Risk Management, Social NetworkingBy Samuel Greengard Print
In 2009, these technologies can provide companies with a competitive advantage in what is expected to be a very tough year on the bottom lines of IT budgets, IT management and IT vendors. However, even in an economic downturn those companies that invest, develop and capitalize on technologies that save money while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business have an opportunity to grab significant market and mind share with new and existing customers.
5. Security, Risk and Compliance
In the constantly evolving areas of security, risk and compliance, there are no simple solutions. With each passing day, threats and challenges become more complex, and compliance becomes more of a concern.
Smart IT executives are beginning to recognize that having a tangle of systems and processes spells trouble. “Regulations are pushing organizations to change and be more in control of their systems and business processes,” says Anthony Noble, vice president of IT Audit, at Viacom in New York City.
He and others in the IT industry believe that automation is essential—particularly on the risk and security compliance side of things. This includes everything from intrusion detection to authentication; from patch management to analytics used for security. A growing number of organizations are turning to self-encrypting hard drives, two-factor authentication (to replace simple passwords) and security suites that provide central control panels. This trend will continue into 2009, as continuous-monitoring tools become standard in the enterprise.
Compliance tools are also becoming more powerful. “We now have the ability to see the big picture but monitor at the transactional level,” Noble says. “It is possible to keep a continuous eye on all the transactions and events taking place within a system and inside an organization.”
Savvy IT managers are now looking for ways to automate and embed these processes across the value chain, including on mobile devices. That’s significant, says David Ferris, principal at San Francisco-based Ferris Research, because mobile devices “are frequently hard to monitor and control from an IT perspective.”
Surprisingly, a key challenge is one of perception, not technology. “Companies must get over the idea that security and compliance systems are simply insurance against problems, and that they don’t improve the business in any measurable way,” says Viacom’s Noble.
6. Social Networking
LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and a spate of similar sites have transformed social networking from a buzzword into a business buzz saw. Companies as diverse as American Express, Del Monte and Cisco Systems have unleashed powerful social networking tools, including wikis, blogs, discussion groups, collaborative filtering, and even applets and games. The concept is allowing these companies to tap into the power of human connections and knowledge in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.
In reality, social networking is nothing new. E-mail, chat and instant messaging are more basic forms of the concept. But, as Web 2.0 tools have emerged and other software has matured, “Social networking has become a way for organizations to leverage enterprise knowledge, customer-based business intelligence and more,” says Ralph Barber, CTO of Holland & Knight, a Tampa, Fla., law firm that uses Contact Networks software to analyze and manage internal knowledge and find relationships that benefit the company.
To be sure, the concept continues to evolve. Organizations are increasingly looking to next-generation social networking tools to conduct sophisticated business intelligence and analytics. In many cases, they are mining data and looking for trends and patterns, such as which salesperson has the relationships to pull off a deal or which customers seem to have the biggest influence with others online. Some are building LinkedIn- and Facebook-type applications to keep people in touch and ratchet up knowledge management initiatives.
“The goal is to do things faster, better and more profit-ably,” Barber says. “That’s where the social networking light is shining. The tools are improving to the point where it’s possible to put information and resources to work in new ways and build greater value.”
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