Digital transformation taking shape in 2021

Welcome to the New Year, where we believe most organizations will continue to work through their digital transformation practices. These updated practices heavily impact IT and business leaders who need to expedite their migration to public clouds and in many situations minimize their physical data center footprint. With that comes numerous challenges, including data privacy and security.

digital transformation 2021

With the COVID pandemic shaping how businesses have adapted to shelter-in-place and remote staff, we will see a number of new challenges and opportunities facing business far into the coming year. Some of these are outlined below:

Cloud adoption by enterprises will accelerate ahead of already aggressive migration plans. Some businesses are estimating more than $100 million dollar in annual savings by moving critical business applications and IT infrastructure to the public cloud and retiring their traditional on-premise data centers. The cost savings are partially gained by cutting license costs of hardware and software running in their traditional data centers.

DevSecOps will continue to become a more common approach for managing applications, no longer the practice of just the technology elite. Companies born in the cloud and/or have the majority of their revenue coming from Internet-based consumption have been implementing security automation within their DevOps practices.

However, even the rest are starting to embrace security automation like never before. Some of it is driven by gains in cost and efficiency. Other factors are due to the increase in cloud adoption where security automation is the de facto practice, not the exception. COVID-19 restrictions also make it significantly more challenging to bring consultants and auditors onsite to perform penetration testing and review compliance results.

Privacy lawsuits will slowly change behaviors but not all business models will survive. In November 2020, California voters passed Proposition 24 which doubled down on California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Within days of the passing of Prop 24, Apple announced they would require all application publishers to fill out a Privacy Disclosure, which will include all data collection, user tracking, and data sharing practices.

The result will be privacy “nutrition labels” on all applications listed in Apple’s app stores. Some companies whose entire business model is to give away free services in order to harvest their users’ behaviors and sell that personal data will be called into question if they fail to disclose it. Further, with new laws like the CCPA, many companies will have to adjust their approach to harvesting personal data and some smaller apps may not survive in their current state.

Personal data ownership rights will start to push back against end user legal agreements that no one reads. It has been a norm in the tech industry to require users of software to accept and agree to lengthy multi-page end user license agreements which often releases a person from privacy rights of their own data.

The truth is that end user license agreements structured by corporate legal teams may have terms and language that would not be upheld in the upcoming landscape of data privacy laws. We do expect to see increased challenges to these data rights starting in 2021 and beyond.

Personalized news apps will deepen political polarization within the U.S. The November 2020 U.S. presidential election broke all-time records in voter turnout. Media outlets experienced higher than normal viewership. Yet, lack of trust in media outlets continue to come into question. Fact checking on fake news takes up as much time as the news itself.

Data, particularly from trusted sources, used to be a place for rational alignment but even facts are put into question in these times. Frustrations expressed by US voters are often triggered by the blurring lines of data-driven and fact-based reporting, editorialized commentary, and opinions shared via social media.

A viral social media post with no facts or data will often be promoted by news outlets especially when it is popular amongst their viewers. We will most likely experience continued expansion with a growing number of alternative news outlets and social media apps.

A New Year means new beginnings, full of promise, reflection, anticipation and growth. As always, as an industry we are ready to face challenges, adversity, solve problems, and move forward with new ideas and solutions. It’s what we do.

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