C-suite members predict 2021 technology trends

C-suite members predict 2021 technology trends

As we wave goodbye to another year and look ahead to 2021, members of the C-suite predict some of the technology and business trends we should expect to see over the coming year.

Nuance Communications, Joe Petro, CTO: “Next year, AI-based security, biometrics and fraud detection will be more important than ever as incidences of cybercrime increase, a result of greater online activity, fuelled largely by the pandemic. 

“AI solutions that provide advanced security, biometrics and fraud detection to protect consumers and brands will be even more important and we will see an increase in companies adopting and implementing these technologies, as well as consumers expecting and demanding them. Brands that leverage passive authentication technology like biometrics, to provide an effortless but secure customer experience will be ahead of the curve in providing state-of-the-art customer care that protects those who interact with their brands.”

Neustar, Rodney Joffe, Senior Vice President and Fellow: “This year, the threat of misinformation has reached a new state of maturity. In 2021, we can expect the issue to grow further, forcing organisations to become more vigilant and take greater levels of accountability.

“Currently, the majority of malicious actors are still using misinformation for legacy cybersecurity activities. Next year, we will approach another phase of viral misinformation in the form of deep fake technology. 

“Worryingly, the development of deep fake technology is approximately five years ahead of our ability to guard against it. Threatening to erode trust even further, 2021 will see the cybersecurity community working on a range of solutions and technologies to prevent and solve the problem of misinformation, fake domains and deep fakes.”

Denodo, Alberto Pan, Chief Technical Officer: “The COVID pandemic has made evident the need to accelerate the delivery of useful and trusted data to business decision-makers. That’s why many companies are turning to more agile data integration technologies like data virtualisation which can shorten these times drastically. 

“In 2021, we will see how this trend is consolidated as a comprehensive data strategy. Many companies will implement the concept of data fabric – an architectural pattern which ensures agility and the delivery of trusted, real-time data to a business. In addition, AI technology will be further incorporated in data fabric architectures to automate steps such as data discovery, performance optimisation and workload management. This will further increase automation and agility by leveraging the maturity reached by AI technology in the last years.”

Citrix, Fermin Serna, CISO: “Companies are rapidly moving to simplify and shift things to the cloud and CISOs are adapting to secure the new environment. But five years from now, there will be something else. CISOs will become more agile in adapting to changes as technology evolves in 2021 and align closely with business leaders to provide a secure environment that fuels innovation and growth.

“There are lessons to be learned today that can help shape a better tomorrow. Just like work, cyberattacks can happen anywhere, anytime. In order to successfully protect the systems and information people need to get things done, wherever they happen to be, security organisations need to become more intelligent and flexible. In doing so, they can create the secure environments needed to keep employees engaged and productive and fuel innovation and business growth.”

Veracode, Paul Farrington, EMEA CTO: “If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that a business is only as agile as its infrastructure, proving how much we depend on cloud-native technologies. With infrastructure becoming increasingly immutable, I predict we’ll see the impact of this specifically as it relates to the rise of cloud-native technologies and infrastructure as code. Both of these trends offer major business benefits in terms of automation, cost, scale and security.

“As companies continue to outsource their infrastructure to third-parties and pivot their focus to consuming services, they will need to focus less on the security of the operating system and runtime environment and more on the application layer. Furthermore, as infrastructure turns into code, the better ‘choke point’ to scan for infrastructure vulnerabilities becomes the code rather than servers in production.”

Secure Code Warrior – Matias Madou, Co-founder and CTO: “I believe that in 2021 and beyond, CIOs must focus on training people, rather than an over-reliance on security tools. Scanning tools and the like have their place in a DevSecOps process, for example, but security at speed is made possible by producing secure code in the first place. It’s kind of a ‘humans vs. robots’ approach – the human element is often left out, when in fact automation is not getting the job done. Headlines uncovering new data breaches every other day are evidence of that. 

“We must get to a point where developers – those who touch code most – are given the knowledge and tools to play a greater role in software security. Ideally, those tools are best placed in their workflow, getting closer to their day-to-day activities until security is second-nature.”

Zuora – John Phillips, General Manager, EMEA: “This year, the global pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already well underway for businesses; a shift towards more subscription-based models. Despite the economic downturn, key changes in consumer buying behaviours has meant that these models have proved resilient. In fact, a recent Zuora report found that more than half of subscription businesses have not been negatively impacted by COVID-19, while one quarter are actually seeing subscriber acquisition rates accelerate.

“This is a trend we’ll see increasing even further as we look towards 2021. The term ‘membership’ is likely to be replaced with ‘subscription’ as businesses look to engage with customers via bespoke added services and replace one-off membership fees with more flexible models. 

“Membership provokes the feeling you’re locked into a contract for an extended period of time, with high cancellation fees and little flexibility. Whereas subscriptions offer customers a usage-based model that allows customers to opt-in and out based on their needs.” 

Infoblox – Max Locatelli, Regional Director, Western Europe: “The combination of COVID-19 and Brexit has created the perfect storm for data privacy issues in 2021. Cybercriminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities brought about by the pandemic, while Brexit will put a question mark over data sovereignty laws that is likely to linger well after the December 31 cut-off. 

“From a legal standpoint, organisations need to be especially cautious about where they’re holding their customer data and be ready to adapt once new regulations have been laid out. When it comes to security, the new-found chaos will mean investing in solutions that are going to protect data in network environments that are increasingly decentralised by expanding security to the edge to accommodate the explosion of endpoints outside the traditional security perimeter. Traditional firewalls and VPNs that protect the core network are no longer fit for purpose. Organisations need to be looking at SaaS-based DDI security solutions that extend visibility to all devices connected to the network to ensure security from anywhere in the world.”

Eaton, Eric Rueda, Commercial Leader Software & Connectivity, EMEA: “All too often, cybersecurity focuses on traditional IT security, with tips on how consumers can avoid falling victim to phishing scams or how businesses can secure critical applications from ransomware attacks. What is frequently missed is the lesser known, but equally as critical, issue of securing Operational Technology (OT).  

“Information Technology is typically focused on transferring and storing critical information, while OT typically controls the physical world. OT networks support building infrastructure that operates key facility systems such as lights, elevators, access control  and heating and cooling systems. Such building infrastructures are commonly found in the commercial and industrial segments as well as in data centres. As more operational equipment is becoming reliant on IT to function, organisations are becoming more exposed to cybersecurity threats.

“Commonly, we see cybersecurity relegated entirely to the IT team, however, as more technologies powering day-to-day operations of a business move online, many do not think they are exposed and have forgotten to secure their OT systems. This risks OT security falling between the cracks. Instead, it should be shared between IT and facilities managers.”

OpenText, Anthony Di Bello, Vice President, Strategic Development: “While the main factor driving change is the remote workforce, it has led not to increased budgets, but rather different spending priorities. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to cloud, and existing budgets are shifting focus to securing cloud environments and identification and control of sensitive data across what are now highly distributed work-from-home environments. 

“As such, we do not see a broad push to increase cybersecurity spending due to the pandemic, and have heard customers indicate security budgets will be flat YoY due to budget cuts. Businesses are asking two questions: 1) Can we adapt existing tech to remote work-related use cases; and 2) Can we consolidate our technology stack.”

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