Top Challenges for System Providers

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Managing hardware, storage, security, and budgets can be a headache for IT professionals. 

New cyber threats pop up regularly.  There are evolving concerns about privacy, compliance, and government regulations.  AI and data-intensive tools allow for better business intelligence, but also increase the complexity.  There’s no shortage of work to do or challenges to overcome.

Here are some of the top-of-mind concerns, CIOs, CISOs, and other IT professionals are dealing with in 2019.

Security Threats

It seems like not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a data breach.

Half a billion Facebook users found their data had been exposed in April on third-party servers.  An app on Georgia Institute of Technology’s system provided access to personal data of 1.3 million staff and students.  Breaches at Toyota, CanvaFirst American, and Quest affected nearly a billion people.  IT security is serious business.

From phishing email to social engineering to Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, cyber criminals are continually evolving their tactics.

Data Protection & Privacy

IT professionals are also fighting data leakage.  Whether it’s a lost device, a man-in-the-middle attack on a public Wi-Fi or careless acts by employees, data protection and privacy can be a challenge.  The increased use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) adds another level of complexity to protecting data. As more employees work remotely and mix company-owned and personal devices, the risk of data leakage increases.

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Evolving Compliance Regulations

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is having a broad impact on companies whether they do business in the EU or not.  If your data is accessible by EU residents, you may have to comply with the rules or face significant fines that can range all the way up to 4 percent of revenue. 

More than 200 companies are being investigated for violations and $62 million in fines have been levied so far.  The biggest was a $57 million dollar fine levied against Google.  Even the world’s largest companies are having issues making sure they are in compliance.  It’s not just the big guys, either. More than 80 of the fines have been handed out were to small and medium-sized businesses.

In addition to GDPR, there is the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) puts greater restrictions on how companies can collect and use data.

All of this is in addition to current compliance regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). These regulations govern how data is stored and mandate proactive steps for protection.

Product Development Cycles

Shrinking product development cycles have increased pressure on IT teams and DevOps teams.  With a faster-to-market mindset and continuous integration (CI) practices, this agile process means continuous development which never ends.  Products are constantly evolving, and updates being pushed out as quickly as possible.

IT Skills Gap

Finding qualified workers is becoming an issue for many industries as the unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to stay below 4 percent.  The IT world isn’t immune. In fact, Gartner suggests that be the end of this year, three-quarters of organizations will experience “visible business disruptions” due to skills gaps in IT, infrastructure, and operations.  In 2016, that number was just 20 percent.

The demand for IT professionals and specialists in areas like Business Intelligence (BI), Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and cloud-infrastructure far outweigh the supply chain.

It’s not just IT jobs, according to Michele Caminos, Managing VP at Gartner.  She said there’s been a 60 percent growth in technology skills required for non-IT roles as well.  This means more time recruiting and training a tech-savvy workforce.

Cloud-Based Services

More companies are doing business to the cloud than ever before.  This can bring significant business opportunities, but it can also be a challenge for legacy organizations.  Migrating legacy systems to the cloud and implementing cloud-based architecture are two of the biggest concerns for IT departments, according to a survey of 590 IT managers and executives.

Many companies are turning to experienced cloud computing companies and using IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to reduce costs, manage security, and increase scalability/flexibility.

Multi-cloud services and connections to multiple cloud-based vendors has created a different way to architect and design systems.

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The Urgency of Digital Transformation

Two-thirds of business leaders believe their own companies must significantly increase the pace of digital transformation to remain competitive. The risk of not evolving is great.  Consulting firm Innosight predicts about half of the S&P 500 companies will be replaced in the next decade. 

Things are changing quickly in a data-driven, tech-driven world.  In 2000, China did not have a single company crack the Top 20 Biggest tech companies list.  By 2018, nearly half (9) of the companies on the list were from China.  It’s not just what you would consider pure technology companies on the list either.  Uber and Netflix disrupted entire industries on a massive scale by integrating tech at its core.

That’s why spending on digital transformation is expected to be nearly $2 trillion in 2022.

Budgets And Revenue

With all this emphasis on better infrastructure and digital transformation, you would think it would be easier for CISOs and IT managers to get the dollars they need.  Unless the CEO understands the urgency, it’s still a challenge.

At the same time, there seems to be a bigger focus on exploiting data as a way to expand revenue opportunities.  IT professionals that never had to worry about finding new revenue streams are finding themselves in the middle of revenue-generating projects.

While all this is going on, the pressure to automate, innovate, and do things faster (and cheaper) continues.

The Challenges for System Providers

Legacy hardware and software don’t always play well in a world where the demands continue to evolve.  You can only get old machines to do so much. The ability for old software to play nice with multiple networks and platforms can be limiting.  This lack of foundational, structural, or semantic interoperability can be a significant hurdle.