How to future-proof your business in a rapidly evolving technological landscape


PART TWO:

REACH FOR THE CLOUD

Cloud computing is no longer just a buzzword. It is the disruptive delivery model of hosted software and ICT services, delivered via flexible and on-demand business models. IT organisations in the UK are accelerating the move to cloud according to Computer Weekly’s latest cloud computing survey. When asked about IT managers’ priorities in data centre, storage and software plans for 2018, cloud came out on top in all categories, highlighting a clear change of direction.

Pressure to go public

As public cloud grows in popularity, it is also putting pressure on IT teams to justify on-premises systems and infrastructure. Twice as many organisations listed server virtualisation as a priority for 2018 compared to 2017.

This suggests IT managers are having to overhaul their internal operations to prove they can deliver the same levels of efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness as they’re seeing from their public cloud usage.

In business applications spending, the vast majority of IT managers buying or upgrading core software are implementing cloud-based versions. For example, 53% of those surveyed declared that they are investing in customer relationship management (CRM) systems this year, while 45% of respondents are looking at software-as-aservice (SaaS) CRM. Only a very small number declared plans to stay on-premises.

It’s no surprise then, that mobile device management is another top technology investment, in the context of the cloud – along with mobile cloud security. This is all further evidence that the future of corporate IT is mobile users connecting to cloud-based systems. And for SMEs looking to venture into the cloud for the first time, having the expertise of a trusted supplier is key.

BIGGER DATA; BIGGER RISK

Big data refers to a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from large volumes of unique data sources, by enabling high velocity capture, storage, discovery and analytics.

Whilst big data itself is a universally acknowledged trend, attacks on big data are perhaps less widely acknowledged or anticipated. However, it is imperative that any business adopting a big data strategy is resilient against this new breed of data theft in order to uphold their data integrity and avoid long-term, reputational damage.

SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY

Cyber security and ransomwear is big business for businesses… and arguably another trend that keeps CIOs awake at night. With attack techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated, prolific and costly (such as the large scale WannaCry attack that decimated the UK’s NHS and organisations around the world), businesses of all sizes are taking extra precautions when it comes to preventing malware attacks: ensuring optimal data protection and rock solid business continuity plans.

Although SMEs and tech suppliers should expect to see a significant rise in cyber security regulation, the dynamic and fast-moving nature of cyber security can often outpace regulation, which can be too slow and clumsy to be of any benefit. Therefore, getting ahead of the security game is all too crucial, ensuring security practices are properly implemented and compliant - reducing the threat from our agile and highly motivated cyber-enemies.

A global shortage of cyber security skills in the workplace will also hit in 2018, impacting the industry’s employment market for the foreseeable future. SMEs that don’t employ these skills in-house – or work with a trusted skilled supplier– could quickly become hot hacking targets. As companies realise their current information security strategies are not stringent enough, demand for expertise will quickly rise - along with the need for training and advice on issues of security, cyber-crime and GDPR.

BE SOCIAL; ONLINE

With the number of social media users estimated to grow to 3 billion by 2021, it’s now a necessity for businesses and brands to be online. The percentage of individuals who use social media has risen from 5% to 69% since 2005 – and this trend shows no sign of slowing. With figures like this, it is unsurprising that the use of social media technologies within a business environment has become the norm. It is an affordable and flexible marketing strategy, accessible to even the smallest business, supported by the advances in mobile and cloud technology.

Social media – when used correctly – can generate sales leads, develop customer loyalty and increase brand awareness. In addition to marketing, social media can also facilitate communication and collaboration; knowledge sharing; customer service; and market research.

However social business is not without its risks, and in 2018 and beyond businesses need to consider compliance and employee training or guidelines as part of their wider social strategy.

Read Part Three now...


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