Cybersecurity, Big Data on the Minds of Executives

On Feb. 10, the WSJ Journal Report CIO NETWORK section had a number of interesting interviews with executives after the previous week’s conference.

George F. Colony, chairman and chief executive of Forrester Research Inc., had this to share: “We’re in what we call ‘the Age of the Customer’, where the customer is now using technology to price precisely, to be able to critique your products precisely and publicly … and to be able to buy anywhere.”

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In his WSJ interview, Why Most Firms Better Get Moving, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, shared that the priority of CEOs is “… how to make your company a digital company.”

“It’s very simple. It’s getting the right data at the right time to the right device or right person so they can make the right decision.”

“You must reinvent yourself – as a CIO, as a CEO and your company. … We’ve changed more at Cisco over the last 12 months than at any time in our history.”

The Internet of Everything is exploding. “It’s going to change every country and every business. It’s also about fast innovation, which means fast IT, and then it’s about security.”

Security is a major concern, especially after the Sony hacking scandal. Executives see a number of ways to significantly improve their company’s information security, but most feel that their efforts are falling short and that they will continue to lose ground to cyber attackers. Some security experts are suggesting a tactical approach focused on limiting the damage rather than preventing attacks.  “If you’re a sufficiently interesting target, you will be breached,” said Richard Bejtlich, chief security strategist at FireEye, Inc.

Howard Schmidt, co-founder of Ridge-Schmidt Cyber LLC, suggested that cybersecurity be on the agenda of every board meeting. “If not, you’re going to wind up in a situation where you’re having an emergency board meeting to discuss something that has gone wrong.” He stressed the need for a plan and a cross-functional team with a structure in place, ready to respond.

Surprisingly, though, the biggest challenge listed by the surveyed IT and business leaders was “Determining how to get value from big data,” with 69 percent listing that as one of their organization’s top hurdles vs. 32 percent listing “Risk and governance issues.”

Information, especially from internet-connected devices, will continue to grow exponentially. The challenge is that most companies’ current software, statistical and data mining methodologies aren’t designed to handle it.

It is becoming more challenging than ever for many companies to decide what technologies are required to keep up with their customer’s demands.