A few months ago, the U.S. government warned of an increase in cybercrimes against hospitals and healthcare providers. Many hackers want to take advantage of the disruption that COVID-19 is causing in the industry. From ransomware to data theft to interference with services, online criminals are using a variety of different methods to hack in and gain access to healthcare computer systems.

One study by Comparitech found there were 92 ransomware attacks that hit 600 different clinics, hospitals, and healthcare providers last year alone. The cost is estimated to be nearly $21 billion. Over 18 million patient records have been at risk. When compared with 2019, researchers say there has been a 60 percent increase in attacks on healthcare organizations.

 

 

Healthcare is Primed for Cyberattacks

The healthcare industry is a prime target for cyberattacks due to the connectivity of computers, medical devices, and patient data. A rising number of organizations are falling prey to hackers, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and biomedical businesses. Unfortunately, many of these companies are not in a position to protect their systems and data as well as those in other industries.

 

One key factor may be the prevailing view that healthcare executives have when it comes to technology. Most consider cybersecurity a compliance issue rather than a business risk. From this perspective, healthcare organizations have not invested in technology or training up staff in proper cyber hygiene practices. This lack of preparation has left healthcare companies at high risk for cyber attacks. Compared with other industries such as the banking and finance sector, healthcare CIOs have not taken cybersecurity as seriously as it should.

 

 

Hospital IT Needs to Bolster its Security Practices

As a response to the increase in attacks on hospitals and other healthcare centers, IT leaders need to strengthen their security practices. Protecting systems and patients can be done in several ways, starting with innovative cybersecurity solutions.

 

It begins with healthcare CIOs realizing the threat and taking it seriously. Unfortunately, one survey found that 96 percent of IT professionals said that data hackers had a leg up when it comes to technology. Most budget allocation for cybersecurity is not proactive but instead a response to a data breach the organization experienced.

 

Another high-risk factor cause by COVID-19 is the increase in remote work. Employees working from home have been given little direction with regards to cyber hygiene. Only 10 percent of healthcare or hospital workers who shifted to at-home work received updated guidelines. Healthcare CIOs need to train employees on basic cybersecurity practices, such as recognizing phishing attacks.

 

IT departments need to actively monitor the devices, computers, and systems at their organization. Hospitals using IoT connected devices should have a process for tracking key data like IP addresses, printers, and local area networks. Moreover, there needs to be an established procedure to disconnect devices or systems quickly when an anomaly is detected.

 

 

Ransomware is the Chief Concern

Ransomware has been a major problem for medical facilities. What can make it worse is when a healthcare provider pays the ransom, which only encourages attackers. While the total amount paid in ransomware attacks last year is scarce, data from three attacks published by Comparitech shows how profitable these types of cybercrimes can be:

  • Champaign-Urbana Public Health District paid over $300,000;
  • The University of San Francisco’s School of Medicine paid $1.14m;
  • The University Hospital New Jersey paid $672,744.

 

Downtime can add to the cost of ransomware attacks. Hours, days, weeks, and even months can be spent trying to get systems back up and running.

 

Healthcare workers are prime targets for ransomware attacks as many are stressed, overworked, and worn out from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees may be more likely to click on risky links sent via email or text message in their weakness.

 

 

Being informed, prepared, and proactive is vital to protect healthcare organizations from cyberattacks. Healthcare CIOs need to invest in security tools, train staff in cyber hygiene practices, and update policies and procedures for remote workers. While there are no guarantees when it comes to cyberattacks, the more protection you can place around your organization, the less damage a hacker can cause.

Vision statements are the cornerstone of an organization. With a vision statement, a company develops its purpose and its focus. The statement is used to galvanize support from employees and other stakeholders. It is also how a business starts building its public image or reputation. Unfortunately, some companies fail to grasp the power of a vision statement, which leads to a lack of performance and effectiveness.

Too many vision statements have become generalized to the point where they don’t say anything about the company’s purpose. It is essential to recognize that a company’s vision statement is not the same as about us or history. To cultivate a meaningful workplace culture, a vision statement should be sharp and precise. When done right, a vision statement can be the key to successful digital transformation.

 

 

How to Create a Vision Statement

Creating a vision statement takes some time, and you’ll want to craft it carefully. Here are some things to keep in mind as you build it.

  • Be concise. The best vision statements are concise and clear. They get right to the point. Think about a statement that could be printed on the back of your business cards. When creating your vision statement, use fewer words, not more.
  • Easy to recall. A good mission statement is one that people can remember easily, which goes back to the first point: Keep it short. While you don’t need a statement that people can remember word for word, they should be able to recall the basic idea or point of your vision.
  • Original. You want your vision statement to show how you stand out from the competition in your industry. Consider researching what some of the top brands in your space use as vision statements and work on writing something different. Even if you want to convey the same idea as a competitor, find a new way to say it, or you’ll risk being overlooked.
  • Practical. Try not to make your vision statement too lofty or unrealistic. Be practical in what your company can achieve. Create a statement that employees will be able to accomplish. Anything too ambitious or too focused on the long-term may put off others.
  • Up-to-date. A vision statement doesn’t need to be recrafted regularly, but it should be reviewed on occasion. Doing this will ensure that your company stays focused and that your vision statement accurately reflects your plans and goals for the organization. For example, technological advancements may change the purpose or focus of your business. In this situation, you’ll want to update your vision statement.

 

 

How to Overcome Resistance

Change can be difficult for most people, and updating or creating a vision statement may reflect a change for your organization and employees. If your vision statement leads to changes in employee tasks or daily routines, you’ll face resistance. This is particularly true when it comes to digital transformation. But this doesn’t need to stop you from doing it.

 

Vision statements take time to develop and will require collaboration among senior leadership. Understanding the process and finesse it takes to get a vision statement right can be difficult for some people to grasp. Those involved in the process need to understand the challenges of creating a vision statement. It’s a team effort and can also lead to stronger working relationships in the organization.

 

When it comes to making changes, small steps are best. Taking baby steps forward can help employees understand that senior management is serious about the new vision. This, in turn, will enable them to buy into the new direction or vision for your organization.

 

 

How to Link Enterprise and IT Vision

IT vision statements need to be connected to your overall business vision statement. Trying to write a statement for your IT department without linking it to your enterprise statement may cause confusion. It can be challenging to see the point of a vision statement for IT that doesn’t align with the business goals or vision.

 

However, one way to overcome this challenge is to start with small efforts. Seek the input of two or three senior IT employees. Use your business vision statement to help everyone focus on developing a related IT vision statement. If the group can create some plausible statements, run them by the rest of the IT team. Ask for some feedback and see if everyone can agree. If so, then you’ll have successfully created an IT vision statement. However, if there is a lack of consensus, your best option may be to stop working on it. You may want to pick it up at a later time or not, but unless you can get your IT team to buy into the vision, it won’t be worth your effort.

 

 

A vision statement can be a very powerful tool for an organization, particularly when it comes to digital transformation. The statement is a way to unite and focus everyone at the company. By taking your time and employing best practices like being concise, original, and realistic, you’ll be able to create a vision statement that galvanizes support from employees and other stakeholders.

The world has undergone rapid transformation since COVID-19 first began spreading quickly just over a year ago. Businesses were forced to shift most of their operations to suit remote settings. Processes were also adjusted and adapted to fit the changing climate. Now, as many people get immunized against the virus, leaders are considering what the work landscape will look like for the future.

It is clear that things are not likely to go back to what they were before the global pandemic. Most organizations’ tech teams are contemplating how to move forward safely. While the world continues to recover, the lasting impact that COVID will have on IT includes:

  • Increase focus on agility
  • Need for external collaboration
  • Importance of Cybersecurity
  • IT as a strategic partner

 

 

Agility is a Top Priority

The sudden arrival of the global pandemic caused businesses to scramble to update their operations. Adjusting to remote workplaces demanded a change to processes and routines.  Customer behaviors and distribution chains have undergone considerable upheaval during the past year. Companies have been forced to change along with a transforming global economy.  In this climate, agility has become a top priority. Those organizations that have been able to shift operations online are the ones that will thrive.

 

Over the past several months, IT departments have had the opportunity to become more agile and really demonstrate what they are capable of. Companies have been able to create successful remote workplaces because of the efforts of IT leaders. They have shown a capacity to scale up and down at a dramatic pace.

 

 

External Collaboration is Essential

COVID has also changed the face of collaboration. IT teams have seen the importance of external collaboration in crisis. Accessing resources and information is essential to staying ahead of the competition.

 

While external collaboration was on the rise prior to COVID, the global pandemic has substantially increased the adoption of collaborative practices. It forced companies to abandon their strictly internal IT policies and improve their partnerships with external experts.

 

Moving forward, organizations will become more reliant on external collaboration such as the cloud to help them innovate and stay competitive. This shift will lead to an increase in external collaboration for IT departments.

 

 

Cybersecurity Can’t be Ignored

Unfortunately, many IT teams were unprepared for the disruption caused by COVID. While those in the industry have become adept at monitoring and tracking threats online, such as ransomware or denial of service attacks, they were not equipped for a global pandemic. Unlike preparations made to respond to cybersecurity, there wasn’t enough time to create a roadmap or list of technology solutions. Rather, COVID hit hard and fast.

 

As a response to the global pandemic, organizations’ IT departments have started to create response plans for infectious disease alongside their plans for other global emergencies like natural disasters. This change will stick around post-pandemic, and organizations will be all the better for it.

 

 

IT is a Strategic Partner

When COVID hit and began disrupting business operations, IT stepped up to find solutions. Some companies were even able to use their advanced technology capability to develop new services and products that helped customers weather the global pandemic. For example, a number of retailers began offering online ordering and curbside pickup, restaurants offered no-contact delivery, and smaller tech companies were able to gain widespread use of their solutions, such as Zoom and Teams.

 

Some of these solutions include financial innovations like contactless payment options. While the technology has been around for some time, COVID caused a higher demand for safer solutions. An increase in demand for this type of technology helped advance it much faster than it would have if there was no global pandemic. 

 

These changes solidified IT as a strategic business partner as they helped businesses thrive during a massive global economic shift.

 

 

Over the past year, the business world and global economy have undergone rapid transformation in response to COVID-19. Technology and IT teams have facilitated the shift to remote work, online operations, and even the development of new services and products. While the world slowly gets back to life post-pandemic, some of these IT changes are here to stay.  The impact that COVID has had on businesses has made agility a top priority. External collaboration has become essential, cybersecurity efforts have been expanded, and IT has come into its own as a strategic partner. As businesses move forward, they will be more reliant and trusting of their IT partners to help them thrive and grow.

 

At Technossus we want to become a strategic IT partner with you. Let us help you future proof your business. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Organizations need to adopt some AI to stay competitive and efficient. But rather than simply buying AI solutions because the technology is available, companies need to define a strategy for every solution they adopt. It is good business practice and a savvy way to employ the technology.

Developing an AI strategy may take a little time and consideration. To help you determine the best AI solutions that will fit your specific business, here are some steps you can take to examine AI use cases.

 

 

Step 1 – Identify AI Use Cases

To get the most out of your AI strategy, you need to connect it to your business strategy. Thus, the first step is to identify your business goals and challenges. These may include:

  • Creating Smart products
  • Gaining a better sense of your customers’ needs and expectations
  • Developing more efficient business processes
  • Automating tasks to improve the use of employee time and talent

Once you have defined your specific business goals, identify possible AI options that can help you meet those goals or overcome those challenges. These options will be your AI use cases. Don’t limit yourself to a short list of possibilities but consider all the AI solutions available.

 

At this stage, you’ll also want to write down details of your goals and challenges.

 

Support Strategic Business Goals

There are many different and exciting things that AI can do, and it is easy to get distracted. Every AI solution you invest in must be connected with a business goal. If the AI use case is not linked to a business goal, it may not be the best use of your resources and time.

 

Specify the Approach

Consider what type of AI approach you will need, such as machine learning, computer vision, etc., to achieve your goal. Also, be clear about the kind of data you’ll need for your objective. It can be beneficial to hire an AI consultant to help you with this step.

 

Define KPI’s

It is essential to define your key performance indicators (KPIs), which will help you gauge whether you have been successful with your AI adoption. Consider the indicator you can measure that is related to your business goal or objective. Although it is not vital, gathering data prior to implementing your AI solution is the best way to determine your success.

 

 

Step 2 – Rank AI Use Cases

In the first step, you may have identified a large number of AI opportunities. However, tackling them all will take time, and you’ll need to prioritize the projects. The purpose of ranking your AI use cases is to narrow down your list to just one or two strategic use cases and identify some quick wins.

 

Decide Your Top Priorities

Your top AI priorities will be the ones that hold the most opportunity for your business or the AI use cases that will help you solve your biggest challenges. Smaller organizations may only want to tackle one top priority at a time, while a larger company could take on up to three. It is important not to take on too many AI projects but rather to stay focused on strategic ones.

 

Consider Quick Wins

To help your company gain momentum, look for projects on your list that would be quick and easy to implement. These will be smaller projects that won’t cost too much time or money. The goal with AI quick wins is to demonstrate the power and capability of the technology. It also helps bring people around to your way of thinking, and the more support you have for your AI projects, the better.

 

You’ll likely have some projects that didn’t make it to either list. Rather than tossing them away, put them to the side for now and see if you can tackle them in the future. Make it a practice to review your AI use cases every year or every time you update your business strategy.

 

 

Step 3 – Establish an AI Center of Excellence

Employing AI use cases involves more than just buying the solution and training up employees. There needs to be some long-term oversight over the project. Consider establishing a center of excellence or a group of individuals who will assume ownership of the project. This team can be charged with tracking the progress of the AI project and scrutinizing its performance over time.

 

The challenge for organizations for this step is finding the right talent or expertise that can accurately monitor the project. Often times the best solution is to outsource the task to AI experts. Having the right eyes overseeing the project is key to getting the most from your AI use cases.

Advancing technology has led to an increase in data volumes in modern-day laboratories. This excess in data is an opportunity for improving innovation and allowing for timely and efficient decisions. However, large amounts of data can bring new challenges. This is particularly true for data management and processing.

One way that laboratories have responded to these new challenges is to automate and integrate operations and processes.  Doing so offers digital continuity in the product lifecycle. Fitting lab instruments together with Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) is a pro-active way to automate processes and manage data.

 

Some of the instruments that can be integrated with LIMS include GC, GCMS, HPLC, LCMS, ICP, Particle Counters, DNA Sequencers, Balances, Titrators, and AA Analyzers.

 

 

Benefits of Device Integration

There are several benefits that labs can get from device integration including:

 

Operation Efficiency and Productivity

LIMS integration can improve lab efficiency and scientist productivity. Lab instruments that are integrated can receive run information directly from the LIMS. This can save scientists time. Without the need to do manual transcription or transferring data from the instrument to LIMS, a scientist can save even more time. This can improve overall productivity for the lab.

 

Data Quality and Integrity

Automation can also remove data transcription errors in workflows. Thus, instrument integration can lead to better data quality and integrity. The FDA has been concerned with data integrity recently, particularly with regards to the data pathway between lab instruments and the LIMS

or ELN. By using a properly validated system labs can get rid of concerns over data integrity.

 

User Satisfaction 

Lab scientists often find the task of writing results down and manually entering data to be tedious and time-consuming. Integrating instruments with LIMS can save scientists time and effort. This allows them to spend their time on more challenging and important tasks. Improving user satisfaction is one of the best reasons to adopt device integration.

 

Innovation Opportunities

With scientists free from time-consuming tasks like data transcription, they will have more time to focus on work that leads to innovation. Moreover, instrument integration offers data integrity and continuity that is needed for scientific collaboration. This can further increase innovation opportunities.

 

 

Device Integration Best Practices

To get the most from instrument integration, labs need to prevent time and cost overruns by employing careful planning and utilizing best practices. Here are some tips for device integration:

 

Assess Integration Opportunities with Current Devices

The best projects always start with a plan. Plans always include an investigation of what needs are present. Instrument integration works the same. Start by surveying the instruments in your lab so you understand the scope of the device integration that needs to be done. Note the options each instrument has for integration. Also, document the type and quantity of data that the instrument outputs.

 

Prioritize Integration Impact by Device

Device integration can be a time-consuming process. Allow yourself enough time to do it right. Once you have identified the instruments that should be integrated assess whether the effort to integrate it will be worth it. Let the estimated return on investment (ROI) be your lead. Consider things such as:

  • How often the instrument is used and how much data does it produce?
  • How essential are these data results for lab processes?
  • How much time and effort would device integration save scientists?
  • Would integration significantly improve data integrity in the lab?
  • How simple it is to connect the instrument to the network to integrate it with LIMS?

When contemplating the last question, include operating system actualization and compliance issues with the network. This may include company policies as well as the complexity of data produced by the device. 

 

 

Interface Critical Path Devices First

Create a plan that identifies the instruments that need to be integrated. Once that list has been created, start with the simplest ones first. Often this is the critical path instruments. These are  the ones with a high ROI that have a lot of value to your lab. Starting with the easiest device integrations first can help build momentum and morale among lab staff. Consider the instruments in your lab that have high data output as well as compatible software, such as a GC or HPLC.

 

 

Labs looking to improve productivity, data integration, and innovation will find that device integration is key. Whether you need to integrate older instruments with your LIMS or you have purchased new ones that have not yet been integrated it is worth the time and effort to undergo your device integration process.

 

New technology and tools are available that make instrument integration a less intimidating prospect. Many of the LIMS available can seamlessly interface instruments. With a good plan and best practices in hand, lab upgrade projects can create a good ROI.

An organization’s approach to risk is usually to either avoid it at all costs or embrace it and let it take the lead in decision making. An accurate understanding of risk management is essential for companies and tech departments to learn to harness the power and opportunities made available to them. Knowing the difference between risk appetite, risk tolerance, and risk threshold is vital for successful decision-making, efficient use of resources, and moving forward confidently.

 

Risk Appetite

Risk appetite refers to the approach an organization has when it comes to taking a risk to achieve business goals. In other words, how ready is a business prepared to take a chance to gain a 5 percent increase in profits? Will they be willing to take a risk to attract 10 percent more customers?

 

It is important to understand a company’s risk appetite for two main reasons.

  • Regulators want to know what type of risk management is being used at the company as well as the process of assessing risk at the organization.
  • Understanding the risk appetite helps decision-makers within the company know how much risk they should take when faced with an opportunity to do so.

 

For CIOs, knowing their organization’s risk appetite can help them understand how to use limited resources well, what type of new technology would be welcome at the company and how to strategize well to build a strong tech department.

 

 

Risk Tolerance

There are different levels of risk that companies can withstand. This is called the risk tolerance of the organization. It refers to the maximum amount of risk that the company could take out without serious consequences. Unlike risk appetite, which is an attitude towards taking risks, risk tolerance looks at specific risks and how much is acceptable by the organization. For example, the amount of disruption a company will tolerate in the case of a cyber-attack or malware.

 

CIOs need to be aware of the risk tolerance in different areas of the business. While an organization may have a moderate risk appetite when it comes to risks that could put them ahead of competitors, the organization’s risk tolerance may be relatively low when it comes to reputation. The reason for this difference is that the company may see their reputation as essential to their business.

 

Understanding where the risk tolerance is low helps CIOs know where to tread cautiously when it comes to risks and new technological developments. It may also be helpful for CIOs who want to take some risk to develop plans to mitigate it in areas of low-risk tolerance. Doing so can help get more of the leadership on board with the change.

 

 

Risk Threshold

The point at which risk becomes unacceptable is the risk threshold. When risk passes the tolerance level, there are two options left:

  • Use technology to bring the risk exposure down to a more acceptable level
  • Take and manage the risk through the organization’s risk process

 

It is essential for CIOs and members of the tech department to understand the organization’s risk threshold. Equipped with this knowledge, they can make the best decisions that fit the company’s willingness to take and manage risk. Moving a company forward with the right technology initiatives is a balancing act, and CIOs need the correct understanding to guide the process.  

 

 

Benefits of Effective Risk Management

With a good grasp of risk appetite, risk tolerance and risk threshold, CIOs will be well-positioned to make the best choices when it comes to using company resources and finances appropriately. It can also help members of the tech department focus their time and energy on projects that are within the scope of an organization’s risk tolerance and appetite.

 

Risk management is an excellent strategy and approach for CIOs to use when assessing problems with the department. There are times when the issues do not fall outside of the risk threshold and therefore pose little threat to the organization. This risk framework can also help CIOs communicate with other business leaders about potential projects or concerns using language that other managers will clearly understand. Having productive conversations is a direct result of understanding risk management.

Companies spend billions of dollars on cloud solutions, but it is not easy to see how much of that is wasted because of poor planning, flawed execution, ineffective oversight, internal fighting, or any number of obstacles. Having strong control over cloud spend is vital to prevent wasted resources and revenues. Moreover, it needs to be an on-going issue to prevent things from getting out of hand. The best way to curb cloud spending is by using a combination of technology, practices, and operations.

There are 5 ways that companies can reduce cloud spending including search for hidden costs, monitor workload needs, reduce waste, prepare for change, and understand current spending on cloud solutions.

 

 

Find Hidden Costs

Wasted money can happen in many different ways in the cloud. It may not be evident at first glance, which is why you’ll need to dig a little deeper to identify hidden costs on cloud spending. Look for unused resources such as storage space or other features. It is also good practice to cycle application environments, including development and testing parts if they are not in current use. Many companies can find themselves paying for oversized resources that they don’t need. Investigate costly practices like leaving VMs on or making non-production resources available even when these things are not needed. To see the cost-savings when it comes to the cloud, optimize by making good use of the auto-scaling and on-demand practice of the space.

 

 

Monitor Workload Needs

Reigning in cloud spending involves constantly monitoring workload needs. It is important to assess workloads and applications and make adjustments that include both current and future requirements. Getting the bigger picture of your company’s cloud activity can help you make the best decisions about optimization and spending.

 

If your organization has multi-cloud solutions it can be difficult to monitor each cloud space. Consider using automated cloud monitoring and management tools to uncover possible waste in your cloud computing solutions.

 

Another way to stay on top of cloud spending is to regularly do finance and software development reviews. These can be manual reviews or automated reports that are designed to provide accurate data that is key to making fast and effective decisions.

 

You should also use a monitoring tool that can identify unusual activity in your cloud space. These tools can help find waste, which you can quickly resolve.  

 

 

Reduce Waste from Haste

Moving into the cloud can deliver long-term value but it needs to be done carefully and with planning. Unfortunately, if cloud adoption happens without a strategy it can often lead to waste. Many organizations that quickly moved into the cloud in response to COVID-19 have started to regret their haste.

 

Rather, to make the most of cloud solutions for your business, you need to have some planning, which includes a consideration of the time it will take to transition and train people for new procedures and policies.

 

 

Anticipate Change

Organizations need to understand that a cloud strategy will change and evolve. Whether that is through SaaS additions, new cloud-native services, or other developments, it is best to prepare for a dynamic experience. To meet this challenge, develop an integrated strategy that brings together cloud governance, operations, and spending.

 

Cloud spending will not stay static. By design, the cloud environment can easily fluctuate to accommodate changing needs and demands. Therefore, businesses need to accept that cloud spending budgets will change over time depending on future needs and trends.

 

 

Understand Cloud Spend

Visibility and transparency are essential to understand cloud spending and resource usage. Governance can be a big part of creating this understanding. You’ll need to know what is being spent on cloud sub-accounts, so you have a full picture of your company’s cloud costs.

 

Gather the cost data from the top-level down to each microservice and database costs. Keep in mind that changes at these smaller levels can put you on the track to cloud optimization. If you attempt to tackle cloud spending issues from the top-down, you’ll find the prescription won’t be sustainable.

 

Examine cloud costs and how it fits into your business operating costs. Set goals and aim for ongoing improvement. Taking this approach will make you more willing and able to adopt technological advancements that can help you save money and run effective teams in the cloud.

 

 

As cloud spending continues to increase, companies will need to gain control over wasted resources and revenues. Five ways that companies can reduce cloud spending include finding hidden costs, monitoring workload needs, reducing waste, anticipating change, and understand current spending on cloud solutions. Controlling what you spend on cloud computing can help you optimize your cloud usage while still benefiting from the solutions.

Cloud technology has become commonplace in large and small companies, according to recent research. IDG’s latest survey found that  81 percent of participants had at least one application in the cloud. That is up 73 percent from just two years ago. The study also found that one-third of IT budgets will be directed at cloud solutions.

However, with new developments come new challenges.  Some of the biggest challenges that organizations face when utilizing the public cloud are controlling the costs, data privacy and security, protecting cloud resources, governance and compliance, and lack of expertise. Companies that want to get the most from the cloud should aim for public cloud optimization and have a strategy to overcome the challenges it presents.

 

 

What is Public Cloud Optimization?

Public cloud optimization refers to the process of selecting and allocating the right resources to get the most out of an application in a cloud platform. The end goal of optimizing for the cloud is to achieve efficiency. Each cloud application has its own needs and requirements that can also change over time.  So, it is important to have a strategy and update it regularly.

 

Cloud optimization can be used to reduce risks, increase compliance, and right-size the cloud solution. IDG Research has found that over half of those organizations that were surveyed were using more than one public cloud. This increased use of multiple cloud solutions underscores the importance of cloud optimization.

 

Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to get the most value out of the cloud solutions they buy. One of the most important considerations for enterprises and smaller businesses is the cost of cloud computing. Because the cloud has become such an important part of an organization, many have added new positions that oversee cloud investment such as cloud architects and cloud systems administrators.

 

 

Challenge 1 – Controlling Cloud Costs

Controlling cloud costs is a challenge that organizations of all sizes aim to overcome. IDG’s study found that 37 percent of enterprises struggle with the cost of cloud solutions. In addition, 43 percent of small or medium-sized businesses were concerned about controlling the cost of cloud apps. Researchers found that due to the rising costs, many companies have made costs a driving factor in the type of cloud solution they use. This is why organizations looking to cut down on cloud costs will often opt for a multi-cloud solution. This allows them the flexibility of software solutions offered buffet-style.

 

 

Challenge 2 – Data Privacy and Security

Data privacy and security challenges were another one of the top concerns organizations share when it comes to cloud computing. IDG found that 42 percent of enterprises struggle with it while 36 percent of small and medium-sized businesses found it a challenge. Keeping company and customer data secure will continue to be a major challenge in the future.

 

However, cloud providers understand this challenge and the importance of securing their platforms. Moreover, governments are also developing regulations to keep data out of the hands of cybercriminals. Organizations should avail themselves of the security and privacy offered by cloud providers, which should include elements like encryption. In addition, when it comes to public cloud resources, organizations that are most concerned with security are less likely to use multiple public clouds.

 

 

Challenge 3 – Protecting Cloud Resources

Protecting cloud resources is a challenge for many small and medium-sized businesses.  Unauthorized access can be prevented with good practices such as using a cloud service that encrypts, understanding user agreements, set up privacy settings, use strong passwords, set up two-factor authentication, and set up firewalls.

 

 

Challenge 4 – Governance and Compliance

Larger organizations were more likely to be concerned over governance and compliance when it came to cloud solutions. According to the survey, 39 percent of enterprises struggle with the issue. Many organizations saw multi-cloud management tools as a way to tackle the issue.

 

Organizations should have clearly defined cloud usage policies for employees. It is also important to limit access to cloud applications. This means that only certain employees will be permitted to use cloud services, based on their position and responsibilities in the company.

 

 

Challenge 5 – Lack of Expertise

Small and medium-sized businesses felt the lack of cloud security skills and expertise were a serious challenge. Of those surveyed, 28 percent cites lack of expertise as a challenge to cloud adaptation. Organizations have also relied on cloud management tools to overcome this hurdle. Companies have also started adding new positions to their ranks to oversee their cloud computing investment. IDG reported that 86 percent of enterprises and 53 percent of small or medium-sized businesses were looking at adding cloud architects or cloud system administrators to their company.

 

 

While the cloud presents organizations with a multitude of software solutions that are easily adaptable, flexible, and scalable, there are some challenges that the industry faces. Research has found that many organizations that employ cloud applications are concerned over issues like controlling cloud costs, data privacy and security, protecting resources, compliance, and lack of expertise. This is why it is important for public cloud optimization that companies have a strategy to help them overcome these challenges.

One of the biggest concerns that organizations have when it comes to online software solutions is controlling cloud costs. Many cloud platform providers understand this concern and offer a variety of options and features to fit different budgets. These companies also often provide cost management tools for users, which can be a helpful way to reign in soaring computing costs. However, for the most efficiency with cloud solutions, organizations should not rely on these tools alone.

There are four keys that can help organizations control cloud costs including defining a cost baseline, align architecture with best practices, leveraging right-sizing tactics, and modernizing applications for the cloud. Knowing these and putting them into practice can help companies better control cloud costs.

 

 

Define a Cost Baseline

A major part of any strategy is to define a baseline, which brings understanding to the issue. How that applies to controlling cloud costs is to understand cloud spending at two levels, the macro, and the micro. Once a cost baseline has been defined, it will be easier to set key metrics that measure whether cost optimization efforts have been successful or not. When setting your metrics, it is important to remember two things: Select things that can be measured objectively and choose factors that relate to the goal. For example, tracking spending by team or project.

 

 

Align Architecture with Best Practices

Organizations that are attempting to control cloud costs should examine the tools that cloud platform providers have that relate to cost optimization. These tools can help align architecture with best practices in the cloud. Some providers have tools that can point organizations in the right direction to reduce cloud computing costs. Moreover, these tools are often free for first time users, which can also be helpful to a company’s bottom line.

 

 

Leverage Right-Sizing Tactics

One cost controlling measure that often gets overlooked by companies is right-sizing. Some tactics for right-sizing that are used by AWS are spot instances, reserve instances, and savings plans. By using one or all of these at different times, organizations will be able to cut down their spending on cloud solutions.

 

Spot instances are usually where organizations will find the most cost savings. With spot instances, the cloud provider does not commit to offering the solution at a specified time. Rather, users decide what they’d like to run and for how long. When capacity becomes available, users will be permitted access. This makes spot instances an ideal fit for flexible workloads such as batch processing.

 

Cloud users could also opt for reserve instances or savings plans that can also be a good way to curb cloud spending. Each cloud provider offers their own type of these programs that can lead to big discounts for users. The exchange is that users will only use the platform once or make a multi-year commitment. However, organizations need to be clear on the fine print of these programs so that they don’t get caught in a commitment to a defined amount of usage. In addition, an organization’s needs can change over time. Leveraging right-size tactics will be an ongoing exercise for companies that want to get the most out of their cloud investment.

 

 

Modernize Applications for the Cloud

Although modernizing applications for the cloud requires more time and energy, it can be one of the best ways to control cloud costs. Transitioning from on-site services to cloud-ready applications allows a company to benefit from cloud functionality like scaling and flexibility. These will also enable an organization to get the most efficiency from their cloud investment.

 

Other advantages can come with moving to the cloud including process optimization, improved productivity, and optimized utilization. Yet, because most businesses rely heavily on legacy applications it is important to have a strategy to modernize for the cloud. This will ensure the most flexibility, agility, and innovation.

 

 

Controlling cloud costs without losing the benefits that come with cloud computing is a balancing act that many organizations find themselves doing. While cloud platform providers offer cost management tools, it is vital to go beyond these tools to cut down on the cost of the cloud. 

 

Four of the keys to saving on cloud spending including defining a cost baseline, aligning architecture with best practices, leveraging right-sizing tactics, and modernizing applications for the cloud. Making these a central part of a company’s cloud procedures can help control cloud costs.

It is easy to understand why quality control is key to lab testing. An inaccurate result can prevent a patient from getting the care they need. Alternatively, it may lead to undue stress for a patient who was given the wrong diagnosis.  An inaccurate test result hurts more than just the patient. It can also damage the reputation of a lab. This, in turn, costs the trust of patients and medical professionals.

 

To ensure that lab testing has the right quality control measures in place, there are four aspects of quality control in labs that are important to know. From understanding the consequences of poor testing quality control to external and internal controls to sensitivity pressure tests to daily control runs. These tips can help unlock quality control testing that can help labs do their best for patients and clinicians.

 

 

The Consequences of Poor Testing Quality Control

While many lab managers understand the importance of updating test quality control, often the costs involved can seem too steep. Budgets must be adhered to, but it is just as important to calculate the cost of quality control failure. By not adopting higher standards, a lab may actually be paying a higher price. When working out the costs of updating quality control consider the following factors:

  • Failed runs – The easiest cost to calculate when it comes to poor quality control is failed runs. Doing a test over will lead to twice the cost. This is why it is important to know what the failure rate is for the lab so that these costs can be measured against the expense of updating quality control.
  • Troubleshooting – Another cost that needs to be calculated is the price of equipment downtime. Instrument failures require some troubleshooting, which can be a resource drain on both personnel and equipment. There are also times when troubleshooting is more complex. This leads to expensive outsourcing of testing while the equipment is being repaired. These costs add up quickly. It is important to consider whether further quality control could help prevent these scenarios.
  • Failed proficiency testing – Labs do not need an updated quality control system, but they do need to be involved in a proficiency testing program. A healthy quality control procedure can help a lab prepare for this type of testing. Failure of proficiency testing will come with an additional cost for investigation and corrective measures. Moreover, some scenarios of failed proficiency testing can lead to a loss of lab certification.
  • Inaccurate results – A patient’s health and a lab’s reputation can both be at risk when inaccurate test results are reported. This is one of the main reasons that labs need to update their quality control measures.

 

Materials needed for updating quality control can be expensive, but it is important to compare the price with the cost of poor quality control for labs.

 

 

External and Internal Controls

One of the quickest ways to improve testing quality control is by adding external, third-party controls to daily testing. Unfortunately, many labs consider the internal controls that are provided in manufacturers assay kits are all they need for quality control. Yet, internal controls alone do not always offer an accurate assessment of performance. This is because the internal controls are made with the same materials as assay calibrators. Moreover, they are mass-manufactured and go through several lot changes. This makes them ineffective for quality control as they are not always able to detect performance issues that cause inaccurate test results.

 

To compensate for these drawbacks, using internal and external controls can give a lab a more accurate picture.  

 

 

Assay Sensitivity Pressure Tests

Assay’s often sure failure at the limit of detection. This is where the true sensitivity of an assay can be tested. This point is also where performance failures can have the most detrimental outcomes. This is near the clinical decision point.

 

Test kits often come with internal controls that mimic strong positive samples. These, however, do not come close to the clinical decision point. This is where the benefit of having third-party control can be truly seen. Most of these test samples are designed to be weak, which makes them ideal to uncover performance problems at lower limits of detection.   

 

 

Run Daily Controls

While most lab managers understand that daily quality control testing is important, it is also best to run external controls each day. Depending on the lab, some managers may call for running controls with each shift change. Moreover, if there have been performance problems with an assay, it is best to run more control tests on it regularly.

 

 

Quality control is an essential element for lab testing. The cost of updating quality control measures should always be weighed against the price of poor quality control. Failed runs, poor proficiency testing, or inaccurate reporting are just some of the costs of not updating testing quality control. By considering these costs, running internal and external controls daily, and being aware of assay sensitivity pressure tests labs can improve their testing quality control.

Automation has been helping improve a number of different industries and companies, including those in the medical field. Lab automation has seen several advances and expansions over the last few years. By utilizing technology in the lab space, teams can increase efficiency and increase the quality of testing. Unlocking the potential of lab automation can be done by understanding your customer and workflows, aiming for Six Sigma, and knowing the trends in lab automation being used today.

 

Understand Your Customer and Workflows

One of the biggest challenges that labs might have as they increase their automation will be to stay focused on customers and the workflow. It is important to keep in mind that in lab automation, the changes will involve the handling of specimens. The goal of automation for labs is to improve the quality and efficiency of handling, sorting, and distributing a vast number of specimens. To do this well, there needs to be a good understanding of the lab workflow. Specifically, the peak hours of the day and how many specimens are handled during that time.

 

Labs should document what happens in the space over a 24-hour period. That includes where the specimens go, who handles them during that time, and all the different factors involved with specimen handling. This documentation can help bring clarity and understanding of the benefits of automation for a lab.

 

The lab leadership should develop a workflow analysis to get a full understanding of the challenges in the lab as well as the opportunities that automation presents. An analysis of the lab workflow can also uncover bottlenecks. These will be the areas that automation should focus on for maximum benefit. 

 

 

Leverage Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a little-known quality improvement process. It is similar to the car manufacturing improvement process that Toyota started using in the 80s. That process was called Lean. It became more widespread in the car manufacturing industry throughout the 80s and 90s.

 

Six Sigma was developed a little later than Lean but is the same idea. The purpose is to limit or eliminate defects in a process. However, where Lean is more intuitive-based, Six Sigma is more statistical-based. It is based on improving the cycle-time while reducing defects to less than 3.4 occurrences per million units. In the case of lab automation, this would refer to a handling step.

 

Most labs operate on a four sigma and even for labs that work really hard to improve, most only get to a five sigma. So, the idea that a lab could achieve six sigma can be difficult to comprehend.

 

It is important to understand that Six Sigma can also help to improve analytical quality. For example, issuing wrong reports for a test result. The process can also be used in pre-analytics such as misidentified specimens or mislabeled specimens. There are many ways to use Six Sigma to improve the quality of lab processes.

 

However, to be successful at achieving Six Sigma, it takes time and dedication. Lab automation can be a major step forward towards reaching that level.

 

 

Know the Latest Trends in Lab Automation

Understanding the latest trends in lab automation can help leadership teams make the best decisions about the technology that will help them overcome their specific challenges. One of the biggest trends in lab automation is called machine vision.

 

This method involves using cameras with automation to examine specimens. This technology can overcome issues with relying on the human eye to look at specimens. Machine vision can also help oversee that things are done right in this area. For example, looking at a test tube to ensure it is the right one for the test. If the camera identifies the tube as the incorrect one for the test, it then sets that tube aside. Later on, an investigation can be done to correct the problem or override it. Machine vision can help overcome human error, which is bound to happen in these types of situations.

 

Another way to use machine vision in lab automation is to enable the device to examine the test tube and see the packed cells and serum. Then using the dimensions of the tube, the volume of the serum can be calculated. That information can then be used to guide a pipette tip that will work and put it into a transfer tube. Alternatively, the process can be used to help the aspiration tube to take some of the specimens for testing on an analyzer.

 

There are even more sophisticated methods that can be used with cameras in the lab. For example, it can determine if the specimen is hemolyzed or icteric and has a yellowish-green color. Lab automation can also help see if the specimen has excess lipids and cloudiness, which would call for an ultracentrifuge.

 

Using a camera in a lab setting opens up many possibilities for automation to overcome the limitations of the human eye when it comes to inspections and quality improvement.

In many organizations today, there has been an increasing demand for faster software development. Yet this can leave developers overwhelmed. The risk is that developers get stuck doing non-technical tasks, which can slow down the development process and, in turn, delay product development and release. To prevent this organizations should have a clear process to improve the speed of software development.

In addition, due to the global pandemic, many business leaders are trying to focus on the future, which may put extra pressure on the shoulders of CIOs. There has been a switch from enabling remote workplaces to trying to make up for lost time, productivity, and revenues. One of the ways to do this is to make software development faster. There are four key ways to do that including aligning strategy with delivery, clarifying the goal, adopting the right tools, and make the most of low-code platforms.

 

 

Align Strategy with Delivery

One of the main ways to enable fast software development is to ensure that strategies and delivery are aligned. To develop software and apps quicker, organizations need to have a clear and thoughtful strategy.

 

There are some things that should be considered when building the strategy including:

 

  • Skill development – employees may need to be upskilled so they can get coding done faster.
  • Team creation – software development can be enhanced if many different perspectives are guiding and informing the process. This means that teams should include more than just developers. Consider adding data scientists, business managers, and other key players in the organization.

 

Having a plan is the first step to creating an atmosphere that allows for fast software development.

 

 

Adopt the Right Tools

There are a number of tools that can help software developers do their jobs faster. But some developers don’t use these tools to simplify their work. Moreover, some teams are using just some of the tools that are available.  

 

One study stated that 35 percent of respondents said the development lifecycle was automated at their organization, and 38 percent reported the lifecycle at their organization was mostly automated. A further 16 percent said they were just beginning to automate, and three percent said there was no automation at all in their development work.

 

Furthermore, researchers report that only 38 percent of participants indicated that their organization had continuous integration/continuous delivery. Developers also said that 29 percent use test automation while only 12 percent said they had full-time test automation.

 

Participants also told researchers they knew that if they adopted more of these tools they could speed up their development work. Sixty-six percent said their process and tools enabled them to do their jobs better. They also acknowledged that test automation was one of the three biggest areas of investment for their organizations.

 

The conclusion of these statistics shows the need to put the right tools in place that can help developers build quality software at a faster rate. Organizations that want to develop software faster should ensure they adopt the right tools as often as possible.

 

 

Clarify the Goal

To get the best results in the shortest amount of time, teams need to have clarity and focus. This means that teams should concentrate on the most important aspects of development.  Pull out the most essential goal or aspect of the project, what makes it stand out? What makes it different? This is where the most time and effort should be invested. Some projects may need to be revamped, which could lead to faster software development.

 

Innovation is great, but it needs to be guided. There is a lot of opportunity to get lost during the software development process, so maintaining focus is vital. One way to do this is to keep additional features from making their way into the design. Keep the team on track and don’t entertain any extras during the development process unless they are essential to the product. Otherwise, the developmental process may become hampered.

 

 

Consider Low-Code Platforms

No-code or low-code platforms have been touted as one of the key advances that has enhanced the speed of software development. Low-code technology can help developers create code at a quicker pace than if they write it themselves. It can also help businesses quickly develop software solutions to meet their needs. Low-code platforms are a great place for business owners to build a solution in real-time based on their own ideas.  This cuts down on development time that can come with the traditional development process that requires collaboration and several meetings to define the project.

 

Similarly, low-code platforms can be used by non-IT individuals for less demanding development projects. This allows IT teams to focus on more complicated and higher-value development. It can also mean that those more intricate projects get completed faster.

 

There is a case for CIOs to invest more in low-code or no-code platforms as development solutions. By doing so, they can enable citizen developers and business owners to create simple software solutions while still remaining in charge of more complex software development. However, it is important to remember that not all low-code platforms are the same. It is also essential to have a development process in place to prevent any errors in the product.

 

 

As businesses continue to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, there is more pressure to speed up the software development process. However, the risk is that developers become overwhelmed and the product suffers. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are four ways that can help improve the speed of software development including aligning strategy with delivery, clarifying the goal, adopting the right tools, and using low-code platforms. Companies that put these steps into place will be able to develop software faster, which will improve productivity and revenues well into the future.

Over the past few years, CIOs in retail have been shifting their organizations more online. The main focus of retail operations during these online transitions has been on e-commerce and AI-enabled personalization for customers. Moreover, these retailers’ adoption of technology has grown rapidly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

While AI transformation sometimes brings thoughts of robots or large machines interacting with customers that is not the reality in the retail space.  AI and automation adoption has been more subtle but still successful.

 

 

Retail Operations Going Digital

While many retail businesses already had online offerings, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rate at which retailers moved online by about five years, according to one study. The report forecasts a 20 percent growth in e-commerce this year all due to the global pandemic. Other statistics from the beginning of this year saw retail e-commerce numbers rise over 30 percent between the first and second quarters and nearly 45 percent over the previous year. It is obvious that retailers have been going digital at a rapid pace.

 

For retailers looking to move operations online, the key is looking for omnichannel opportunities. This means expanding online offerings to include alternatives like buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) and ship from store services. A report by McKinsey found that customers’ demands for these types of services will grow. Fifty-six percent of customers indicated their intention to use BOPIS post-pandemic.

 

The introduction of AI into retail operations brought customers more personalized online shopping experiences that used predictive analytics and suggested purchases. These tools will continue to be a major focus for those in the retail industry as retail businesses find their new normal. McKinsey suggests that retail businesses focus more on digital offers than they previously have. Some of the ways that retailers can do this include acquisition and driving traffic online through digital marketing efforts. Other considerations are to build branded apps and ensure web pages are optimized for digital shopping.

 

 

The Addition of AI in E-commerce

Among the biggest impact that AI has had on retail operations are personalization and predictive analytics. This includes customer tools like visual search, customized emails, and purchase suggestions. With AI many brands have been able to improve their conversion rates, boost their sales, and build customer loyalty.

 

Personalization in retail has moved beyond just adding in a customer’s name to a generic email. By using AI capability, businesses are able to customize email offers and content that will appeal specifically to different customers. That means that brands may be sending out many different email offers to their customers rather than a general promotional offer for everyone. This marketing technique can help build customer loyalty and improve sales by offering people items or services they are more likely to buy.

 

Predictive analytics in retail operations has also become one of the industry’s most valuable tools.  This AI tool is able to gather information and identify patterns. From there, it is used to forecast upcoming trends. With these predictions, marketers are better able to keep up with changing customer demands, which positions their retail operations to be more successful.

 

Some of the data gathered for analytics purposes come from various sources such as smartphone apps, retailers’ websites, customer loyalty programs, point-of-sale systems, and social media. Putting all this data together can help build an accurate customer profile. This can help the company personalize offers to customers or be used to upsell or cross-sell items.

 

 

Extending Machine Learning

Machine learning is a valuable tool for retail operations as it can be used to build models that define how to automate and optimize tasks. It can also be a powerful asset when it comes to risk assessment and predictive tasks. One of the biggest benefits of machine learning is that it is able to improve over time. Forecasting using machine learning vs traditional predictive processes can provide an advantage for retailers as machine learning has more advanced algorithms and can plow through lots of information quickly.

 

Here are some of the ways that machine learning is beneficial to retail operations:

 

  • Chatbots – Many customers begin interacting with brands through one of the omnichannels. This often takes them to the brand’s website where a chatbot can enhance customer communication. Chatbots are able to answer common questions, recommend products or solutions, and collect valuable information from consumers. These AI-powered tools have the capability to learn from past data and interactions. This can make them more powerful over time.
  • Pricing – Developing a pricing strategy is easier with AI. Retailers are able to analyze the different advantages of different pricing models before deciding on the best pricing model. Prices can also be adjusted from season to season or changing customer demand all by using AI algorithms. For example, Amazon has used AI to bring a higher level of sophistication to its retail operations online. The e-commerce giant has an algorithm that can understand the opportune time to reduce the price of items so as to attract customers. It is also capable of increasing prices when customer demand is higher, thus, maximizing profits for sellers.
  • Flexibility – By employing machine learning in retail operations, businesses will be better equipped to weather changes either locally, regionally, or even globally. Using machine learning capabilities alongside predictive analytics will help retailers stay flexible in a changing marketplace.
  • Inventory – COVID-19 presented a unique challenge to e-commerce businesses as many ran out of in-demand items and were unable to re-stock quickly enough. Machine learning and predictive tools can help retailers prevent this in the future by refining their inventory and in-stock levels.
  • Fraud detection – Machine learning is able to reduce credit card fraud when it comes to online shopping. It is also capable of reducing customer fraud through coupons or discounts by tracking behavior from a specific IP address.

 

AI and machine learning will continue to play a large role when it comes to improving retail operations online. The e-commerce industry has the tools at hand that can expand the personalization and predictive analytics that have become a center-point of digital retail operations.

For the past several months, IT leaders have been working hard to manage the long list of priorities being demand to preserve continuity for their organizations. As many companies continue to build their remote workplaces, CIOs may start to be concerned about how they can continue sparking innovation.

Social distancing will undoubtedly have a negative impact on employee connections and conversations that lead to creative solutions. Sparking innovation is difficult in a remote atmosphere. Many employees are becoming tired of video conferences. They are frustrated by not being able to meet face-to-face with co-workers. However, there are ways that CIOs can continue sparking innovation even in a pandemic.

 

 

Embrace Emerging Tech

Innovation is vital for companies who want to stay competitive in their industries. Part of that is to engage and embrace advanced and emerging technologies.

 

Today’s tech world has so much to offer including artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, robots, drones, and more. The applications of these tech tools vary and in some cases are still being developed. CIOs who are looking for inspiration can consider different uses for these types of technology in all of a businesses’ processes and departments. Invite team members to offer some feedback on how these emerging technologies could help the company. Asking those who are more directly involved in the business processes can uncover needs or wants that these tech tools could solve.

 

 

Form Strategic Partnerships

Many startups depend on financing from venture capital firms. It has been useful to overcome the innovation challenge. CIOs can form connections with venture capital firms that can make the right introductions, helping organizations discover innovative solutions to their business problems. This helps the startup by distributing its product and gaining new customers. It also helps CIOs uncover hidden gems of technology that can help them create a more simplified and streamlined process at their companies.

 

However, CIOs don’t need to just rely on external solutions. They can also create their own internal solutions. For example, earlier this year, Nestle used augmented reality technology to help its production and research and development teams connect with suppliers during the COVID-19 lockdown. The company created its own solution by using tools like remote desktop, smart glass, 360-degree cameras, and 3D software to connect individuals across locations. This development helped the company continue to operate globally despite the pandemic. According to the company, it allowed them to increase efficiency while giving experts what they need to work on multiple projects. Furthermore, the company’s global head of manufacturing said that the AR solution would continue to be a part of what they do, even after COVID-19. “Going forward, remote assistance will become a new way of working. It will increase speed and efficiency in facilities and reduce travel to Nestlé sites, helping us reduce CO2 emissions across our operations,” David Findlay said.

 

CIOs should be looking for innovation both inside and outside of their own companies. When it comes to bringing transformation to an organization, it is wise to build a strong, multifaceted network that can support change.

 

 

Inspire Innovative Culture

Innovation is not just something that happens during brainstorming sessions, it should be built into the company culture. While it is not easy to create an innovative culture, there are some steps that CIOs can take to encourage employees to move in this direction. These include:

 

Lead by example – One of the best ways to inspire innovative thinking in employees is by showing them. This relies on clear communication of the importance of innovation for an organization, but it will also take some time. Allow employees the time and space to come up with some creative ideas. Another important facet is to accept failure. This simply means that employees understand that if their project does not produce the results that were expected, it is okay. By accepting failure, it removes the fear from employees that may be holding them back from attempting innovations.

 

Collaboration – Another way to inspire innovation culture within an organization is to welcome collaboration among employees, however that looks during a pandemic. This may mean investing in more digital tools to allow employees to connect and work together. It can also mean offering innovative workshops or sessions that allow employees to connect and spark some innovation. Getting employees from different departments working together rather than keeping everyone separated is a great way to cultivate collaboration.

 

Digital engagement – Inspire some innovative ideas through digital engagement such as idea competitions where employees are asked to come up with some creative solutions to business problems. Scheduling virtual brainstorming sessions is also a great way to connect and engage with employees. Don’t forget to offer rewards and acknowledgment for those employees who participate as this can go a long way to encouraging them and creating an innovative company culture.

 

 

Create Effective Guardrails

To correctly guide innovation, guardrails need to be developed, especially for remote teams. By putting some guardrails in place, employees’ innovative plans can be steered to fruition. Having some principles in place that instruct employees, particularly when the CIO is not available, ensures that the project will continue to move forward in the right way.

 

To get started, CIOs will need to break down their system into different topics. For each topic, develop a principle or guardrail that should not be broken. However, it is important to keep it simple and not to overwhelm the team with a document that is thousands of words long. Try to keep it to a one-page brief set of guidelines.

 

Once the guidelines or principles have been developed, be sure to share them with the team. Make them accessible to employees so that they don’t need to contact the CIO every time they have a question. As well, review them often with the team and try to keep them front of mind for employees. Installing guardrails into innovation gives employees the freedom and space to be creative while staying with certain boundaries.

 

 

Sparking innovation in a rapidly changing world may seem like a big challenge but it can be done with some small steps. Embrace emerging technologies, build strategic partnerships, cultivate an innovative culture, and set some guardrails up to guide the process are some of the best ways that CIOs can continue to spark innovation in employees and the company. 

COVID-19 has disrupted many industries and IT outsourcing is no exception. Before the global pandemic, outsourcing IT needs was becoming a reliable way that companies could save money while building a strong team of professionals. Statistics reveal that the global market for outsourcing services is $92.5 billion.

One of the big drivers for organizations that are currently reconsidering their IT options, particularly IT outsourcing, is the cost involved with their current software solutions. This has caused many leaders to consider outsourcing opportunities. There are several IT services that can be outsourced and depending on the needs of your business, IT outsourcing can save time, money, and effort. It can also allow you the opportunity to benefit from IT experts located anywhere in the world. 

 

However, during this period of rapid change and adaption that has been spurred by COVID-19, it is important to understand the outsourcing opportunities, capabilities, and limitations. To get the most from your outsourcing providers, it is important to know what can be achieved and what cannot. It is also essential to understand what responsibilities your company will have with third-party solutions so you can adequately prepare to meet those responsibilities.

 

 

Current State of IT Outsourcing

A recent survey found that one-third of small organizations are outsourcing some of their business processes. The majority of tasks that are outsourced include accounting, IT services, and digital marketing. While there can be many different reasons that organizations outsource their business processes, some of the most common reasons relate to cost and time, such as:

  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Access expertise
  • Increase available resources
  • Free employees up for other tasks

 

Moreover, in the past few years, organizations have come to realize that outsourcing IT services allow them to access top-quality talent and expertise from around the world. This transition has been speed along by the rapid changes that companies have had to make in light of the global pandemic.

 

 

Consumption-Based Pricing

Outsourcing your IT needs to save money means you’ll need to consider what pricing model is being used. For IT outsourcing, the most common models have been fixed priced or consumption-based (also known as time-and-material pricing) for projects.

 

These have been the most beneficial way to pay for outsourcing projects as it allows your organization to budget for IT outsourcing costs more clearly. In addition, corporations are more comfortable paying for outsourcing results or consumption rather than contractor hours. It is easier to understand the costs of the project if the consumption-pricing model is used. 

 

It is also important to remember that lower costs have been one of the main reasons that corporations opt to outsource their business and IT process needs. Yet, one trend that has emerged is that organizations are moving more towards IT outsourcing to access professional, quality work, and contractor expertise.  That is, they are willing to pay more for high-quality work and experienced professionals.

 

By working on a fixed-price or consumption-based pricing, outsourcing your IT needs can become more focused on the value that it offers for your organization.  

 

 

Cybersecurity Focus

Keeping business data and information safe has been a concern for organizations for a long time. However, since COVID, things have gotten worse. Statistics show that cyber-attacks have increased by 400 percent. These include a variety of different methods that hackers use to gain access to your system and your information including:

  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Data distortion
  • Phishing attacks

 

If your organization collects and stores any type of sensitive or private data, keeping it secure and compliant with government regulations is essential. But it has gotten more challenging.

 

Companies that have been forced to transition to remote workplaces can substantially reduce the security of corporate networks. It happens because more employees are accessing the company network and company documents from remote locations. This creates a riskier security structure for organizations and some additional challenges to keeping the data secure. Most cybercriminals understand these weaknesses and have switched away from targeting individuals and are focusing more on corporations and governments, according to Interpol.

 

With a higher rate of cyber-attacks, outsourcing cybersecurity is an efficient and effective way of securing company data and information. By outsourcing your cybersecurity needs, you can also gain access to industry experts and real-time monitoring that might otherwise be too costly.

 

There are a number of tasks around cybersecurity that can be successfully outsourced including security enhancement, cybersecurity management, and penetration testing.

 

 

Cloud IT Outsourcing

Switching to the cloud offers several benefits for companies, including

  • Less expensive
  • Easier remote access
  • Scalability
  • Opportunity to use high-quality software and platforms

 

The cloud industry is expected to grow to over $360 billion in the next couple of years, according to Gartner. The company’s VP of research noted that part of the growth will be due to the success the cloud had during the COVID pandemic. “Cloud ultimately delivered exactly what it was supposed to,” Sid Nag said. “It responded to increased demand and catered to customers’ preference of elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption models.”

 

Essentially, the global pandemic saw widespread increase in cloud usage among businesses around the world. The fact that the cloud was able to meet this demand and provide users with reliable and affordable services has strengthened consumer confidence in cloud options.

 

Yet, migrating to the cloud can be a big undertaking for any size company. IT outsourcing is one of the most feasible and practical solutions to this challenge.  

 

 

Responsibility Sharing

While it may seem counterintuitive to outsource leadership or executive roles, it is becoming a trend. Corporations are starting to understand that they can achieve growth and other business goals by looking externally.

 

Smaller companies are also seeing the advantages of hiring an experienced part-time leader rather than hire a full-time executive with less experience. However, to fully reap the benefits of outsourcing executive roles, you’ll need to partner with an IT professional that is capable of sharing the responsibility of core business services.

 

 

IT outsourcing has been predicted to grow throughout the COVID-19 recovery and into the future. Outsourcing your IT needs can help organizations save time, money, and effort. It can also allow you to access IT expertise anywhere in the world.

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