Gartner to IT security pros: Get ready for ‘digital business'

Gartner analyst explains why ‘car crash' would be handled as a ‘digital business'.

There's a "digital business" revolution coming and IT security professionals need to grasp the significance early on to be prepared to address whatever security needs arise. That was the message from Gartner analyst Jorge Lopez in the closing keynote at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit today.

Digital business isn't simply represented by what will be a growth in the so-called "Internet of Things." IoT connectivity will be part of cars, trash cans, road sensors, medical devices, clothing, toys, parking meters, LED lighting and much more. Beyond this, the digital business revolution means what will happen with the information that can be gleaned from IoT and shared for business purposes.

Gartner defines digital business as "the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical world." The main example that Lopez, who heads up Gartner's digital business area of research, gave was how a car crash might be handled in the future through IoT input to fire and police, insurance companies and even hospitals.

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The individual's smartphone would likely play a role in data collection because it could sense a sudden and unusual stop caused by the car crash, said Lopez. The smartphone might be able to collect data from the car's various systems. That data could be sent to insurance companies immediately to have them record the crash in their records and find repair shops willing to bid to fix damage. "The video evidence could be assembled and sent to an attorney," Lopez said.

There's even the possibility that if the individual in the crash is wearing some kind of clothing with smart sensors, medical status could be gleaned that might help hospitals and emergency responders. Though it all sounds a bit like science fiction right now, Lopez assured his audience that industries in the U.S. and elsewhere are considering how to create new digital business practices along these lines.

IT security professionals--Gartner says they may be called "digital risk officers" in the future--need to recognize the implications of these changes, which could arrive quickly, adding trillions in economic value in the coming years. There may arise the new corporate role of the "chief digital officer" or "chief data officer" to drive these changes. But Lopez said he expects the rush to appoint "chief digital officer" in companies might not catch on right away because it would imply one person was responsible for driving "digital business" while it's really up to every facet of a company to re-invent itself to discover the possibilities.

Lopez also predicted that the tech industry will expand around this. "Digital business will be a $309 billion market for technology and services by 2020 and you must start understanding how to manage this," he said to the IT security professionals. It will be up to security pros to craft the security controls for this future world but right now, no one knows what they will be.

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