Archive | May 2019

Why Data Ps are More Important that Data Vs

 

We’ve all seen the graphs showing data growing exponentially, and how much data has been created in the last two years, and how much data we are all going to create in the future, so it’s natural that we talk about the Volume (V1) of data.

Then, there is numerous sources of data, all different that we are having to deal with, our next accepted fact is that the is a large Variety (V2) of data coming in.

Next, we talk about the speed of data creation, the Velocity (V3), with new sources comes a new generation of data sources, presenting an ever-increasing problem for vendors and customers alike.

Also, multiple disparate sources of data lead to a Variance (V4) in quality and data types , in turn leading to further problems for staff.

However, the most important V is Value, the value quality data can bring to a business, the competitive advantage it bestows, and the ability to change the entire business direction.

Bad Data Cropped

We hear ‘Data is the New Oil’; it’s not a view I subscribe to. As oil needs to be refined and treated properly to become of use, so data must be treated properly to deliver true business value. Which is why I believe the Ps of data are much more important than the universally accepted Vs.

The first important P is PREPARATION. As oil need to be refined to provide benefit, so data needs to be understood and nurtured to allow the data-driven business to exist. It’s critically important to understand data sources, and the ultimate desired outcome. Once sources are identified data needs to be ingested, this is now where we get onto the topic of Edge Computing, but I’ll save that for next time.

Data then needs to be cleansed to ensure quality, erroneous and duplicate entries need to be removed, driving true quality into data sets is crucial to deliver the desired outcome in the most efficient manner.

Then the next P comes into play; PLATFORM. Prepared data needs to reside on the optimum platform to allow the creation of intelligent business Information. The platform should align with the criticality of the content to the business. This can be on-premises or Cloud as appropriate. Obviously some data needs to remain in a datacenter, however Cloud-based platforms can now offer previously unachievable levels of performance. Whilst the Edge-Core-Cloud model still prevails it is important to investigate options, both in terms of performance & cost, ensuring user requirements are met is paramount.

Once PREPARED & PLATFORMED, the real benefits can be achieved; PRODUCTIVITY. This is where the only important V is relevant; business Value. The ability to use data, and it’s more important sibling, Information to transform a business is at the true heart of digital transformation. There are simply too many use cases to list, but simply defining smart initiatives and involving key stakeholders across the business will allow organisations to identify and validate their use cases, and quickly gain a competitive advantage. They can become truly Data-Driven.

The Final P is probably the most important; PROFIT. The Data-Driven business will simply out-perform their competition. The ability to PROFIT from data does not necessarily have to be commercial, it can translate in many ways.

So, next time someone talks about volume and velocity, remember the four Ps are the real key to data value;

  • Prepare
  • Platform
  • Prodcutivity
  • Profit

….and I didn’t even mention PROTECT. Until the next time…

Imagine never having to think up a password Ag@!n

Let’s face it, nobody likes passwords, but now that everything we access exists online, they are hard to escape. As organisations look to consume more SaaS applications and cloud-based services, they will be faced with not only new security risks but also increased costs: 20% of support calls are about forgotten passwords. At a time when digital identity has never been more important, could we be contemplating the possibility of passwords being a thing of the past?

As we’ve seen in the news, people will often create the simplest password they can get away with to make it easier to remember. The drive to keep us secure is now in itself a security risk. Here’s some advice from one security website I found ‘a phrase like “security breeds success” can become a password of “S3curityBr33d$Succ3$$” ‘. Brilliant, thanks for that. I’ve typed my password in 15 times today and it’s only 2pm. A BBC article, in 2004, revealed that more than 70% of people would tell someone their password in exchange for a chocolate bar. Now that is a long time ago and most people are more aware now, but phishing remains the easiest way to gain access to account information, largely in more sophisticated ways than bribery through Lion bar but the outcome is the same.

The proliferation of systems we authenticate to every day means multiple usernames and passwords, which has led to Identity Access Management (IAM) being a major focus for our customers. IAM solves the problem through single sign-on but the importance of that single password then becomes even greater. You can, of course, add another layer of security by implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) but let’s be honest no-one likes that either. By that I mean no-one likes traditional MFA, where you end up having to remember a password, a PIN and carry a hardware token around with you. Multi-factor is the key to this problem, we must just implement and view it differently.

Consumerisation influences all areas of IT. Our expectation has become that how we use technology at home should be reflected in how we use it at work. Vendors appreciate this and have benefited by trialling products in the consumer world to gain experience before bringing it into organisations.

We love the fact that we can use our fingerprints, or face, to authenticate to applications on our smartphones and it’s that user experience that we have started to expect at work. Websites, however, can be accessed from any device and so need a different solution. Those solutions are now being trialled by companies like Microsoft and Google. Both of whom allow you to access services using only your phone as a source of authentication. I can’t remember the last time I used my password to access my Outlook account from a device that I trust. In fact, I’m not even sure what my Outlook password is.

In business-to-employee security, organisations are starting to adopt Windows Hello for Business to alleviate the password problem but a barrier to adoption will be a reliance on the hardware required to support it. It also requires everyone to be running a Windows Operating System which goes against the trend of increasing device choice. Solutions that make use of smartphone technology are agnostic of primary device, they also benefit from often being more up to date than many people’s laptops and something your unlikely to ever be very far from.  This should make us consider the additional use cases and possibility of allowing business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions to have a similar simple and secure mechanism to enable people to prove who they are. This would truly digitise many traditional businesses and services, from mortgage applications, to insurance services, money transfers, and more.

The traditional view of authentication is based upon three common factors; something you know (your password), something you have and something you are. Biometrics, along with industry standard authentication specifications (like WebAuthn and FIDO2), can remove the inconvenience of that first factor thus delivering an enhanced user experience, while reducing cost and simultaneously improving security.

Just imagine for a moment that you’ve just changed your Windows password for the last time. Picture never having to click a ‘reset my password’ link ever again. It’s a lovely thought and the reality is not that far away. Until then try taking a phrase from your favourite film, replacing various letters with numbers, adding some random capitals and try to squeeze an ampersand in somewhere just to be on the safe side. Don’t forget to repeat that across all your accounts and be prepared to make changes every 60 days.