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CIOs as IT service brokers

Chee-Sing Chan (Computerworld Hong Kong) | Aug. 12, 2013
CEO of security firm SafeNet talks about today's security challenges and the changing role of the CIO.

Now some people may not find that worrying but auditors will pick up on this and bring it to attention. They will question where certain data is as they try to do inventories of servers and systems. This will challenge IT to find ways to locate data and protect the integrity of that data. This will only get more complex as environments evolve into hybrid clouds.

CWHK: On the issue of cloud security, how do you see businesses securing things like Dropbox and the emerging personal cloud?
DH: With these cloud apps and services like Dropbox, they are becoming like the dreaded USB drive where you initially have people banning them but users will still find ways to get around the policy. What we're trying to do is innovate and find new ways of providing these services securely.

We're working on developing our version of an enterprise-grade Dropbox to allow users to simply drag and drop their files and data into an encrypted cloud environment. This can be administered and managed by IT who would also hold the master key to the encrypted data. I'm sure there are CIOs looking to create their own versions of these services but there's really no need.

CWHK: As a CIO in your past career, what's your view of the current pressure on CIOs to shed the perception of being obstructions to new technology such as BYOD, consumerization, cloud?
DH: My motto as a CIO and my advice to CIOs today is you have to find a way to say "yes." It's easy for the immediate reaction to be "no" and just push back as soon as you see that first iPhone or iPad appear in the office. It's easy to assume and pray that these are just fads but eventually we have to figure a way to support this.

CWHK: Another pressure point for CIOs is the constant chatter about their changing role. Budgets are shifting to the CMO and other business leaders, do you see the CIO influence waning?
DH: I often talk of the glass ceiling for CIOs where the danger is failing to break through this perception of being just the technology guy that keeps the lights on. It's not easy to break through but I believe CIOs have to become what I and others term as a broker of IT services, whether these are services provided internally or from external providers.

As business users and leaders are empowered to make IT purchases there is a growing risk around the security and governance of these services.

While CIO budgets may decrease, their consultancy role will grow and this requires CIOs to have an open and trusted line of communication with the CEO and business leaders so that all IT purchases involve the CIO in the decision process. CIOs must go out educate the business on the critical issues and be the one that integrates and secures these services and systems. Their job is to integrate and deliver seamless IT services.


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