Separating fact from fiction this Friday the 13th

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Many of us may be holding our breath on yet another Friday 13th, awaiting some minor disaster to occur that we can blame on the date. However, one would think the supposedly rational, data-driven technology world should be above this kind of superstition. Perhaps surprisingly then, there are still some myths and misconceptions spreading throughout the industry, from AI stealing our jobs to GDPR being the end of the world. 

With this particular Friday falling on ‘Embrace Your Geekness Day’, four ‘tech geeks’ – otherwise known as IT experts – shared their thoughts to debunk some of these inaccurate beliefs, and explain the truth behind the tales.

Myth 1: Backup is just a stack of spare copies

"For many, the most common misconception of backup is the thought that it involves many ‘gold copies’ stashed away in a safe place, ready and waiting to be used when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, this simplistic idea of backup is no longer fit for the modern needs of always-on organisations,” revealed Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Technology Evangelist at Zerto.

“The adoption of the latest technology, with innovative new approaches, has led to the number of planned and unplanned disruptions in a business rising. Combating this means companies need to start looking outside of traditional backup capabilities to develop an IT resilience strategy that can face the many challenges that are coming hand-in-hand with digital transformation.”

Janssen van Doorn advised: “It’s imperative that businesses choose a modern, risk-free platform that can utilise continuous data protection. Combining this with the ability to move applications freely across hybrid and multi-cloud environments can help organisations to deliver an always-on customer experience, even while undergoing major changes to its infrastructure. 

“All of these capabilities together ensure that businesses have more than just ‘gold copies’ of their data in a safe place; they will have an IT resilience strategy, protecting their infrastructure and reputation, and enabling innovation and transformation without the outages.”

Myth 2: AI is out to steal our jobs one by one

Marianne Calder, VP EMEA at Puppet, put this fear to rest. “One of the big superstitions we see in businesses is that AI and automation are out to steal our jobs. However, much like Friday 13th, this is more myth than fact. Although automation is commonly seen as a threat to workers, it can both benefit employees and allow businesses to transform and create a totally new customer experience and therefore new jobs. The reality behind the myth is that IT departments spend as much as 50% of their time on routine, repetitive tasks, but with growing demands from all corners the organisation, you simply can't keep doing everything manually. Automation frees up time to work on more valuable initiatives and therefore allows employees to focus on forward-thinking projects and developments that are driving businesses forward in the digital age. 

“Across Europe the majority of large organisations have taken steps towards implementing widespread automation, with some further through the journey than others. As we move from misconception to reality with automation, it’s important to ask ‘where in the journey are we and where do we go from here’ – this will ultimately determine the success of the transformation. Only then will we see the impact it will have – and dispel the superstition. Automation will end up freeing workers from manual tasks to focus on adding value and driving change to the business around them.”

Myth 3: GDPR is the end of the world as we know it

"When it came to 25th May, there was national media hysteria around GDPR – would this be the new Y2K? Why were all of these companies emailing us? And did we really care who was using our data? Headlines seemed to view the regulation as the end of the business world as we knew it,” recalled Nigel Tozer, Director of Solutions Marketing and GDPR Specialist at Commvault.

“But now that the media frenzy has abated, and the scare-mongering headlines are fewer and further between, what dominated the day was a clear reflection of the scale of the reform that GDPR represents, as well as the amount of work still needed to change the way businesses interact with personal data. For many, current data protection strategies are far from flawless. However, the risk of a €20 million penalty isn’t going away, so if your organisation isn’t yet fully compliant, it’s time to:

  • Ensure you educate salespeople, marketers and HR professionals about GDPR compliance – as these figures often handle sensitive personal data on a daily basis. Having a Data Protection Officer is useful, but on a day-to-day basis, your staff need to know what has changed, and how they should treat personal information
  • Check you know what data you have, where it is, and what it’s being used for – if you don’t know this, you can’t adequately protect that information and you will struggle to address parts of the legislation such as Subject Access Requests or the Right to be Forgotten
  • Check your vulnerabilities – make sure your cloud services are secured, you have the correct access controls in place, and that you have solid processes to ensure your employees (as well as your suppliers) are compliant with the regulation 

“Only by doing this can you be confident that it won’t be your company that ends up back in the headlines as one of the first to receive a slap on the wrist or a fine from the ICO.”

Myth 4: Edge computing is too new to trust

“With the proliferation of emerging technologies like IoT and AI on the rise, and as more devices connect to the internet and to each other, edge computing is at the top of boardroom priorities for IT. But as with any unknown concepts, whilst edge computing pushes further into the forefront of our IT agendas, a few myths have come along with it for the ride,” Jason Collier, Co-Founder at Scale explained.

“One of the biggest misconceptions around edge computing is that it is a brand new technology. Wrong. Essentially, edge computing is any computing that takes place outside of the data centre, away from your IT staff. It could involve only a few remote sites or it could be hundreds or thousands of sites - multiple industries across the world are already utilising the technology for just that, including retail, transport, manufacturing and healthcare. These sites could be around the corner from each other or on the opposite sides of the world. Regardless of the distance though, they all have the same needs and requirements including disaster recovery, remote management and high availability. 

“So, edge computing is certainly a new term, but the technology isn’t new, just reinvented.”

These are just a few of many myths and it is clear that the technology world needs to work hard to separate fact from fiction. These four are by no means the only misconceptions in the industry, but they provide some key lessons to learn as a starting point about understanding new and changing technologies before taking speculation at its word.

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