Netskope CISO: AI offers opportunity – but should be approached with caution

11 Nov 2022

Shamla Naidoo. Image: Netskope

Tech veteran Shamla Naidoo believes the biggest tech opportunities for businesses lie in AI, machine learning and open APIs.

Shamla Naidoo is the CISO and head of cloud strategy at Netskope, a US software company providing a computer security platform.

Naidoo is a technology industry veteran with experience helping businesses across diverse sectors and cultures use technology more effectively. She has led digital strategy in executive leadership roles including as global CISO, CIO, VP, and managing partner at a variety of companies.

She has also helped organisations in more than 20 countries digitally transform and advised stakeholders on predicting and navigating the necessary changes in laws and regulations.

In addition, she has worked with intelligence communities to use digital and cyber within their organisations to protect businesses and society from technology misuse.

In her current role, Naidoo told that she ensures its products and technologies are “solving real business problems, enabling our customers to adapt their security programs rapidly to accommodate changes to business”.

‘Due to the lack of digital experience in the C-suite and on boards, efficiency was rarely questioned’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

As IT processes become more central to business deliverables, government functions and everyday life, the need for rapid, reliable and on-demand scalability changes from a desired capability to a critical requirement. The failure of any of these aspects has the potential to negatively impact a broader population, with more serious consequences.

This calls for more robust automation, monitoring and response capabilities from our technology and our technology providers. Platforms like Netskope specialise in consolidating while accelerating security.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

Before I answer that, let me ask: how many companies are not already ‘digitally transformed’, in whole or in part?

Every company of scale has digital threads woven through their operations today, a digital nervous system without which the company’s operations would grind to a halt. Digital transformation has already occurred.

There are opportunities to double down on transformation in specific verticals, like transforming the network or transforming how we leverage data beyond human capacity.

The real question is: are we enabling disruptive innovation with our digital footprint? If not, what else should be transformed or which transformation should be reviewed?

We are seeing disruption of industries enabled by real-time communication and just-in-time delivery of goods and services (Uber, Lyft and others), massive datasets fed into machine learning algorithms (Netflix, and various implementations of facial recognition), and dynamic pricing (as witnessed with all major airlines).

The winners will be those companies that can successfully identify disruptive opportunities and adapt their businesses to embrace those opportunities faster than the competition. Digital is essential for speed and scale.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?

In the last few decades, the digital journey has been aggressive and extraordinary investments were made to fuel business growth and meet customer expectations.

Due to the lack of digital experience in the C-suite and on boards, efficiency was rarely questioned. Many IT functions were over-provisioned, solutions were over-engineered and, as cyber threats increased, the corresponding mitigations were eagerly funded – all this with limited accountability for power and other utility needs.

Bespoke technology environments needed a workforce to support many complex technologies. As we move into inflationary and potential recessionary conditions, costs will come under scrutiny.

As boards are adding digital skills, practitioners will be held accountable for consolidation, efficient deployment of the workforce, and a keen eye to using the world’s resources in a sustainable manner. We will need to seek out opportunities for cost-savings through consolidation and simplification.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Technology innovation has become more available and affordable than it has ever been, giving individuals and companies of all sizes the opportunity to build capability, disrupt and grow.

Open source and open APIs offer businesses the opportunity to synergistically partner with other companies, or to combine and expand the capability to create powerful outcomes for customers and the broader community.

AI and machine learning offer companies the chance to learn meaningful things about their customers, their partners and their business landscapes, using that to drive meaningful business decisions. However, that should be approached with caution, as some information may correlate with regulated data, or may have other adverse effects on the business.

In a world where trust is in a deficit, blockchain introduces immutable trust into workflows. Openness creates trust – what a concept!

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

Acknowledge that the world of business will continue to change, business will always have digital assets worth stealing or compromising. Visibility allows control and mitigation. Gain visibility to inform your actions when everyone in your ecosystem is accessing everything in the ecosystem, most of which are outside of your control.

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