Focusing on Data, Access and People

Robert Walden, CIO, Epsilon | Thursday, 20 April 2017, 11:02 IST

1. Please elaborate on your take about how companies are managing through the disruption being caused by the rapidity of technology and organizational change.

The key is around agility and to be able to embrace and change new technologies as they present themselves. We focus on the technology but the real challenge is around the organizational impact o the change, whether it involves re-skilling existing staff to embrace new technologies from a training perspective or managing the necessary systems instructions that exist within the environment. So from a people’s viewpoint, it is imperative to ensure you have the right line of sight into how the technology changes are going to impact the jobs or affect the future of the individual.

2. Businesses adopt cloud technology on a large scale and place more workloads in the cloud, leading to lead to lack of expertise as the topmost challenge. How can one overcome this challenge?

Interestingly, we went through the same challenge. The conflict is between training existing employees and bringing in new skilled employees. I think you have to do both. Skilled employees help to compress your time to market but at the same time you have the valuable and resourceful talent that already exists. So there is the training aspect of it, then there is the hands-on and actually starting to work in there and then identify the work done and mapping out the future. It is a complex outline of those roles, responsibilities and the activities associated.

3. Brief us on how digital skills like mobile app development, analytics, and design thinking will become the new normal for software development. How do you anticipate this to unfold?

Without getting too tangential, from a technology standpoint, we are going to become more and more commoditized. Compute, storage, networks are going to become more like plumbing in the future and they are going to go down below the foundation. The real value add and differentiator is going to be companies that focus on the data, access and people. Ultimately, it is all going to boil down to data at the end of the day. Access is really the security that most people talk about; your security and user experience. Most people anticipate that once AI, automation, machine learning, etc. entirely take over, people will not be involved in the process. I believe in the complete opposite of such predictions. Talented and skilled employees are going to become more highly desired than they are now. Simultaneously, one needs to have an efficient approach to retain existing employees and ensure that they understand the direction of where the company is heading. So I envision these things to definitely continue to grow and evolve.

4. The complexity of data will continue to increase and less than ten percent of enterprises are presently equipped to manage these unstructured data sources efficiently. What are the measures being taken to increase this percentage?

The amount of data is increasing at an unfathomable pace and the ability to pursue that whether it is big data or small data or IoT is having an actual strategy around the data piece of it. Often, CIOs and technology leaders have IT strategies but not essentially see a data element in that strategy specifically stating how to manage the data. In essence, it is applying that knowledge and information you have within an environment regarding the data to achieve improved visibility into the data itself and managing that data.

5. Security analytics, threat intelligence, mobile security and cloud security are the potential areas in the cyber security market projected to grow rapidly. What are your views regarding this?

When I mentor someone and give them career advice, I tell them to pursue a career in anything that has to do with information security. As mentioned earlier; the three primary areas to focus on are data, access and people. Essentially, security is a part of access and how we control it. As technology leaders we should be focused on this as this area gets more challenging over time. The amount of large government organizations that are investing their resources to access data is rapidly increasing.

There is such a dearth of resources in the information security realm and it is just that getting good people is difficult. Thus opportunity for talent to enter into this field is created. I think it is going to be more of a challenge and an opportunity than we can imagine right now.

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