IBM recently hosted a virtual leadership summit, The Future of Hybrid Cloud, that explored the latest developments in hybrid cloud, data usage, business insights, and how to use and integrate those technologies to become a catalyst for innovation and digital transformation. Let’s consider some of the takeaways.
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Timeliness and Transparency
The IBM event consisted of panels discussing a range of issues, including the current state of hybrid cloud technologies, developments around security and privacy and how vendors have helped customers impacted by Covid-19 to address challenges stemming from the pandemic. The panels included representatives from IBM and Fast Company (the event’s co-host), as well as participants from SAP, Anthem, Bain, Moneo, FIFA and IDC.
The importance of data privacy, security and management were central in several of the discussions, and a subject IBM is particularly well-positioned to discuss in depth. The SVP of IBM Cloud is Howard Boville, who was CTO of Bank of America for nearly eight years before joining the company. The rock-solid data security and data privacy demanded by IBM customers, which include many of the world’s largest banks and insurers, are parts of the core strategy of IBM Cloud.
Many issues were highly germane to the core challenges of today’s enterprise IT. For example, the introduction to the panel on privacy and security noted, “Timeliness and transparency will be key to competing and managing risk and real time or near real time payments.” Why so? Because of the close collaboration required to initiate and complete modern financial transactions, with over 60 percent of U.S. banks using five or more correspondent banks to complete foreign currency exchanges.
Transparency is obviously important to banks for managing their risk exposure and is also key for regulators working to ensure that all parties in transactions correctly follow compliance rules and procedures. If companies’ systems and processes aren’t ready for this next generation of payment processes, they risk missing substantial business opportunities and exposing themselves to more aggressively modern and disruptive competitors.
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What Isn’t Measured Can’t Be Managed
Transparency of a different sort was noted in the panel on privacy and security. After a substantial exchange on emerging attack vectors, like fraudulent websites that claim to be linked to various forms of crypto and malware targeting Android and iOS mobile devices, Mary O’Brien, GM, IBM Security noted, “In November of last year, the FDIC, Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released requirements for the financial services industry to start reporting whenever a major incident or breach occurs.
“Historically, this was just not done…information isn’t being shared in terms of what was targeted, how the breach occurred, what the indicators of attack and compromise were and attribution in terms of who did it. If that information is shared regularly, companies and the public sector could be a lot more aware of and prepared for advanced attacks. We really need to know the shape of the problem to try to fix it right but what isn’t measured can’t be managed.”
O’Brien’s reference to the classic business advice – that what isn’t measured can’t be managed – seems especially profound to me. Security has long been one of the most important issues in business computing, while at the same time being given short shrift and little funding by senior executives. The complexity and lack of interoperability of many security solutions are partly to blame for this. However, the result is that enterprises and other organizations have become increasingly isolated while facing ever more sophisticated and well-funded cybercriminals and rogue state actors.
Is being victimized by cyberattacks or ransomware schemes embarrassing to executives and businesses? Absolutely. But reporting the details of those events could lead to broader, better measurement of security problems and improved management of responses to cyberattacks. That, in turn, should result in organizations more effectively protecting their own information, as well as the privacy of their customers and partners.
Data is What Matters
The panel “Delivering in a Post-Pandemic World” focused on how every aspect of business has been challenged and strained during the past 2+ years, and how automation and AI are fundamentally changing the way businesses work. While the panel participants largely focused on specific technologies and solutions, including AI, automation and business modernization, Ric Lewis, GM of IBM Systems, made an interesting statement near the end of the session:
“There was a time early on when there was almost a religious conversation. Is it all public cloud? Is it hybrid? Is it on-prem/private cloud? The whole market has matured now to [understanding that] data is what matters. That data is distributed. That there’s lot of data in public cloud. A lot of data on-prem. A lot of data at the edge. That we have to figure out how to manage that. How do we back it up? How do we make sure it’s secure? Most important, how do we get insights from that data? How do we get the most value from our data and use that to delight our customers?”
The IT industry has a well-deserved reputation for being entranced or distracted by shiny new things – for focusing attention on the latter half of its acronym (technology) instead of the former (information). However, successful businesspeople, organizations and executives understand that information and insights are the truest gold that companies can seek, mine and refine for themselves and the clients and partners that depend on them.
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IBM The Future of Hybrid Cloud event offered valuable details about the evolving state of modern business and businesses, how companies are both struggling and coping with the challenges of a pandemic-altered world, and the material benefits businesses are accruing through hybrid cloud innovations.
It also provided calls to action regarding some continuing problems, including crafting and implementing effective security strategies and solutions. Clearly, the industry must do some serious thinking about these issues.
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