The extreme weather that has hit much of the country this winter has been labeled “historic” in many quarters, including where I live in eastern North Carolina. While the Northeast has been battered with record-breaking snowfalls, much of the South has been experiencing ice storms and single-digit temperatures for the first time in the lives of many adults. It all begs the question of the impact all of this is having on IT professionals and the organizations they’re charged with keeping up and running.
While it may well be too late for many organizations that entered this winter ill-prepared from a data protection standpoint, what this winter has taught us is that such unexpected events as the collapse of the roof of a data center due to heavy snow and ice need to be anticipated and addressed in order to be fully prepared for next winter.
Deloitte Analytics Senior Advisor Tom Davenportwarned last year that data scientists waste too much time prepping data. After interviewing data scientists, Davenport concluded that they needed better tools for data integration and curating.
Now, a Ventana Research column shows that data scientists aren’t the only ones wasting enormous amounts of time on data preparation at the expense of actual analysis.
Ventana CEO Mark Smith shares research from several reports, all of which demonstrate how much of a time suck data preparation can be without the right tools.
Unrelenting frigid weather often means frozen water pipes – one of the biggest risks of property damage. In fact, a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage, according to IBHS research.
Structures built on slab foundations, common in southern states, frequently have water pipes running through the attic, an especially vulnerable location. By contrast, in northern states, builders recognize freezing as a threat and usually do not place water pipes in unheated portions of a building or outside of insulated areas.
Freezing temperatures can be prevented with the installation of weather stripping and seals. This offers two major benefits: keeping severe winter weather out of a structure, and increasing energy efficiency by limiting drafts and reducing the amount of cold air entering.
Innovation has become accepted as central to competitiveness in today’s world, both in new product development and in enhancement of internal processes. Companies struggle with innovation, and there have been numerous attempts to regularize and program it. But the development of truly breakthrough ideas is difficult, and recognizing them when they do arrive can be harder still. We have processes available for vetting ideas and passing them through a series of increasingly selective gateways until they reach the point of usefulness or are discarded altogether. But we do not have good processes for stitching together new ideas and reaching that eureka moment that says a critical new idea has been found.
Some of the ways that ideas are sourced include crowdsourcing, internal suggestions, brainstorming, and the like. There are idea factories employing innovative individuals who apply diverse experience to create an “out of the box” concept. And, there are programs such as TRIZ, an innovation program developed in Russia in 1946 that seek to apply a systemic process to ideation itself, based around principles extracted from patent literature subjected to contradiction, synthesis, and new arrangement. But creation of ideas is forever thwarted by the fact that we don’t really understand the creative process and may, in fact, be generalizing a multitude of processes in a way that makes them impossible to replicate.
Predictive analytics is apparently lucrative for businesses, investors and, of course, predictive analytics companies.
In a recent Forbes column, Lutz Finger noted that predictive analytics companies are attracting multi-million dollar investment deals. Most recently, a company called Blue Yonder secured $75 million in funding from a global private equity firm, which is the “biggest deal for a predictive analytics company in Europe….”
If you’re not familiar with Finger, he’s a director at LinkedIn, an expert on social media and text analytics, and the co-founder and former CEO of Fisheye Analytics. The column shares highlights of his interview with Blue Yonder’s CEO Uwe Weiss, so it’s no surprise that it makes the case for predictive analytics as a sound investment.
It’s not a hard case to make. Gartner predicts a compound annual growth rate of 34 percent from 2012 to 2017, and estimates the market will reach $48 billion. To give you an idea of how that compares, Gartner says MDM was worth $1.16 billion last summer.
Despite your best efforts – and despite the advanced levels of security in your cloud-based file sharing solution – MSPs may eventually find themselves on the wrong end of a data breach. The key question isn’t how to prevent such an incident from happening; even the world’s most security-conscious organizations suffer breaches. Rather, the key question is how much will this inevitable data breach cost you?
Today, the cost is relatively limited and abstract for MSPs. While a data breach can certainly result in a lost customer, or time spent trying to resolve the issue, the real financial costs tend to fall on the client. They are the ones who will pay the compliance violations and lose revenue. After all, it is their data.
But as data breaches increase in both frequency and severity – and as clients rely on you for more of their critical IT functions – it’s only a matter of time before someone decides that the MSP should be held responsible when things go wrong. After all, it is your solution they are using to share data.
ContinuitySA provides advice for organizations based in areas where power supplies are unstable.
One risk that has become very real for South African businesses is load-shedding. An unstable power supply with the potential of extended periods of power outages over the next several years creates a range of risks that have to be integrated into current business continuity plans.
“We know that load-shedding is going to occur and, in order to put mitigation strategies in place, we first need to understand what the implications are,” says Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA. “What are the issues that businesses should be looking at? Now is a good time to update your business continuity plans in order to assess the impact of load-shedding on your business and weigh up what your risk appetite is.”
Davies says that because electricity is now so integral to modern society, load-shedding creates a complex and interdependent set of risks over and above the task of just keeping the business’s lights on. These risks need to be understood within the context of each business's strategic plan.
Picture this. A main water pipe bursts and water begins to flood the warehouse, which is also where you happen to be, smartphone in pocket. To avert serious damage and downtime, you need to find the cut-off valve – quickly. At this point, two scenarios are possible. First scenario: you try to find out who can help by calling reception and trying to note the names they suggest and the phone numbers. Second scenario: you access a directory of resources directly from your smartphone, call the person concerned and turn the call into a video call from that person’s desktop so that you can be remotely guided to where the cut-off valve is and how to shut it. How do you get from scenario one to scenario two?
Although Washington remains stuck in partisan gridlock, there is one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on: the need to reduce gridlock in the rest of the country by bringing America's infrastructure into the 21st century.
The basis for that rare consensus is painfully clear. The nation's infrastructure has earned a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which estimates that it will cost $3.6 trillion to bring our systems to a state of good repair. Across the nation, aging and deteriorating bridges and water treatment plants pose a real threat to public health and safety and a drain on economic growth.
How and when Republicans and Democrats might find common ground to fix the problem remains to be seen. But when that does come to pass, here's another idea that should win support from both sides: Our next-generation of infrastructure must be resilient.
Many efforts to implement ERM are unfocused, severely resourced constrained, and pushed down so far into the organization that it is difficult to establish relevance. The near-term results are “starts and stops” and ceaseless discussions to understand the objective. Risk is often an afterthought to strategy and risk management an appendage to performance management. Ultimately, the ERM implementation runs out of steam and is no longer sustainable.
While there is no one-size-fits-all, the following design principles will help overcome these issues: