#Australian technology industry

Technology trends to watch out for in 2018

Les Williamson
|Dec 20|magazine22 min read

Most aspects of our lives have become digitised, expanding our personal and business worlds, enabling new forms of collaboration, interaction, information seeking and knowledge sharing, and ultimately, personal and professional growth.

A life without the iiternet today sounds ‘pre-historic’ but our always-on network connections at work, home and on-the-go, have opened doors for a number of malicious activities that can negatively impact work, our physical and human networks, our financial status and even our own identity. The challenge only increases further with shifts in working style expectations, expansion of the global middle class and the multi-generational make up of the average workforce today.

Leading companies such as Yahoo, Google and Facebook have all fallen victim to security breaches over recent years. This year has seen a spate of ransomware breaches, from Wannacry (that infected 230,000 hosts) to NotPetya (that impacted 15,000 servers and 50,000 end points at one organisation). The number of all detected malware reached 600mn in 2017, from 1.7mn in 2005. According to a study by Citrix and The Ponemon Institute, 77% of Australian respondent’s believe that one of the greatest risk to their organisations infrastructure was the stealth and sophistication of cyber attackers.

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With the notion that all change and productivity improvement is driven by addressing the three pillars of People, Process and Technology, this all makes it imperative for the C-level to invest in understanding those innovative technologies to underpin people behavioural change initiatives along with the process aspects of new ways of working and accessing information and data, all within the perimeter of a secure and agile workspace environment.

Les Williamson, the ANZ Area Vice President of Citrix Australia, shares his views on what business outcome related technology trends look to be prominent in 2018 and beyond.

Security to be integrated in technology infrastructure

The move to cloud is imperative and the coming year will witness continued investment in cloud by businesses. Cloud computing will continue to offer agility, scalability and flexibility to the business and the workforce. While cloud computing enhances the pace of digital transformation, companies are increasingly becoming dependent on third parties for application identification, implementation and management at various levels of the technology infrastructure stack. This puts them on a higher risk of cyber threats unless they adopt and integrate security layers for each layer or new application

2018 will witness a much greater need for organisations to integrate security with technology. 

Making web applications more secure

Organisations are building and buying web applications more aggressively than ever to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. Applications accessing sensitive information, such as customer data, proprietary product specifications, payroll records and other personally-identifiable information, offer the greatest risk due to the high degree of complexity, the regular use of embedded, third-party libraries, and routine incorporation of new protocols and features.

With countless combinations of commercially-available and custom-built web apps, it is unrealistic to expect that security technologies using only broad-spectrum rules and mechanisms can fully protect them. The potential for security breaches involving high-value information is causing concern for approximately four in five Australian professionals (82%), according to a global study from Citrix and The Ponemon Institute.

With increasing web-based cyber threats predicted for the year to come, IT specialists will invest in web application firewall (WAF) to pick up where other security technologies have left off. A cloud and IPS based protection platform, WAF decides by activity to send a user to the application or to block them.

A more environmental perimeter approach to security will be prevalent in 2018, built from a multitude of suppliers and sources, to ensure proactive and reactive high level security measures are in play.

Modern authentication to replace key-based passwords

Many businesses still only password-protect its intellectual property and financial data, placing them at high risk of cyber-attacks and breaches. Even more concerning is that companies are more focussed on securing customer network access than they are the employee.

Given 54% of the Australian population will be made up of digitally literate millennials by 2030, this poses an increasing risk due to their non-traditional behaviours and habits. This cohort is often trading security caution for quick digital wins and convenience, such as using personal devices to access work files (e.g. BYOD) and evading workplace security controls.

These new workplace security threats and expectations have seen companies look towards modern authentication methods seen in BYOD devices, such as the use of biometric fingerprints and cardiac signature, to remove password pressures, enhance the user experience and ensure cyber security. For instance, Microsoft Windows 10 will support FIDO to enable this password-free world for Windows, while Citrix is offering Single Sign-On solutions. Some businesses are even experimenting with embeddable RFID to get rid of physical keys. Simple, consistent and context aware authentications will be dominant in 2018.

Change management to facilitate flexible working

Multi-generational workforces are increasingly becoming the norm in Australia, with at least four generations working alongside each other for the first time in history. Each generation brings with it a unique leadership style, different perspectives about work-life balance, and technology literacy and communication and learning attitudes.

Organisations are therefore quickly mainstreaming new ways of working such as bring your own device (BYOD) policies and adopting flexible Software as a Service applications, to boost employee productivity while offering more choice and flexibility. However, these offer negligible control over the information being transferred to and from and within the organisation, thereby increasing the risk of losing sensitive information. Business and document workflow capabilities are a critical piece of the new ways of working environment, and should be at the centre of the business outcome decisions.

People, Process and Technology are the three pillars of change agendas that need to be given equal weight in any productivity improvement initiative, and in 2018 the companies that can leverage the people and process parts the most will be the successful ones, whilst underpinning these efforts with a simple, consistent, secure, and agile workspace environment.

Uniform global regulation implementation

On 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect in response to concerns about data privacy, which will require Australian businesses of all sizes to take further responsibility in handling the personal data of individuals in the EU.

To keep pace with the globalisation of economies, this regulation breaks down geographic boundaries and exposes global businesses to not only domestic regulation compliance risk via the Australian Privacy Act 1988, but also to foreign regulation.

The introduction of the GDPR is the most disruptive data compliance regulation in history, with businesses facing potentially crippling fines of up to €20mn (AU$30mn), or four per cent of global annual revenue if found non-compliant.

The significant financial risk this poses for businesses and the complexities of compliance across multiple regulations will throw into question the need for a uniformed global regulation and governing body. According to the study by the Ponemon Institute and Citrix, three-quarters (73%) of Australian businesses consider the GDPR a risk to their IT security infrastructure. However, local confusion still surrounds GDPR compliance.

Sensor-based data to drive research and insights

Over the last few years, organisations globally have accepted that analytics provide valuable insights to improve security, productivity, performance, and availability of content. However, some industries like banking and healthcare have access to a wider-set of data from multiple sources. These sectors are also under enormous pressure to adapt new technologies to reduce costs, increase operational efficiency and comply with government mandates.

The healthcare industry, for example, can leverage sensor-based monitoring technologies (initially focused on fitness) and evolve to monitor patient health and medication adherence in real-time, while allowing the patient to better self-manage their health. This will also enable healthcare professionals to seamlessly access rich patient data, securely collaborate on diagnostic process and deliver safer care management from anywhere at any time.

Like in the case of healthcare where the routine hospital visits and annual physical health checks will reduce drastically, other sectors like banking and telecommunications will also adopt sensor-based data analytics to drive business and work productivity insights.  

By Les Williamson, the ANZ Area Vice President, Citrix Australia