How to expand global operations securely.

In 2022, we continue to live with the effects of the COVID pandemic and the new short- and long-term challenges and opportunities it brings to enterprises large and small. On top of that, the Ukrainian crisis has dealt a further set of complexities and considerations.

The multiple new ways that people work and communicate seem to be here to stay, resulting in an impact on where and how people go online and the expectations they have for accessibility and speed. At the same time, technology continues to advance while the creation and consumption of data for work is growing faster than ever before. This is bringing to the fore challenges around data privacy and data compliance, as well as the security of the cloud.

However, these constraints are not deterring companies’ desires to expand globally. According to a recent study by King’s College London, 68% of global entrepreneurs surveyed adapted their plans for the business and almost 40% saw new business opportunities during the pandemic. These opportunities are diverse and include digitalization, health and well-being, local supply chain bolstering, sustainability and new business models. But while the internet is a great enabler of all this growth and innovation and an amazing global platform for commerce, expansive talent pools, news and information – there is the need for some caution. There are four practices for businesses to adopt in 2022 to grow securely.

Ensure you are safe in the could

For many businesses the pandemic was the catalyst to move mission-critical IT resources from their premises to a third party host to manage instead. According to Gartner, global expenditure on public cloud providers is estimated to have risen from $270bn (£200bn) in the first year of the pandemic to more than $330bn in 2021. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach and there are implications such as cost when it comes to data-egress fees and also security of that data. Adopting Zero Trust solutions to guard your networks and your applications can give your entire ecosystem of users faster, safer access to your corporate resources. For example, a common remote work pitfall is an employee working from home failing to access their work networks through secure methods or falling victim to phishing and malware attacks.

Zero Trust architecture trusts no one and nothing – assuming that there are attackers both within and outside of the network. This means every device trying to access your corporate networks is authorized per application they access, users are continually re-verified and access to resources is restricted as applicable.

Stay data complaint

Different governments have different ideas and different requirements, which can differ for different data sets. The regulatory challenges are only getting more complicated. Maintaining data compliance isn’t just a matter of protecting yourself legally, either. Data breaches can expose trade secrets and other confidential information, causing major harm to your business or organization and even to your customer or end user.

Thankfully, the data compliance challenges you will likely face tomorrow can be mitigated by understanding exactly what you’re up against and developing a robust data security plan before issues arise.

Step one is ensuring you comply with any necessary legal frameworks and abide by government regulations you operate in. The EU leads the way for regulatory implementation, such as the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is also being replicated in the U.S., through the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Recent rulings around data privacy from the EU including the (so called) Schrems II decision, require rigorous treatment of personal data including strict limitations on its processing within the EU. Various mechanisms exist such as ensuring that all metadata that can identify a customer stays within the EU as well as providing comprehensive encryption of data and special handling of private keys which protect data.

Localizing data allows organizations to control where their traffic is serviced for the purposes of meeting EU or other regional data localization requirements. Organizations need compliance with local data localization expectations and

they need fast, secure experiences for end users. It’s crucial that you choose to work with privacy-first product and service providers that ensure your data is secure and abides by regulations while also enhancing your performance.

A rigorous and granular approach to data localization is required, making it easy for different sized businesses to set rules and controls at the internet edge, adhere to compliance regulations, and keep data locally stored and protected.

Build a high-performance diverse team

Following a turbulent time of an ongoing pandemic, adjusting to remote work, and the ongoing global threats, it’s more important than ever to commit to driving diversity and inclusion throughout your company.

Diverse teams are more effective, innovative, and better positioned to drive growth, and without an equitable and inclusive working environment diverse teams can’t thrive.

Be proactive in providing platforms and other resources for the diverse voices that make up your organizations. At Cloudflare, employee groups such as Womenflare and Afroflare have become invaluable resources for giving diverse voices a forum to discuss challenges, talk about how they are feeling and create resources and allies that they can utilize.

It’s important that you take the time to understand the culture of any new, and sometimes unfamiliar market overseas at the early stages of your operation too. Speak to local experts, partners and suppliers, as there will be local cultural rules that are country and region-specific, which will be crucial for you to understand before taking on a new customer and employee base.

You’ll need to tailor messages, payment methods and sales cycles for customers and consider employee engagement, religion and language needs to give the local culture the respect it deserves. Implement an in-country hiring team to find the right leader and new hires that understand the nuances at play so that the business can scale effectively and efficiently.

Scale effectively and safety

Expanding globally comes with multiple challenges and complying with evolving regional data privacy and security requirements isn’t easy. In order for you to scale effectively and safely you need to consider companies that can assist you with your growth and help you to do this securely.

Privacy and security must come hand in hand with universal connectivity. You need to align with vendors that give you the tools to easily build privacy-respecting applications and scale efficiently. Regulators and vendors have to adapt to help businesses meet the heightened bar of regulatory requirements.

Work with a reliable, committed vendor that embraces and adopts the standards that the EU has laid out. Expect and verify a full commitment to protecting personal data on the part of your vendor. The world has changed substantially from one where vendors would routinely sell your data onwards as part of their business model, to one where you can expect full protection of your vital organizational and personal data.

Growing optimally in 2022

International expansion is an exciting time for any business therefore it is crucial that security and performance are considered at every step. In order to grow optimally, it is imperative to remain data compliant, implement Zero Trust solutions, speak to local experts in any new region and hire a diverse team in order to continually innovate but protect networks in the process.

Rise of the machines.

Ahsan Zafeer • 26th November 2022

Ahsan Zafeer covers topics related to tech and digital marketing and tweets @AhsanZafeer. Here he explains people’s fears as to why machines are taking over their jobs.