Business Technology Planning Guide – 2019 Edition

Business Technology Planning Guide – 2019 Edition

It’s nearly the end of the year! While many folks are considering winter vacations, and New Year’s Eve celebrations, business owners and managers have other things on their mind.

The end of the calendar year provides a time for reflection on the successes and failures of the previous 12 months and what might be able to be improved moving ahead.

In our experience working with CEO’s, CIO’s, and IT managers from businesses of all sizes there is always something that could use some attention when it comes to business technology. Upgrading technology around the office can provide huge boosts to productivity, help save money and even boost employee happiness.

You might be considering ways to fold technology improvements into your 2019 planning and that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing today. While we can’t tell the future, we certainly feel qualified to discuss some of the trends that might influence business technology in the coming years.

One thing is for certain in 2019, technology is going to continue to change the way we do business and allow organizations that are willing the opportunity to be more productive and more profitable than ever.

IoT Security Breaches Shall Rise

In the age where “wearable devices” are found in almost every workplace in the United States, there is a strong likelihood that IoT devices will be the cause of many more security events. Fitness bands, Internet-based security systems, even “smart” home appliances have all been rapidly adopted by consumers all over the world.

While this has created ample opportunities for new products to enter the market, the demand for low-cost options from the consumer means that producing devices with adequate security can quickly become an afterthought on the production line.

You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to realize the potential opportunity available to a bad actor when a highly popular product collecting and transferring valuable user data also has lax security. As we’ve seen with cases like Facebook and Yahoo, it will likely only take a couple of large-scale IoT-related breaches before a shift in the attitude about IoT security happens (hopefully).

While the end-user might not be able to protect themselves right now, they can be diligent about what type of information they input into IoT devices. There’s no reason your payment card information needs to be stored on a fitness device, or your social security number or work passwords located on your voice-activated home assistant.

The Robots Continue Their Takeover

Ok, you can relax – we’re not talking about any Terminator situation. But the days of considering artificial intelligence and machine learning to be “years away” are over. Interestingly, the need for faster, smarter machine learning may be spurned on by the continuation of major IoT-related data breaches. AI will be tasked with providing faster, more accurate data monitoring and advanced threat detection.

CTO’s and CIO’s will need to quickly increase their knowledge base around these concepts. Or perhaps, more importantly, be able to delegate critical tasks to team members, or vendors who do understand these concepts well.

The good news is that while AI and ML solutions will likely become the “new normal” within the next five years, turning a keen eye towards these technologies now will likely keep a business ahead of the competition for the next 12 months.

One area that will likely be transformed within a few years is the security implemented for SD-WAN-equipped businesses. SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide-area network. These types of networks are often used to connect networks over large geographic distances. They can be particularly helpful in cases where regional offices need access to a corporate network, for example. SD-WAN currently has a relatively low adoption rate, but we expect that to change in 2019 and beyond.

Some experts estimate that 25% of all users will manage their WAN with software by 2021.

Still, we see that with the implementation of SD-WAN, businesses are still dedicating minimal resources to securing this network. This obviously exposes a business to a high level of risk of being the victim of a security breach.

An article on Network Computing goes into more detail about why scrimping on security is particularly dangerous with an SD-WAN:

Network security is only as strong as its weakest link. Organizations that try to cut corners by acquiring low-budget SD-WAN solutions face the risk of limiting their capabilities to apply organizational security policies across their sites consistently, observed Steven Melahn, director of technology, innovation at the design and engineering firm Aricent.

SSL-encrypted traffic is now the majority of all Internet traffic… inconsistent enforcement weakens an organization's security posture. "If a malicious user gains unauthorized access to a branch, it becomes a stepping stone to move laterally, undetected, into the organization's main locations and expose them to attacks or data breaches," he noted.

Continuous Cloud Linkage

This is not the post where we blow your mind with the revelation that a cloud network is the future of doing business in 2019 and beyond. We’ve been flying that flag for years, but this may be the year when the emphasis connecting multiple flavors of cloud networks.

Depending on the size of the business, and the type of data being collected and shared the “all eggs in one basket” might not be the best approach. Having all resources on a public cloud, private cloud or data center might not be the best way to mitigate risk.

Multicloud” may become a phrase heard more often from the IT department in 2019 and in business technology meetings. The challenge for IT teams and cloud providers will be providing workloads with a seamless, but the secure transition for users accessing multiple clouds during day-to-day operations.

GDPR Implications Across the Pond

What do European data protection laws have to do with best practices in the United States? Potentially, quite a lot! The General Data Protection Regulation act went live back in the spring of 2018, but as of August, it’s reported that about 1/3 of UK-based companies are still not in compliance.

While this might not immediately impact US businesses, unless that business happens to be a news outlet, the implementation of GDPR will have an impact on informed customers. It’s already happening, customers want to know where companies stand on protecting their data and they may take their business to organizations that are transparent about what precautions are taken to ensure sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Companies that don’t try to protect customer data or aren’t transparent about how that data is being used are more prone to having the court of public opinion judge them negatively.

As-a-Service, At Your Service

IT budgets are a significant line-item for businesses, and there is a good reason to ensure that the company has adequate technology resources at their disposal. But we’re not oblivious to the face that technology infrastructure can be expensive to maintain properly.

A growing “as-a-Service” industry means that business owners have more access to a la carte services, particularly when it comes to IT support. This means that smart business owners can get the critical services they need without the overhead traditionally required for these positions.

Forbes put it like this:

This ITaaS allows for scalability, the latest technology (without the latest tech price tag), shorter procurement cycles, and increased agility. It only makes sense that companies are leaning this way and they will be more and more in 2019.

Start prepping for 2019 the right way – by scheduling a consultation with the Continuous team!