Daily Tech Digest - March 21, 2023

CFO Priorities This Year: Rethinking the Finance Function

Marko Horvat, Gartner VP of research, adds CFOs must transition away from optimization and start thinking about transformation. “Making things faster, more accurate, and with less effort has benefits, but each round of improvement brings diminishing returns,” he says. “CFOs must start thinking about ways to transform the function to build and enhance capabilities, such as advanced data and analytics, in order to truly unlock more value from the finance function.” Sehgal says CFOs should be asking questions including, how do we create a futuristic vision for finance? Should short-term gains override longer-term benefits? And how do we fund digital transformation with the current pressures? “CFOs are focused on elevating the role of finance in the organization to be a value integrator across the enterprise, as well as enhancing value through new strategies that not only support development but that also promote innovations for capital allocation,” he explains.

Build Software Supply Chain Trust with a DevSecOps Platform

When building an application, developers, platform operators and security professionals want to monitor vulnerabilities throughout the software supply chain. The challenge comes when multiple vulnerability scanners are used at different stages in the pipeline and different teams are notified and required to take action without proper coordination. A security-focused application platform can build in scan orchestration to not only detect vulnerabilities but also to map those findings to a workload. This feature allows developers to identify issues throughout the life cycle of their applications and help them resolve issues, shifting left the responsibility with a higher degree of automation. Moreover, the platform can build trust with security analysts by showing the performance of application developers and helping them understand the risk that teams are facing. Once a platform detects these vulnerabilities, both at build time and at runtime, it needs to help developers triage and remediate them. 

Developers, unite! Join the fight for code quality

Writing good code is a craft as much as any other, and should be regarded as such. You have every right to advocate for an environment and an operational model that respect the intricacies of what you do and the significance of the outcome. It’s important to value, and feel valued for, what you do. And not just for your own immediate happiness—it’s also a long-term investment in your career. Making things you don’t think are any good tends to wear on the psyche, which doesn’t exactly feed into a more motivated workday. In fact, a study conducted by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School found that happy workers were 13% more productive. What’s good for your craft is ultimately best for business—a conclusion both engineers and their employers can feel good about. Software plays a big role at just about every level of society—it’s how we create and process information, access goods and services, and entertain ourselves. With the advent of software-defined vehicles, it even determines how we move between physical locations.

Why data literacy matters for business success

Aligning data strategies with overall business strategy and operations is no mean feat. Chief Data Officers (CDOs) are ideal candidates in marrying together data analytics and the wider business, given their appreciation of informed decision making, and the desire to foster a data culture where internal information is properly managed and engaged with throughout the organisation. Moreover, their understanding of the technology landscape will assist when making platform and software selections. This stands to benefit all departments, who’ll gain access to the tools and skills needed to work with data and derive insights. CDOs also embody the “can do” approach to professional development, believing it’s possible to train employees in data-related skills, regardless of their technical proficiency. There’s a well-established correlation between hiring a CDO and business success, with research from Forrester suggesting 89% of organisations harnessing analytics to improve operations that appointed one to oversee the process have seen a positive business impact.

What the 'new automation' means for technology careers

AI is already playing a part in handling technology tasks. A survey released by OpsRamp finds more than 60% of companies adopting AIOps, which applies AI to monitor and improve IT operations themselves. The greatest IT operations challenge for enterprises in 2023 was automating as many operations as possible, cited by 66% of respondents. The main benefits of AIOps seen so far include reduction in open incident tickets (65%); reduction in mean time to detect or restore (56%), and automation of tedious tasks (52%). The latest IT staffing data from Janco Associates finds recent layoffs affected data center and operations staff, with business leaders looking to automate IT processes and reporting. The apparent trend here is that those pursuing careers in technology need to look higher up the stack -- at applications and business consulting. However, there's still a lot of work for people working with the plumbing and code. Unfortunately, getting to automation-driven abstraction -- especially if it involves AI -- requires some manual work up front.

How Cybersecurity Delays Critical Infrastructure Modernization

For critical infrastructure organizations, building a security strategy that works from both an operational technology (OT) and consumer data perspective is not as straightforward as it is in many other industries. Safely storing this data while implementing the latest technology has proved to be a significant challenge across the sector, meaning the service provided by these companies is being hampered. These concerns have prevented a range of technologies from being integrated quickly or at all. These technologies include renewable energy projects, electric vehicle technology, natural disaster contingencies and moving towards smarter grid solutions to replace aging infrastructure. Older operational technology becomes difficult to update and secure sufficiently while the use of third-party software also reduces the level of control organizations have over their data. In addition to this, a lack of automation increases the chances of human error, which could present opportunities to cybercriminals.

What Are Foundation AI Models Exactly?

The generative AI solution can analyze input data against 175 billion parameters and profoundly understand the written language. The smart tool can answer questions, summarize and translate text, produce articles on a given topic, write code, and much more. All you need is to provide ChatGPT with the right prompts. OpenAI’s groundbreaking product is just one example of foundation models that transform AI application development as we know it. Foundation models disrupt AI development as we know it. Instead of training multiple models for separate use cases, you can now leverage a pre-trained AI solution to enhance or fully automate tasks across multiple departments and job functions. With foundation AI models like ChatGPT, companies no longer have to train algorithms from scratch for every task they want to enhance or automate. Instead, you only need to select a foundation model that best fits your use case – and fine-tune its performance for a specific objective you’d like to achieve.

As hiring freezes and layoffs hit, tech teams struggle to do more with less

There are a number of organizational hurdles holding back employees’ learning and development, Pluralsight found. For HR and L&D directors, budget restraints and costs were identified as the biggest barriers to upskilling (30%). This was also true for technology leaders, with 15% blaming financial restraints for getting in the way of employee upskilling. For technology workers themselves, finding time to invest in their own training was identified as the main issue: 42% of workers said they were too busy to upskill, with 18% saying their manager didn’t allow any time during the week to learn new skills. As a result, 21% of tech workers feel pressured to learn outside of work hours. ... However, the report added that giving employees time to invest in their training, address skills gaps and gain valuable growth opportunities are key factors in retention. “Upskilling during work hours will hinder short-term productivity, and managers often bear the brunt of this stress. But don’t sacrifice short-term productivity for long-term success,” the report said.

CISA kicks off ransomware vulnerability pilot to help spot ransomware-exploitable flaws

CISA says it will seek out affected systems using existing services, data sources, technologies, and authorities, including CISA's Cyber Hygiene Vulnerability Scanning. CISA initiated the RVWP by notifying 93 organizations identified as running instances of Microsoft Exchange Service with a vulnerability called "ProxyNotShell," widely exploited by ransomware actors. The agency said this round demonstrated "the effectiveness of this model in enabling timely risk reduction as we further scale the RVWP to additional vulnerabilities and organizations." Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at CISA, said, "The RVWP will allow CISA to provide timely and actionable information that will directly reduce the prevalence of damaging ransomware incidents affecting American organizations. We encourage every organization to urgently mitigate vulnerabilities identified by this program and adopt strong security measures consistent with the U.S. government's guidance on StopRansomware.gov."

A Simple Framework for Architectural Decisions

Technology Radar captures techniques, platforms, tools, languages and frameworks, and their level of adoption across an organization. However, this may not cover all the needs. Establishing consistent practices for things that apply across different parts of the system can be helpful. For example, you might want to ensure all logging is done in the same format and with the same information included. Or, if you’re using a REST API, you might want to establish some conventions around how it should be designed and used, like what headers to use or how to name things. Additionally, if you’re using multiple similar technologies, it can be useful to guide when to use each one. Technology Standards define the rules for selecting and using technologies within your company. They ensure consistency, reduce the risk of adopting new technology in a suboptimal way, and drive consistency across the organization.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another." -- John C. Maxwell

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