The rapid growth of business applications operated in the Cloud has led to a dramatic increase in the storage capacities required for sensitive data: 25 % of this type of data are already stored in the Cloud – a huge temptation for cyber criminals.
Many businesses are using collaborative tools on the basis of SaaS (Software as a Service) to improve their productivity and enhance customer relationship management. However, these tools are often vulnerable since the interfaces needed for various communication channels are not sufficiently protected. Configuration errors in connection with Platform as a Service applications may also represent a certain security risk. At the same time, EU-GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which has entered into force this year has considerably increased the pressure on data security. The aspect of Cloud security is therefore at the very top of my Cloud trend forecast for the year 2019.
From the point of view of a Cloud provider like Fabasoft whose focus is on SaaS (Software as a Service), the following six metatrends can be identified for the next year:
1. Cloud security is decisive in the choice of the right provider
Certified security should always play a role in the choice of the right Cloud provider. Only an independent and external audit on all security-related aspects of a Cloud environment can give potential customers the assurance that their sensitive company data is in safe hands. The C5 attestation awarded by the German Federal Office for Information (BSI) still embodies the standard in this regard. As far as the technological implementation of secure Cloud architectures is concerned, the latest developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence will find their way into the Cloud security strategies next year. Amongst other advantages, this means that automated anomalies in network traffic will be recognised or unauthorised data flows will be blocked.
2. Digitised product launches in the Cloud accelerate growth
It often takes months until information on new products or updates has arrived in all units of a company that is involved in production and sales. Headquarters usually receive hardly any feedback at all on who is actually using this information in the sales process. Which sales measures quickly yield success in what areas, and which markets experience problems in the product launch? End consumers and the markets themselves are demanding ever faster response times, and in the end the ultimate customer experience is the winner.
The solution lies in digitised product launches in the Cloud. They make it possible to integrate all internal departments (product management, marketing, sales, finance, legal, R&D, etc.) as well as the extended organisation (area sales manager, country manager, sales person, reseller, sales consultant) into business-relevant processes on equal terms. In this way, processes are digitised, standardised and accelerated with full traceability to create the basis for growth and higher profitability.
3. Revolutionised keywording of digital content with AI
The amount of digital assets created at industrial companies is increasing rapidly, for example in connection with plans, pictures on construction progress or signed documents. A Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution helps to manage these assets and use them efficiently. Cloud-based solutions are particularly powerful in the secure, easy and traceable collaboration with external parties. An asset can only be found and used quickly if the keywords are of a very high quality. Even if assets are keyworded on the basis of a strict standard, new aspects influencing the way that is used for searching may prevent that they are found. This is where artificial intelligence comes into play. Third party services available for Keywording as a Service are mostly too generic for industrial applications. With a highly specialised DAM solution it is possible to make practical use of artificial intelligence in solution-specific use cases and implement it to support processes.
4. Digitising the company DNA
Within the context of the digital transformation of a company, many projects are too detached from the most critical IT solutions or other important core processes to turn the company vision into a reality. While it is true that the focus has to be set on the customers and their needs, digitisation must not stop at customer apps or an extranet for suppliers. As a result, new “big data” is created. However, coupling this data with the important IT solutions – which are an essential part of the company DNA – does not go without process ruptures. In addition, many isolated projects within the company are digitising processes that are too far removed from the company’s actual purpose. These projects are commonly presented in a way which enhances the image of the company, but the customers often do not see any real benefit. The results of these projects therefore do not contribute enough to the digital transformation of the organisation. Cloud solutions are perfectly suited for this purpose – whether implemented as a Public or a Private Cloud: They can be used to digitise a company’s business-critical key processes quickly and without any process ruptures on an end-to-end basis, involving all internal and external stakeholders and linking all available and relevant IT solutions or data sources.
5. Service platforms instead of isolated projects
Digital transformation often leads to solutions that are perfectly tailored to a particular use case. However, these solutions do not move the organisation forward. Against this background, digital service platforms which enable the quick implementation of a solution for a particular use case while simultaneously providing an answer to many other use cases are rapidly gaining ground. The required implementation effort significantly decreases with every new solution that is added. With a service platform, departments are able to further develop their solutions on their own and without the need of valuable internal IT resources. Ideally, departments can even model the solutions themselves.
6. Benefits of Cloud adoption: Agility for medium-sized businesses
The number of medium-sized businesses that are using the Cloud is rising. One aspect in particular will further promote this trend in 2019: SMEs will only be able to compete in the market if they react more flexibly to market requirements, are more innovative, offer better customer service and act with more agility as compared to their larger competitors. Cloud services are offering all of these qualities. Large organisations often experience integration problems in the introduction and use of Cloud services and frequently fail in change management. Even though “cool tools” are available, they are not used in a targeted manner internally. This is an area where SMEs are facing fewer obstacles – and they are increasingly using this benefit. The conclusion: Small and medium-sized businesses benefit twofold from implementing and using Cloud services!
Fabasoft is a member of the EU-SEC consortium:
The European Security Certification Framework (EU-SEC) is a Horizon 2020 research project with the goal of improving the business value, effectiveness and efficiency of existing Cloud security certification schemes. EU-SEC focuses primarily on aspects related to automation, governance, the interplay of different certifications, reusable components, continuous auditing and monitoring, cost reduction, and overall duration of the Cloud certification process.
Andreas Dangl is Managing Director of Fabasoft Austria GmbH