For business and IT leaders, each new year comes with new opportunities, new challenges, new risks and new goals. These necessitate dynamic innovation and a change in perspective.
Yet, many executives get so preoccupied with the day to day running of their departments or organizations that they fail to keep an eye on the issues emerging in the horizon. Before they know it, these issues are upon them by which time they are hard to deal with on such short notice.
A much better strategy is for leaders to have their ear to the ground in order to have ample time to align the business, processes and technology with these looming changes. Here’s a look at some of the most important issues for business and IT through 2019 and beyond.
1. New Generation Cybersecurity Threats
Each year, cyberattacks seem to grow in not just scale but also sophistication. As the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) helps cut business costs, improve efficiency and drive revenue growth, these same technologies will become increasingly potent tools in the hands of criminals.
We are staring at the onset of AI-powered cyberattacks that will target businesses, government agencies, critical infrastructure and even vendor management. Whereas we are still a way off from a time when AI-malware will be the norm, the sophistication and human-independent nature of an AI-driven attack means even at a small scale, they can be pretty difficult to contain.
CIOs and other tech executives will have to seek out security solutions that are cognizant of such next-gen malware and can detect and stop these.
2. Data Protection
A landmark development in the data protection and privacy space occurred in May 2018—the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. While the law applies to EU businesses, EU citizens and businesses that deal with EU customers, the size of the EU’s economy and its influence in international law means the GDPR is quickly becoming a de facto global standard.
It doesn’t help that EU regulators have demonstrated they aren’t afraid to slap corporations with enormous fines (see this and this, as well as Google being one of the first to be hit with a fine for GDPR violation). Ergo, business and IT leaders outside the EU have to err on the side of caution and plan for future GDPR-like regulations in the jurisdictions they operate. They should align their data protection policies, procedures and systems with GDPR.
3. Skills Gap
One would imagine that with decades of the Digital Age now behind us, businesses would have little trouble finding skilled IT professionals. That hasn’t been the case though, especially in the developed world as companies seem to struggle with finding skilled persons to fill open IT positions.
It’s however a bit of self-inflicted problem that isn’t intractable. Many corporations focus on college graduates from the leading universities which is a tiny talent pool. They can grow their options astronomically by simply spreading their net to graduates of less prominent colleges who are often just as qualified for the job.
They can also take advantage of the Internet by considering hiring overseas contractors for positions that can be executed via telecommute.
4. New Revenue Streams
For years now, business strategy seminars and management workshops have emphasized the need for companies to focus their time, money and personnel on the things they are best at. This saw countless organizations spin off, sell or discontinue the products and subsidiaries that were outside their core competence.
But as many business leaders are realizing, specialization isn’t always a good thing. And even when it is, it doesn’t mean the company should only sell one thing. A diversification of revenue streams protects the business from market shocks and risks if any one income source was suddenly disrupted or completely cut off.
The good thing is that if the company has a product that already has a great reputation, cross-selling should make launching a new product much easier than creating and selling a new brand from scratch.
5. Go Agile or Go Home
Agile methods have taken software project management by storm over the last decade or so. Agile delivers speed and efficiency that was hitherto unheard of with the traditional waterfall approach.
But while agile’s advantages are compelling, many organizations attempt at adopting the agile method have been half-hearted. This has led to a hybrid model that intends to draw on the best of both worlds but in fact leads to the worst. IT leaders must push for a clean break in 2019 and go full throttle into agile if that is the model that will best meet their project management expectations.
When it comes to business and technology, the mantra ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ doesn’t cut it. Holding onto outdated and uncompetitive tools in the wake of sweeping market changes can only lead to stagnation and a failure to realize an enterprise’ full potential. Don’t let your business become another cautionary take. Pay attention to these 2019 issues and make sure your company is ready to ride the wave.