Technology Leaders Are Sticking To Their 2016 Financial Plans While Battling The Surge Of Ransomware And Keeping An Eye On Blockchain Technology

Executive Summary

These are among the key findings from Fortium Partners’ inaugural survey Technology Pulse[PDF], a brief but long-term study of the essential financial, risk and innovation trends among the world’s foremost technology leaders.

The Technology Pulse includes a brief series of information-dense questions to C-level technology strategists who deliver answers according to the current state of their business. The three key categories - Financial, Risk and Innovation - have the greatest long-term impact on the success of the application and management of technology in business.

The Technology Pulse provides an inside look at the biggest trends in technology for today’s businesses and corporate leaders globally can gain valuable insights into the behaviors and drivers of CIO and CTO behavior in the existing and near-term market.

Financial

Most technology leaders are sticking to their 2016 financial plans with over 50 percent of respondents reporting they are “On Plan” with each of their expense, capital and personnel plans for the year. The remaining executives report an even mix of “Spending more than Plan" and “Spending less than Plan.” Interestingly, those who are spending ahead of plan in general are more prominent in the operating and capital expense categories than in Personnel.

Our analysis of two macro trends in technology management suggest that technology strategies involving cloud computing, SaaS and managed services for infrastructure and security are leading to higher expense and lower personnel spending.

Additionally, the popular labor arbitrage strategies of offshore development and business process outsourcing (BPO) are seeing intense competition from newer near-shore, mixed-shore, highly-efficient onshore development as well as robotic process automation (RPA) to achieve the same or more without an increase in personnel spending.

Risk

Just over half of anonymous respondents reported a significant, business-impacting event in the past 90 days. While there is a mix of web application attacks, denial of service attacks, and more general production outage events at the lower end of the frequency pattern, a surprising 40 percent of businesses experiencing an incident went head-to-head with ransomware – an up-and-comer in the dark world of malware threat vectors.

The response to ransomware from some CIOs and CISOs blurs the line between innovative and cavalier, with one CISO reportedly requesting permission from corporate legal to pay ransoms within certain parameters to minimize the impact and further risk to his organization. He explains, “By the time the legal process runs its course it’s too late. We’ve lost valuable employee productivity as well as insight into the attacker’s approach that assists with combating future threats”.

“If you’re a target, you will be breached. You’re attacked most every day.”

— Joel Rakow, Fortium Partners Cybersecurity Expert

Joel Rakow, Fortium Partner, lawyer and cybersecurity expert who has advised the Secret Service and the FBI, recently addressed the rise of ransomware on a popularpodcast (at 12:21 and 19:03). Joel insists, “if you’re a target, you will be breached. You’re attacked almost every day.”

So what is the answer to combating the largest vector of malware compromises that has seen a five-fold increase from 2015 to 2016? Rakow offers a not-too-encouraging solution: “The cynical side of security is you don’t have to be perfect, you only have to be better than others. You make your defense a little bit stronger than other people and the bad guys will go for the easier opportunities.”

The bottom line? A combination of good threat intelligence, perimeter security, monitored traffic and backups is the best defense. Fortium recommends a managed security service provider (MSSP) that provides outsourced monitoring and management of security devices and systems to reduce the number of operational security personnel an enterprise needs to hire, train, and retain to maintain an acceptable security posture.

Innovation

In this first edition of Technology Pulse, leaders reveal the technologies on their personal radars that they are using, watching or abandoning in their quest to keep their companies at the forefront of innovation. Topping the list of technologies just coming onto the radar at the “Watching” position is the FinTech darling Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and software-defined infrastructure (Network and Data-Center). Of those, software-defined infrastructure and IoT are the technologies making the strongest push to production while Blockchain garners the most press.

Larry Sikon, Fortium Partner and financial services expert has been tracking and educating others on the promise of blockchain to the financial services sector. In his seriesof blog posts on the Fortium blog, Larry explains the basics of blockchain in Blockchain Technology and Distributed Ledgers, the impact of blockchain on and offof Wall Street, the gold rush for blockchain-related startups in Blockchain Startups & Financial Services, and most recently how technology leaders in smaller companies can take advantage of blockchain in IT Directors Unchained.

Interestingly, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) ranks high in multiple categories suggesting that while some are just beginning to deploy DaaS to production, others are beginning to sunset their DaaS strategies. Notable additions to the innovation category provided by technology leaders that we’ll be tracking include cognitive computing, natural language processing (NLP) and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR).

About Fortium Partners And Technology Pulse

Fortium’s Technology Pulse report monitors technology trends impacting businesses now and in the future. We combine the insights of thousands of world-class technology leaders with analysis and commentary from its growing roster of partners – CIOs and CTOs on the forefront of delivering Technology Leadership as a Service to clients of all sizes and industries. For more information, visit FortiumPartners.com.

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