In January 2018, U.K.’s second-largest outsourcing construction company, Carillion, collapsed, leaving many people confused and others significantly out of money. When a company this large has to completely go into liquidation, projects simply cease to continue, and a lot of questions have since been raised. While the media has been discussing the issue of private contracts being combined with public services, companies who outsource services are also concerned, but for different reasons. This is making the general public a little uneasy when it comes to the idea of outsourcing overall.
However, there are lessons to be learned from a company like Carillion. And, especially if you’re a small business, you really don’t need to worry. Just check on these:
In any business, bad communication can lead to even worse problems. In order to make sure things don’t go wrong, having open communication is imperative. Unfortunately, with Carillion, communication may not have always been as clear as it could have been, and when things started to going downhill, a rescue plan was too late to execute. Of course, this can be inevitable when you’re running such a big operation.
Luckily, as a small business leader, communication between you, your CIO, and your IT team is not only easy, but it’s kind of the whole point of outsourcing to begin with. An unbiased CIO allows there to be a smooth conversation among all parties, ensuring that no one is left out of the loop, and instructions are given to the right people. It also helps to make sure businesses stay compliant, as they should be advised their own role in compliance along with the CIO and IT.
If your biggest worry about hiring an outsourced CIO is the legitimacy of the contracts and service level agreements, that’s a valid concern. A contract that’s not treated seriously or that doesn’t clearly outline what it will encompass, can potentially cause a lot of damage. Additionally, contracts should also be flexible; as a client, it’s nice to have the freedom to go back in and make changes as needed — changes that won’t put anyone at a disadvantage. Carillion didn’t really have this option, as they mainly worked with long-term contracts.
An SLA is the single most important thing you can consider before moving forward with outsourcing your CIO. But, as a small business with very specific needs, it’s likely you’ll be in good hands no matter what.
In the case of Carillion, they were managing way too many contracts at once — many of which didn’t pan out. When you’re taking on contracts to build everything from schools to roads to hospitals for the government, it can get a bit too overwhelming to keep everything in order. Any outsourced CIO may be able to relate to this to some degree. After all, a CIO who wants to provide the best support for their clients needs to be available on a regular basis, and know what to do and how to do it.
It goes without saying that if the CIO you’re looking to hire seems too busy with other clients, then a similar situation to Carillion — though, on a smaller scale — may happen. Would it affect you? Not necessarily. But, it’s still important to work with someone who isn’t stretching him or herself too thin.
Though the Carillion situation might be a bit scary when it comes to the thought of outsourcing, unfortunately, they had factors going against them that won’t be the case for small businesses. One of the reasons Carillion had a downfall was because, at the end of the day, they took on more than they could handle. This was one of the rare times where we see the potential negative side of outsourcing. That being said, even though potential customers may have some reservations, the benefits certainly outweigh those concerns by a long shot.
For businesses who don’t have the time to handle their technology needs, outsourcing to an expert CIO can make a world of difference. They do what they need to do to make sure your network runs smoothly, letting you take care of business. Of course, a good CIO will work with your IT team while still keeping you in the loop. Overall, outsourcing your CIO saves you time, money, and the stress.
Still worried? Hopefully, this made you feel a bit better about your outsourcing plan.
Many of us like to think of data as bits of information floating around in the cloud — after all, what other way is there to envision something that’s more or less invisible to the naked eye? Well, if that’s how you refer to the data in your network, then it’s likely you’re treating it as such, too. The problem with this is that data deserves more respect than it’s getting. When companies make big decisions based on what they consider a ‘single-entity of data,’ they might be missing a lot of worthy information and could end up making a costly choice because of that.
There are currently a lot of trends surrounding data, but sometimes it’s not about the data itself — it’s about how you’re managing it. Because data is so fundamental to business operations, it’s time that we start treating data as a valuable asset to the company. Whether you need to imagine data wearing a suit and tie to work every day or that it’s sitting in the conference room at a team meeting, that’s fine. But, if you don’t, there may as well be big consequences for your company.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. The problem is, data is just too big. When it comes to gaining real value from interpreting data, it’s impossible to know where to begin. This is why companies are starting to look at data lakes and other solutions to help find what’s valuable, without wasting time on shuffling through data that might not serve a purpose. While data lakes might be out of the question for your business, there is a lot you can do on your own, first.
Just as you would set certain protocols and management tasks as a company leader, data shouldn’t be left out from this. Remember, data in many ways is an enterprise. Therefore, those same protocols and principles you assign to anything else in your company should also be assigned to data. Just as you would measure an employee’s performance, calculate your sales, or monitor your network’s security, you should monetize, measure, and manage your data the same way. This way, you can be sure that the information you gain from this data is truly meaningful, without any part of it being overlooked.
How would you really internalize potentially imperative information at your company?
You would analyze it.
So, data needs to be analyzed, too, in the appropriate manner — just as you would apply analytics to any other aspect of your business. If you want real ROI, then it’s absolutely necessary to put data under the microscope. This can be hard when there is just a plethora of data out there, waiting to be sorted. Therefore, data needs to be evaluated while being combined with the analyses done on sales, marketing, and feedback.
If you’re not quite sure how to go about this, keep in mind that there are several lenses with which to look at data. According to James Burke, director at ISG, you can proceed this way:
Today, there are many resources companies can utilize to help analyze their data correctly and treat that information as an asset. When done consistently, companies will see positive results.
The right data can tell us about our business. If your company is eager to find strategies to grow, then it’s worth looking at that data to see if it holds any clues. Likewise, companies don’t want to spend money on resources they don’t need, especially if that budget is needed elsewhere. When treated as an asset, data can be very valuable in terms of understanding your business because it can give companies a better visual of what’s really necessary. But, this is difficult for companies to do on their own.
Outsourcing your CIO — a professional who knows how to do all of this. They know what to look for, how to analyze it, and how to apply it to future decisions. They know what to take from a large amount of data, putting it under the microscope to find what’s valuable. They know what they are doing and how to help you. Investing in a CIO, then, will save your company a lot of time and money in the long run.
Cybersecurity is hands down becoming one of the most talked about issues today. Companies nowadays have to put their security before anything else they do, and this can be a costly venture if not done correctly. While one aspect of managing security involves hiring an unbiased third party to take care of it, it’s also important to know what you could be doing for yourself and your company to keep everything that matters secure. Each year, the cybersecurity conversation is constantly changing, though, due to the ever-increasing sophistication of data breaches that we typically see.
These are the security issues you want to pay the most attention to as 2017 comes to an end:
1) Machine Learning
It may not be Judgement Day yet, but we might be well on our way to the land of the “Terminators.” Machine learning is happening fast, and next year we will have technology that doesn’t need to be programmed to learn a new task. Sound scary? Well, the implications machine learning can have for people with bad intentions looks good for them, and very bad for everyone else. Hackers out there with such intentions can use machine learning to their advantage.
2) Digital Baggage
Remember all those Facebook photos you posted back in college? Okay, maybe you didn’t grow up during the Facebook age, but if you have children now that are online, it’s something you need to know. That’s because 2018 will be a year where we discuss “Digital Baggage” in terms of cybersecurity. These days, minors can essentially post whatever they want online, and there aren’t too many regulations in place to stop it. While some parents are very cautious with this, most are too busy to pay too much attention. Regardless, anything that you post online can have the potential to hurt you later on. Next year, companies will start looking into this when it comes to hiring new staff or getting rid of employees they already have.
3) Biometrics and Serverless Architectures
Technology is continuing to expand into realms that we have never seen before. Next year, we’re likely to see biometrics — such as face and fingerprint scanning — be incorporated into device verification. We will also start to see more serverless architectures which are apps that can be built without having to host them on a managed server.
What do these two things have in common? Well, whether it’s the ease of use, low-cost, or user-friendly interfaces, biometrics and serverless architectures are pretty attractive. However, while they seem to be some of the most secure methods out there, there are still some inconsistencies and questions being raised. For instance, how secure really is a face scan? And, aren’t serverless apps immune to DoS attacks?
4) Wireless Breaches
We are in an era now where everything is connected. You may have heard it described as the ‘Internet of Things.’ Pretty soon, things like smart homes will be the norm. We will be connected in every aspect of our lives, on every device possible. As we already know, Wi-Fi isn’t always as secure as we want it to be, and the more connected we become, the more we need to pay attention to our security on each of those devices.
5) A Closer Eye on Companies
It seems that no matter how many times big companies make headlines for data breaches, we still continue to see this happening in the news over and over again. Because consumers rarely read privacy regulations (often checking off the “agree to terms” box to get to the next step), companies tend to cut corners and take advantage of this in order to save themselves money. At the same time, companies who do experience data breaches seem to think that ignoring it or covering it up will keep customers on board. Unfortunately, after what we’ve seen with Yahoo!, Uber, and other companies, the more they’ve tried to hide it, the more they’ve made the problem worse.
Next year, you can be sure that there will be more watchful eyes upon companies when it comes to their cybersecurity. And, these watchful eyes won’t just be from auditors, but from the customers themselves. Therefore, the more you make security a priority, the better off you will be.
In 2018, anything involving data, machines, Internet, etc., will certainly have more streamlined processes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two sides to everything. What’s easy in one aspect could be a nightmare in other aspects, in this case, security. Get ahead of the game and know what to look out for next year so you’re company is prepared.