As we kick off the new financial year, it’s always a good time to take stock of the IT priorities set to dominate the year ahead.
Based on discussions we’ve been having with our own clients across Australia, we’d thought we’d share the top five IT trends we’re seeing for 2017-18 FY. How does your organisation’s IT strategy stack up?
1. Security, security, security!
Last financial year rounded out with some major cyber security crises on a never-before-seen global scale, including WannaCry and Petya, which had devastating impacts on both public and private businesses across every continent.
Unfortunately, such threats aren’t going anywhere and we’re likely to see even more in the year ahead. So, beefing up your IT security should be an absolute top priority this year.
Check that your IT security strategy includes:
- Acknowledgment by management that cyber security is not just an IT matter – it is a wider business priority. Whilst IT tends to be the default ‘custodian’, it’s vitally important that the business itself recognises the true risk to their reputation, continuity and assets, should the worst occur.
- Strategic assessment of your business’ cybersecurity maturity posture using an appropriate framework such as National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) or ISO guidelines.
- Technical reviews including penetration testing.
- Bring the security consideration into every IT Project – will security be improved or weakened by the proposed change, and what needs compliance checks post-change?
- Best practice IT management procedures, such as regular patching and system updates.
- Strong system defences, including business grade antivirus, firewalls with threat management features, and data encryption.
- User awareness training to educate your users on safe behaviours and how to identify email scams. No matter how sophisticated your systems are, an unwitting user can still unintentionally expose your business to risk through clicking a malicious link or downloading an attachment. Risk aware staff are your best line of defence!
2. Harness the potency of Business Intelligence (BI)
As data stacks up all around us, finding how to actually analyse it for smarter business management and decision making is an opportunity too potent to pass up.
Business intelligence (BI) platforms such as Microsoft Power BI, now part as Office 365, are changing the way many organisations approach thinking about their business.
No longer needing a degree in data analytics, any manager can see ‘at a glance’ business trends, warning signs and important statistics to their hearts’ content via visual customised dashboards & live reports. Able to draw upon any private dataset (via your database, apps and other systems) together with any relevant public data (maps, reports and repositories), the sky is the limit. In fact one of our aged care clients, RSL LifeCare, has completely transformed their business with this platform – check out the case study here.
3. Connecting your various Cloud apps
As many businesses look toward software as a service for several of their line of business applications (whether it be sales, marketing, finance or HR), your once centralised dataset may have now become quite disparate across your providers’ clouds.
Huon IT are seeing a rise in the need for Cloud app integration, to pull various softwares as service together so that data integrity remains intact, and that interdepartmental workflows continue to run smoothly. Platforms such as Azure offer affordable solutions which require minimal development, compared to the notoriously expensive middlewares previous relied on.
4. Single sign on for all your applications
On the topic of having several apps for different parts of your business, the challenges don’t stop with data integrity. Different log ins for each app can be a big pain for users to remember, and an even bigger (& riskier) pain for IT to administer.
Maintaining control over applications is key to a safe, efficient business. Solutions such as Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory service (part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite) provides a powerful set of cloud-based identity and access management solutions. This allows employees to have a single username and password to a centralised access interface (rather than having separate log ins for each separate app), and IT can enable additional levels of validation including multi-factor authentication, conditional access policies, and monitor unusual or suspicious activity.
An added bonus is that when any user leaves, IT simply needs to shut down their single log in. There’s no risk of the user sharing or keeping credentials to separate applications.
5. The importance of the CIO role reigns supreme
As the line between business and IT continues to blur, technology expertise at the executive level is more critical than ever. No longer simply a cost centre hidden in the back room, technology has the ability to make or break a company’s success. Responding to market changes, keeping up with the competition and ensuring your tech-savvy customers are happy, relies on more than just stable IT systems… it needs true innovation, which is an ongoing process requiring both business acumen and deep technical experience.
Can’t afford a full-time CIO? Consider engaging the services of an external firm for ‘CIO as a Service’ advice, which is typically available on either fixed price or ad hoc basis’ for either short or longer term engagements. This provides access to high quality executive innovation at an affordable price point.
Cheers to successful year ahead!
Author: Damian Huon, CEO, Huon IT