By Neil Lappage, Public Sector Solutions Lead, ITC Secure and member of the ISACA Emerging Technology Advisory Group
Emerging technology evolves at a rapid pace and continues to have a profound impact on not just the way corporations operate, but also how we go about our day-to-day life. The use of emerging technologies has become ubiquitous, and its different forms are coming together to form end to end solutions that deliver real value.
As we go on this journey it is an interesting point in time to stand back and look at what we perceive emerging technology to be and how are we adopting it. The ISACA Pulse: Emerging Technology 2021 survey report leverages the expertise of global technology practitioners to gather valuable information on the state of specific emerging technologies such as cloud, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
One of the many interesting views from the report is defining what is emerging technology and how is it adopted within the enterprise. The term emerging technology is broadly used within the industry but what does it really mean, and what characteristics define the technologies?
More than half (59%) of the survey respondents identified the main characteristic of emerging technology to be around the ability to provide significantly disruptive capabilities, with significant problem-solving capacity seen to be the second most popular response (55%) and recent discovery at 51%. Importantly, this goes to show that the recent discovery of technology is not the single biggest characteristic of emerging technology.
It’s no surprise that disruptive capabilities are the number one response. In fact, the disruptive nature of emerging technology can have a flow on effect within the industry. If we take IoT and what is perceived to be an immature technology in the early days, plagued with security issues due to security not being baked into its design, the polar opposite has been seen with the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in security solutions to detect anomalies in data sent and received by IoT solutions.
Only 34% of responders confirmed that a characteristic of emerging technology is solution complexity. Some areas of emerging technology such as AI/ML and blockchain can be seen as difficult to develop. However, with the increased adoption of these technologies being baked into off-the-shelf products, the perception of complexity is subsiding.
So, what are the leading types of emerging technology? Cloud-Enabled Technologies (CETs) are overwhelmingly the frontrunner of emerging technologies with a 53% adoption rate. It is important to acknowledge the key role that cloud plays in providing the underlying infrastructure and platforms for all forms of emerging technology. Without cloud, and the advancements in cloud, we would not see other forms of emerging technology develop at such a rapid pace. Furthermore, cloud-enabled technologies continue to evolve to market requirements. For example, the recent advancements in low-code solutions provided as Platform as a Service (PaaS) has been a game-changer for allowing organizations with limited internal development resources to build new applications with limited capability.
Anticipated cost savings and new revenue streams are still perceived to be the strongest motivation for the adoption of emerging technology, according to the ISACA survey. This rings true for private organizations; however, in government and local government in particular, emerging technology is likely to be used to gain valuable insights into the environment within a city that can be used for planning purposes and ultimately provide value back to rate payers.
The report highlights that a key enabler to the adoption of emerging technology is training. With the exception of niche technologies such as bio hacking, bio feedback and close radio communications, many respondents confirmed they had what they would consider a novice understanding of the technology. The exception to this is cloud-enabled technologies, where a substantial number of respondents (32%) considered that they had an intermediate knowledge level where there is also a practical application. IoT was also an area where 20% of respondents confirmed that they have practical experience with the technology.
An important takeaway from the report is that 82% of respondents were at least somewhat concerned that they do not have the security controls in-place in their current infrastructure to safeguard such devices. This likely also relates to industry-wide limited practical experience with emerging technologies since to achieve a degree of confidence that such technologies can be protected there is also the requirement to understand how such technology is used and operated.
The case for emerging technology is strengthened by the frequency at which organizations evaluate opportunities arising from it. The report found that 55% of respondents’ organizations evaluate the need for emerging technology on an ad-hoc basis versus 22% annually and 13% every 2 – 3 years. This would suggest that organizations are planning for innovation and setting aside budgets for the unknown, which is good to see. In some industry verticals, for organizations to have a competitive edge there is a requirement to be able to innovate at speed while also taking a risk-based approach.
The Pulse: Emerging Technology 2021 report is a valuable source of information for decision-makers since it enables supporting trends and issues to be considered in their IT and security strategies. At all levels of an organization, the report can assist practitioners with their day-to-day work. For those who are looking to diversify in niche fields, it paints the picture of the rate of adoption and where it is possible to stand out from the crowd.