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CIO upfront: 'Brexit should lift key IT spend'

CIO upfront: 'Brexit should lift key IT spend'

Disruption invites innovation, and while Brexit will impact the way businesses and people operate across the Channel, technology will play an even more critical role to simultaneously both help establish new borders and also to bridge the divide, writes Inder Singh of Unisys.

There will be increased scrutiny of the ability to share data securely. Technology will play a pivotal role as part of a holistic security approach spanning people, policies and technology.

Inder Singh, Unisys

Britain’s vote on 23 June to leave the European Union (EU) sent waves around the world: the British pound fell to its lowest level since 1985, David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, pro-Brexit leadership changed, and the debate goes on as to whether it is a cause for celebration or recriminations. But, as we in the technology industry know that the world is not a static place. After all, disruption invites innovation, and while Brexit will impact the way businesses and people operate across the Channel, technology will play an even more critical role to simultaneously both help establish new borders and also to bridge the divide.

Brexit is always local. Kiwis are concerned about whether it will make it harder to move across Europe. In the US, people ask if having multiple borders in Europe will “make the world unsafe”? (This is a curious view, as most nations around the world manage their own borders, and security is actually enhanced.) While the mechanics of Brexit are yet to be worked out – in fact, Article 50 has not yet been invoked – they have to address border security, data privacy, trade agreements, and work permits.

For IT, this is a time of incredible opportunity. Firstly, there’s the need to provide effective border security management: technology systems can play a key role in both Britain and the EU. Brexit also raises the possibility of a data centre “lift and shift” across the Channel, as certain data will likely need to be domiciled within EU and UK borders. And we will see opportunities for enabling the secure sharing of information between trusted governments and law enforcement agencies.

Improving border security

The volume of international visitors to Britain continues to grow ,and the war in Syria has sparked the largest human migration since the end of World War II. Fear caused by recent terrorist attacks across Europe has created a need to efficiently and accurately monitor who enters, and leaves, a country. The sheer volume of travellers crossing borders mean that advanced technology is needed to ensure border security resources are focused where they are needed most. Advanced analytics enables more effective planning and allocation of resources, providing the flexibility to quickly respond to changing volumes and requirements.

Most travellers present no threat, so border-control technology can help immigration authorities prioritise visitors needing additional examination, reducing delays for those who do not. Travellers and their passports can be matched against a database: previously vetted trusted travellers are syphoned off for fast track processing via self-service kiosks. Meanwhile the same process can match travellers against watch-lists of suspect individuals to alert if additional reviews are required.

Enterprises now realise that we must protect not only data-in-place, but also data-in-motion, especially as extended data centres proliferate.

Inder Singh, Unisys

Facial and fingerprint biometrics are not suited to one-to-many cross checks in real time. However recent developments in iris biometrics offer very fast and efficient matching, with accuracy similar to that of fingerprints. As a result, it is possible and cost effective to perform near-real time matching against very large databases to identify individuals who attempt to enter a country using multiple identities.

Border security is not just about passport control in airports or train stations. Unisys was invited by Frontex, the EU external border agency, to present ways to track people before they arrive, and once they are inside Europe, to use identity cards and data analytics to monitor those whose backgrounds merit investigation.

Data sovereignty and the cloud

Data sharing will be changed. The US and the EU are negotiating a data-sharing regime dubbed the ‘Privacy Shield’. Under Brexit, these rules will no longer apply to the UK, so it will need to independently negotiate similar laws with the EU and US.

We can expect Britain to establish its own data sovereignty rules requiring certain sensitive data be stored and hosted within Britain. Similar rules apply in Australia and New Zealand. Datacentre providers in the UK will be able to offer locally-hosted solutions to government and the financial services sector.

This will drive a different type of cloud adoption in Britain: hybrid cloud to meet differential levels of data sensitivity. Some information and systems will need to comply with data sovereignty rules, while other less sensitive data will not need to be “ring fenced”. Organisations will combine solutions that operate within the company, within Britain, internationally or in the public cloud. Enterprises now realise that we must protect not only data-in-place, but also data-in-motion, especially as extended datacentres proliferate.

Sharing data securely

Some think that Britain will no longer share information to fight common threats. Yet there are many international examples of countries collaborating and sharing information. The UK is already part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US. Britain’s National Crime Agency currently facilitates cooperation between the UK and international law enforcement agencies including INTERPOL, Europol and the EU’s SIRENE.

However, there will be increased scrutiny of the ability to share data securely. Technology will play a pivotal role as part of a holistic security approach spanning people, policies and technology. For example, advanced data security techniques, such as micro-segmentation and cryptography, serve to break what’s called the “cyber kill chain” – the methodical way in which large-scale cyber-attacks often take place. This will help thwart attacks and minimise the impact of breaches if they do happen by limiting a potential attacker's view of data and services to only a tiny segment of the enterprise. This enables data to be confidently shared with others who need to know.

So, while Brexit heralds great change for the way the UK interacts with the EU and the rest of the world, it also heralds great opportunity for those in IT.

Inder Singh is senior vice president and chief marketing and strategy officer for Unisys. He has held a wide variety of senior executive roles at Fortune 50 companies like Cisco, Comcast, and also on Wall Street.

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

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