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Without an additional S for Security – the benefits of SMAC may not be realised

| 3rd April 2017 | No Comments

In this latest blog in a series deconstructing the Logicalis Global CIO study, Ruediger Rath, Head of Europe for Logicalis, explores SMACS and its disruptive powers in business.

SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is the idea that four technologies are driving business innovation in our new digitally defined world.

However, these game-changing technologies are for naught if the businesses they are meant to transform worry that adopting them puts their organisation at greater cyber risk. Adding an ‘S’ for security on the end is a simple addition grammatically, but a rising proportion of CIOs are taking a more layered and architectural approach to cyber security:

  • 70% are planning to invest in core network security
  • 47% intend to strengthen identity and access management
  • 38% will be investing in advanced malware protection
  • 34% will be expanding their endpoint protection portfolios.

Meanwhile, 36% and 40% respectively are planning to invest in security intelligence & analytics and user training & awareness – no doubt recognising that better technology needs to be combined with quicker detection, clearer responses and behaviour change.

We know from experience in other industries that when you switch digitise it is vital that you also put in place failsafe systems that provide an underlying protection mechanism. Re-designing any system usually means changing more than the specific system itself, and it is the associated or supporting systems and platforms that can dictate the difference between success and failure.

SMAC: The Fantastic, Interdependent Four

That may seem complex, but life is never that simple, and in fact, our fantastic four of SMAC are already highly dependent on each other. Social goes hand in hand with mobile, mobile applications can’t scale without the cloud and social is producing a wealth of new customer data for analytics.

The combination of social, mobile, analytics and cloud creates the competitive advantage companies need to survive in the digital era. So, as companies dial up their mobility or application strategy, they will also be turning up their use of cloud. Everything is and will be ever more interdependent, and every one of these game changers create their own security challenges individually and you can multiply this when they are interconnected together.

Fixed on cloud

The perceived importance of the cloud has increased the most since 2015, perhaps reflecting an escalated adoption of the cloud model for core IT systems such as CRM and email.

Two years ago, cloud investments levelled out, suggesting cloud use had reached business-as-usual status. We’re now in the midst of a new burst of adoption. The trial is over and cloud computing is moving into mission-critical territory.

But as cloud takes over so do new regulations in Europe on data privacy. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) comes into force in early 2018, placing a heavier burden of responsibility on cloud users and cloud operators.

Every organisation should be already deep into their adoption strategy for GDPR, and their use of software and infrastructure cloud services will be challenging many to ensure that not only is their data kept secure (private) but that they know what they are securing and that they have the rights to hold that data in the first place.

Surge in Social

The same growth can be said for social – sort of. It’s seen the second largest increase: from 37% in 2015 to 43% in 2016.

Given the low base line, you could argue that businesses still need to attribute more importance to technologies and services like collaboration software, social internet and community hubs – as a new generation of ‘digital natives’ enters the workforce.

But again, a company that shares more data is more open to cyber threats to that data. If you are old enough you will remember front page headlines of important documents being left in a brief case at the side of the road as the owner drove away. Now important documents can be shared with one or many with such ease that sharer beware at all times.

Analytics withdrawals

Cloud, mobile and social investments all increased in one year. Analytics, on the other hand dropped, (albeit marginally).

In our data-driven society, you’d think we’d be hooked on the stuff. But maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised that analytics spending was slowed slightly. Customers who understand the power of analytics and data create immediate success by finding low hanging fruit from relatively easy to access data sources. But after this initial release of data induced endorphins fades, the reality for many is that most data is difficult to classify, find, access and aggregate. The process of sorting out the data complexity problem them starts in earnest and we think that many are now taking data a lot more seriously than ever before but that is slowing the immediate adoption of analytics tools.

And of course – with recent data breaches costing money, reputation and executives their jobs, once again the challenges of monetising data soon brings our final S seriously into focus.

But when SMAC does all work….

Netflix is often cited as an example of a business that has successfully harnessed the power of SMAC. For a generation, watching their favourite programmes on an actual television is becoming something of a fading memory. Netflix grew because of the cloud, in the cloud, through the massive growth in mobile, and because of their ability to mine data for insights into their subscriber’s behaviour. Their service is tuned to a new world of on-demand, where you are, and what you want to watch, before you know it yourself.

What is vital though is recognising that as a digital business, whose growth without SMAC technologies would have been impossible, the underlying security of their business is paramount.

The October 21st 2016 DNS attack on the East Coast of the USA which brought down Netflix and many other digital platform providers services proved that however digitally proficient a company is, they are still vulnerable, and therefore as we continue to see the rise of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, we must never forget that final S. Because cool tech is only transformational tech if businesses, shareholders, employees and customers have faith in it.

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Ruediger Rath

About Ruediger Rath

Ruediger Rath is Head of Europe for Logicalis Group where he has responsibility for all subsidiaries in Europe (UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and the Channel Islands).

Before joining Logicalis in 2015, Ruediger was MD of Inforsacom Informations Systeme GmbH.

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