CIO Banquet 2017: Keynote Address Part 5 – Cyber-Security, The Team Environment

Another force that looms large is data security; in the last few weeks we’ve witnessed the biggest data leak in the history of South Africa – personal records of more than 60m South Africans (alive and deceased, adults and children) sitting on an internet facing web server possibly since 2015 – and annoyingly enough discovered by an Australian expert on data breaches. Relevant legislation is still in process and the industry is still grappling with the ramifications of this latest leak and our response to it. Our local breach doesn’t appear to have been monetised, but seems to be more by incompetence than intention – by the way check out Troy Hunt’s website and you can see if your data is included in this breach, as well as any major data breach.

personal records of more than 60m South Africans (alive and deceased, adults and children) sitting on an internet facing web server possibly since 2015

An increasing number of breaches do have a monetary incentive, and again in banking we are particularly sensitive to this issue and all the major banks in SA have absolutely world class cyber-defense systems and experts in place, daily defending against hundreds of thousands of attempts to breach our perimeters. Financial services firms are hit with security incidents a staggering 300 times more than businesses in other industries. Across JP Morgan, bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo, they are collectively spending $1.5Bn to battle cyber crime and in fact Bank of America’s CEO went on record to say his cyber-security department literally has no budget constraint.

Financial services firms are hit with security incidents a staggering 300 times more than businesses in other industries

Team Thinking

A special interest of mine is the team environment and how this approach is being adopted in the new ways of working. Team thinking isn’t new but it’s a refreshing change from the large scale planning and somewhat cumbersome projects many of us in this room often get saddled with. We’re good at grouping people into common functions and measuring their utilisation but that doesn’t give us the value based output from small and nimble cross functional teams that are given sufficient room to solve problems with new technology. After all, Instagram was a medium sized team of only 14 people when it was valued at five hundred million dollars and then sold to Facebook for a billion dollars. And not coincidentally, the same year in which Kodak filed for bankruptcy, the once proud 100,000 employee firm brought to its knees by a simple app on a smartphone – digital disruption indeed.

The refocusing on small teams is changing our model of management as well – people are talking more and more about servant leadership and how management should get out of the team’s way and clear obstacles for them to be successful. Just like Richard Branson said, we shouldn’t hire bright people and tell them what to do …. we should hire bright people to tell us what to do

Kodak was a once proud 100,000 employee firm brought to its knees by a simple app built by 14 people – digital disruption indeed

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2 Comments

  1. Lucas Mogashoa on May 22, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Cyber Security remains the biggest risk today,, and as you indicated, especially in Financial Services. It takes team work and going back to basics when it comes to securing business environments (not just IT systems, but also processes, and people). Furthermore, the basic security safeguards have to consider latest technologies and trends when applied.

    Great article. Keep them coming

    • Peter Alkema on May 29, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks Lucas, really appreciate the feedback!

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