Global business advisory firm, BDO, recently released its report on technology predictions for 2019. The trends, predicted to shape tech this year and beyond, provide foresight for tech companies to respond, adapt and scale sustainably within the evolving landscape.
In this article, we look at the report’s two key trends impacting the telecommunications and data center sector Artificial Intelligence and the Talent Gap.
AI fights AI in the cyber world
With increasingly sophisticated hackers and the rising cost of breaches, cybersecurity has become a critical business strategy in 2019.
According to BDO’s report, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help immensely in protecting sensitive consumer data, but it comes as a double-edged sword – hackers can also use AI to launch attacks.
Param Vir Singh, an associate professor of business technologies at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, recently stated that hackers are building AI-based algorithms to find weaknesses in data centers. Specifically, AI can also be used to thwart the challenge posed by these algorithms. Singh believes the data center industry can stay one step ahead of an attack by optimizing AI’s strengths in cybersecurity and investing in AI expertise.
AI-enabled cybersecurity tools can detect new malware, proactively respond to attacks and report suspicious behavior. Furthermore, AI can autonomously comb through vast amounts of data quicker than cybersecurity teams and spot anomalies immediately, strengthening a data center’s cybersecurity once fully deployed. The constellation of technologies that make up AI can process massive amounts of data in real time, allowing data centers to extend their capabilities.
Another advantage is AI’s capability to optimize data center performance by routinely monitoring and adapting resources. AI-powered systems can identify infrastructure problems and recommend improved processes by distributing workload, limiting redundancies, and performing corrective repairs. These systems can also adjust cooling temperatures for better energy efficiency. As a result, data centers can keep running at peak performance.
AI can also engage in basic triage to determine if something is a malicious event or a false positive. Jason Rebholz, senior director at cybersecurity vendor, Gigamon, says that AI’s triage role will not replace the need for analysts, but will give analysts more time to execute advanced problem-solving and analysis.
Tim Steinkopf, president at security vendor, Centrify, predicts that AI will be able to prevent at least one major data center breach this year.
Tech companies work to address the talent gap
The explosive growth of cloud computing has widened the digital skills gap, according to BDO. It’s a gap that can be effectively addressed with proper education.
Lee Kirby, President of Uptime Institute, the global standard for the design, build and operation of data centers, recommends three strategies that address the skills shortage.
Firstly, data center companies can start from within and establish measures to identify current gaps and manage future risks. In today’s data center environment, staffing needs are complex and refined. Enterprises need to assess the current skills of their employees and match these with the skills their data centers require.
Secondly, it’s important to establish a budget for onsite and outsourced training programs for existing and prospective employees. Spending money wisely on the right training programs – including soft skills development for effective verbal and written communication to develop contractual and program definitions for external service providers – can provide data center companies with short-term and long-term solutions to the risks identified in the skills gap analysis.
Thirdly, companies can implement a talent pipeline strategy that provides visibility to the data center industry to STEM students, and attracts quality hires. Many tech companies are working to bridge the talent gap by offering training programs to current and future employees. Community colleges also offer opportunities to bring future hires into the pipeline, due to their mandate to meet the needs of their local economies by providing vocational training.
Heather Dooley, Google’s Business Operations Executive of data centers, and Joe Kava, Google’s VP of data centers, shared in their keynote at the 2018 Data Center World conference that a lack of qualified workers to operate data centers can slow down the industry’s robust market growth. The presentation also highlighted that there are not enough young adults, women, and minorities within the industry. They called on data center decision-makers to proactively and deliberately expand their recruitment pool and include diverse talent.
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