From 3D printers that can replicate the intricate details of the human heart to wearable technology that tracks everything from blood pressure to incoming emails, 2015 shows great promise in becoming “Year One” of the new digital world order. But before we get too distracted, it’s worth paying attention to—and learning from—the past, which has consistently revealed where even the most established industry giants stumble: enterprise security.
Last year alone, the U.S. witnessed colossal data breaches in both the public and private sectors—from home improvement, to health care, to the entertainment industry—including the highly publicized Sony Pictures attack. While it may have been the latest wake-up call, the Sony Pictures scandal was by no means the most significant. A string of breaches, including Home Depot, Target, Goodwill Industries, Dairy Queen and JP Morgan—which single-handedly affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses—sent shockwaves throughout the world.
Arguably, the last decade has presented some of the greatest challenges and threats to advancing technology. Despite these setbacks and failures, enterprises will undoubtedly focus on the following enterprise security trends to drive business innovation and provide a strong basis for sustainability and growth in the year ahead.
If 2014 was the year of the hack, it’s logical to conclude that 2015 will be the year of fighting back. As diligently as an enterprise works to innovate groundbreaking advances in products and services, so too must they implement enterprise security solutions. Recent breaches, including leaks of users’ personal data and credentials from popular services like Dropbox and Apple iCloud have once again identified cybersecurity as a harrowing issue that requires immediate attention from both users and enterprises. Rather than focusing solely on prevention, however, today’s enterprises are now proactively beginning to use monitoring techniques for quick identification of and response to any kind of potential infiltration before it occurs. This trend, say analysts at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit—which takes a comprehensive look at the entire spectrum of IT security—will expand and evolve organizational roles to include a digital risk officer (DRO). The international market research firm points out that by 2017, one third of large enterprises will employ a DRO, whose task will be to define and understand the risks associated with any new digital innovation along with assessing every aspect of digital connectivity from the Internet of Things (IoT). As 2015 progresses, a company’s reliability will be determined by the intelligence of its network—addressing everything from tracing and tracking safety, security issues and business development to marketing and sales.
One thing is for certain: the cloud is here to stay, and as more organizations look to increase flexibility and productivity, the cloud market is expected to gain significant momentum in 2015. Gartner research indicates that roughly half of all large global enterprises will rely on external cloud computing services for at least one of their top ten revenue-generating processes. As enterprises begin rethinking traditional on-premise storage and its space limitations, they are discovering the benefits of open-ended cloud data services—which are still relatively inexpensive when factoring the additional value they bring to organizations by reducing time and manpower spent on proprietary systems and legacy issues.
As cloud computing continues to transform IT infrastructure, businesses that require flexibility and scalability are adopting hybrid solutions to enable streamlined processes. For less sensitive applications, enterprises may opt for the use of public clouds, while private clouds will be the strategy of choice for larger, confidential processing tasks. Hybrid clouds—quickly scalable to suit a company’s needs—offer the best of both worlds for organizations determined to stay ahead of the market, but data breaches with this technology are a legitimate concern and companies should be prepared to invest in heavy security to avoid setbacks. In fact, according to a paper from IDG Enterprise research titled Computerworld Forecast Study 2015, enterprises predict they will increase spending on security technologies by 46 percent and cloud computing by 42 percent this year. The study—conducted to determine IT priorities for 2015—also included predictions for increases in spending for business analytics (38 percent), storage solutions (36 percent) and wireless and mobile (35 percent).
SaaS Specialization and Energy Savings Solutions
Whether developing simplified and specialized applications or employing innovative techniques to reduce energy consumption, 2015 will also be the year for efficiency throughout the enterprise. With consumers demanding more applications that are relevant to particular needs, enterprises across all industries—from retail to manufacturing—will likely focus on developing more industry-specific applications that save time, money and improve security. Though it may initially come with a steep learning curve for users, companies will soon benefit from built-in userbases when developing additional features.
Smarter apps and storage, real-time remote collaboration as well as buildings equipped with automated systems that monitor and control air, heat, lighting and individual device usage will help enterprises cut carbon, reduce energy costs and improve the overall financial environment in 2015 and beyond. Interconnected processes through real-time, remote collaboration will also help enterprises save resources typically reserved for travel and reallocate them to other important endeavors such as big data analytics.
Though not a new trend, shadow IT is rapidly shifting the paradigm in enterprise procurement and technology usage. According to a recent Gartner survey, by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than the CIOs and an estimated 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations in 2015 will be managed outside the IT department’s budget. These findings elucidate the obvious fears shadow IT poses for the enterprise, playing into management’s fear of losing security control and bearing the brunt of responsibility for data breaches.
In a recent report from the Cloud Security Alliance, only 8 percent of today’s companies can track their organization’s shadow IT—a shockingly low awareness. Ironically, it may very well be shadow IT that provides enterprises with the opportunity to orchestrate a collaborative approach among disparate departments. This will strategically place technology and business together on the front lines to strengthen and secure IT processes and drive new business development.
The Future of Enterprise Security
If there is a silver lining to the current data security conundrum it is that we now have a greater awareness not only of the perils of the public cloud but also of the innovative possibilities that can stem from strategic and collaborative solutions to vulnerable enterprise security.
About the Author: Ashley Leonard is the president and CEO of Verismic Software—a global industry leader providing cloud-based IT management technology and green solutions—and a technology entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in enterprise software, sales, operational leadership and marketing, including nearly two decades as a successful senior corporate executive and providing critical leadership during high-growth stages of well-known technology industry pioneers.
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