IBM separates reality from rhetoric; reveals the truth behind IT trends

Not all IT trends an immediate reality for Australian organisations in 2013

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Sydney, Australia - 19 Jun 2013: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today launched the findings of its Truth Behind the Trends whitepaper, which revealed that only half of 10 commonly-cited IT trends across mobility, cloud and security are immediate realities for Australian organisations in 2013, with the other half not yet transpiring. IBM spoke face-to-face with almost 90 IT executives responsible for the day-to-day running of IT in their organisations to discover if these trends are well understood; the extent to which they are being adopted; and the barriers preventing their uptake.

A common theme was the exponential speed, growth and interlock of technological advancements in mobility, cloud, and security; effectively outstripping the skills and readiness of IT departments to integrate these new technologies and models within their organisations.

Mobility disrupting the enterprise

The whitepaper confirmed that mobility-related phenomena like BYOD are getting more complex with BYOA (applications) and BYOS (software), feeding a whole new evolution: Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). Most organisations are struggling to acquire or develop the skills needed to manage BYOT and as a result, opportunities to leverage the power of mobility for competitive advantage are being put on hold as the IT department continues to play ‘catch-up’.

Jim Khamis, Managed Services & Workplace Offerings Lead, IBM A/NZ said, “A lot of participants  stressed that the exponential rise of mobility and BYOD – driven by pressure from both early-adopter executives and increasingly tech-savvy employees – has had them on the back foot from the very beginning. Public discourses about skills shortages and security pressures are indeed being played out on the server-room floor, and IT managers are finding it harder to shift to a proactive footing.”

Ivan Greguric, Enterprise Architect, Stockland, who participated in the whitepaper development, said, “We continually receive requests from employees who want to use apps and platforms like Dropbox – if IT says ‘no’, employees will just use something else that is less secure.  The key is to strike a happy medium between allowing employees to access what they need, but in a secure way.”

Cloud adoption slower than hype, but for good reason

Despite past and present rhetoric about the increasing maturity of the cloud market in Australia, actual adoption appears slower than the hype would suggest. While trends in hybrid cloud are taking hold, data sovereignty and vendor management skills emerged as the biggest challenges for many enterprises in adopting next generation cloud models. 

“Businesses haven’t advanced into the cloud as much as the rhetoric would suggest, in part due to the skills gaps and perceived risks associated with outsourcing data, ” said Anton Lak, Cloud Computing Consultant, IBM A/NZ. “However, IT leaders overwhelmingly believe that cloud adoption is a question of when, not if. The term ‘everything-as-a-service’ is increasingly being used to describe the ideal IT scenario for organisations.”

“This suggests most organisations are prudently considering their options rather than racing to keep up with the hype around cloud, while remaining open to future innovations which might enhance their business.”

Introspective about security

IT leaders overwhelmingly cite security as a critical issue, especially in the case of mobile devices where there was widespread agreement amongst participants that threats in this area are increasing exponentially. Many participants highlighted security as one of the main aspects of BYOD for which they were unprepared for, most often due a skills gap and the speed of adoption.

Devin Weerasooriya, Solution Architect, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, who participated in the research said, “A BYOD policy can introduce so many complications within a company and the IT department can’t keep up with the number of devices being introduced to the network. Educating users is critical in defending the network.”

However risks in cybercrime are less quantifiable and participants were generally less informed about threats and solutions. Despite being highlighted in the Attorney-General’s 2012 Cyber Crime and Security Survey Report, ransomware attacks – in which hackers encrypt a business’ data to hold it “hostage” –  was not considered as a big security issue, with many participants unaware of its existence or the details of its risks.

“It seems that security is still very much regarded as a private issue that is better managed in-house.  The participants we spoke to revealed an emotional attachment to their data preventing  them from  collaborating with external specialists, government bodies and the broader industry to combat cybercrime,” said Scott Ainslie, Security Risk Management Principal, IBM A/NZ.

While the fear is understandable, cybercrime generally follows patterns, therefore having a macro and outward looking view of the threat landscape is critical to ensuring that the adopted security posture is appropriate, effective and sustainable.

The findings from the IBM Truth Behind the Trends whitepaper highlights that some of the IT trends are resonating on an immediate scale of reality in Australia, while others yet to take hold on a practical level with IT departments.

The Truth Behind the Trends whitepaper interviewed 87 IT professionals across a range of industries and market capitalisations in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Results included quantitative surveys as well as qualitative insights, anecdotes and quotations from participants, a selection of which are included in the full whitepaper.


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