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  • In a world in which IT security is more important than ever, software patches are playing an increasingly important role as companies look to plug holes in their applications before the bad guys can exploit them. Naturally, one would assume that after decades of perfecting the practice, the patch release and deployment process would be relatively seamless by now. Not so fast, though: It turns out that companies are struggling to manage the speed and complexity of patch releases, and, to make matters worse, many of those responsible for patching can't distinguish this activity from remediating vulnerabilities. That's the top takeaway from a recent study, "Combating Patch Fatigue," conducted jointly by Dimension Research and security vendor Tripwire. "The relationship between patches and vulnerabilities is far more complex than most people think," said Tim Erlin, director of IT risk and security strategist for Tripwire. "There can be confusion between patches and upgrades. Or patches and upgrades may address different, but overlapping sets of vulnerabilities. As the complexity of patch management continues to evolve, it has become more difficult for enterprise patch management teams to achieve and maintain a fully patched state."  

  • Since the introduction of the personal computer decades ago, pundits and technophiles have tirelessly and endlessly predicted the arrival of the paperless office. Ironically, computer technology has mostly led to more paper, more ink and, in many cases, greater challenges involved in bridging the physical and virtual worlds. However, according to a new report from Xerox, "Digitization of Work," the business world is on the cusp of major change, and it's largely due to more mature and robust digital tools and cloud computing. The report examined the views of 600 technology decision-makers and influencers from North America and Western Europe on the following issues: how organizations are performing in adopting digital processes, what constitutes a leader and a laggard, and what's required to update and improve an enterprise digital transformation strategy and prepare it for the future. Unfortunately, the research found that many organizations aren't adequately prepared for this revolution in digital workflows. It advises organizations to look for ways to digitize and re-engineer processes through automation. Here are some of the key findings of the report.

  • IT organizations need to think through all the cultural implications of being able to leverage application programming interfaces to manage IT as a true service.

  • A growing number of organizations are taking advantage of application programming interfaces (APIs)—defined as sets of routines, protocols and tools for building software apps—to improve customer experiences while lowering IT costs, according to a recent survey from CA Technologies. The resulting report, "APIs and the Digital Enterprise: From Operational Efficiency to Digital Disruption," indicates that APIs are becoming essential for both mobile and Web-based app development. IT teams that excel at API implementation are able to define the value of APIs in business terms, while responding to security, management, monitoring and API lifecycle demands. However, most survey respondents indicate that they face challenges in obtaining funding and recruiting a critical mass of developers into an API program. Once these obstacles are overcome, tech leaders will be in a better position to effectively address their company's business goals and changing digital requirements. "In the early days of IT, [APIs] were primarily used to give programmers convenient access to libraries of prebuilt functions," according to the report. "As systems became more distributed, APIs found their place in more general application and data integration. They allowed remote capabilities and resources to be accessed easily across a network. … They also encouraged a more flexible and robust component-based approach to software development. Fast-forward to today's highly connected world of Web services, mobile apps, the Internet of things and open data, and the smart use of APIs—built and managed using up-to-date techniques—has become a critical enabler of digital transformation." More than 1,440 senior IT and business executives took part in the research, which was conducted by Freeform Dynamics.

  • The majority of business and IT leaders surveyed consider the enablement of a mobile workforce a top organizational priority. However, they added that they need better monitoring tools to understand and improve the end-user experience, according to research findings from Aternity. The company's "2016 Business Transformation and User Experience Trends Survey" reports that mobility and cloud management and IT convergence are all driving the need for increased visibility into employees' use of these technologies. Many company leaders believe that this enhanced visibility will enable them to boost worker productivity, among other positive outcomes. Yet, while most companies allow for at least some staffers to use their own devices for work—bring your own device (BYOD)—a significant share are not prepared to manage mobile devices and apps that are connected to enterprise networks. Clearly, there is urgency for tech teams to respond to these issues, especially as users introduce more personal data to systems that IT can't control. More than 200 C-level executives, as well as IT directors and managers, took part in the research. Additional research included in this slideshow was taken from findings published by organizations such as Gartner and Intel.

  • The data warehouse has outgrown its original purpose, but it can work with Hadoop in a unified effort to provide a road map for core BI and analytics systems.

  • Despite the efforts devoted to thwarting cyber-attacks, the threats keep growing, and many question whether conventional methods are enough to protect a company.

  • The vast majority of IT decision-makers admit that their users have suffered from a technology availability gap, according to a recent survey from Veeam Software. The "2016 Veeam Availability Report: How to Close a Widening Availability Gap" defines these gaps as gulfs between what users require and what IT can deliver. Most survey respondents said that, in light of the expanding international business environment, their users are requesting uninterrupted global access to IT services. To respond, tech leaders are increasing service-level requirements to minimize app downtime and guarantee access to data. However, downtime issues remain prevalent. "Organizations must stop the increase in the number and length of unplanned downtime incidents if they wish to avoid the risk of suffering a significant setback," according to the report. "With the increasing proportion of mission-critical workloads, the risks can only increase as it becomes more likely that downtime will have an impact upon these critical workloads. … For enterprises to continue to compete, attract the best talent and succeed, they must embrace innovative availability solutions. If they do not, the consequences could be significant." A total of 1,140 senior global IT decision-makers took part in the research.

  • Focusing on digital performance and using an application performance management system has enabled Stilnest to make exceptional customer experiences a priority.

  • IT does a good job overall of supplying the business with solutions and incorporating policies that support productivity, but there's still room for improvement, according to a recent survey from Samanage. The accompanying "State of Work Survey Results" report reveals that far too many workers spend significant portions of their day completing manual tasks that they feel should be automated. Only a slim margin believes that company-supplied applications are a prime contributor to workplace productivity. Despite previously reported misgivings about shadow IT, most of the professionals said they won't download an app without approval from the tech department or their manager. However, if IT fails to respond to their automation needs, these professionals may rethink their position. "Workers want change in the workplace," said Randy Drawas, chief marketing officer at Samanage. "IT policies and access to smarter technology not only allow for automation of non-essential tasks, but for individual improvement in productivity. … In order to create a better work life, organizations need to adopt modern technologies that allow them to streamline their internal operations and provide collaborative, easy-to-use technologies that enable employees to spend more time on meaningful and impactful tasks, and far less time on the repetitive and mundane." More than 2,930 U.S. employees took part in the research.

  • A notable share of organizations are investing in a broad range of collaborative technologies—a move that is essential for building a comprehensive digital transformation, according to a recent survey from Dimension Data. The accompanying "2016 Connected Enterprise Report" reveals that many of these tools—such as desktop video, instant messaging and Web conferencing—are migrating to the cloud. Meanwhile, demand is spiking for enterprise social software. With the vast majority of employees working at least part of their week away from their main office, companies will continue to make greater investments there. Don't assume, however, that IT will always get involved: Most line-of-business (LoB) units acquire at least some collaborative technologies independently, using their own budget. Such arrangements, of course, could prove problematic. LoBs "with an active role over IT decisions can … create complications and misunderstandings," according to the report. "[They] may think they have more technical expertise than they actually do, which could result in implementation and support problems that IT will need to solve." An estimated 900 global CIOs, IT directors, LoB executives and other technology and business professionals took part in the research.

  • Anticipating that innovative smart technologies will significantly increase companies' revenues over the next five years, the vast majority of organizations are adopting these solutions, according to a recent survey from Avanade. While its potential impact on ROI is astonishing, smart tech also promises to profoundly transform workplace cultures and staffing strategies, findings reveal. For example, a sizable share of companies will likely reorganize in the near future due to the growing presence of smart tech, and a significant number of jobs will have to be "repurposed." Speaking to the latter, with machines picking up mundane tasks that employees now perform, hirers will seek job candidates who can demonstrate superior problem-solving and critical/analytical thinking skills. "Smart machines clearly offer benefits to the enterprise," according to the report, "including the opportunity to increase revenues, optimize efficiencies and better serve their customers in a digital world. … With more smart machines working in the enterprise, people are freed up to concentrate on critical business issues and innovation; to decide on which course of action artificial intelligence should take in certain instances; or even to override decisions made by machines." An estimated 500 global C-level business unit leaders and IT decision-makers took part in the research.

  • Technologies by themselves are not playing the biggest role in supporting and growing the digital economy: New business models are playing the greatest role.