Top 3 Actions for CIOs to Take Now in a Recession Economy

Top 3 Actions for CIOs to Take Now in a Recession Economy - PDF

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Top 3 Actions for CIOs to Take Now in a Recession Economy

The current economy poses a triple threat for business: persistent high inflation; scarce expensive talent; and global supply constraints. However, there are 3 actions CIOs should take to play offense to emerge from a recession on top.


How to Manage Your Data for the Best Business Outcomes

Mid-Market Companies: Here’s How to Manage Your Data for the Best Business Outcomes

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Mid-Market Companies: Here’s How to Manage Your Data for the Best Business Outcomes

Data management is more than just moving data to a data lake or the cloudTo make data usable, you need data management. While some think of data management simply moving your data into a cloud or a data lake, it’s much more than this. True data management should focus on making data informative by correlating and integrating data from multiple disparate sources and systems across your organization, adding third-party sources and transactional data created in daily operations.

Data management should also include:

  • Cleansing the data to reduce errors
  • Normalizing it so that aggregated information may be used for reporting, analytics, and better decision-making
  • Governance for compliance with regulated industry and data privacy laws, and to ensure authorized access
  • An audit trail of changes made to the data and which systems are using it

Cost Concerns

It’s a big job, so it’s no surprise that enterprise-sized companies often have a financial advantage over the mid-market when it comes to data management. That’s because while enterprises likely have in-house teams with the necessary data management skillsets, it’s cost-prohibitive for most mid-market companies to invest in the technical talent needed for data engineering and management. Most mid-market companies do not have the data engineering expertise needed to use data management tools and technologies within their in-house IT team, or their IT team is too busy vigilantly keeping systems stable and secure—which should be IT’s primary and full-time focus.

Nearly half of IT professionals believe that data management is a significant barrier to digital transformation because digital processes and technologies such as the cloud are rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated. McKinsey & Company points out that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated these trends. This means successful data integration and management requires advanced data experts whose job is to stay current on quickly evolving data management technologies, which can be challenging for the mid-market to acquire. And even if you can find this talent, it often does not make financial sense for the mid-market to hire FTEs to obtain the skillsets needed for success. 

Heavy Investment

The average company spend on data management in 2021 was $250,000Nevertheless, finding an effective way to integrate data management is non-negotiable for organizations of any size. Our modern way of doing business includes multiple decentralized data sources and applications, often chosen by separate business units for what works best in their daily operations. This means that in order to get a complete picture of your business, data from multiple cloud sources, on premise sources and third party sources needs to be integrated to keep corporate information consistent across the organization and ensure that decision-making is based on an accurate complete picture of the business. Insights for Professionals found that in 2022, 62 percent of senior IT leaders and company executives surveyed plan to invest in data management, with three-quarters honing in on digital technology and data integration. Gartner reported that in 2021, each company’s average spend on data management tools was close to $250,000. Insights for Professionals results show that in 2022, 30% of IT experts intend to invest up to $500,000 on data management, with around one-quarter planning to spend even more.

Looking ahead to 2024, Gartner also reports that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 75 percent of new digital workloads. This statistic is particularly meaningful for mid-market companies, where end-to-end solutions become a lifeline to leverage cloud technology efficiencies and advancements without the need for hiring in-house expert skill sets. The right end-to-end solution for the mid-market pairs the right combination of tools and technologies with access to the expert talent needed to achieve value and success. The right end to end solution includes everything so that mid-market companies need not spend years trying to piece together a solution out of countless possible tools and technologies. Building it just takes too much time and resources away from the primary business of most mid-market companies—and the mid-market does not have time to wait for this and thrive against competitive pressure from large enterprises.

By 2024, Gartner predicts that three quarters of organizations will have deployed multiple data hubs to drive data and analytics, since companies should only make decisions based on a complete picture of their data. But for mid-market companies with affordability concerns, few solutions meet the need for data management technology that enables companywide data integration as well as third-party data.

Solutions for the Mid-Market

The Aunalytics Innovation Lab develops AI solutions for midsized financial institutionsSince mid-market firms that want to stay competitive can’t afford to fall behind enterprise-sized companies when it comes to data management, what can they do? Mid-market companies need technical experts to help build solutions, and research shows these solutions will be cloud-based. Insights for Professionals found that in 2022, close to two-thirds (63 percent) of senior IT leaders and company executives surveyed expect to invest in cloud infrastructure as a service. It makes sense over trying to maintain servers on-premise, recognizing that on-premise solutions have morphed into dinosaurs. According to Gartner, 85 percent of companies will have moved to a cloud-first approach by 2025.

Yet most hyper-scaler cloud service providers are priced for large enterprises, particularly to get the level of help that mid-market companies require. What’s more, many enterprise hyperscalers don’t offer data management, since their services focus only on migrating data to third-party cloud vendor platforms. Mid-market businesses need a hyperscaler capable of providing data management within a mid-market budget.

To ensure that important business decisions are not made based on inaccurate information, the mid-market needs an affordable data-cleansing solution.

Ideally, this means that data management would transform the data into decision-ready, analytics-ready status, including transactional data that sheds light on operations and customer behaviors. Gartner predicts that through 2024, half of organizations will adopt modern data quality solutions to better support digital business initiatives. To keep from falling behind, the mid-market must follow suit.

The Key to Consistency

In order to keep data consistent across the organization, another solution for the mid-market is to adopt master data management (MDM). MDM helps to ensure that if a customer’s contact information is updated through customer support, for example, then accounting and all other functional business units will receive the updated information. If data is kept in multiple siloes, operational efficiency decreases as employees spend time trying to track down data for reporting, analyzing, and determining which details are correct.

MDM technology has traditionally only been accessible to large enterprises due to its high cost, as most MDM platforms are a huge expense and implementation takes more than a year to achieve. These platforms typically also require highly skilled FTEs to use and maintain, which can be another cost consideration that rules out mid-market companies.

The answer to successful mid-market data management is to establish a side-by-side partnership with a data platform company to gain the benefits of working with experts and gain access to highly skilled technical resources to achieve true business value. By getting this help, you can devote your company’s time, resources, and innovation to your business and focus on what you do best.


4 Questions Mid-market Companies Should Ask Themselves About Data Protection

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4 Questions Mid-market Companies Should Ask Themselves About Data Protection

Woman works from home on laptopWhen the working world went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many never returned to the office. This created new data-security challenges for many businesses, with an increasing amount of sensitive data now being stowed in the cloud, and workers continuing to access company data from off-site locations.

How safe is cloud security, which now often relies on “zero trust” security principles based on a user’s location rather than user credentials? While some worry that cloud security is less reliable than on-premise security, that’s not actually the case, particularly for mid-market businesses. The fact is that your data is actually more secure in a remote data center managed by security experts than by your in-house IT team.

You may feel a false sense of security by having your IT department guard your servers in a closet — but this strategy is extremely risky when it comes to data protection. It’s not standard for mid-market IT departments to possess expert skills in cloud security and data security, which are needed to properly safeguard data. Many mid-market companies, particularly those not in highly regulated industries, do not currently have Security Operations Centers.

What’s more, it came to light at the end of 2021 that cyber-insurance renewals are becoming at times prohibitively expensive for all industries due to the exponential increase in cyber-attacks seen last year. The only way for mid-market companies in all industries to lower cyber-insurance premiums and ensure coverage is to implement enhanced data security measures.

Since data protection has become the most prevalent challenge in the cybersecurity market, it’s no surprise to see that according to Insights for Professionals, data protection is the main focus in 2022 for 85 percent of businesses surveyed; 37 percent plan to invest up to $500,000 on data protection in 2022, and 31 percent plan to invest more than $500,000 on data protection over the next 18 months. McKinsey also reports that 85 percent of midsize enterprises plan to boost their IT security spend until 2023.

All-Time High Cybercrime

Ransomware attacks increased over 105%Still, it would be misleading to imply that cloud security comes with no challenges. One of the biggest ongoing concerns are ransomware attacks, which increased over 105 percent in 2021. Cybercriminals continue to attain new levels of sophistication, with payment demands skyrocketing into tens of millions of dollars. According to McKinsey, the costs related to cybercrime will continue to ascend in the coming years, with a 15 percent yearly increase leading to cybercrime costs reaching $10.5 trillion a year in 2025. Looking ahead over the next decade, by 2031, Cybersecurity Ventures estimates ransomware costs alone should reach $265 billion.

McKinsey reports that there are multiple motivations for these attacks, headed by the fact that pandemic-weary companies have become ripe for security vulnerabilities. Also, as advancing digitization continues to drive connectivity and employees now log in from anywhere — including unsecured home networks — it makes life easier for ransomware hackers. The traditional smash and grab approach is now being replaced with bad actors “dwelling” undetected within victims’ environments, which gives cybercriminals the lay of the land in understanding where the highest value information resides before selling it to the highest bidder.

Another motivation for the continued attacks is their success: as more companies are forced to pay ransoms, hackers are further incentivized to build on their well-paid victories and continue innovating on this lucrative threat. Specific sectors are particularly at risk; keep in mind that in the U.S., supply-chain attacks rose 42 percent in Q1 of 2021, victimizing as many as 7 million people, while McKinsey shared that “security threats against industrial control systems and operational technology more than tripled in 2020.”  The war in Ukraine has taught us lessons about attacks compromising infrastructure, utilities and government that can debilitate nations and be weaponized.

Paying Up

These massive numbers can seem overwhelming, and can also make it difficult to tell how much a ransomware attack can affect an individual company. To give you some perspective, consider these stats:

  • NPR reported that Colonial Pipeline paid a $4.4 million ransom after the company shut down operations.
  • CNBC reported that global meat producer JBS paid ransomware hackers $11 million.
  • Insider reported that global insurance provider CNA Financial forked over a reported mind-blowing $40 million post-cyber-attack.
  • The Washington Post reported that a ransomware attack on U.S. software provider Kaseya targeted the firm’s remote-computer-management tool and endangered up to 2,000 companies globally.

These costs are also just the tip of the iceberg for the companies victimized by ransomware hackers. Additional costs of such an attack include everything from paying third parties (like legal, PR, and negotiation firms), not to mention the opportunity costs of having executives, staff, and teams disconnected from their day-to-day roles for weeks or months to deal with the attack’s aftermath. Perhaps the biggest unaccounted-for expense is the resulting lost revenue.

Ask These 4 Questions

What can mid-market companies do in the face of these threats to their data’s safety? They should focus on strategies that address ransomware prevention, preparation, response, and recovery. Since this is an ongoing journey, threats continue to evolve and improve — so it’s critical to keep up to date with new threats of increasing sophistication, while being ready with cybersecurity strategies and best practices. The goal is to continue to build cyber maturity that creates a resilient approach. You may not be able to stop attacks from occurring, but when they do, they won’t have the same impact if you’ve prepared in this way.

As a starting point, these are four questions that every mid-market company should ask itself to determine the organization’s readiness for data defense:

  1. When it comes to our people, do we have security focused IT leadership, trained cloud security experts, and data security experts?
  2. When it comes to our process, do we have defined IT security processes for proactively managing the security posture of our environments?
  3. When it comes to our technology, are we 100 percent confident in our security tech and our ability to actively monitor and detect threats around the clock?
  4. When it comes to our cloud architecture, are we confident that it allows for scalability without sacrificing security assurances?

Security components: people, process, technology, cloud

If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, it is time to get your house in order — you are at risk. To stay alive, compete, and drive value, mid-market companies should shift their focus to data analytics, data management, security, and compliance. This requires a cloud-based data center, a cloud-native data management platform, and cloud-native analytics. Ensuring the right infrastructure to maximize the capabilities of data centers — and how they are able to manage and store data — is crucial to effective mid-market digital transformation.


Lowering Cybersecurity Insurance Premiums

Lowering Cybersecurity Insurance Premiums with Managed Security Services - PDF

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Lowering Cybersecurity Insurance Premiums with Managed Security Services

Midmarket organizations face the threat of cyberattacks that put every organization at great risk. As a result, a greater number of IT professionals are turning to managed security services to lower cybersecurity insurance premiums.


How to Assess True Branch Profitability in Mid-Market Banking - PDF

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How to Assess True Branch Profitability in Mid-Market Banking

Branch profitability calculations are critically important for branch planning. Traditionally, the branch where a customer opens an account receives credit for that customer’s business. But it’s not always that simple. Learn how analyzing the right data can lead to more accurate results.


Data Scientists Need Usable Data

Data Scientists Need Usable Data

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Data Scientists Need Usable Data

It is a well-known industry problem that data scientists typically spend at least 80% of their time finding and prepping data instead of analyzing it. Learn how a data platform can help mitigate this issue.


Cloud providers are key to mid-market success

The Key to Data-Driven Success for Mid-market Companies Starts Here

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The Key to Data-Driven Success for Mid-Market Companies Starts Here

Partnering with an experienced cloud provider is a great strategy for mid-market companies to employ for their data center management needsWhat’s the #1 pain point for IT professionals? According to the business knowledge resource Insights for Professionals, it’s data center management. With this reality in mind, the foundation of digital transformation success for a data-driven business must begin at the data center level, where servers store your data, CPUs power your computations, and your systems are ideally kept stable, operational, and secure for all users, including those accessing company systems and data from multiple remote locations. Competitive mid-market companies rely on data center engineers who specialize in uptime by proactively preventing downtime, as well as connectivity, storage, security, and monitoring.

Effectively managing data to support accessibility and security requires consistent monitoring and up-to-date solutions. Yet the latest research shows that investing in on-premise infrastructure for data management, compliance, and analytics is too pricey for most mid-market companies — and from the view of many IT directors, on-premise solutions have already morphed into old relics. In 2022, Insights for Professionals reported that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of senior IT leaders and company executives aren’t planning to attempt to maintain servers on-premise. Instead, the majority of leaders surveyed plan to invest in cloud infrastructure as a service.

 

Moving into the Future

Cloud providers provide value to the mid-marketIn short, entire businesses are migrating to the cloud, not just the technology. The infinite growth of data, applications, connections, and workloads will only further exacerbate businesses’ ability to adapt to new lines of business applications and platforms, meet security and governance requirements, and seamlessly orchestrate and analyze data for business outcomes. As a result, a growing number of mid-market companies are recognizing the value of working with partners to transition storage, computing, backup, and hosting services to cloud-based platforms to leverage the scale and compute power they can provide.

Gartner reports that by 2025, the vast majority — 85 percent — of enterprises will have already shifted over to a cloud-first approach. How did this changing of the guard occur so quickly? According to Gartner, it can be traced in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated cloud adoption since 2020, ushering it in as the “de facto new normal.” Gartner analysts including Gregor Petri even go so far as to state that “enterprise architecture and technology leaders should reject any new product that does not follow ‘cloud first’ as a guiding principle.”

 

Mid-Market Essentials

Aunalytics Enterprise Cloud

There are solid reasons behind mid-market businesses moving their data out of on-premise environments, particularly due to the efficiencies obtained from cloud-based business applications in multi-cloud and hybrid environments. This brings us back to data center vendors, who must then be ready to absorb the responsibility and cost of infrastructure capital expenses and maintenance — and it looks like many are already prepared to do so. In 2022 alone, nearly one-third (32 percent) of those surveyed by Insights for Professionals were planning to invest heavily in cloud management, to the tune of $500,000, while nearly 30 percent plan to spend even more. The largest part of this cloud management investment is being channeled toward security, with enterprises intending to spend 82 percent of this budget on data protection.

This is not a passing trend and is expected to have long-term consequences for purchase decisions in mid-market companies. By 2023, as scalability and cohesive cloud ecosystems join the ranks among the top three buying considerations for IT, Gartner anticipates that cloud architects will become key stakeholders when choosing tools for analytics and business intelligence. Here’s another surprising statistic to show the direction we’re heading in: while hyper-scale cloud providers (hyper-scalers) delivered and managed less than 1 percent of installed edge computing platforms in 2020, Gartner predicts this number to balloon to 20 percent by the end of 2023.

 

Different Needs for Mid-Market Players

There’s a catch, though, about hyper-scalers: most are not built for the mid-market. Therefore, mid-market companies won’t be able to reap the maximum benefit from the ability of traditional hyper-scale cloud providers to bring global business solutions, outsourcing, and consulting capabilities that can help other types of organizations migrate to, adopt, and build cloud-native offerings. It’s true that traditional hyper-scalers excel in leveraging the expertise of their cloud professionals to consult for platform re-architecture, application development, data migration, and transitioning services from technology stacks into macro- and microservices hosted in a data center on-premise, private cloud, public cloud (or any multi-cloud or hybrid combination thereof) — but not generally for mid-market companies.

Let’s drill down into some specific problems for mid-market players around hyper-scale cloud providers:

  • It can be cost-prohibitive to obtain the level of help that most mid-market companies require, since most hyper-scalers are priced for large enterprises. Mid-market companies tend to need “white glove” services, which carry the highest price tag.
  • Greater needs. Enterprises are more likely to already have in-house teams with the necessary skillsets to work with traditional hyper-scalers, compared to mid-market businesses that often have higher needs for expert help.
  • No data analytics. While many enterprise hyper-scalers help migrate data to third-party cloud vendor platforms, their services end there, as they don’t offer data analytics.

Mid-market companies need technical experts to help build solutions on a mid-market budget — specifically, they require a hyper-scaler capable of providing an end-to-end solution focused on the mid-market sector. The goal in evaluating potential solutions providers should be for the cloud foundation to operate seamlessly with end-to-end data management and analytics solutions. With an end-to-end solution, mid-market businesses have the opportunity to obtain the results they desire without wasting time on a “Frankenstein” approach, assembling parts and pieces of multiple technologies and tools in an attempt to construct a reliable system that actually works. It’s only by going the end-to-end route that mid-market companies can receive the greater level of assistance they need on the technology front, as well as benefit from the robust data and analytics skillsets necessary to achieve meaningful business outcomes, without paying enterprise prices.


What Mid-Market Companies Need for Data-Driven Success and How to Get It

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What Mid-Market Companies Need for Data-Driven Success and How to Get It

Using your data as an asset to drive competitive business growth and achieve cost cutting operational efficiencies is imperative for a company to compete, survive, and thrive. Increasingly, data and analytics have become a primary driver of business strategy and the potential of data-driven business strategies is greater today than ever.