CIO role: 3 areas to focus on in 2020

Emerging technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence create new security considerations and change the CIO role. What’s ahead?
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CIOs must consider new and emerging technologies with an eye toward how they can help protect the enterprise against security threats. Much of the information they need is found on obscure Twitter posts and online articles, and it is up to every CIO to stay abreast of new threats and technologies to protect their enterprise.

Here's how emerging technologies will change the job of the CIO in the next few years.

[ What’s next for the CIO role? Read CIO role: Everything you need to know about today’s Chief Information Officers. ]

Security becomes a primary responsibility

While many organizations have an ISO or a CISO who is responsible for security, many of these individuals report to the CIO on a daily basis. As IoT and other new technologies gain traction, security threats are likely to increase exponentially. As a result, the CIO must become a master of these newer threats to stay ahead of the risks that they present to the organization.

In the future, there will be more responsibility associated with physical risks and new technologies. Key to the CIO role is ensuring that employees are educated about security threats so they can become partners in the fight to keep the company safe.

CIOs need to educate employees about security threats.

To prepare for increasing security concerns, CIOs should attend security-focused sessions at industry conferences as well as security-specific conferences such as Black Hat, CanSecWest, and local BSides. These will provide a holistic view of how security threats are impacting other industries as well as your own organization.

Quantum computing comes of age

As quantum computing advances, CIOs will increasingly be charged with evaluating the technology for use within the enterprise. Security will be a primary focus, as many current security technologies will become inadequate as bad actors gain access to quantum computing to break encryption algorithms. CIOs need to prepare for the impact that quantum computing will have on the enterprise by learning about it.

Unless you work for a university or for one of a handful of large companies, you probably don't have access to the use of a quantum computer. But you can still keep up with news around quantum computing and plan for how your company can adapt to both the opportunities and the potential security challenges that quantum computing will introduce as it becomes more mainstream.

[ Read also: Quantum computing and security: 5 looming questions. ]

Artificial intelligence goes mainstream

Coupled with quantum computing and other advanced technologies, artificial intelligence is making reality out of what was once unimaginable. Just as robotics transformed manufacturing, information workers are starting to see automation take over many of their daily tasks.

AI opens new possibilities in data mining and security.

AI also opens new possibilities in data mining and security. AI tools can detect anomalous activities on computing platforms and networks, alerting security pros to potential attacks before they happen. CIOs will be tasked with exploring how to introduce AI into their enterprise to improve efficiencies and increase security.

To prepare for this, have programmers develop tools and techniques that utilize the Python and R programming languages and the AI plugins that go along with them. From finance and operations to IT, AI can help make predictions by sorting and manipulating data and providing insights where none existed before. AI has the power to transform your business operations, so it’s worth exploring now.

These are just three areas that CIOs need to consider as their business matures and grows, but there are many others. While new technologies present threats, they can also be harnessed for good and used to help the business grow. It’s up to the CIO to find a strategy to do that.

[ How do containers help manage risk? Get the related Red Hat whitepaper: Ten Layers of Container Security. ]

Tom DeSot is the Chief Information Officer of Digital Defense, Inc. (DDI). He is charged with developing and maintaining relationships with influential industry and market regulators, identifying key integration and service partnerships and serving as the prime regulatory compliance resource for external and internal contacts.