Saturday, 28th November 2020

IT teams prepare for the rise of intelligent machines

New global research shows rapid adoption of intelligent machines used for automating and optimising business and IT processes. 92% of IT professionals surveyed recognise the technology is now central to the success of their business, but 68% acknowledge it raises new concerns about network security, access and controls.

Ipswitch has published the findings of an independent global study, carried out by analyst firm Freeform Dynamics. The survey examines the attitudes and readiness of IT decision makers with regard to intelligent machines and business systems (machines with decision making and learning capabilities). Exploring the fast-paced adoption of these systems, the report looks at the positive impacts already being observed in the commercial world and the potential barriers to even further mainstream adoption over the next decade.

According to the research, investment in intelligent business systems and automation is well underway across the globe. Top current application deployment areas cited by respondents include digital customer engagement systems (55%), process automation and workflow systems (52%), and automated risk monitoring and management solutions (50%). The research further reveals that:

45% have adopted intelligent IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and services, with 34% saying these technologies are on the agenda
42% are utilising autonomous apps and bots, and 32% say they plan to do so
45% are using cognitive computing and inference engines and a further 30% are looking to deploy in the near future
40% are using complex event processing (CEP) technology and a further 34% plan to soon

Despite the speed of adoption, the study reveals that IT decision makers are finding it difficult to assess the full extent of the risks, challenges and threats posed by intelligent business systems. Security concerns (33%), funding constraints (30%) and lack of knowledge (24%) were all identified as areas of worry and named as primary obstacles to adoption and use. To give just one example, a fifth of respondents (20%) said increased ‘noise’ on the network is making it harder to detect malicious activity, with automated/bot access to APIs causing system/application issues and creating unexpected security exposures.

When questioned further, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents confessed their current network security and access management capabilities were already inadequate or needed strengthening to cope with new intelligent machines, while 72% revealed network traffic monitoring and analysis capabilities also required reinforcing. 72% of respondents said the same applied to their file and document level security and access management systems and protocols. Looking to the future, the survey revealed IT professionals were also concerned about how to counter the potential impact of intelligent systems activity – including external third party bots, agents and internet-connected ‘things’ – on enterprise networks and infrastructures.

“Organisations are harnessing the transformative powers of intelligent systems to gain competitive advantage. But IT decision makers recognise that, while a force for good, these technologies also expose the enterprise to new internal and external risk vectors,” said Tony Lock, Distinguished Analyst at Freeform Dynamics. “As the pace of adoption increases, there will be no escaping the impact of intelligent systems on the enterprise – regardless of whether or not organisations directly invest in such technologies.”

The research also highlighted the impact of intelligent systems is being felt right now in the enterprise environment, with IT professionals braced for further challenges:

A quarter expected fully autonomous self-learning robots to be functioning independently within a business setting in less than three years, with a further third saying this will happen within 10 years
Rogue decision-making resulting in direct commercial damage and an over reliance on machines, ultimately leading to complacency were cited as current or future concerns that need addressing; one fifth of respondents confirm a lack of human oversight and de-skilling, to the point where no one in the IT team understands the logic or processes underpinning systems, is a problem today
76% believe these solutions will remove drudgery from IT operations, while just 32% are concerned intelligent systems may eventually put them out of a job

“IT professionals should approach intelligent machines with their eyes wide open. As network managers grow more confident with intelligent systems, they will become increasingly willing to tackle more complex applications. However, they need to ensure they have the right tools in place to enable intelligent systems and support the IT team to manage the impact of internal and external intelligent automation effectively,” said Michael Hack, SVP of EMEA Operations at Ipswitch.
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