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Australia to focus on cyber security and IT outcomes in 2018

Besides transforming themselves through AI and automation, businesses down under will keep a closer eye on cyber security and the outcomes of their technology investments

Australian CIOs will have to transform their organisations, work with their marketing counterparts to develop new products, and harness artificial intelligence (AI) to improve business processes in 2018, according to Forrester.

Specifically, they will have to source for and retain talent that is necessary for driving innovation, said Frederic Giron, research director at Forrester.

“How do you transform the experience of the employee and the workforce so that it is conducive to innovation – how do you get employees committed and engaged?”

Giron said CIOs and chief marketing officers would also have to work together to map out the consumer journey, and use data and insights to shape the development of new products and services.

To achieve mass personalisation of products and services and to deliver exceptional customer experiences, CIOs would also tap AI capabilities and virtual reality in what he described as “the empowered machine”.

Giron predicted that one in 10 purchasing decisions in 2018 would be influenced by AI, with more operational decisions supported by AI.

“We are moving from complex rule-based systems, which were about robotic process automation, to more of managing exceptions,” he said.

The continuing demand for online platforms and products would also sharpen thinking around trust, said Giron, with consumers becoming less convinced by “black box” providers of online services that had been cavalier in protecting personal data, as was the case with the Equifax and Uber hacks of 2017.

An antidote, Giron said, could be found in blockchain or distributed ledger-based systems “where the trust is distributed and there is more transparency around data”.

Blockchain is gaining traction as evidenced by the Australian Stock Exchange’s decision at the end of 2017 to push ahead with a distributed ledger-based replacement for its Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (Chess) settlement platform, with public consultation scheduled for March 2018.

In terms of broader technology platforms, Giron said the cloud would continue to dominate and be increasingly recognised as an innovation platform. “If you are not using it, you are becoming, de facto, a laggard,” he said.

Focused on outcomes

CIOs, however, should be wary about focusing too much on technology. Les Williamson, vice-president of Citrix for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), said that in 2018, organisations in Australia and New Zealand will be more focused on the outcomes of their technology initiatives.

A Gartner survey of more than 3,000 global CIOs already reveals this shift, as the role of the CIO transitions from being a delivery executive to a business executive. Their concentration on engineering and cost control is also being reshaped as they look to exploit data and drive revenue growth.

Williamson said that meant that suppliers of analytics software would need to demonstrate how the software could be used to automate or improve decision making. Cloud suppliers would also have to demonstrate how they can improve the way people do their jobs through their tools and services.

He predicted that spending on information and communications technology (ICT) would slightly exceed growth in GDP in 2018 as Australian companies seek clear outcomes from their investments.

Priority on cyber security

One area where spending will certainly rise is cyber security, a high-priority area driven by the impending mandatory data breach notification law.

“The very fact that the government is creating legislation is a message about managing the seriousness of managing cyber exposure,” said Bede Hackney, ANZ country manager at Tenable, adding that cyber crime has had a larger impact than the drug trade for more than a decade.

However, Hackney said many Australian organisations were still largely unprepared for the new reporting regime. “Many of the mid to large companies do not even have a complete view of their assets, let alone a view of the risk in those assets,” he said.

This was a growing problem as the attack surface of enterprises continues to increase with the rise of mobile computing, cloud, containerisation and internet of things (IoT) deployments.

Hackney added that there was a “vast chasm between what companies are doing and what needs to be protected” with companies still trying to protect their perimeters.

He argued for a more holistic approach to cyber hygiene, recommending companies to adopt the Australian Signals Directorate’s “essential eight” approach to better protection, but he warned: “I think when we see the first few breaches reported is when people will take this seriously.”

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will also affect organisations in ANZ that store and manage the personal information of European residents – even if they do not operate in the European Union.

Security company LogRhythm’s 2018 prediction should sharpen the focus for most firms. It expects a new global record to be set for data breach settlements in 2018, above the $115m levied against Anthem for a 2015 breach that compromised the personal data of almost 79 million people.

“For enterprises, the main concern for security is securing and protecting the organisation’s valuable assets. This has mostly been achieved this year through visibility of what has been stopped and responsiveness to new or emerging threats,” said Simon Howe, LogRhythm’s ANZ sales director.

“In 2018, I believe that there will be good news in that security will continue to be discussed outside of IT departments and more often than not at the board level, which will only increase its priority in investment for the benefit of consumers, shareholders and employees.”

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