Security Is Top of Mind As CIOs Bring Digital Transformation Into New Year

The digital-centric and customer-centric market is expanding the role of CIOs. As the New Year looms, CIOs must be prepared to lead their company’s digital transformation while securing the safety and integrity of the data.

In its recently released predictions for 2017, Forrester says that the age of the customer presents an opp

ortunity for CIOs to get out “front and center” and “grab the brass ring” to lead the technology agenda. The research authority goes on to say that “There has not been a time when technology has had a more profound impact on customer experience and revenue performance.”

With their combined technical and business acumen, CIOs are well-positioned for the challenge. They’ve already been championing the organization to take full advantage of emerging trends and technologies.

The new challenge is to ensure that the security infrastructure is adaptive and agile enough to meet the demands of converging technologies such as the cloud, big data and the Internet of Things.

The year 2017 will be a progressive one for many CIOs — and security must be an enabler, not a distraction as new, exciting opportunities take shape.

Challenges Can Become Opportunities

Emerging technology trends will bring new pressures — from competing cloud initiatives to adding more values and services. While embracing their expanding business role, CIOs can’t lose track of ensuring that the cybersecurity infrastructure keeps pace with these changes.

As we head into the New Year, let’s take a look at some of the key challenges organizations will face that are converging into a perfect storm of opportunities for CIOs:

Improving the customer and brand experience: Customers are the fundamental drivers of the changes organizations will undertake. Not only are they more empowered, they expect experiences that capture them at a specific moment in time.

Massive quantities of data that are gathered and analyzed are unlocking the mysteries of customers’ behaviors and providing insights into their expectations. Successful CIOs must find ways to capture data residing on devices.

With this data at their fingertips and a better ability to anticipate customer needs, CIOs will be positioned to identify new revenue streams while improving the customer experience.

At the same time, there’s a legal responsibility to protect this data — and CIOs will play a critical role ensuring its protection not only for the sake of compliance, but also the reputation and integrity of the brand.

Bigger shift to the cloud: With more workloads moving into the cloud and the hybrid cloud becoming the new business model, CIOs will be able to shed the burdens of cloud IT management while getting back savings by outsourcing to vendors.

By investing those savings into the digital transformation, CIOs can leverage resources even as budgets remain flat. This will heighten the focus on third-party cloud vendors.

But at the end of the day, accountability for data privacy and integrity falls on the organization. Verification of third-party policy enforcement protocols and approaches to securing traffic across cloud and on-premise environments will be key.

Growing skill gap and diversity: While disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things put more demand on IT staff, cybersecurity needs to evolve in order to stay ahead of the new threats. Yet the cybersecurity industry is facing an estimated shortage of 1.5 million workers by 2020.

At the same time, women comprise only 10 percent of the information security workforce and 22 percent of technology jobs. Diversity brings strengths and innovation to an organization, and CIOs have a tremendous opportunity to lead the effort to bridge the diversity gap.