In case you survived 2014 without realizing that Technology is hurtling forward at warp speed, or you still do not accept that the Internet of Things is as absolute as the Tax Man, or that your every move will be monitored, recorded and even predicted by Big Data, consider the following facts and forecasts:
- 90% of worldwide data was created within the last 18 months and will increase 1,150% by 2020.
- 12 million RFID tags (used to capture data and track the movement of objects) had been sold by 2011. That number will be over 200 BILLION within the next 5 years as the Internet of Things takes off.
- By 2020, IT departments will be looking after 10 x more servers, 50 x more data and 75 x more files. Meanwhile, the number of IT administrators keeping track of all that data growth will increase by 150%.
- The value of the Hadoop market will soar from $2 billion in 2013 to $50 billion by 2020.
- Retailers are spending billions of dollars on Big Data in order to be able to target their advertisements to each individual’s wants, needs and likes (called Predictive Analytics). In essence, your prior buying behavior allows them to target your future purchases at just the right time (i.e., they know what you are going to want before you even know you want it).
The bottom line is that like it or not, this stuff is no longer some sci-fi fantasy/nightmare, but it is coming to a theater near you soon, as in VERY SOON.
“So, what’s it matter to me?”
Without question, the above forecasts predict massive Big Data growth. The only category boasting similar growth forecasts is Cyber-Security threats (aka data breaches). The average cost of a data breach is nearly $6M…SIX.MILLION.DOLLARS!!! This cost is comprised of charges for Public Relations campaigns, fines and penalties, legal fees, credit monitoring, breach notification mailings, forensics investigations, regulatory defense, restitution to customers, security audits/fixes and much more. While the hard dollar costs are staggering, the erosion of customer loyalty is an even bigger concern.
Sadly, most breaches do not make the headlines, as the impacted company is a “Mom and Pop” shop and many estimate that nearly 80% of small businesses experiencing a breach end up going out of business. You should care because unless you are working for a REALLY large company, you may well not survive a breach. If you do work for a really large company and the breach falls under your area of responsibility, again, you may well not survive a breach. Simply, breaches put companies out of business and workers out of jobs.
“Meanwhile, over in IT…..”
Not that anyone is INTENTIONALLY adding fuel to the fire, but…well, you know. IT has gotta do what IT has gotta do and in this world of ever-increasing connectedness IT has no choice but to try and juggle the needs of the business with the advances of Technology, all while being mindful of the breach threat and the constantly changing tactics the hacker community is deploying.
As mentioned earlier, the need for processing all of the info that Big Data provides takes more and more servers, and data network connections (this often means more network providers, thus, more invoices to review). Just what an already overworked and under-appreciated IT staff wants and needs, even more on their already too-full plates. While we know that IT staffs are going to have to increase substantially, upper management usually misunderstands these staff positions and budget for headcount growth is always given begrudgingly.
Simultaneously there is the Bring Your Own Device movement afoot, which further taxes IT by forcing them to begin monitoring multiple Wireless platforms and operating systems. Often this is complicated even more due to a lack of formal corporate policy being in place (regarding usage) and the waters are very murky (legally) as to what you can and cannot tell an employee they can/can’t do with their own device. This lack of governance leads to website visits and app downloads that may contain malware or other viruses. And to think that people wonder why IT always seems annoyed and suspicious!!
Lastly, the Internet of Things may well be the most dangerous of all the new tech-toys. Just imagine any and everything plugged into an electrical outlet as connected to the internet as well. It only takes one coffee pot or copier being infiltrated to allow a full-blown cyberattack that may result in millions (or even billions) of dollars in damages. The now famous Target stores attack all began by an unsecure connection for a single location’s Air Conditioning system.
“So just how are we supposed to fight this battle?”
While it is not an easy task, it also is not as daunting as it seems. The first step is accepting that this is more of a challenge than you care to handle internally, while focusing on your core competency and actually running your business! Hire a firm whose sole focus is helping firms navigate this tricky terrain. You will need to be sure that they are proficient in each of the following areas:
Completing an inventory of all of your current Telecom services: In order to manage the menagerie of connections you will have moving forward you must first catalogue all that you currently have in place. In addition to understanding what services you have, this step will allow your partner to assist with sourcing all new services needed in the future.
Completing a review of all Procurement and Usage Policies: Whether you need help in developing these from scratch or just refreshing Policies already in place, the landscape is changing at such a pace that old policies are dated and do not properly prepare you to deal with the present, much less the future.
Completing a Security Audit: THIS STEP NEEDS TO HAPPEN BY, LIKE, YESTERDAY!!! There is simply no excuse in today’s world for not having this done, and repeated, and repeated again. Collaborate with a firm who can find any existing points of vulnerability and secure them ASAP and who then will continue to monitor and correct future vulnerabilities. Failing to do so is gross negligence and should be a terminable offense. Adding new services and connections without first insuring that what you currently have is safe and secure is like putting fresh paint over rotten, molded wood. It may look good for now, but it will come back to haunt you in the days ahead.
Completing a Technology Review: In order to help you navigate the journey ahead, you need a firm who is capable of understanding what technology you are currently using; this insures that the additions you are going to be making are consistent, sound and safe, not to mention being sourced properly and procured at the most efficient pricing possible.
Any firm who is truly reputable and thorough not only CAN but will INSIST upon doing all of the above if you bring them in to do a Technology/Security Audit and Assessment. Many will do most of the work on a revenue share plan (meaning their fee is a percentage of actual hard dollar savings/refunds you receive) and they will NOT force you to change carriers. Not only can they do all these things but they can also help you develop a Contract Strategy with your vendors, administer an RFP, perform Contract Negotiations, insure you are getting best in class pricing on services and maintenance and help you with finding an after-market for asset disposal once your equipment has reached end-of-life status.
Do NOT try to do this on your own or you WILL REGRET IT. Focus on manufacturing, or designing, or building and delivering the product or service you are in business to do… your customers are counting on you to do this! Find a partner to insure your smooth, safe transition into Next Gen Technology… your customers are counting on you to do this as well!