Quarterly Challenges Ahead for CIOs in 2014

Welcome to 2014! If your company is like most, you’ve now nailed down your budget for the year, have initial quarterly objectives defined and are working on identifying resources and responsibilities as you plan those projects. We’re looking ahead with you. As part of that, we’ve identified four challenges, one for each quarter, which we believe you’ll run up against as part of your drive to develop end-to-end IT services. Of course, as your partner, we will be ready to help you cope with each.

First Quarter

Security: Okay, this one’s “table stakes.” Every blog you’ll read addressing top-of-mind concerns for CIOs will include security. As an organization with high visibility into network traffic, we can confirm that DDoS attacks are waged every day, all around the globe.

What’s more disconcerting is how advanced persistent threats (APTs) are now expanding beyond stealing data at government installations (remember Stuxnet?) to where the money is. Cybersecurity is also still the top concern of CIOs in government. But the security breaches closer to home, for example Target, are demonstrating that whether it’s your intellectual property, credit card information or identity that’s compromised, there’s value in that data for hackers and significant risk for every enterprise. Target estimates that they’ve already suffered $61 million in consequence of the breach. There’s method in the madness of tackling this challenge first, since it will stretch over the entire calendar year and on indefinitely.

Second Quarter

Network virtualization: Virtualization isthe next logical step in the evolution of enterprise networking. The advantages we are seeing in cloud services — lower costs, accelerated innovation, agility and scalability — can also be realized when the functionality usually resident in hardware is enabled by software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). With virtual networks, the physical networking devices are simply responsible for forwarding packets, while the virtual network provides an intelligent abstraction that makes it easy to deploy and manage network services and underlying network resources. An intelligent network that is more easily managed and adapted results in a network that better supports virtualized environments.

Third Quarter

Analyzing unstructured data: Get ready for the next wave of Big Data. About 80% of the information created and used by an enterprise is unstructured data located in content. If you can mine enterprise emails, chat logs and blogs for information, you’ll be able to improve predictive analysis and make smarter business decisions. The unstructured data relevant to your company but outside your enterprise is where it gets interesting. A handful of companies are offering services that can help you apply natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning algorithms to all the blogs, tweets, IMs, news articles, whitepapers and every other bit of content on the Web to learn more about what your customers care about and how they feel about your company. If you haven’t yet Googled “Twitter Fire hose,” you probably soon will, because your CMO is again going to be looking to IT to help enrich marketing initiatives.

Fourth Quarter

Talent: We mentioned identifying resources earlier because as the role for IT in enterprise networking continually becomes more important, so do the people who have the skills to execute projects you’ve set for this year. It’s not always easy to hire or develop these competencies though, so CIOs will continue to consider talent an essential enabler of their major initiatives. And it’s not just about the money. It’s also about creating a workplace that fits the desires of both your veteran IT staff and the ones you will be hiring, millennials, who are expected to make up about 75% of the American workforce by 2025. If your IT shop is a great place to work, there’s a better chance you’ll be able to retain your top talent and add the best and brightest — along with their new approach to the technologies they grew up with.

There’s clearly a lot to consider for 2014. Most IT teams will need help from service provider partners they can trust to deliver needed expertise. Security is too complex and too big a battle to go it alone. Implementing emerging technologies requires leveraging the knowledge of subject matter experts outside of your organization. And you’ll need to fill in the gaps in skills that your team has by hiring or outsourcing.