Senior consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
It’s easy to say that information security leaders have it tough. The security landscape is full of conflict, confusion and uncertainty, coming from a number of different directions. Leaders have a lot to handle. If it’s not a rapidly shifting threat, it’s new technology platforms to secure including mobile, cloud and social. Almost every article I see these days is focused on the growing challenges, with titles like the “Eye of the storm”, “Into the cloud, out of the fog” and “Converging waves of pain.”
Today, the IBM Center for Applied Insights releases the results of the 2012 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment. This was our first foray into examining the role of information security leaders, and how they are evolving to meet the challenging landscape. While we understand and appreciate the fact that things are difficult on the technical front, we wanted to focus on the organizational and leadership aspects of information security.
We felt that information security leadership was in the process of undergoing a transformation and wanted to test whether the role was changing based on increasing security challenges and greater attention from business leaders.
We wanted to identify best practices that could be shared across the industry – and understand if organizations were moving toward a more holistic, risk-based approach to information security.
We also wanted to know what roles collaboration, innovation and integration are playing in security organizations.
What we discovered was that only 1 in 4 security leaders have made the shift to being recognized as having strategic impact on their enterprise. Based on a self-assessment of their organizational maturity and their ability to handle a security incident, three different types of leaders emerged.
Influencers (25%) – This group sees their security organizations as progressive, ranking themselves highly in both maturity and preparedness. These security leaders have business influence and authority – a strategic voice in the enterprise.
Protectors (47%) – These security leaders recognize the importance of information security as a strategic priority. However, they lack important measurement insight and the necessary budget authority to fully transform their enterprises’ security approach.
Responders (28%) – This group remains largely in response mode, working to protect the enterprise and comply with regulations and standards but struggling to make strategic headway. They may not yet have the resources or business influence to drive significant change.
We also discovered some significant differences between the groups that show how Influencers have developed their strategic voice. Compared to Responders, Influencers are:
2x more likely to have a dedicated CISO
2.5x more likely to have a security or risk committee
3x more likely to have information security as a board topic
2x more likely to use a standard set of security metrics to track their progress
4x more likely to be focused on improving enterprise-wide communication and collaboration over the next two years
2x more likely to be focused on providing education and security awareness over the next two years
This is just the beginning of our conversation around the role of information security leadership and its place within the enterprise. The full report goes into more detail on the security landscape, the different types of leaders and their characteristics, and a way forward for everyone.
Susanne Hupfer Client Insights, Consultant IBM Center for Applied Insights
If you've paid attention to the business press this past year, you've no doubt heard all about the potential benefits of social software to the enterprise (improved organizational collaboration, transparency, decision-making, and innovation). Maybe you're seriously considering deploying enterprise social software and becoming a "social business." If so, you'll be in good company: organizations that outperform financially are 57% more likely to allow their people to use social and collaborative tools. We outline these benefits in our recent short paper: Social is great! So, now what?
In 2007, IBM launched an experimental internal social networking site for employees -- SocialBlue (once-upon-a-time known as Beehive) -- that was designed to blur the boundaries between professional and personal, and business and fun. The site capabilities included customizable user profiles, status messages, "friending" of people, photo and list sharing, and commenting (on profiles, photos, lists). Through interviews and quantitative analysis of usage logs, the researchers set about studying the adoption, usage, motivations, and impact of social networking in the workplace.
The results were fascinating. Within a year of launch, upwards of 30,000 employees had opted in to use the site. We all know that, on personal social networking sites such as Facebook, we tend to connect to friends and acquaintances -- the people we already know. So you might guess that employees using enterprise social software would mainly want to connect to their immediate coworkers... but you'd be wrong. Employees instead used the site to meet new colleagues and also to connect and keep up with "weak ties" -- colleagues they didn't know well or weren't in regular communication with. They hoped to strengthen these ties in case they needed to call upon those connections later.
Why were all those thousands of IBMers connecting and sharing? It turns out they were Caring, Climbing, and Campaigning:
Caring: Interviews showed that employees enjoyed connecting on a social level with their colleagues. One user explained: "[the system] helps me connect to people personally, which helps me to like these people more, which makes me want to work with them." Another explained that, with teams becoming increasingly distributed and lacking everyday, face-to-face contact, the system "added that interpersonal relationship back in."
Climbing: A subset of users deliberately used the system as a career advancement tool. Techniques included becoming a visible expert on a topic by participating in professional conversations, and also strategically "friending" upper management.
Campaigning: Some users leveraged the system as a platform for promoting and gaining support for their ideas and projects. Due to the flat, cross-divisional nature of the system, some noted that putting an idea out there might garner attention and support from an executive in a way that would be harder to achieve through traditional, hierarchical corporate channels.
Today, 400k+ IBMers continue to connect to one another and care, climb, and campaign using the IBM Connections product, which was influenced by the research work on SocialBlue.
There are two other important "C's" you'll want to carefully consider when you deploy social software to your enterprise: Capabilities and Culture.
Capabilities: The capabilities of an enterprise social networking system have a direct impact on the kind of usage you're going to see. For instance, if SocialBlue hadn't allowed commenting on others' profiles and content, much of the casual, conversational, watercooler-ish nature of the site would not have been possible.
Senior Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
Growing up, there was a very specific sandwich-making rule laid down by my dad. When making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you had to use the peanut butter before the jelly. Was this because of some principle which determined that the resulting sandwich held together better when the ingredients were applied in this order? No. It was because he hated the cross-contamination of jelly into the peanut butter jar which was inevitable when it was on the spreading knife first. He preferred jelly-free sandwiches, you see.
This memory of a long held rule, which still govern my actions today, came to me as I was reviewing the Center's current research into security related topics. We're talking with Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) about their evolution and leading practices in the enterprise. We're discussing how they successfully bring security topics into the business world. Most importantly, we're examining how business priorities impact security choices.
In the realm of mobile and BYOD, you can hardly have a conversation without discussing security. It is a key inhibitor to mobile adoption and one reason companies are looking for managed security solutions rather than simply hoping for the best. Some security leaders argue for keeping personally owned devices out of the enterprise, simply due to the risk potential. Others, accepting that mobile is here to stay, fight to make its use as secure and safe as possible. It's only going to get worse and more and more connected devices enter the enterprise (see this recent Forbes article: "The Next Big Thing In Enterprise IT: Bring Your Own Wearable Tech?")
IBM's prior CISO, and current head of Security Services, Kris Lovejoy wrote about best practices for mobile implementations last year as part of our Security Essentials series:"Enabling mobility: their device, your data". For many, doing business means being mobile. As a security leader, it becomes your job to manage the risk - not just avoid it. Caleb Barlow extended these thoughts with an article this summer, "Yes, It’s Possible to Be Confident About Mobile Security", which focuses on four key ways to mitigate the risk of adding mobile to your secure enterprise:
Risk analysis - Organizations must understand what enterprise data is on employee devices, how it could be compromised and the potential impact of the comprise (i.e. What does it cost? What happens if the device is lost? Is the data incidental or crucial to business?).
Securing the application - In the pre-mobile, personal computer era, simply securing the device and the user were sufficient. When it comes to mobile devices, we also need to think about securing the application itself. As a typical application is downloaded from a store, the end user really has no idea who built the application, what it actually does with your data or how secure it is. Corporate applications with sensitive data need to be secure in their own right.
Secure mobile access authentication - Since mobile devices are shared, it’s important to authenticate both the user and the device before granting access and to look at the context of the user requesting access based on factors like time, network, location, device characteristics, role, etc. If the context appears to be out of line with normal behavior, appropriate counter measures can be taken.
Encryption: Simply put, if the data is sensitive it needs to be encrypted both while at rest as well as while in motion on the network.
What stops you from fully adding mobile to your security strategy? Hopefully it is more than just a distaste for jelly in your peanut butter. This October we'll have more to share on mobile adoption challenges when we release this year's follow up to our 2012 CISO Assessment.
In my previous post, I emphasized the importance of consumer focus for CPG companies. We, at the IBM Center for Applied Insights, have been working on a comprehensive global study* to gain more quantitative and qualitative insights about the increasing consumer focus of these CPG companies.
For the purpose of this study, we have segmented the market in terms of the degree of consumer focus and the use of analytics by the survey respondents. In this post, I would like to point out towards the most notable finding of the lot: existence of a “Leader” group amongst the survey respondents which enjoys much more clout with the retailers. In fact, they are nearly three times less concerned about needing a retailer’s approval to execute their plans, and 1.4 times less concerned about seeing their planning processes extended as a result of delays. They also exhibit superior financial performance over the rest. Between 2009 and 2012, the leading publicly quoted consumer products companies in our sample saw their stock prices rise 1.6 times faster than the rest (16 percent cumulative annual growth rate for Leaders compared to 10 percent cumulative annual growth rate for Others).
The companies in the Leader group use advanced analytics and collaborate extensively (both internally between functions and externally with retailers) to develop a high degree of consumer focus.
As shown in the figure 1 below, they comprise of about 15 percent of the total respondents.
The executive presentation will be delivered at the IBM Smarter Commerce event at Nashville this week.
For more details and insights on what exactly are these leaders doing differently than the rest and what steps can be taken to become one, revisit this space in a month. The Center and IBM DemandTec are authoring a complete paper on this topic, due out by the end of June.
I look forward to your comments and observations. Please click “Add a Comment” below or “More Actions” to share this with others.
Note - For the purpose of this study, we conducted telephone interviews with 356 senior sales executives at consumer products companies in Australia, Canada, India, the United Kingdom and United States, between February, 2013 to March, 2013. These respondents cover 10 product categories. Forty-six percent of them work for large enterprises (employing 1,000 or more people), while 54 percent work for medium-sized enterprises (employing 100-999 people).
Shubham Jain Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
IBM Center for Applied Insights
(CAI) has recently started a new program on building fact-based, market-centric
thought leadership assets on various facets of mobile money.
As I dig deeper to understand the
current state and evolving trends of this segment, some facts are worth
Group to Assist the Poor. (CGAP) estimates that around 3.5 billion people
worldwide currently lack access to formal financial services. It estimates that
there will be 1.7 billion unbanked customers with mobile phones by 2012. There
are more than 165 pilots in the mobile money segment in emerging economies being
run by a diverse group of organizations.
However, very few mobile money
deployments have been able to achieve scale and gain significant customer
base. Some deployments which have been
able to achieve significant scale include M-Pesa in Kenya, GCASH and Smart
Money in Philippines, Vodacom in Tanzania, and MTN Uganda.
Hence, there is definitely a huge
potential to achieve scale in this segment, especially in the emerging markets,
and firms are investing hard to address this market. However, many of them are
still struggling to fully tap into this opportunity. Cracking the code for high
customer adoption and usage, in quantity and continuity, appears to be an
Achilles’ heel for the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), financial institutions,
and other organizations trying to venture into this segment.
So, what insights can we learn
from those who have succeeded in this segment? I researched to determine some
common factors which seem to have made some deployments more successful than
others. It seems that there are two broad factors which can prove to be very
critical for an organization while trying to launch and subsequently scale: the
actual product and an effective agent network. Today, we’ll take a look at the
impact of the product.
Product – Building a strong, robust and compelling
product offering (and later a product portfolio) is a very important factor
which is sometimes overlooked as many companies try to emulate successful
offerings and solutions from other deployments.
Some of the key points to keep in mind are:
vision and long term strategy – Most of the successful companies have a
well-defined long term vision and strategy with respect to offering mobile
money services. For instance, a company can aspire to be the leading low cost
provider for person-to-person transfer services or it can aspire to be a
leading service provider in the retail payments segment. A clear vision also
helps senior management develop a long term commitment to the service. This
often takes substantial initial funding towards mobile money deployments and at
to five years to become profitable.
needs of the market – A clear and articulated value proposition, in terms
of addressing the ‘market specific’ needs for mobile money, goes a long way
towards ensuring success of the deployment. There is no ‘One size fits all’
business model or offering which can cater to different markets in the emerging
or the developed economies. For example, M-Pesa has gained its popularity and
scale by uniquely positioning the product to address the remittance need of the
Kenyan population; its value proposition being: “send money home.” WIZZIT in South Africa focuses on “live life
anywhere” by addressing the mobile banking needs of their consumers. Other
avenues can be business-to-business payments, bill pay, salary payments, and so
on. In the planning phase, a thorough market research can help develop a deep
understanding of consumer’s pain points in the specific market which can be
addressed effectively by the mobile money deployment.
awareness – The bulk of potential consumers in the emerging markets are
from the informal economy, people who are unbanked and use other formal and
informal means such as post offices, banks, or personal networks for money
transfer. This target segment is mostly unaware of the potential for and
features of newly launched mobile money offerings. They also have security
apprehensions associated with mobile money transfers and lack of initial
technology understanding. For example, some of my colleagues were initially worried
about security of their payments while using newly launched mobile payments
services by BharatiAirtel.
Hence, a concerted and targeted marketing campaign goes a long way in
addressing the apprehensions of the target segment.
Features –This target customer base from the informal segment in emerging
economies wants the service to be Fast (Instant transfer of money over long
distance and without any queues), Inexpensive (in comparison to costlier
credit/debit cards or informal payment methods), Safe (Holding value and making
payments that is safer than holding and transacting cash) and Accessible (able
to cash out, make purchases, and receive money in remote areas). For example,
as per a white
paper by IBM, cost of sending 1000 Ksh ($13.06) through M-Pesa is $0.38
which is cheaper than any other service available in Kenya such as PostaPay and
Partnerships – Research suggests that making the right partnerships at the
right time helps a) align the business and its new/existing products with the
overall vision on an ongoing basis, b) continuously learn and address the needs,
challenges and new demands of the market and c) expand and reach scale. The
partnerships can be with technology partners, banks and financial institutions,
MNOs, agent networks, retail chains and other corporate organizations.
For example, Bank Bradesco and the Post Office in
Brazil have partnered to create Banco Brazil. The partnership has been able to
effectively attract rural populations boosting the business of both companies. Another
interesting partnership is in Japan, a developed economy. Sony partnered with
DoCoMo, a MNO, to form a joint venture – FeliCa Networks. They produced both the mobile phone chip and card
reader which enable them to manage downloads and applications for consumers and
merchants and gain a strong foothold in the mobile payment market.
There is a lot to be learned and written on the effective management
of agent networks. The agent network is the effective face of the company for
consumers. I can try to explore this
factor in more detail in one of my subsequent posts.
Look forward to your comments and
Do you know which industry is adopting analytics fastest? Do you know which industry has the biggest problem with social skills? Now you can find out.
The latest IBM Tech Trends Study surveyed over 1200 IT and business decision-makers – IT managers, business professionals and IT practitioners from 16 different industries and 13 countries – to assess how and why enterprises are adopting four emerging technologies – Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Social Business – that are dramatically transforming how enterprises operate.
The study showed that Business Analytics and Mobile Computing represent a large swell, with over half of respondents already adopting these technologies. Cloud Computing and Social Business form a coming wave, with 40% currently piloting or planning to adopt by 2014. Furthermore, enterprises’ projected investment in the four areas is surging: 55% or more plan to increase investment in Mobile, Cloud, and Business Analytics, and 43% project increased investment in Social Business.
Despite the momentum in these areas, the study also uncovered a critical shortage of IT skills: Across all four technology areas, only about 1 in 10 companies reports having all the skills needed to be successful, and a quarter of respondents report major skill gaps.
A Deeper Dive: the Tech Trends Industry Dashboard
Today we’re launching a new interactive dashboard that allows you to explore the study findings in a dynamic way, by industry and by tech area. You can investigate adoption, investment, and skills for a particular industry within each tech area and sort to see how that industry compares to others, or to the cross-industry average.
Here’s one example. I chose Analytics, then Adoption Levels, and sorted by “Deployment” (and also clicked to “show percentages”):
We see that Insurance, Media and Entertainment, and Banking are the top three front runner industries in terms of high adoption of Analytics. Where does your industry fall?
You can also click on a particular industry name to bring up a graph specific to that industry; here we see Analytics skill levels reported by Media and Entertainment organizations:
It appears that Media and Entertainment is doing better on Analytics skills than the average: 23% have all the skills they need for Analytics, versus just 13% across all industries.
Sharing your insights
Are you successfully surfing one of the big tech waves but getting knocked down by another? Regarding your enterprise itself, do you think you’re outpacing your industry, keeping up, or lagging?
If you have particular insights about your industry’s position, please share them. All the graphs you encounter in the exploration are shareable – use the social media buttons or the embed code located beneath each graph to embed the graph within a blog, web page, or social media site. The embedded graph retains all the interactive functionality of the full dashboard.
Happy exploring – and we hope you’ll join the conversation around these findings!
January was a very busy month for the Center team. After wrapping up the holidays, we put the final polish on our study of African IT leaders and finished a deeper look at cloud initiatives and how software as a service plays a role. We kicked of a self-assessment on SaaS uses which we'll share later this month, along with exploring research ideas for sourcing, cloud, tech trends, mobile, and social business.
"IBM’s data and findings complement and support a position that Saugatuck has long espoused, to wit: the role(s) and attitudes/approaches of IT leaders and groups would change as SaaS / Cloud becomes more mainstream, and as it becomes more important to business success." - Information Management
“This study really helped to clarify and expose the fact that SaaS has taken center stage in companies of all sizes,” he said. “The big take away is that there is a marked difference in behaviors between the most successful companies and the rest of the pack, and that the two big drivers of business success with SaaS and cloud in general are alignment between IT and the lines-of-business and the presence of a broader cloud computing strategy.” - Armen Najarian, program director for SaaS Marketing, IBM quoted in SiliconANGLE
"When it comes to SaaS specifically, a new IBM Study released Jan. 28 found that leading enterprises—those gaining competitive advantage through broad SaaS adoption—are collaborating more effectively through social business tools." - eWEEK
February's signature experiences within IBM focus on Africa. Our study, developed with the Center for CIO Leadership, looked at how IT leaders deliver on the potential of emerging technolgies "Setting the pace in Africa." But, don't take our word on it...
“The primary reasons for not moving on adoption were a need for technology leaders to play a greater role in strategic business leadership, a lack of IT skills development across the continent, and information security concerns,” said IBM General Manager for East Africa, Nicholas Nesbitt. -Capital FM
"The survey shows that companies have found ways of empowering their IT leaders through a cultural shift as well as internal engagement between business leaders and their business peers." - All Africa
Susanne Hupfer Client Insights, Consultant IBM Center for Applied Insights
Ever wonder what makes one infographic hit the mark and another one miss? There's more science to it than you might think.
Information graphics – visual representations of information, data,
knowledge, or concepts – have been around for millennia, and humans have
long mapped data in order to organize what they see, filter out
extraneous details, reveal patterns, suggest further exploration, and
ultimately better understand the world around them.
"Why should we be interested in visualization? Because the human visual system is a pattern seeker of enormous power and subtlety. The eye and the visual cortex of the brain form a massively parallel processor that provides the highest-bandwidth channel into human cognitive centers. At higher levels of processing, perception and cognition are closely interrelated, which is the reason why the words ‘understanding’ and ‘seeing’ are synonymous.” (Colin Ware, Information Visualization: Perception for Design, Academic Press, 2000)
Anyone responsible for creating infographics in order to communicate complex information effectively can benefit by taking advantage of lessons from visual perception research.
Prof. Colin Ware, of the Data Visualization Research Lab at the University of New Hampshire, explains:
“… the visual system has its own rules. We can easily see patterns presented in certain ways, but if they are presented in other ways, they become invisible. … The more general point is that when data is presented in certain ways, the patterns can be readily perceived. If we can understand how perception works, our knowledge can be translated into rules for displaying information. Following perception-based rules, we can present our data in such a way that the important and informative patterns stand out. If we disobey the rules, our data will be incomprehensible or misleading.”
One important lesson we can leverage from vision science is an understanding of which elements will prominently “pop out” of an image – thanks to a mechanism known as “pre-attentive processing.” As our brains start to process an image, massively parallel processes detect image elements that are differentiated by low-level characteristics such as form, color, motion, and spatial position. The principles of pre-attentive processing govern which visual elements grab our attention first, before we’ve even begun to consciously process the image.
Here’s a simple example to illustrate the point. Count the number of 9’s appearing in this set of digits:
This time was a lot easier and quicker, thanks to the fact that our brains process lightness pre-attentively.
Some features that are pre-attentively processed include: color (hue and intensity), form (line orientation, line length and width, size, shape, curvature), motion (flicker, direction), and spatial position (2D position, spatial grouping).
For some more pre-attentive fun, visit the demo at this site, choose a feature, and see how immediately and easily your visual system is able to process it.
Understanding what kinds of features are pre-attentively processed has important implications for visual displays. When designing for critical situations such as air traffic control, flight display, or clinical care dashboards, it’s crucial to understand how to make certain symbols or elements stand out from others so they can be interpreted and acted upon immediately.
Likewise, if you’re designing infographics, it’s also important to understand which elements will be seen at first glance – they’re your first chance to grab your reader’s attention, even before conscious processing. Using color, size, shape, orientation, and other pre-attentive attributes, you’ll need to carefully craft which are the most important elements that should “pop out” first.
But choose carefully; not every element of your infographic can stand out. Vision science tells us that pre-attentive elements become less distinct as the assortment of patterns increases. Imagine a bumblebee swarming among flies; the bee is easy to pick out. Now imagine wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets joining the swarm, and the bumblebee will get lost in the mix. So it is with an infographic: As the multitude of competing pre-attentive elements increases, their “power to pop” will be diminished.
Derek Franks Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
The era of “Big Data” presents a variety of challenges and opportunities for marketers. With the increase in volume, velocity, and granularity of data, marketers can become much more precise in how they interact with both the marketplace and individual customers. But the same time, when you’re dealing with large volumes of data, it’s easy to over-fit your models and mistake “noise” for “signal”, to borrow a concept from Nate Silver’s excellent book, The Signal and the Noise.
This is something that we’ve been dealing with internally at IBM for a while now. In response, we’ve developed a framework internally that we think may help others refine their own approach to generating insights from data.
We call this framework “Marketing Science”. This is a 3-step framework consisting of “Architecting Data”, “Applying Science”, and “Influencing Action”. The fundamental idea is to apply the scientific method to developing insights within a business setting. This presents unique challenges in and of itself. But there are some basic concepts to keep in mind:
"Architecting" (or collecting and structuring) data is extremely important. The rest of the process depends on getting access to the right data from a variety of sources and if you haven’t done a good job of dealing with data across your enterprise, it’s like trying to run a 100m race with your shoes untied.
A hypothesis-test-refine approach to data analysis is central to the concept of Marketing Science. Developing and testing hypotheses is one of the main ways you limit your exposure to over-fitting data.
Within a business setting, insights are only valuable in so far as they’re able to inform decision-making and/or influence action. At the end of the day, driving business outcomes is the goal of Marketing Science. Keeping this in mind helps to keep you focused through the first two steps. And it means that once you’ve uncovered a nugget of insight, the real work may just be getting started as you take that insight back to the business.
Marketing Science is a fascinating topic that we’ll be talking about quite a bit more moving forward. We’ve conducted some market research that I think will be very enlightening and have started collecting some use-cases of how we’re applying these principles in a practical sense. In the meantime, if you have any comments or thoughts on developing insights from data, we’d love to hear from you.
We hear a lot of chatter about a growing IT skills gap, both here in the US and globally. A recent New York Times article provided some statistics that were both frightening and illuminating. Approximately 20 percent of American adults don’t use the Internet at home, work, or school, and don’t own a web-enabled mobile device. While the government has funded a $7 billion effort to expand Internet access across the country, there has been little to no increase in adoption. Employment opportunities are increasingly web-based, but digital literacy rates have remained stagnant.
This gap is not only apparent in the general population, but also in the IT workforce. At the Center for Applied Insights, skills gaps often emerge in our studies as top barriers to success in specific fields. Our 2012 Tech Trends study, which surveyed more than 1200 IT professionals, found that only 1 in 10 organizations has all the skills it needs to be successful. This indicates a major gap – and when we talked to students and educators to get headlights into the future - roughly 75 percent of them report a moderate to major gap in their ability to meet the skill needs of the IT workforce. If the workforce of tomorrow and their teachers are telling us the gap is this big – clearly there’s a problem.
There is also a major skills gap in the security realm. In “Cybersecurity education for the next generation”, we addressed the need for cybersecurity-related academic programs around the world. Less than 60 percent of the students and educators surveyed believe their academic programs address the creation and development of IT security practices for emerging technologies such as Mobile, Cloud, and Social Business.
How can we close it?
Forbes, like the New York Times, wrote an article about the skills gap, emphasizing the disconnect between traditional education institutions and the current, fast-changing job market. Bottom line: institutions aren’t evolving as quickly as they should; only 42 percent of employers believe recent graduates are ready for work. Forbes’ solution? Job seekers must take it upon themselves to develop their own skills, by utilizing online resources. At the same time, companies must invest in comprehensive training programs for their diverse group of new employees, and make job requirements clearer. Noticeably absent was a suggestion for how traditional education institutions can improve. IBM has a tactic to address this. Ad Age featured a story on how IBM, in partnership with its clients, works with academic institutions to design programs that prepare students for real world IT work experience. Examples of these programs include integration with GM at Michigan State, and GlaxoSmithKline at Yale.
At the IBM Center for Applied Insights, we’ve looked at the IT skills gap from both the supply and demand sides. In terms of demand, our Tech Trends paper provides suggestions for IT leaders and practitioners on how to close this gap. For IT leaders, we suggest encouraging skill development across a range of disciplines, designing diverse teams and using social tools to assemble expertise, and extending the skills mission beyond IT, making business leaders smarter consumers of analytics. For practitioners, we suggest concentrating on integrating expertise and deepening specialized skills while broadening knowledge across new areas. Practitioners must combine areas of expertise to deliver more value, strengthen business acumen, and use social tools to solicit and supply expertise.
On the supply side, we discovered that cybersecurity education programs are entering a period of transformation. In order to work in concert with today’s demands, we suggest five key initiatives. (1) Increase awareness of security across the academic community, and produce more graduates from cybersecurity programs. (2) Treat security education as a global issue. (3) Approach security comprehensively, linking technical to non-technical fields. (4) Seek innovative ways to fund labs and pursue real-world projects. (5) Advance a “science of security”.
As technology continues to rapidly transform, skills gaps will continue to emerge. While we won’t try to tackle the 20 percent of non-Internet users in the US population, we in the Tech world have the tools to bridge the gaps in the IT workforce. We must be innovative, adaptable, and forward-thinking. What are the next skills gaps that we’ll explore? Stay tuned for more studies from the Center for Applied Insights that address this skills gap, specifically looking at IT leadership in Africa.