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IT areas of focus in 2018 include outcome-based security services, data lakes

Rahul Singh, managing director at IT outsourcing advisory Pace Harmon, dissects the 2018 trends in three important IT areas for CIOs.

Rahul SinghRahul Singh

Editor's note: Rahul Singh, managing director at Pace Harmon, leads the advisory firm's IT Strategy and Transformation practice. He has more than 20 years' experience in driving IT strategy, with a focus on large enterprise IT transformation efforts. Prior to joining Pace Harmon, Singh was CTO at UnitedHealth Group, VP of IT for Cigna and held senior leadership roles at Deloitte.

In this SearchCIO tip, he outlines 2018 enterprise trends in three important IT areas for CIOs: managing the public cloud, improving cyber security and capitalizing on data.

Deeper cloud adoption calls for better governance strategies

Cloud adoption has been one of the top IT areas of interest for CIOs and the tech industry for a while, but now we're starting to see more enterprises moving their production workloads to the cloud. These companies have evolved beyond the initial cloud testing phase and are more comfortable shifting mission-critical applications into a cloud environment.

Also, when companies began exploring cloud infrastructure options, they were largely interested in the cost reduction benefits; however, many are starting to realize that the ability to scale their infrastructure seamlessly whenever needed -- on demand -- is equally as important. They're experiencing speed-to-market benefits with the ability to scale infrastructure and significantly reduce cycle times.

This deeper cloud adoption is driving a stronger need for cloud governance strategies. Companies may be more comfortable with cloud adoption, but if resources aren't managing cloud usage according to actual needs, the intended cost benefits can easily be cancelled out. Additionally, it is key for IT leaders to determine interdependencies of their application footprint to avoid possible network latency issues (if certain apps are on premises while others are in the cloud). We expect to see a stronger corporate focus on cloud processes and governance programs in 2018, which will help organizations make smarter decisions around expanding or contracting their cloud workloads for computing and storage, as well as determining a plan and support structure for overall cloud operations.

Cloud security is also one of the IT areas that's experiencing greater maturity. While heavily regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services have largely steered clear of public cloud previously due to security concerns, we're seeing that many cloud and managed services providers are now offering much more sophisticated and proven security and reporting capabilities than many on-premises options. As such, there will likely be a rise in cloud participation from these types of industries in 2018.

Cybersecurity must become more sophisticated, outcome-based

As more critical enterprise information shifts to online environments, and malware, viruses and ransomware become more prevalent corporate risks, we're seeing a heightened awareness around the need to develop advanced, detailed IT cybersecurity programs. Enterprise IT teams have traditionally focused on deploying security technology previously -- e.g., firewalls, desktop encryption, network intrusion detection -- but many of them are now incorporating specific business processes and maturity frameworks as well.

Overall, the cybersecurity mindset is shifting among IT decision-makers from a reactive mechanism into a more proactive approach. As a result, CIOs are interested in employing technology and analytics capabilities to be able to detect incidents in real time and respond immediately. We're also seeing interest in deploying business intelligence (BI) and big data strategies to automate security responses and policy changes and prevent incidents.

To reap the benefits of this intelligence-based security strategy, enterprises must do their due diligence to understand the capabilities of the tools in this IT area, as well as the partners that they choose to integrate them. This includes choosing security services providers that offer outcome-based delivery -- for example, committing to protect the enterprise against data loss and malware as opposed to committing to managing a certain volume of devices and/or incidents across the enterprise. And aside from evaluating the tools and partners, IT leaders need to ensure that their own business processes are being implemented effectively through automation.

Data lakes and other big data tools go mainstream

Enterprises commonly operate with their data in siloes, with various departments creating and analyzing different versions of data sets based on their focus area or particular use cases. However, this prevents the company from having an end-to-end view of its data assets to derive deeper insights for real-time decision support. As the amount of data being generated grows exponentially with the addition of more sources like internet of things sensors, enterprises are realizing the need to use and monetize their data holistically. In 2018, we expect to see more organizations using big data and data lakes to build out their BI efforts.

Companies have realized that there is a lot of data within their organizations that they haven't been using meaningfully or that has only been examined by internal data analysts for isolated purposes. As such, we're seeing increased interest in implementing tools to tap into the power of that data and interconnect it across the enterprise. Improvements in this IT area include adopting big data technologies that enable self-service reporting capabilities for business users, accelerating speed to value from the data by eliminating the need to prestage data for reporting purposes. This approach will help organizations become a fully connected enterprise.

Additionally, as many organizations are pursuing digital transformation initiatives, business users need to be able to tap a consistent set of data across the enterprise. With this approach, they can run business analytics more rapidly and get real-time decision support as a result. They can then also identify data analytics patterns and apply machine learning capabilities to automate processes and generate continuous improvements. If collaborating with IT outsourcing partners, companies may be able to tap into providers' industry-specific, prebuilt data scenarios to automate business processes more effectively.

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