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  • Earlier this year, the first four episodes from season 5 of HBO's popular show Game of Thrones were leaked online. Whether this was the result of an inside job or a hacker gaining inappropriate access remains a point of speculation. However, the event highlighted once again that media and entertainment companies are not immune to data breaches. In the corporate arena, employees who abuse access rights and release confidential information may lose their job, and depending on the nature of the leak, possibly face litigation. Of course, if a member of Stannis Baratheon's court in the world of Westeros abuses his or her position, the act could end very badly. In today's world, "To be able to maintain control over IT security, organizations need to have a real-time view into how sensitive information is being accessed and shared by employees," says Chris Sullivan, general manager of Intelligence/Analytics at identity and access management vendor Courion. "This requirement is essential because, much like knighthoods and titles, identity data is constantly changing. Living in the modern world, CISOs and IT managers have far more tools at their disposal to monitor rogue behavior from inside their organization than their Westeros counterparts had. In order to prevent similar betrayals, you need to ensure you have complete visibility of access rights and user privileges." Here are eight key IT lessons from the Game of Thrones:

  • While top executives and IT decision-makers acknowledge the business value of transitioning to a fully digital workplace, most admit that their organization is a long way from getting there, according to a recent survey from Avanade. A significant number of survey respondents, in fact, estimate that the transformation will amount to a four-year journey. Challenges have emerged due to a lack of tech investment and resources, and relatively few companies enable employees to seamlessly access software and apps outside of the office. But other causes are related to a lack of understanding about what a digital workplace actually is, as the vast majority of survey participants believe that businesses only need to take advantage of email and social media—rather than advanced collaboration and analytics solutions—to be considered digital. An authentically digital workplace "empowers employees—regardless of their location—to drive business advantage by using digital tools and intelligent context," according to the report. "Simply put, employees can access the information and resources they need anytime and from wherever they are, in order to do their jobs more effectively. It can even provide the intelligence to make relevant information 'find' the employee at the relevant moment. And the benefits are real." A total of 500 global C-level execs and IT decision-makers took part in the study, which was conducted by Wakefield Research.

  • The vast majority of IT professionals surveyed said their department has scrum practices in place, according to a recent survey from the Scrum Alliance. The accompanying "2015 State of Scrum Report" reveals that scrum teams primarily focus on better fulfilling customers' needs, while boosting innovation and satisfying budget, time and scope requirements. The average team size is seven people, and three out of five teams follow what are called two-week scrum "sprints." Over a year, these teams will work on an average of four agile projects, and the overall success rate of these projects is notably high. When scrum initiatives are aligned with a project management office, that success rate soars even higher. However, the research indicates that teams would benefit by being more empowered, especially with respect to having the authority to remove project impediments. Scrum is generally defined as an agile software development approach that emphasizes flexibility and collaboration. More than 4,450 business professionals—the vast majority in software development and other areas of IT—took part in the research.

  • Under pressure to gain a competitive advantage through disruptive IT, company leaders are expecting more input—and innovation—from their IT departments, according to a recent survey from the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network and Dimension Data. The resulting report, "Accelerating Business Transformation Through IT Innovation: Getting the Business Leader Take on the IT Change Mandate," states that many of these executives still struggle to understand the strategic implications of new and emerging technologies. The execs said that IT must improve its response to rapidly shifting business trends, while taking better advantage of digital tools to increase their organization's competitive advantage. Only a minority of these execs gave their tech teams high marks for innovating, and relatively few said their company does well as a whole in embracing modern technologies. "Most leaders are frustrated with their IT organization's sluggishness in providing [new tech]," according to the report. "Business leaders want to migrate as soon as possible to hybrid IT solutions that blend modernized data centers with cloud-enabled technologies. They want new business-changing applications and customer experiences delivered more rapidly. They want deeper business insights from their growing stores of data. And they want the IT group to be held more accountable for providing them." 250 CEOs, C-level execs and managers from around the world took part in the research.

  • A major communications firm turned to more robust identity management to simplify logins and boost security, revamping its systems and practices in the process.

  • Enterprise success increasingly revolves around applications. They are the hub where data, software code and connected technologies meet—and where business value is generated. But today's IT environments require a highly elastic and adaptable foundation in order to accommodate constantly changing conditions. Too often, the underlying elements are only loosely aligned, and that's a situation that leads to subpar performance and sometimes to outright failures. A new report from AppDynamics and Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), "Application Performance Monitoring (APM), 2015," takes an in-depth look at this topic. The organization, which polled IT professionals in the United States and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), found that many organizations are approaching application performance management (APM) tasks in a somewhat haphazard way. Among the problems: too many tools being used in organizations, slow response times when issues occur, a lack of flexibility with tools and processes, and too many siloed systems and processes. Here's a look at some of the key findings from the report.

  • Responding to an e-discovery request without proper counsel and expertise can have a major financial impact and delay proceedings. Here's how to avoid blunders.

  • A significant number of executives and managers believe that their organization lacks a clear and coherent digital strategy, according to a recent survey from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital. The resulting report, "Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation," identifies strategy as the key driver of success in the digital arena. It warns that conservative companies that are too risk-adverse are "unlikely to thrive—and they'll also lose talent, as employees across all age groups want to work for businesses committed to digital progress." The report also states that many companies are struggling to conceptualize how new digital technologies can impact their current business processes and models. Other barriers include competing priorities, security concerns and a lack of required tech skills. What's needed, the report concludes, is a cohesive enterprise approach to anticipate and respond to business-benefiting strategies and trends. "Those companies developing enterprise-level digital strategies are moving ahead, while those that aren't are struggling," says Doug Palmer, co-author of the report and a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. "Digitally maturing companies embrace innovation and collaboration and have leaders who understand both technology and its potential impact on the business." More than 4,800 global execs, managers and analysts took part in the research.

  • While the vast majority of IT organizations have either already adopted or are pursuing the cloud, comparatively few give themselves high grades when it comes to tracking cloud usage and costs, according to a recent survey from Cloud Cruiser. The resulting report, "Managing the Business of Cloud," indicates that a notable share of organizations have migrated a significant portion of services to the cloud. In doing so, they are hoping to achieve reduced costs, improved technology efficiencies and greater alignment of IT with business goals. However, without better tracking of cloud usage and costs, these organizations will limit their potential when it comes to IT forecasting and comparing costs among different delivery platforms and vendors. "Once an organization gets serious about cloud," says Deirdre Mahon, chief marketing officer at Cloud Cruiser, "they quickly hit a wall in terms of tracking usage and gaining full control on forecasts—essentially delivering services with efficiency and agility." Nearly 280 IT professionals took part in the research.

  • Part 2 of this cyber-security series reports on three additional themes that differentiate companies in terms of the effectiveness of their security strategies.  

  • There are significant differences between companies that have made major improvements to their security effectiveness and those that have not. (Part 1)