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Ronny Hauf, PMC: “the blurring of boundaries between private and professional lives can also pose a threat to cybersecurity”

The digital transformation brought many challenges for employees and companies, and next to using the right technologies for business processes, it’s important to put focus on cybersecurity, too.

The pandemic and the switch to remote work made many companies look for advanced cyber protection solutions. While many users are already familiar with essentialities, such as virtual private networks or password managers, companies are in need of more complex solutions, including data protection or IT consulting services.

For this reason, to learn more about such measures, we interviewed Ronny Hauf, the CEO of PMC – a company that offers various data, cybersecurity, and AI services.

Would you like to share what the journey has been like since your launch in 2007?

Since we started the company in 2007 we saw big changes in the IT industry, including the rise of agile methods and rapid innovation cycles in technology. Following these changes and developments, we were given the chance to redefine and expand our portfolio constantly including our understanding of a consulting business.

Also, we had the opportunity to take part in many forward-looking projects and meet inspirational people. For example, when we first started our journey, cybersecurity wasn’t such a big topic and at that point, we couldn’t imagine one day having cybersecurity as one of our main portfolio elements. Back then it had a touch of preventing innovative ideas within IT projects – today we know better. Cybersecurity rose to be one of the most important business enablers bringing decisive competitive advantages.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What industries are your main fields of focus at the moment?

We are an IT consulting and IT services company working in different industries. Our main fields are individual software development, cybersecurity, big data, and artificial intelligence.

Located in the south of Germany, we are next door to the automotive industry and are therefore involved in several projects within this industry. The banking and insurance industry is another main focus area for PMC, due to our dedication to regulatory frameworks which are mandatory in banking and insurance processes and their approach to cybersecurity.

The third big industry we focus on is the health care sector. It’s one of the fields which is expected to see the biggest changes in the future due to digitalization potentials.

What types of technology do you use to analyze vast and complex data?

At PMC, we use cutting-edge approaches from Big Data, Data Science, and AI to derive real value from large volumes of data. For instance, in a project implemented for a large port logistics company, we implemented a process mining solution in Microsoft Power BI to analyze millions of container movements and identify patterns, detect anomalies, and monitor conformance to target processes.

In terms of visual data, our research-driven project AI Hub – The Medical Brick – seeks to accelerate the development of new drugs by analyzing thousands of microscopic images using Deep Learning. In collaboration with biologists from the Pasteur Institute, we are using state-of-the-art object recognition models to analyze how immune cells respond to different chemical compounds. Our AI solution, built on the PyTorch framework and leveraging on-demand processing power on AWS, helps to gain deeper insights into cellular mechanisms and paves the way for the development of new infection and cancer treatments.

Has the pandemic encouraged you to integrate any new vital features?

Being an agile and dynamic company with flexible working conditions, we were already used to some degree of remote work. Through most of the pandemics, all of our employees constantly worked from home minimizing opportunities for offline team events and in-person meetings.

Through that, we have intensified the use of collaborative apps and software to make our day-to-day work easier.

On top of that, what is important for us is the physical and mental health of our employees. On the one hand, this has led us to new ways of spending time together online – not working and also looking out for each other more, strengthening the bond of our teams. On the other hand, it has also resulted in the higher use of methods, such as coaching.

What are the most common challenges that companies run into on their digital transformation journey?

The most common challenge we see is to have all employees on board when changes are being made. The digital transformation brings many changes upon employees of companies and next to using the right technologies the most crucial point is to have everyone on board on this journey.

It is evident that improving the health sector seems to be one of the main goals at PMC Services. What advancements do you hope to see in this field in the next few years?

We are expecting to see digitalization on the rise within the health care sector, including the acceptance and use of new digital applications using new technologies and thus improved handling of BigData. As a result of this, we are expecting an opportunity for new findings for research, patients, and doctors about diseases, health, therapies, and much more.

Furthermore, we are aiming for collaboration between participants – nationally and internationally – through digital technologies, while strengthening Germany's competitiveness in this sector.

New opportunities for collaboration between various players in the field of BioTech, MedTech, IT, and thus the opportunity for patients/doctors to gain new insights into diseases, health, therapies, and much more will be a result.

(Simplified) implementation of data protection strategies and data security strategies and other regulations (supported by new technologies) will be one of the advancements of digitalization.

On a personalized level, we can see advancements in medicine through digitalization and artificial intelligence for both diagnosis and therapy (drugs, vaccines).

As more companies adopt work-from-home policies, what cybersecurity threats do you see becoming a common occurrence?

The blurring of the boundaries between private and professional lives can also pose a threat to cybersecurity. In the home office, for example, it cannot be guaranteed that confidential documents are stored in accordance with their need for protection. The same applies to electronic devices or even worse when private end devices are used for business purposes. This creates a multitude of potential attack vectors, as the security of these devices and environments is not under the sovereignty of the employer and thus cannot be guaranteed. This requires a new approach to the topic of security in the modern home office working day, for example by sensitizing employees through awareness measures.

Which cybersecurity solutions do you see trending in 2022?

Generally speaking, all those cybersecurity solutions that pursue a comprehensive and automated approach will become even more important in the coming year. While in the past the focus was on many tools with a very specific field of application, the importance of solutions that offer an intelligent view of the big picture is steadily growing. Thus, the increasingly sophisticated attacks should be better recognized in the future and ideally tackled with automated countermeasures. Support from artificial intelligence is a major factor here.

Would you like to share what’s next for PMC Services?

One of our main goals is to use our expertise and potential for projects with a positive impact on society. Here we are looking at topics like climate change and health care.

We are also working on deeper collaboration within the different fields and want work to be way more interdisciplinary, e.g. KI x Cyber Security or BioTech projects finding solutions for our biggest challenges like climate change.

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