Resolutions

IT teams need to get serious about end-user security, prepare for new privacy regulations and brace for a tsunami of IoT data.

To prosper in 2019, IT staff and departments need to automate mundane tasks, use data more wisely and move more quickly if they want to drive innovation within their organizations. Tech teams need to embrace multi-cloud architecture, improve their collaboration and get real about cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI).

Amidst a slew of dark economic forecasts, streamlining and efficiency are the order of the day.

Here are 16 resolutions that all IT teams should adopt in 2019.

 

Resolution No. 1: Streamline your software delivery process
While Apple’s shock profit warning may not be a sign of imminent economic doom, there’s a 54 percent chance of the economy worsening by 2021, according to BlackRock. The next recession is not a question of if, but when.

In a recent interview with CIO, the co-founder and CTO of Datical, Robert Reeves, warned that IT departments need to develop faster, more flexible software delivery processes that “can turn on a dime”. Datical, the makers of database release automation solutions, helps companies map their value streams for software delivery so that when the recession hits, their processes will already be streamlined.

Resolution No. 2: Pilot artificial intelligence technologies
According to the CIO of CGS, John Samuel, most IT teams merely pay lip service to AI technologies. Samuel urges staff and teams to implement machine learning (ML) solutions to real business problems and leverage near-term value in 2019. AI-based tech should be “adopted enterprise-wide,” said Samuel in a recent interview with CIO.

Resolution No. 3: Start instilling basic cybersecurity hygiene practices
According to founder and president of exIT technologies, Jeff Bittner, IT departments need to be “doing a better job” of containing malicious code and getting serious about end-user security in 2019. Bittner pointed to a recent survey by PolicyPak Software which found that almost 60 percent of firms still assign local admin rights to ordinary users, one of the weakest links in any enterprise’s security chain. While no security tool will eliminate every attack, Bittner signaled that many companies need to bolster their cybersecurity practices if they want to remain secure in 2019.

Resolution No. 4: Use management software to drive innovation
According to Thomas Phelps, VP of corporate strategy and CIO at Laserfiche, IT departments should drive innovation by championing change in 2019. Phelps suggests using enterprise content management software to help reduce costs, increase revenue and incorporate new or challenging ideas.

Resolution No. 5: Start planning your IoT strategy now
Wendy Pfeiffer, the CIO of cloud infrastructure company Nutanix, believes that many IT teams need to start planning their IoT strategy now if they want to “capture data that will give them a competitive edge” over the coming year. Pfeiffer points out that teams without a sufficiently prepared IoT platform will struggle to increase their enterprise’s productivity.

Resolution No. 6: Prepare your edge computing strategy
According to Cisco, edge devices will produce nearly 850 zettabytes of data annually by 2021, over 40 times the amount of information generated by the world’s data centers today. Pfeiffer warns that firms without a well-planned edge computing strategy will be unable to optimize delivery methods or gain competitive advantages. In 2019, IT teams should focus on developing the right edge computing approach to be successful in tomorrow’s IoT world.

Resolution No. 7: Prepare for new privacy regulations
If you thought that GDPR compliance was bad, you may want to stop reading now. In a recent interview with CIO, Josh Mayfield, the director of endpoint security firm Absolute, predicted that the U.S. will likely introduce a universal framework of controls, such as NIST, over the next 12 months. The new data privacy rule will likely “look like a modified HIPAA,” he said. A surge of new privacy regs is likely coming, so IT teams should brace for impact.

Resolution No. 8: Build your network
According to Karen Wickre, author of Taking the Work Out of Networking, gone are the days where IT managers could just hang out in the data center. A top priority for 2019 is building interpersonal relationships. Tech leaders must “build a dynamic network of connections,” says Wickre. This helps them create their own “personal brain trust.” Even if it’s just grabbing a quick coffee and having a 20-minute chat, you’ll have a clearer idea of others’ roles and how your work impacts what they do.

Resolution No. 9: Embrace multiple cloud providers
Many larger enterprises limit the number of cloud storage providers they use to avoid cloud sprawl. However, Brian Johnson, CEO of DivvyCloud, says that could be a mistake. Multiple cloud storage providers allow different teams within an organization to pick the best cloud for each application, depending on their capabilities and requirements. For example, data scientists working with the TensorFlow SDK will likely get the most out of Google Cloud Platform, while .net dev teams will likely find Microsoft’s Asure better aligned to their needs. Johnson recommends using a tagging strategy that helps employees work efficiently with multiple cloud storage suppliers.

Resolution No. 10: Pull insights from your data
Tasso Argyros, CEO of ActionIQ, advises that while many firms have already amassed huge quantities of customer data, much of it remains siloed, unstructured and otherwise off-limits. Argyros advises IT teams to focus on pulling insights from their data in 2019. You’ll make better business decisions if you are “effectively leveraging data,” he says.

Resolution No. 11: Consider diversity when hiring
Sandra Toms, VP of the RSA Conference, recommends that firms look beyond race and gender when hiring new candidates. Considering areas such as religion, sexual orientation and education can “open up a broader field of candidates and increase productivity,” she says.

Resolution No. 12: Identify problems no one has acknowledged yet
To be a leader, you need to understand how IT provides value to your company. Alvaka Networks’ Oli Thordarson suggests using your strategic thinking skills to “solve the problems your organization already knows it has.” If you can come up with a solution, you’ll help your company make money.

Resolution No. 13: Focus on incremental improvements and reducing manual processes
Greenphire CTO David Wallace says that putting your dev team on a diet could be your best move in 2019. His company makes financial technology for clinical trials and has a team dedicated to developing features or cutting out manual processes. If a project doesn’t deliver value to your clients for nine months, don’t take it on, advises Wallace. If you can provide continuous feedback, you’ll arrive at a “solution that better meets your client’s needs,” he says.

Resolution No. 14: Re-engineer inefficient business processes
Graeme Provan, global director of business automation at Genesys, cautions that while some mundane jobs can be automated or migrated to the cloud, many inefficient business processes “may need to be re-engineered”. Before rushing to automate tasks, companies should look at ways of addressing the inefficiency first, he suggested.

Resolution No. 15: Automate maintenance and support features…
Anurag Agrawal, CEO and analyst with Techaisle, says that almost 80 percent of staff time in small and midsize companies is spent doing the grunt work such as maintenance and support. "CIOs should think about outsourcing support as much as they can,” he says. This frees up your time and resources to focus on innovation, mitigating risk and improving relations with suppliers and customers.

Resolution No. 16: …but don’t let innovation compromise long-term strategic plans
You should always keep informed and abreast of the ways that your competitors are innovating, but don’t let this compromise your long-term plans. This is a fairly common pitfall, according to Chief Customer’s CXO, Ingrid Lindberg, who calls it the “shiny, bouncy ball syndrome”. Instead of becoming fixated on a certain technology or solution, prioritize your multi-year roadmap and stabilization exercises.

Closing thoughts
These resolutions should help every IT team become more streamlined and efficient in 2019 and beyond. With the right approach, significant improvements can be made to any team, regardless of its size.