Everyone’s talking about cloud computing.
But what does it really mean for your business?

Get the answers from speakers and participants at IBM’s exclusive Elevate NYC cloud event. Find out about augmented and virtual reality, the inside information provided by blockchain technology, how to combine cloud design and innovation, build the most effective APIs, and maintain cloud security in a world of hackers. But most important, learn how to question your own corporate culture. Can you create a company culture that makes it all work? Think tweaks to mindset and business outcomes, but don’t be scared to set goals that may seem unattainable.

The future of technologies
that you did not know were already here

Every company is a technology company

Alice Lloyd George, an investor with RRE Ventures and Andrew Nusca, Deputy Digital Editor of Fortune magazine, opened the day-long forum with the acknowledgement that most companies recognize the importance of technology in a customer-centric world. Nusca described the cloud as the connective tissue that turns data into insight to make operations more efficient.

Lloyd George commented that even the most traditional industries are being affected by technology – and that she is particularly excited by advances in augmented and virtual reality as well as in holograms. She said training is one area where these technologies could prove useful and cited one energy company that is using virtual reality to help some of its people overcome a fear of heights. But both Nusca and Lloyd George stressed that to make use of these new tools, however, firms can’t just bolt on the latest software and hope for the best. Enterprises must nurture talent and invest in human assets.

The hype and hope behind artificial intelligence

Barb Darrow, senior writer with Fortune magazine, moderated this session featuring panelists Angie McAllister, Senior VP, Learning and Analytics for Pearson Education, Tony Sardella, CEO of evolve24 and Michael Karasick, VP of Cognitive Computing at IBM.

Karasick pointed out that a lot of companies still don’t consider data as a resource to be tapped. Sardella pointed out that AI is critical in helping mitigate risk, provided companies have the right data that can be analyzed in real time. As an example, he cited how the food industry can now track products from farm to shelf every step of the way, thus forming a product map – made possible by large-scale computing power that wasn’t available within the last few years.  For McAllister, whose company, has partnered with IBM Watson initiatives, AI has helped personalize the learning experience. She cited the fact that virtual tutors are “baked in” to some of Pearson’s products, pointing out that the design phase can make or break an AI initiative and if not done correctly can cause more harm than good.

Making blockchain real for business

Moderated by Brian O’Keefe, assistant managing editor of Fortune magazine, this session dealt with blockchain’s way of structuring data through encryption to create a digital ledger of transactions. Panelists speaking on the subject were Dan O’Prey, CMO of Digital Asset Holdings, Daniel Gallancy, CEO and Founding Member of Vida Identity, and IBM fellow Jerry Cuomo, the company’s CTO for Middleware. They explained how blockchain allowed for a shared ledger of assets to be made available across multiple institutions in a transparent manner. O’Prey described this technology as extremely powerful, adding that it allows companies to pull out important information from the ledgers in real time. Gallancy said blockchain eliminates the Fort Knox mentality usually associated with assets and puts a company in charge of its own credentials. Cuomo pointed out that some businesses today are creating a shadow ledger to augment their existing networks, giving all participants visibility into the transaction. In this way, the time it can take to resolve a dispute is shortened considerably.

The Internet of Things

Barb Darrow discussed the latest IoT developments with Ryan McManus, SVP, Partnerships and Development and Board Director at EVRYTHNG, Mimi Spier, Senior Director, Internet of Things for VMware and Don O’Toole, Business Development Executive with an expertise in the Internet of Things for IBM. They talked about improvements in the value chain due to the agility IoT allows for – and how IoT can reveal a great deal about customer behaviors. They agreed that today, all the technology is in place to support IoT, such as appropriate security measures, sensors, information management and analysis of data. Some examples: Vending machines can now update remotely and respond to customer demands. As well, IoT provides conditions for precision agriculture, resulting in decreased water usage and significant increases in crop yields. Labels on products can now capture every point of information along the supply chain.

From idea to MVP: fusing design thinking and innovation methods

Gian Pangaro, Creative Director IDEO CoLab, Billie Whitehouse, Co-Founder and Designer at Wearable Experiments and Doug Powell, a Distinguished Designer with IBM each gave a presentation on the value of design thinking. Whitehouse talked about how touch connects us to our surroundings and cautioned against subsuming human experience to technology. She stressed good design engages all five senses. Powell said a design revolution is underway and that the top emerging companies have design in their DNA. He suggested design thinking will define emerging technologies such as AI, VR, IoT and blockchain. Panagaro said we are entering a machine economy – one in which design will play a major role in creating efficiencies and happy customers.

Platforms for innovation: building in the API economy

Rob Platzer, CTO of Bitly and IBM Fellow Jason McGee, VP and CTO for the company’s cloud platform, discussed the proliferation of APIs. Platzer said APIs not only enable new technologies, they can also help build new revenue streams. He added that many of his customers use only APIs. McGee added that APIs aren’t just about access – they also provide insights into customer behavior. He said he has seen a trend toward smaller and smaller API platforms and said it’s important to have just the right amount of collaboration between parties involved in these APIs to create better visibility and improved opportunities for innovation.

Securing the Cloud: are your data assets hack-proof?

Nigel Holloway, editor with the FORTUNE Knowledge Group, moderated a panel consisting of Kevin Elliott, US Risk and Crisis Communication Practice Director at Hill + Knowlton, Lisa Sotto, partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams andCaleb Barlow, VP in security at IBM. Barlow said 67 percent of companies are not prepared to maintain security during a breach. Sotto said most companies bring in external counsel when there is an anomaly and that when one occurs, a company’s senior team will be consumed by this problem for months. Elliott emphasized the need for transparency when breaches happen. Barlow advised firms to build a center to train staff how to handle a breach, comparing the practice to a flight simulator.

Digitally rethinking the concept of government

Dr. David Bray, senior executive and CIO of the FCC addressed forum attendees and encouraged them to rethink the concept of government to align with the notion of public service. He said the latter term reflects the agility, resiliency and effectiveness possible with a change in mindset. He added that leadership is when you step outside of expectations. He encouraged experimentation and said machines can make recommendations for the betterment of everyone as algorithms allow intrapreneurs to pioneer civil and social innovation.

Security Questions and answers

1. Can you identify what the weakest links in cyber-security tend to be?

IBM research shows that lack of proper security basics, such as configuration and patch management, leads to exposure. These simple issues are often found to be the root causes of data breaches. The “human factor” is also a weak link, due to a lack of security awareness and training amongst employees. Organizations need to educate people about how to detect suspicious emails and links.

2. Instead of advocating a reactive approach, shouldn’t we get proactive and try to build security best practices into operational advantages?

Absolutely. Advanced techniques like cognitive security, analytics and behavioral anomaly detection can help companies identify and contain attacks before data is lost and harm is done. But given the increasing sophistication of attacks and hackers,even the best defenses may be breached, so having a robust incident response plan is also a must.

3. As things become increasingly interconnected do the risks of compromise increase?

Unfortunately, yes, without out the proper planning, interconnection and IoT can increase risk. But the flip side is that these connections can also provide more data about what is happening on devices and that additional can actually help organizations to improve their risk profiles and increase security. For example, if we know that a user is coming into a financial app from an unknown device and place, you can use increase their risk ranking, and use this additional context to better identify fraudulent activity.

4. How is cybersecurity and cloud computing incident / crisis management different from traditional information security data breaches?

With cloud related security incidents, the number of “moving parts” in the breach increases significantly. A breach 20 years ago may have involved one server and two connected terminals or desktops. Today that breach may involved multiple partners and supplies, workloads in the cloud, and a variety of mobile devices. Investigating these types of incidents takes more time and resources.

5. What’s the difference when a breach happens in your data center vs in the cloud? (The topic of the discussion is about securing the cloud so I would like to know what specific nuances are.)

Companies have access to all the information in their own data center, including network traffic and log data. In the cloud companies may not have access to that data which makes forensic investigations more difficult. To help prepare, companies can work with their cloud provider in advance to ensure they are able to access log or other monitoring data for cloud workloads if and when a breach occurs.

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