IT Shaping the Future of Businesses
Bringing Transparency to Data
I believe this is the next challenge for business but a great opportunity for IT industry. As computing has become more ubiquitous and there will be the increasing possibility of data residing in many places, especially when IT is not engaged. This could result in business decisions that are made on different data, people working in silos, areas of inefficiency and cost inefficiencies. In a simpler world, we had similar problems in the industry 20 years ago when we referred to ‘islands of information in a sea of data’.
“The role of IT has to remain agile and be proactive with the business changes”
The role of IT has to remain agile and be proactive with these business changes. IT needs to become more strategic and influence the business leaders as to what the opportunity and risks are. IT is positioned really well to play this role since we support all applications, know each department and more importantly how everybody is connected especially in a matrix organization. The keys to success are the linkages between processes, data and departments. For optimal success, IT needs to outline a method of governance. This needs to include the overall architecture, tools and data classification.
One of the things that keep me up at night is maintaining the security of our network and data. Every company relies heavily on the IT organization to secure its confidential data and to minimize the risk of their data from being compromised. Over the past year, we have taken great strides in user training, mock phishing attempts and communication in this area. Most of our employee base now can effectively recognize an attempted phishing attempt. While you can’t completely eliminate the risk, the first step in minimizing it is to create recognition and awareness among your employee base. This year to increase awareness, we created a stop, think, protect campaign and upgraded our spam filter to allow even less spam into our end user’s electronics. Over 80 percent of the email that attempts to cross our network is not viable or solicited.
Incorporating Trends the Right Way
All of the recent developments and trends in technology (big data, social media, mobile, cloud, IOT) play an important role in IT strategy and business value. It is vital to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. Then you need to adapt and align the appropriate technologies and resources to these market technology trends. It is important to access risks of these trends and be cautious to not fall into the trap of doing the reverse and becoming a slave to the trends. New technology trends offer some incredible features, but you still need to assess these trends with your business and respective industry needs. If the technologies do not align with your strategic needs then you may need to reevaluate whether or not you are willing to allocate resources to mobilizing a trend that may not be beneficial to your business.
For example, mobile is a given in today’s business world and will continue to increase so it is important to continue resourcing appropriately in this area. However with things like the cloud, the concept is confusing for many users and the marketing strategies deployed by many companies don’t eliminate this ambiguity. I see this as an evolution of technology and will utilize both internal resources and external services (private/ public/hybrid) to mobilize this within our organization. This will vary for each organization and lifecycle management is also a dependent.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly growing trend and we are in the infancy stages. We do not know where the boundaries of this platform will extend. This is an area where IT needs to be involved and help influence in their organizations. This area will generate massive amounts of data so it has a very clear link to big data. Big data is a tremendous opportunity for IT to redefine and elevate its role.
As mentioned above I think with some of the recent evolving technologies and trends there is a great opportunity for IT. Somebody still has to provide the overall architecture of how these systems fit together and how we get at and make use of the data. Architecture is needed to make sure we get good returns on the investment and that data is managed appropriately. Governance is required to ensure that data is classified appropriately, we remain compliant and secure.
Changing IT Roles
IT holds various roles in our company and operates in a matrix fashion. While many of the IT staff report into information technology, our group operates cross-functionally with each business to provide optimal service and operate in conjunction with our business plans and strategies. In fact, not all of our CIO direct staff resides in our corporate office. Manufacturing is a major part of our operations and our senior director works closely with the infrastructure team to maintain the integrity of our systems and processes. Our project management office, manages company projects on a large and small scale, providing input, management and direction from the IT team. Other subgroups like information security, partner closely with our physical security, legal, communications and HR teams to maximize impact in a global setting as a strategic advisor within our global company. These various and tailored business strategies have elevated IT’s relationship within our business while remaining lean and efficient.
Security is going to become more important as data exponentially morphs and mobility increases. Full-time security teams will be required to align with demand. Depending on the type and size of organization, segregation of duties will require separate groups and reporting linage may vary. The key will be governance and having a process to make sure that we can move forward quickly as an organization while maintaining compliance standards and not compromising our security.
This is a great time to be joining our industry! Our marketplace and products are constantly evolving presenting challenges to businesses to keep up with these changes. IT carries incredible influence in shaping the future of the business. The role of the CIO will continue progressing and importance of the role will continue elevating over the next 10 years.