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Old IT systems hurt businesses, but IT pros may help

According to Computer Weekly, some banking companies still rely on computer systems that date back to the 1970s. One of the main obstacles holding back businesses from switching from a legacy IT system is a “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” mentality. However, the rate of technology is changing rapidly, and that means potential problems for businesses still using legacy systems.

When companies step away from legacy IT, they can process large amounts of information quickly and still run smoothly. Information technology can play a big role at these companies. In addition, to other companies turning to the cloud, the role of the IT department has also changed. Want to be part of that change? A Bachelor of Science in Information Systems may be able to help.

An open lock on a circuit board.

How the IT department is changing

Many businesses think of IT as the department in charge of keeping computers running smoothly. Today it involves much more than that. For example, more than 93 percent of businesses have transitioned to cloud computing technology, according to RightScale. With access to cloud computing, businesses can be more flexible in customizing software for their needs – and being able to access it when and where they need it. This has become a major focus for IT departments in addition to physical hardware.

This transition to cloud computing and cloud storage also provides a benefit to IT professionals. By transitioning from legacy technology to cloud computing and storage, IT professionals have the freedom to focus more on developing tools that can aid the business, providing a potential strategic advantage.

IT systems factor into strategy

The Journal of Accountancy noted that legacy IT systems are inhibiting businesses from making strategic forward movement in their given industries.

“CFOs are prevented from focusing resources on growth and digital transformation initiatives by the need to invest in costly legacy IT systems’ maintenance,” said Sri Sastry to the publication. “Most CFOs believe that managing IT costs will be the greatest barrier to future growth as a result.”

An investment in IT – which encapsulates many technological changes – can affect all parts of the business. A strong technological foundation can help a business stay competitive, especially as companies come to rely more on Big Data. As Online Tech noted, in order for companies to make use of Big Data to further their business goals, they need to start with the right infrastructure. A legacy IT system may be too slow, bulky or costly to allow them to do this.

What is Big Data? It is an umbrella term used to refer to the endless amounts of information now available to companies. It can encompass web traffic analytics for a marketing firm or the average transit time for a fleet of delivery trucks. When leveraged well, Big Data can set a company apart from its competitors. Netflix was able to process the swaths of data available in order to create a more competitive business advantage with original content. In order to do this, it needed a technological infrastructure that could process this information quickly and efficiently.

IT professionals can also set their companies apart by keeping them protected against malware and viruses. Cyber security is a critical part of the IT strategy – and when it fails, it can put a company in jeopardy, as with the recent WannaCry malware attack.

Old IT Systems in action: WannaCry

WannaCry is a type of ransomware that the NSA first identified. It made news when it overtook the UK healthcare system, effectively locking out doctors and administrators, making it impossible to access health records of patients. One end result was even the delay of surgeries and other medical procedures.

How did this piece of malware do so much damage? It took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft’s software. This weak spot allowed the virus to jump from computer to computer, infecting more of them and encrypting more files that would then be ransomed for Bitcoin. However, Microsoft had alerted users to WannaCry’s existence in March: It issued a patch that required users to update their systems.

Some companies that ran Windows were doing so without updating their software – software that would have included the security patch to block WannaCry from infecting computers. It was a cyber security professional that was able to slow the takeover by the ransomware. This 22-year old found a “kill-switch” in the malware’s code – and proceeded to issue a patch for Windows XP, reported CNBC.

There are other ways cyber security and IT professionals can play an integral role in making sure that this type of attack doesn’t happen again.

How IT professionals can help ward off cyber security attacks

Forbes contributor Lee Matthews noted that IT professionals can set up a separate, private network for sensitive medical equipment needed to prevent infected machines in the network from spreading the malware.

In addition, IT professionals and individuals with a bachelor’s degree in MIS can reduce the risk of a malware attack through educating their teams about phishing attacks, which is a common way for malware to infiltrate a network of computers. Typically done via email, phishing attacks include a link that, once clicked, sends a virus into one computer to potentially steal sensitive information or encrypt files, as in the case with WannaCry.

IT professionals need the proper background to help

In order to help companies stay protected and reach their business goals, IT professionals should have the proper training. According to Ray Kurzweil, Chief Scientist at Google, technology continues to progress at an exponential growth rate. The Baltimore Post Examiner notes that technologies that didn’t exist twenty years ago have overtaken our working and social lives. IT professionals should have the skills to handle the technological challenges facing them today while also preparing for the future. A Bachelor of Science in Information Systems can be the first step. Students can participate in classes that are 100 percent online, completing their degree in as little as four years. The Information Systems core curriculum can help students build their foundational IT knowledge and give them the tools to problem solve in the workplace. To learn more, reach out to an enrollment advisor.

Recommended Readings:
Career Outcomes with a bachelor’s degree in information systems
BS in Information Systems to MS in Management Information Systems: Which one, or both, is right for me?

Sources:
1. http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Legacy-systems-continue-to-have-a-place-in-the-enterprise
2. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/frequency-of-social-media-use-2/
3. http://www.rightscale.com/lp/2015-state-of-the-cloud-report?campaign=701700000012UP6
4. https://www.oracle.com/uk/cloud/paas/features/rise-of-it-department/index.html
5. http://resource.onlinetech.com/the-importance-of-infrastructure-to-big-data-analytics/
6. https://www.cnet.com/news/england-hospitals-hit-by-ransomware-attack-in-widespread-hack/
7. https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2017/05/16/wannacry-ransomware-ms17-010/#593da3a22609
8. http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/17/the-wannacry-ransomware-attack-what-businesses-need-to-know-commentary.html
9. http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/unpredictable-future-computer-technology-growing-faster-time-passes/2015/01/27
10. http://businessdegrees.uab.edu/mis-degree-bachelors/

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