are committed to delivering game-changing technologies, as well as seeking non-traditional hires to ensure diversity of thinking and experience within the organisation itself.
  3. Delivering major organisational change
    Today’s enterprises look to IT to enable and drive transformational change. CIOs are expected to bring new technology approaches to address their company’s strategic challenges and goals. Being able to evolve technology streams to meet new revenue-generating business requests quickly and efficiently is therefore vital.
  4. Leading efforts to leverage the tech services and capabilities available
    Deloitte’s CIO report found that tech leaders are also committed to ongoing learning – a trend that’s expected to continue over the next several years. While nearly all surveyed CIOs (96%) consider educating the business about technology issues to be one of their responsibilities, only 66% have developed proactive initiatives to help build tech fluency across the organisation. In the current environment, the business is leading the conversation, asking to deploy machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation without necessarily understanding the power and limitations of technology. This will change to see CIOs leveraging the services and capabilities available.
  5. Grounding technology in customer value
    A key shift in the successful CIO’s mindset will be to ground everything in customer value. While this can be difficult to execute, it is a key differentiator in a competitive market. Focusing on attitudes, behaviours and skills while keeping the customer in mind will help executive leadership to sign off on new technologies. This way small, incremental improvements can be made, which have a big impact on end-user reception.
  6. Translating IT’s value to the C-suite
    IT will complete its transformation from a cost centre into a profit generator. While IT’s historic reputation for slow processes has obscured its role in the digital transformation era, empowered CIOs will serve as brand ambassadors, showing executive leaders the positive impact that IT can have on meeting business outcomes. As the C-suite contemplate acquisition targets, a successful CIO will manoeuvre technology to ensure the organisation can capitalise on these opportunities.

As you can see, today’s CIOs are required to respond to the rapidly changing external environment and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Our online MSc degrees in leadership and management are designed to foster strategic thinking by drawing on proven strategies to make innovative vision an operational reality.

Our 100% online programmes give you the flexibility to fit your studies around your professional and personal commitments. This means that, as an ambitious professional or career-changer, you can earn a Masters degree from a world-class Russell Group university without putting your life on hold. You can access course content and study anytime, anywhere, on a variety of desktop and mobile devices. With six starts per year, and a pay-per-module fee structure, you can begin whenever you are ready. You may even be eligible for a government-backed post graduate loan to cover the cost of your programme.

Find out more and begin your application.

Why ethics must be a constant in software engineering

When people discuss the effect ‘technology’ has on society, it’s rarely about the pure technical power of the hardware. Software is what changes how we live and work. This has meant that software engineers have, mostly unintentionally, become very influential. Whether they’re working for Facebook, Google, Reddit or AirBnB, their code can have a big impact on people, businesses and even entire cities.

The question for many is whether the industry is taking its corporate social responsibility seriously enough. Most developers are concerned with exciting ways to implement new software, but when platforms like AirBnB can negatively affect housing prices of entire cities, or Facebook can be used to spread misinformation that affects democratic processes, should the first conversation be about whether to implement at all?

Why is ethics important for software developers?

When software can change how we act and think, having a strong ethical core to the platform is a must. Platforms like Reddit and Twitter have been accused of not doing enough to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech, but it’s extremely unlikely that the engineers writing the code would’ve considered that their software would be used for such purposes. Software engineers are rarely experts in psychology or ethics, despite having an innate understanding of both. During the design process would anyone ask ‘Who could be negatively affected by this?’ or entertain the unpleasant prospect that their work could be used to disadvantage people.

What unintentional ethical considerations might a developer face?

The Xbox Kinect experienced issues back in 2010 when it was reported that the device did not recognise the faces of dark-skinned gamers. Both Hewlett-Packard and Google Photo’s have also experienced similar issues with facial recognition. Then it was picked up that certain automatic soap dispensers in airports that detect when your hand is underneath don’t work on black skin. Why? The near-infrared technology used was meant to be reflected off the users hands and back to the sensor. However, if the reflective object absorbs that light instead, then the sensor will never trigger because not enough light gets to it. Wearable fitness trackers and heart-rate monitors have also had the same problem.

These ‘skin science’ errors aren’t intentional, but they pose some serious questions about diversity in technological design and development processes.

How do developers include ‘ethics’ in design?

Keeping ethics at the heart of a project can be difficult – it depends entirely on the project, the developer’s level and what the final usage is aiming to be. One consideration could be to list alongside the aims of the project “How could this be misused and who would that affect?” Software engineers usually aim to improve human lives, but flipping around the thinking to contemplate how technology could be used to make lives worse could allow safeguards to be built into the product, rather than trying to retrofit solutions to a flawed system.

If reading this has thrown up questions that you’d like to find out more about, the University of York’s online Computer Science Masters programme might be for you. It’s designed for working professionals and graduates who may not have a computer science background and want to launch their career in this field, equipping graduates for a range of positions in software and web development, IT systems, support and programming.

Delivered 100% online, the Computer Science Masters degree requires no campus visits, so you can learn on your own terms, in your own time. There’s the option to choose from six start dates per year, so you can begin whenever’s convenient, fitting your studies around work and home commitments. There’s also a pay-per-module option available, and students may be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan which covers the cost of the programme.

Find out more and begin your application.

Five data analytics challenges companies face

Companies and brands are set to invest millions in big data analytics while attempting to secure future growth, but successful implementation relies on three key aspects working in perfect harmony.

As big data makes its way into organisations around the world, the synchronisation of processes, people and skills is proving tricky. Here are some of the major challenges that data analytics is facing today.

  1. Understanding how data management fits the business
    Big data is still in its infancy, but lots of businesses are forging ahead, creating processes for dealing with the analysis of vast amounts of information. While new models are being developed to help companies reach specific goals, these have different purposes. Some companies prefer flexibility while others want greater functionality. There’s no ‘correct’ way to do big data, but businesses need to be careful not to over-commit to an approach that doesn’t fit their needs, resulting in wasted time and effort.
  2. The talent gap
    It’s also becoming clear that knowledgeable technical staff are being trained at a much slower pace than technologies are developed, leading to a skills gap. By 2020 data science will account for 28% of all digital jobs according to IBM, but the same report highlighted that a lack of people skilled to do these jobs means that these positions remain unfilled for up to 45 days. Many of the current generation of big data experts don’t have expertise in data modelling or architecture: their experience tends to lie in tools, platforms and programming.
  3. Getting organisations on board
    Research has shown that, while one in four businesses rely on big data for making day-to-day decisions, a lack of board-level support for data initiatives has contributed to failed projects in 25% of companies. It takes a significant time investment to change a business into a data-driven entity, with the first steps being to decide where analytics should be applied. There should also be enough time to explain the benefits of business analytics at every level of the company: when staff understand the purpose of capturing information, it’s more likely that they’ll keep to the processes that support good quality data.
  4. Join up data sources
    Once data is integrated into a big platform, it must be in sync. Otherwise it can result in analyses that are wrong and could have completely disastrous results. Data invisibility, bias and selective use are prevalent in many areas of business. Confidently making decisions based on bad insights can be more damaging than not having the data at all.
  5. Extracting the relevant insights
    Data that has no ability to inform or give insight has no worth. It’s essential to process raw data to make it more widely understandable. This problem only becomes greater when the data is gathered over an extended timeframe. As time increases and the number of data cycles rises, the more difficult it is to be able to display relevant information and draw usable insight.

From gaining an edge over competitors and anticipating future business demands, the possibilities with business analytics are endless. In the last decade, big data has come a very long way. Overcoming the challenges surrounding it is going to be one of the major goals of the data analytics industry in the coming years. If you’d like to explore this area further, the University of York’s 100% online Computer Science Masters with Data Analytics programme might be right for you. Designed for working professionals and graduates who may not currently have a computer science background and want to launch their career in this field, it equips graduates for a range of positions working with big data, algorithms, data structures and data mining.

Delivered 100% online, this is your computer science Masters degree, on your own terms, in your own time. Choose from six start dates per year, enabling you to study around work and home commitments. There’s a pay-per-module option available, and some students may be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan, covering the cost of the programme.

Find out more and begin your application.

 

The role of the Data Scientist is changing

As organisations have started to realise the importance and value of data, their need for the right skills and expertise has also increased. In trying to make sense of the vast amount of data gathered on a daily basis and use it to solve business problems, identify insights and trends and make decisions to support new ideas, they need more people with a mix of statistics, database, data visualisation, machine-learning, coding and data preparation skills.

Data scientists are increasingly in demand to steer information and technology strategy, of which AI is a key element. As hiring them becomes a board-level priority, how is the role evolving?

Increased specialisation

As the overall level of data literacy improves across the workforce, with other employees gaining a better understanding of how to use data more widely in their own roles (such as marketing intelligence, employee retention and absenteeism figures), there will be a shift towards the future data scientist becoming more specialised. As a result, some organisations may need to consider skill-specific data scientists.

An emphasis on problem solving

Data scientists need a much wider skillset basis than statistics or data analysis; data scientists often need to start by creatively looking at the problem and understanding how to resolve it in order to achieve business goals. As a result, expectations are growing that data scientists will bring domain expertise, communication skills and an innovative mindset to the table as well.

AI knowledge more important than ever

Machines are much more able to cope with complex calculations than humans, which in turn has led to many organisations looking to AI, supported by professionals that perfect the algorithms and communicate how to build them into the overall business strategy. Deep familiarity with artificial intelligence is becoming a ‘must-have’ for many data science positions. Keeping up to date with the latest developments and research into AI is a must, if only to understand when ‘industry standard’ versions can be adapted to work better for the company.

Higher expectations

Businesses now recognise the importance of data science, but increased demand and investment means they expect people who are confident and able to align a data strategy from the off. While at one point, data science was a niche specialism, as it now informs and feeds departments across the company, it’s expected that analysis experts will also be competent in all related software, business reporting and machine learning.

More private-sector opportunities

Many data scientists are currently hired by companies that have little or no understanding of the discipline, often joining a very new department. It’s estimated that data scientists currently spend on average less than 20% of their work hours doing actual science and analysis and digging for deep insights. As the private sector comes to realise the value of data science, it could well be that focus on return on investment and profit could drive a new wave of efficiency, using data science to increase productivity.

More focus on strategic solutions

While the sector grows in importance, it does mean that competent practitioners are becoming more influential in the business world. While most positions will still require that a data scientist knows their way around programming languages, in some organisations, data engineers are taking on more of the data preparation, leaving data scientists to expand their roles to identifying opportunities where they can help grow the business. This broader scope could see their priorities being incorporated as part of wider business aims or goals.

Data Science roles often remain unfilled for up to 45 days, due to skills shortages, according to IBM. The University of York’s 100% online Computer Science with Data Analytics Masters is aiming to change this. The programme is designed specifically for those who may not currently have a computer science background but want to launch a career in this in-demand field. The course covers a wide range of topics such as algorithms and data structure, machine learning, software engineering and artificial intelligence, preparing graduates for a wide range of positions.

As the programme is delivered 100% online, there’s no need for campus visits. You can choose from six start dates per year, enabling you to remain in your current position and work around family and other commitments. There is the option to pay-per-module, and some students may be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan to cover the cost of the course.

Find out more and begin your application

The problem with passwords – and why the answer is two-fold

Hacks and data breaches are becoming the norm, as more and more aspects of our lives move online. Yet in many cases, the damage done could have been mitigated if users were using two-factor authentication to secure their accounts.

Why? While using the name of a family member, pet, or favourite holiday destination may make it easier for us to remember our passwords, it also makes it easier for hackers to guess them and steal credentials, or crack passwords with automated brute force programmes. Particularly as more than 80 per cent of people use the same password across multiple accounts.

The latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report shows 81% of hacking-related breaches last year leveraged stolen or weak passwords; an almost 20% increase over the previous year. This shows that the password problem is not just persisting but is getting worse. So, what can organisations do?

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security

The password, an age-old authentication method, is not only simple for users, but also for cyber-attackers, as there’s only one level of security to overcome. Two-factor authentication aims to keep the simplicity for users, but prevent malicious actions by adding a second layer of security.

Two-factor authentication sounds complicated, but has been used by cash machines for years; you need both the card and the correct PIN to access funds. The same principle can be used online, where a PIN is sent to a user’s phone, proving they have both the account info and the associated device in their possession, preventing many of the issues associated with passwords and unauthorised uses of accounts.

The ability to deliver a one-time PIN is at the heart of two-factor authentication. One way to deliver a password to users is through a mobile app, but this relies on numerous pieces of the puzzle fitting together successfully: the user must download and activate the app, the app must be connected to each service, one by one. Not only that, but platform and version incompatibility can cause the apps to fail. The simpler option is text message delivery, as its straightforward, cheap and is accepted by almost every telephone.

The benefits for businesses

While two-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways for organisations to reduce cybercrimes such as identity theft, hacking and phishing, it also increases customer loyalty and trust. Companies that take two-factor authentication seriously are demonstrating to their customers that they take security seriously, which is vitally important as more and more of our information, daily lives and financial actions move to online platforms.

The fact is, when it comes to cybersecurity, two-factor authentication is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but the challenge is to create a universal system that works in every situation but doesn’t become an inconvenience for customers.

The need for expertise in this field is growing, but currently demand for computer science skills far outstrips the supply of qualified graduates. The University of York’s 100% online Masters in Computer Science with Cyber Security is designed for working professionals and graduates who may not currently have a computer science background and want to launch their career in this field. It equips graduates for a range of positions in security engineering, software development, programming and computer and mobile networks.

There is no need for campus visits as the course is delivered 100% online – this is your computer science Masters degree, on your own terms, in your own time. Choose from six start dates per year, enabling you to study around your current job and home commitments. There’s also a pay-per-module option available, so there don’t have to be any large upfront fees. Some students may be eligible for a government backed postgraduate loan which covers the cost of the course.

Find out more and begin your application

The importance of inclusive leadership

Inclusiveness isn’t just a nice-to-have. Having a diverse workforce with people from various educational, cultural and racial backgrounds fosters a range of alternative skills, opinions and approaches. Coupled with employees of differing experience levels and those who’ve worked in other businesses and sectors, this creates a unique environment where different viewpoints can be utilised to great effect, leading to more diverse innovation and business routes which may not otherwise have been considered.

Getting a mixed and diverse group to perform at their peak, however, requires strong leadership, not just for communicating team goals, but also on a personal level, allowing employees to feel respected, valued and therefore confident of their contribution.

Why is this so important?

  1. Generational diversity is expanding
    We’re now fitter and living longer than ever before, which means as young people finish education and come into the workplace, there are still plenty of people from the older generations still working. Longer careers mean a greater mix of ages that need to work together.
  2. To attract, retain, and engage millennials
    With new expectations and values placed on careers, millennials are challenging the traditional workplace and paving the way for a generation that expect far more from a job than just remuneration. More than half of millennials value inclusivity so highly, they’d quit jobs and change companies if they didn’t believe their current boss was inclusive enough – and nearly a third have already done so.  A survey conducted with over 19,000 working millennials across 25 countries showed that new opportunities, better work life balance, a clear career path and recognition from managers and peers are more highly regarded by millennials than money.
  3. To unlock innovation
    Non-diverse teams often share too close a common culture or mindset, so can tend to approach problems from a similar angle and not considering things ‘outside the box’. Diverse teams can approach a problem from different angles, and 85% of businesses believe that diversity plays a big part in the most innovative or unexpected ideas.  It’s these differences in work ethic and world view between millennials and Gen Z, for example, that can truly help businesses; millennials are multi-taskers and have been described as educated, positive about tech, people-orientated, environmentally conscious, and progressive; while Gen Z is ambitious, tech savvy and entrepreneurial. Inclusive leaders can leverage this diversity to be more innovative.
  4. To outperform the competition
    Recent research has shown that companies with inclusive practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors. Diverse teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively; while a 10% improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.
  5. Remote working and a global workforce
    Globalisation has made the world a smaller place, bringing customers and businesses together – meaning that your employees not only need to be sensitive to differences between national boundaries but also understand and work within them. Having employees that speak multiple languages helps to build international relationships, therefore increasing the chances of successfully opening foreign markets.

With today’s business leaders operating in an increasingly complex global environment, the suite of 100% online Leadership and Management MScs from the University of York could be invaluable. Designed to build practical leadership skills and knowledge while      developing a theoretical understanding of the business environment, the courses cover three key disciplines, innovation, finance, and international business. All of these help to develop the distinct skills required for effective leadership across industries, functions and roles.

The course is delivered 100% online and is designed for study at your own pace. You can choose to carry on in your existing career and fit studies around other commitments too. Six start dates a year, flexible payment options, and postgraduate government loans for those that are eligible, add to its flexibility.

Find out more and begin your application.