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  |   Business


CIOs Are Challenged To Safeguard Data, Find Top Talent, Lower Risk

2020 brings challenges for IT departments: keeping data secure, managing risk, and closing the talent gap. However, smart leaders can meet these challenges.

IT executives will need to surmount several obstacles to success in 2020. Among these are data privacy and security, recruitment and retention of talented staff, and management of risk and expectations.

Boston IT services and cybersecurity expert, Phil Cardone of Radius Executive IT Solutions shares his insights on the top challenges facing CIOs in the new decade.

Data Privacy and Security

Data governance concerns are ongoing and many states are passing regulations to protect consumers. One of the most stringent regulations went into effect in California on January 1. It requires companies to redesign system architecture to allow for the erasure of data upon request, to be transparent about who data is shared with and to allow consumers to opt-out of data sharing. Other states and the federal government likely will follow suit.

Likewise, data breaches will continue to be a concern. Most breaches occur through employees; one way to prevent this is to ensure that employees can access only the data required for their jobs. Strengthening passwords, requiring two-step identification, and educating employees on how to encrypt, file and store data also are important preventative measures. Businesses also are urged to hire a cybersecurity expert or to designate someone with this expertise to work with employees to identify and solve potential issues. Some companies will also seek to hire or develop expertise in countering malicious software, as well.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

The expertise required for IT support team members is rising, while the number of trained IT workers is falling. This talent gap is a critical challenge for companies. A recent Gartner survey indicated that about two-thirds of business executives saw this gap as a key concern that might exacerbate other risks. One way to meet this challenge is to train and promote from within, rather than needing to hire externally. Another way is through automating repetitive tasks so that each employee can manage more infrastructure.

When recruiting externally or struggling to retain talent, companies should emphasize perks as much, or perhaps even more, than monetary compensation. They also should sell the mission of the company, as well as its philanthropic projects. Focusing on soft skills, such as the ability to work a part of a team, in addition to the technical skills, helps companies find more well-rounded employees that will stay longer.

Managing Risk and Expectations

Balancing expectations of rapidly advancing technology with the risks associated with digital projects is tricky. One way to mitigate risk is to place high-risk activities as early in the project life cycle as possible. That way, if the project fails, it will do so early, before too many resources have been used.

Another way is to break one massive project into smaller, distinct initiatives that can be completed and evaluated in the short term. Developing a communication strategy that keeps everyone involved in the project informed about its progress also is important. Only about half of IT projects are completed under budget. Budgeting a little extra for contingencies and then adapting as necessary will improve results.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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