Friday Fry Up: Top NZ IT predictions in 2021; Autonomous IT in the grocery; The board and cybersecurity; A whiteboard alternative

Friday Fry Up is Computerworld New Zealand’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Top NZ IT predictions in 2021

A month into the new year and IDC has released its predictions for IT in New Zealand for 2021. Although to be fair, many of the predictions go beyond the calendar year and stretch out to 2025.

According to country manager Louise Francis, it’s all about filling the gaps exposed in digital transformation plans. “Decision makers will focus on cloud-centric infrastructure, hybrid-by-design workforces, and operating models that flourish beyond the perimeter of the organisation.”

Some of the predictions range from the slightly depressing:

Through 2022, coping with technical debt accumulated during the pandemic will shadow 50% of CIOs, causing financial stress, inertial drag on IT agility, and ‘forced march’ migrations to the cloud.

And this:

Through 2023, a third of enterprises’ hybrid workforce and business automation efforts will be delayed or will fail outright due to underinvestment in building ITops/secops/devops teams with the right tools/skills.

To the more edifyingly sustainable:

By 2025, 85% of NZX companies will mandate reusable materials in IT hardware supply chains, carbon neutrality targets for providers’ facilities, and lower energy use as prerequisites for doing business.

To very good news for AI start-ups looking for a quick exit:

By 2023, driven by the goal to embed intelligence in products and services, one in 10 NZX companies will acquire at least one AI software start-up to ensure ownership of differentiated skills and [intellectual property].

While it continues to be a time of upheaval for CIOs and IT managers, vendors won’t be off the hook either. IDC notes that by 2025, 65% of enterprises will overhaul their relationships with supplies, providers, and partners to better deliver on digital strategies and autonomous IT operations.

Autonomous IT in the grocery aisles

Walking up and down grocery aisles, taking items off the shelf, and putting them into a trolley all seems very last century. Especially so for those who do it for a living. But just this week, Countdown announced that its eStore (created in April 2020 when the country went into lockdown) in Penrose has gone live using microfulfillment technology from Boston-based Takeoff Technologies that it says makes online shopping five times faster.

countdown estore Countdown

Inside a Countdown eStore in Penrose, New Zealand

According to Countdown managing director Sally Copland, the new technology will double the number of orders eStore can fulfil from 7,500 a week to 15,000.

The 200 people employed to fill the grocery items of online shoppers in the catchment of nine Auckland supermarkets will now be able to access 11,000 products via automated storage units. In other words, the product will come to them—they don’t have to walk up the aisle to fetch it. They will still need to visit the perishables—fruit and vege, deli, bakery, and butchery, but the loo paper can be retrieved with breaking into a step.

What do we tell the board about cybersecurity?

Your typical board of directors will have an audit committee (keep everything on the straight and narrow) and an HR committee (keep the salaries on the straight and narrow).

But it is not usual for it to have one entirely devoted to cybersecurity. That is about to change, according to Gartner. The analyst firm predicts that by 2025, 40% of boards will have a dedicated cybersecurity committee overseen by a board member. That’s up from less than 10% today.

While the board might take charge of governance, the people in the trenches will be the IT professionals. Not only will IT teams need to fight off cyberattacks—a task made especially tough when postpandemic hybrid working is the norm—they will need to find a way to explain the risk to, what is typically, a group of nontechnical people.

While Gartner’s survey is global, there is every reason to expect New Zealand boards are paying attention to cybersecurity risks. Especially following the DDoS attacks on the stock exchange last year and the damning report from the Financial Markets Authority. As Aura General Manager Peter Bailey advises members of the New Zealand Institute of Directors:

For directors, the FMA report should be a welcome wake-up call. I think many organisations would be embarrassed if placed under similar public scrutiny. But, with the recently enacted Privacy Act 2020, there is now a very real risk that a cyberbreach (even a small one) might mean inadequate security practices are made public, or at the very least will need to be explained to impacted customers.

A whiteboard is not always the right way

Hands up who doesn’t love a whiteboard. No, didn’t think so. But even tech people have to admit that while this throwback from the analogue age remains extremely useful, it too can be benefit from a digital makeover—in some circumstances.

Diva, a clinical auditing software tool created by the University of Otago, is now commercially available. Basically, it provides surgeons with the ability to keep track of patient information through electronic health records that can be accessed securely.

This is surely preferable to patient data being recorded on a whiteboard and put on display, as Otago University Clinical Audit Director Dr James Haddow, explains in his endorsement of Diva's value:

I never saw system as good as Diva in the UK. The worst I saw was a whiteboard in a doctor’s office where staff would write patient names and their complications to be discussed at the next morbidity and mortality meeting.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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