Biz face trust, overdependency issues with cloud providers

The amount of data sitting with service providers such as telcos has brought about security concerns and the potential vulnerability of their operations, according to ZDNet's TechBizz Singapore panelists.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
ZDNet's TechBizz Singapore (Source: Ryan Huang/ZDNet)

SINGAPORE--With so much data residing with telecom service providers today, some concerns faced by companies include the security involved in having a third party safeguard their data.

At ZDNet's TechBizz Singapore here Thursday, one panelist Nick Pilbeam, director of strategy consulting at PwC Hong Kong explained some telecom providers own the corporate data of many companies, and users will start to worry about whether the data is safe and adequate steps are taken to protect it.

The perception is not helped with how some telcos have been trying be IT channels but end up using customer data for business purposes. Dane Anderson, vice president, research director and region manager at Forrester Research, another panelist noted as result, the "mindset, approach and customer orientation" of telcos has become issues to many customers.

According to Gary Teo, director for campus IT services at SIM University, outsourcing IT services such as cloud and data storage to telcos is "probably a good choice" from a cost equalization perspective. However, many customers feel that moving from in-house to remotely hosted services is a "one way ticket", and find that they have to consider data repatriation, how to bring information back and additional costs involved, Teo explained. Such services will not be here forever and the cost will escalate in time to come, he added.

Stephen Lim, technology committee chairman, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, added more and more companies including telcos have been selling managed services to take over the handling of mission-critical IT services, he explained. 

"If IT infrastructure is a facility to do work, sooner or later, someone will come in and say 'with my better resources, I can do a job better than an in-house staff," Lim said.

This will ultimately challenge the role of the CIO and how work is done in-house, Lim said.

Leong Yuh Khee, vice president of technology of Changi Airport Group, also pointed out IT infrastructure should not be completely outsourced to a third party provider because if their services break down, it will affect the business' operations.
Hence, companies should place critical services in the private cloud so the exact level of redundancy available is known and can be planned, Leong noted.

The level of security CIOs used in-house has to be reproduced and replicated within the infrastructure of the telco to ensure the same level of security and integrity, Pilbeam advised.

"However, in the event it doesn't, the trust breaks down very quickly," he said. "If it were provided in-house, the telcos must provide it offsite."

Rise of social media for data collection

Lim also pointed out the importance of social media to collect data within businesses for a greater understanding of the business, adding many SMBs today are able to set up Facebook page despite the lack of internal IT departments.

Citibank Singapore for example used social media analytics to get information about the mortgage business in Singapore by asking their customers questions, and managed to increase their business by 20 percent, Anderson noted.

Most companies however, tend to "underanalyze" data they have obtained from social media internally and externally, Teo pointed out, adding such data should be triangulated to make sound decisions for the companies.

The CIO too, should also play a crucial part, by being conversant in analyzing information and presenting it to the management for decision making, Teo added.

"The CIO tends to focus a lot on technology but the business aspect is crucial as well," Teo said.

TechBizz Panelists:
1. Dane Anderson, vice president, research director and region manager, Forrester Research
2. Gary Teo, SIM University's director for campus IT services
3. Leong Yuh Khee, vice president of technology, Changi Airport Group
4. Nick Pilbeam, director of strategy consulting, PwC Hong Kong
5. Stephen Lim, technology committee chairman, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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