Business Lessons of 2017
The new year is here. It’s time for the national pastime: reviewing the lessons of the past year. What did we learn in 2017?
Be Ethical, Show Respect
Professional environments demand professional behavior. Women have started speaking up about workplace harassment, and rightly so. All employees, from the CEO down to the intern, deserve respect and must behave respectfully to each other. Power no longer guarantees immunity.
No one is immune to mistakes, but being transparent about them is key to mitigating damage. Consider the Equifax data breach: Equifax announced in September that security had been breached for customers, but as the story unfolded it became clear that customer data had been jeopardized many months prior to the announcement. By waiting to come clean, Equifax damaged its credibility, and faces an enormous struggle to win back consumer confidence.
Similarly, consider the recent revelation from Apple that they deliberately slowed older phones. Again, when customers feel like their trust has been violated, it’s hard for a company to recover.
Big Companies Are Vulnerable; Data Protection Is Hard; Hackers are Smart
Equifax was successfully targeted by data pirates, and they weren’t alone. K-Mart, Uber, Yahoo, and Arby’s joined the list of victims. All these companies devoted plenty of resources to protecting data, but came up short. Cutting-edge technology and deep pockets do not guarantee invincibility.
Big Gains and Big Losses Go Hand-In-Hand
The volatile history of bitcoin is fascinating to watch. Since its introduction in 2009, the crypto-currency has soared and crashed repeatedly. January 2017 saw bitcoin break $1000 for the first time, then approach $5000 in September only to crash by 37%. Is bitcoin here to stay, or is it a modern-day tulip craze?
The Cloud Is Here to Stay
Applications and data are increasingly hosted in the cloud. The good news: Highly-resourced, giant providers are taking over many of our responsibilities. The bad news: No matter how huge, they’re still vulnerable, so we need to have back-up and contingency plans.
Ransomware is malware which actually profits its makers. It’s a multi-billion dollar a year industry expected to explode in 2018. Be prepared for an attack.
The Cloud Can Lighten Our Load
While computing power has compounded exponentially, lots of us no longer need all that power because so much is happening in the cloud. As long as we have an internet connection, everything’s at our fingertips. We don’t need that 1TB hard drive, we just need a fast connection.
ISPs Can Dictate Our Access
The recent order to repeal net neutrality means our increasing reliance on the cloud is potentially hampered by the financial interests of ISPs. Market-driven access to data does not bode well, especially as our dependence on it is soaring.