Another Year Coming to an End
As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve been checking in with some of our colleagues in the industry about how the year has gone and how they see 2017 shaping up. Three distinct areas have emerged as top of mind for many: security, sourcing, and staffing. As one might imagine, these areas can be sensitive and so the CIOs I spoke with asked to go off the record. Following is a summary of their comments.
It is no surprise that security tops the list of concerns for commercial real estate CIOs. It dominates discussions from politics to finance, diplomacy to consumer products. Many leaders have pivoted their priorities in 2016 to move security toward the top, and see it remaining a priority for 2017 and beyond. Projects include deploying Intrusion Protection Systems, tightening security policies and data loss prevention measures, and increasing team member awareness around social engineering techniques.
Additionally, virtually everyone is taking a closer look at the vulnerabilities of their building automation systems. This is of particular concern for many not only because of the number of systems and devices, but because these systems are sometimes deployed outside of the reach of corporate IT, so setting standards and protocols for deploying IB solutions has become paramount. There are several vulnerabilities that concern our colleagues: gateway access to corporate information systems, the possibility of facility sabotage, and devices being exploited to wage cyber-attacks on public systems as happened to infrastructure on the east coast earlier this year. Finally, because cyber security is a wicked problem requiring constant attention, having a platform for gauging vulnerability and risk and monitoring and measuring remediation is another focus for several industry leaders.
With virtually every element of technology available as a service, decisions about sourcing and moving to cloud and outsourced solutions has been a major activity for many in 2016. Moving on premises servers to IaaS/PaaS providers, migrating email to Office 365, and moving backup and data control to the cloud have been major initiatives for several leaders. For example, those that haven’t moved to Office 365 are either in the process of doing so or creating their plans to do so in 2017. Buy/Build decisions are being revisited as the variety, reliability, and interoperability of cloud solutions continues to increase. Many companies are dismantling their patch work of homemade applications for ERP solutions. Additionally, many are revisiting how they support their users and moving call centers, maintenance, and monitoring to an outsourced model.
Obviously, as many services can be more efficiently delivered through a cloud service or outsourced model, the question of internal staffing moves to the forefront. Some companies have used this as a cost cutting opportunity, having only an IT Director or skeleton crew on-site to manage vendor activities and maintain certain legacy systems. Others have taken the opportunity to redeploy their internal resources to add more value to the business as analysts, project managers, and process improvement facilitators. Those that have chosen this track have the challenge of retraining their teams to take on more customer and vendor facing as opposed to technology facing roles and develop more soft skills. This change in roles is affecting everyone from the CIO to the call center.
As companies attack and conquer the challenges in these three critical areas, their attention tends to turn toward mining more intelligence out of their data and revamping and optimizing business processes to leverage the new services they’re providing to their businesses.
These are not small challenges to tackle and so we are seeing that, by and large, many of the priorities of 2016 will carry over into 2017 and beyond.
[Reposted from Realcomm Advisory]