CIO challenge: focus on digital security, infrastructure, digital customer support

By Arun Shankar   27 April, 2018
CIO challenge: focus on digital security, infrastructure, digital customer support

Hans Nipshagen, Regional Sales Leader, Akamai Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.

In an era of almost permanent connectivity and endless possibilities, CIOs become challenged to maximise business productivity and growth potential of the Internet. To successfully meet this challenge, the CIO needs to focus attention on three areas: digital security, infrastructure and digital customer support.

We are in a new age of information security. The traditional moats and castles model that businesses have relied on for decades — surrounding the castle of enterprise data, applications, and networks with the moat of a secure perimeter and firewalls — is becoming outdated and increasingly irrelevant.

Applications, data, and users have moved outside the firewall and into the cloud, and they are traversing the public Internet. They have jumped the moat and traditional security systems are largely left guarding an empty castle.

Digital attacks are getting more numerous, bigger in size and more advanced. According to statistics revealed by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulations Authority, there was a total of 561 cyberattacks against government, semi-government and private sector entities in the first half of 2017 alone.

98% of all organisations are victims of web application attacks annually. In addition, bots often with bad intentions, are responsible for half of the web traffic. Companies can no longer rely on security from their own network or local provider.

The UAE also tends to face higher cyber threats than its regional neighbors due to the high internet penetration, according to the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. With Internet penetration already exceeding 90% according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, as well as the UAE being a global leader in smartphone penetration, the nation has to take extra steps when it comes to cyber security.

Cloud security is therefore a prerequisite for tackling threats. The priority for the CIO is to ensure both the organisation’s security and its information, taking into account constantly increasing connectivity, growing data and GDPR.

Today, every business is a digital business, and the Internet is a critical part of the information infrastructure. It is the primary connector between cloud-based workloads and on-premise data and applications. It is the connector for millions or even billions of connected devices that compose the Internet of Things.

Transforming digital transformation requires an infrastructure that can be quickly adapted to changing circumstances. In addition, operational efficiency requires an infrastructure that is fast and effective. The task of the CIO is to provide a scalable and agile infrastructure.

In order to meet these conditions, companies choose massively for cloud-based services. The UAE recognises the importance of the development of a cloud computing strategy – one notable example is the country’s eGov strategy that facilitates eGovernment operations.

Enterprises have to be in the cloud for a variety of reasons:

  • One, to deliver fast and engaging digital experiences to customers. Their expectations for speed, reliability, and customisation of web and mobile experiences continue to escalate. That is why we say slow is the new down. In this digital economy, there is always an alternative, and impatient customers will quickly go elsewhere.
  • Two, to enable employee productivity. Today’s employees need to work from home, from the road, and from customer locations, and they may need access to their systems and applications from around the world and while in transit.
  • Three, to coordinate with business partners. It is a global digital community of suppliers, partners, and contractors — all of whom need secure, fast, and reliable access to portions of an enterprise’s applications and data.
  • Four, to drive digital business transformation. To digitise and accelerate business processes, enhance products and services with technology, launch new digital applications for customers, open new markets, and globalise their brands, enterprises have to leverage resources in the cloud.
  • However, this is not yet applicable to the corporate network. These are often based on closed network technologies. In order to meet the scalability and agility of the business, the corporate network must also be converted to the cloud.

Consumers, business partners and employees are increasingly demanding their digital experiences too be fast, without hesitations and personalised. They are also increasingly using mobile applications to make use of the organisation’s services. It is up to the CIO to ensure consistent digital customer support.

Only CIOs who take on these three levels – digital security, infrastructure and digital customer support – and dare to innovate, are organising their business for a successful future.

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