SAP Data Space Panel: “In Five Years, We’ll Be Talking About Real Data”

Last month, about 90 women from the technology sector met at the SAP Data Space in Berlin for the panel “Data Security: I Have Nothing to Hide,” followed by a networking session.

The discussion on data security was organized by Women in Technology@SAP, together with the team from Global Digital Women. Those unable to attend in person followed the discussion live on Twitter with @SAP_Berlin, where 250 interested people watched.

While the headline of the SAP Data Space panel may have been “I have nothing to hide,” it is likely almost everyone has something they’d prefer to remain hidden. The subtitle to the panel tackled this: “Data integrity concerns all of us. Everyone has the responsibility to protect our data.”

Female Panel with IT Security Experts

SAP Data Space panel
Left to right: Birgit Hess, Alisha Andert, Tijen Onaran

“Panels can also look like this,” Katja Genz shared on Twitter, with a photo showing four women and one man on the podium. Four security experts from various specialized fields spoke about the landscape of threat, how it should be encountered, and what solution strategies already exist.

Birgit Hess, lead for Cloud Security Awareness at SAP, introduced the topic and went on participate in the discussion moderated by Tijen Onaran, CEO and founder of Global Digital Women. Elena Jolkver, consultant for Machine Learning and Business Analytics at xValue; Alisha Andert, head of Legal Innovation at Flightright; and René Bader, lead consultant at NTT Security, rounded out the discussion.

Birgit Hess on Data Security: Data Is Money

Hess has no illusions about data security. “Where there is money, there is crime. And data is money,” she said. Her key message: In the future, it will be an essential question whether the data can be trusted.

“In five years, we will no longer be talking about Big Data, but about ‘real data,’” Hess said. “The more we depend on data, the more we need to make sure that the data is accessible, secure, and accurate.”

“Deep fakes,” or forgeries of images and videos by means of artificial intelligence (AI), are disturbing and stirring examples. The most shocking example so far, “deep nudes,” or nude pictures faked by an app, shows “we have more to hide than we might think.”

Data integrity proves the authenticity of data and will therefore become a major security challenge in the future. Hess praised the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “Everyone criticizes it,” she said. “I think it’s great because it preserves the integrity of the data.”

The SAP cloud expert believes in a paradigm shift on how data will be processed in companies in the future: “Because once we can prove that the data is true, it becomes a business value.”

Her appeal: “Each individual is responsible for data security and has to take care to get real data.”

Integration of Data Security into Corporate Culture 

Alisha Andert from Flightright added to the discussion, sharing, “As a data-driven company you depend on data. People say ‘data privacy has nothing to do with me,’ but everyone has to think about it. The integration of data security into the corporate culture must be a starting point of the business.”

Data security must be included as an essential part of every development in every innovation process, right from the beginning. “It is even more important for startups to start security early to be able to protect themselves later,” Andert cautioned.

As a lawyer, Andert is not against regulations, but says they lag behind. So those responsible for company security issues must always be five steps ahead of the security challenges, as the regulations are often five steps behind.

“With AI, we will be able to protect our data more successfully, but hackers of course use the same technology, so it remains a neck-in-neck race,” said Elena Jolkver of xValue.

Women in IT: Networking at SAP Data Space

Just as important as the insights gained during the SAP Data Space panel discussion were the subsequent discussions during the buffet in the space’s Data Kitchen.

SAP Data Space panel networking
Left to right: Katrin Irmert, Julia Sitzenstuhl, Tijen Onaran, Lone Aggersbjerg, Birgit Hess

“There are a lot of high-performing women in the tech area, but they are not as visible,” Katrin Irmert, a fellow with the Women in Technology@SAP initiative and one of the organizers of the event, said. “We would like to change that.” At SAP around 30 percent of the approximate 96,000 employees are women.

Lone Aggersbjerg, vice president of Operations Development at SAP, launched the Women in Technology@SAP initiative in 2017 and has also taken over the sponsorship. “It is intended to be a cross-functional and cross-level platform to explore and promote the role of women in technology at SAP and to support networks between like-minded colleagues.”

In addition to external events like those in collaboration with Global Digital Women, the network regularly organizes internal events at SAP, such as presentations and panel discussions, both at company headquarters in Walldorf and at other locations in countries including India and Canada.

To help increase the visibility of women at SAP, an internal database on the company’s Technically Speaking website is available where interested employees can register as speakers.

About Global Digital Women

Global Digital Women offers women in the digital industry the opportunity for worldwide networking. Every year, the company presents the “Digital Female Leader Award” to women who have successfully asserted themselves in the digital economy. Aggersbjerg won the award in the Diversity category in 2018 for her commitment to women at SAP with the Women in Technology@SAP initiative and the speaker portal Technically Speaking.

The replay of the event streamed live by SAP is available on Twitter here.

This story originally appeared on the SAP Germany News Center.