While there is still one bowl game left to be played and confetti to clean up, 2014 is now done and leaves a mixed IT legacy. After 2013’s issues with the NSA leaks, the Healthcare.gov mishaps, and the 40 million credit identities stolen from Target, 2014 did not turn out much better on security and availability. Home Depot, eBay, JPMC all had major incidents in the ‘year of the hacks‘. Add to that the celebrity photo leaks from the Apple hacks. Add to that of course the Sony uber-hack and their playstation service failure at Christmas. All in all, 2014 was quite a dismal year for IT security. On the positive side, we saw continued advances in smart technology, from phones to cars. Robots and drones are seeing major reductions in price while leapfrogging in usability and capability. So, technology’s potential seems brighter than ever, yet we still underachieve in our ability to prevent its mis-use. Now 2015 is upon us and I have compiled some IT resolutions that should contribute to greater success for IT shops in the coming year!
The first IT resolution is …. security, security, security. While corporate IT security has improved in the past several years, we are still well behind the hackers. The many breaches of 2014 demonstrate these shortcomings. Security is one of the fastest growing portions of IT (the number 2 focus item behind data analytics), but much more needs to be done though most of the crucial work is just basic, diligent execution of proper security practices. Many of the breaches took advantage of well-known vulnerabilities either at the company breached or one of its suppliers. For example, lack of current server patching was a frequent primary root cause on hacks in 2014. And given the major economic hits of the Sony and Target breaches, these events are no longer speed bumps but instead threaten a company’s reputation and viability. Make the case now to your senior business management to double down your information security investment and not show up on the 2015 list of hacks. Not sure where to start? Here’s a good checklist on security best practices that is still current and if fully applied would have prevented the majority of the public breaches in 2014.
Next is to explore and begin to leverage real-time decisioning. It’s more than big data — it is where you use all the information about the customer and trends to make the best decision for them (and your company) while they are transacting. It is taking the logic for ‘recommendations of what other people bought’ and applying data analytics to many kinds of business rules and choices. For example, use all the data and hidden patterns to better and more easily qualify a customer for a home loan — rather than asking them for a surfeit of documents and proofs. And offer them optimal pricing on the loan most suited for them — again determined by the data analytics. In the end, business policies will move from being almost static where changes occurs slowly, to where business policies are determined in real-time, by the data patterns. It is critical in almost every industry to understand and begin mastery of this technology.
Be on the front edge of the flash revolution in the enterprise. 2015 will be the year of flash. Already many IT shops are using hybrid flash disk technologies. With the many offerings on the market and 2nd generation releases by mainstream storage vendors like EMC, IT shops should look to leverage flash for their most performance-bound workloads. The performance improvements with flash can be remarkable. And the 90% savings on environmentals in your data center is icing on the cake. Flash, factoring in de-duplication, is comparable in cost to disk storage today. By late 2015, it could be significantly less.
If you haven’t already, go mobile, from the ground up. Mobile is the primary way most consumers interface with companies today. And with better phones and data networks, this will only increase. But don’t rely on a ‘mobilized’ version of your internet site. Make sure you tuning your customer interface for their mode of interaction. Nothing is more cumbersome to a consumer than trying to enter data from a phone into an internet form designed for PC. Yes, its doable, but nowhere near the experience you can deliver with a native app. Go mobile, go native.
Bring new talent into the IT labor force. By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be another 1.4 million IT jobs in the US — and not nearly enough computer science graduates to fill them. Companies big and small should be looking to hire both new graduates in the field AND encourage more to look to computers for their career. In the 1970s and 1980s, before there were formal computer science programs at universities, many outstanding computer scientists received their degrees in music, biology, languages, or teaching. We need another wave of converts for us to have the skilled teams required for the demands of the next decade. As IT leaders, let’s make sure we contribute to our field and help bring along the next generation.
What are your 2015 IT resolutions? Let us know what should be on the list!
Best, and have a great New Year!