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Act on technology to achieve competitive advantage

Jack Loo | May 22, 2013
Mobile, social, virtualisation, big data and cloud are past the exploration stage for CIOs

Lastly, embedding collaboration requires a cultural shift within the enterprise to change the way it looks at both its workers and its business processes.

IT must provide a flexible platform that will allow the business to integrate the collaboration channels it needs into the applications it uses. Because the requirements will differ within each line of business, one-size-fits-all collaboration tools will no longer suffice.

IT must partner with the business, taking a business-centric view and actively understanding the business processes. The technologies must work for the process, rather than the reverse. There may still be separate channels for search, knowledge management, and workflow, but IT should work to either minimise fragmented use within the enterprise or figure out how to deploy them as part of a highly flexible collaboration platform.

Software-Defined Networking: The challenge of SDN is managing a complex implementation and having an effective change management strategy. SDN is complex because of all that it touches. It requires tools and frameworks that are still developing.  There's a difference between virtualising your data centre and virtualising your entire network. In terms of the former, the benefits are usually too tangible and substantial to ignore.

Controlling the flow of data in today's digital business, where applications, systems, networks and communications channels are constantly changing, is arguably one of the hardest aspects of enterprise IT. Using SDN, enterprises can build an agile data centre network as the foundation of a dynamic enterprise. SDN enables IT to unleash the power of virtualisation and cloud services that can rapidly scale up or down depending on demand. These are compelling benefits for any enterprise because it makes it easier for them to handle change.

Although SDN ushers in the foundation for a highly dynamic enterprise, it's important to note that a high degree of dynamism can often be difficult for some businesses to accept. They don't want things dynamic-they want them stable. Change too often equates to something breaking, which is something nobody wants. The transition to SDN presents another classic example that sometimes the hardest challenge in technology is not changing the systems but changing the people that run them.

Active Defence: The more compelling question may be "what is the cost to a business that doesn't properly secure its data and systems?"  Technology risks are inherently business risks - the harm to intellectual capital when data is compromised, the operational risk when business is disrupted, the reputational hit when customer information is stolen.   The security emphasis is shifting from simply monitoring to understanding to acting.  Active defence technologies are emerging to help companies know their enemy, and prevent them from knowing you.

But the real advantage lies in successfully integrating solutions and approaches-calling for a holistic security architecture-and ensuring that the architecture remains flexible enough to deal with the continual flux in security requirements.  While this may require enterprise resources and budget, the cost and consequences of an inadequate security strategy could be far worse.


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