• Coordinates

Radical Change

"Eighteen or 19 years ago I used to go to the office to experience technology; I go back home and I have just a TV," Tarek GHOUL says. "Over the past five years, this has become the other way round. I come to the office and I have a PC and an email, but I go back home and I have video, apps, mobility and social media."

The third platform (cloud, mobile, social media and big data analytics) has come about seemingly by stealth. Old hands in the technology industry are scrambling to keep pace with new behaviours and chief information security officers (CISOs) are struggling to keep a lid on sensitive data as devices casually drift to and fro across corporate boundaries.

"The Big Bang, in my opinion, is the consumerisation of technology," Ghoul says. "Technology is not [being introduced] by the enterprise; it is coming from consumers."

The paradigm shift, Ghoul believes, coincides with the coming of age of a generation that has grown up with technology. Older users are part of a more private culture that, perhaps, does not share pictures so readily, for example, but younger users have never known a time without the Internet and are less shy when it comes to broadcasting the details of their lives.

As Ghoul puts it: "I am a digital immigrant; I was not born digital. The new generation, they are born [into it]. A generation used to be 14 years; this is how we measured changes. Now it's four or five years."

Ghoul advocates a responsible and methodical embrace of the new digital era. Security, he points out, is of particular concern, especially in the sharing culture, where personal details reside in a wider domain that they did 10 or 20 years ago.

"I am on several social media platforms," he says "I [shop] online using my credit card. So there is a digital persona about me that is very well defined."

Name, age, spending habits, tastes, holiday destinations and more are all gathered and stored online by multiple organisations. As such, there is a need for fresh thinking when considering data security for the details nobody wants to share.

"When you place a call to get a service, what are the typical questions you are asked?" Ghoul says. "The answers are public. Your PO box number; your mobile number; your mother's maiden name; the name of your pet. In my opinion these are no longer private. They are apt for an old world, so the first thing we need to do is to write new rules for a new world where all the information that used to be private is no longer private.

"This has to be a collaboration between technology companies. [And we must call on] governments for rules and regulations and making sure that those rules are pervasive across the legal framework. Enterprises need to implement [projects in a way that they make sure that the rules] are very well adhered to. Otherwise, the more I'm out there, the more I'm exposed and less secure."

Another concern when faced with the scale of growth, is accommodating the number of devices that technology companies expect to be around in a few short years. Estimates of the number of Internet-connected devices worldwide by 2020 lie between 20bn and 75bn. Only 1% of what can be connected is currently connected. And the 99% is the opportunity.

Some 34% of "the opportunity" is in manufacturing, Ghoul says, and lies in the process of connecting "things" to data and people. The advent of wearable devices and healthcare innovations has also made the demand for IPs swell drastically. Ghoul made particular mention of IP-enabled sensors that patients will swallow and that can send data to a wrist device.

"I think technology is moving much faster and everything legal, behavioural and ethical is playing catch-up," he says.

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