Trucks at Work

Wringing value from IT

A horrific multi-vehicle crash involving a Wal Mart truck driver that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan is adding new fuel to the fiery debate over trucking safety regulations in the U.S. Indeed, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this week that crash is the reason why black boxes should be mandated on all commercial vehicles.

Whether or not Sen. Schumer’s proposal gets any legs in Congress, one thing is for sure – more and more electronically-based safety systems are heading trucking’s way in the not-so-distant future, affecting everything from truck driver drug test results to vehicle safety inspections.

Thus information technology (IT) is going to become an ever-more critical function of trucking industry operations, if only to help record, store, and move all sorts of required safety data.

While this is a trend I’ve touch one more than a few times in this space, a new survey concerning the relation of IT to company needs in the business world finds there’s a serious disconnect occurring – especially when it comes to IT delivering “value” to the enterprise as a whole.

That’s not something I think trucking firms want to hear, especially if they’ll need to rely more heavily on IT systems to maintain compliance with electronically-connected state and federal safety regimes down the road.

The study in question – based on a detailed poll of 100 senior IT decision-makers in the U.S. and conducted by analysts at IDG on behalf of RES Software – found that only 28% of IT departments themselves believe they are currently delivering on the needs of the business effectively; that IT departments are feeling the pressure to prove real value to leadership, while maintaining consistent levels of service and meeting growing demands from users for better technologies.

[In a related theme, check out some thoughts from experts at the Gartner Group about how and why IT personnel need to get more in synch with the “value needs” of their companies.]

Exploring IT strategy, current pain points, and how organizations plan to invest over the next three years, IDG’s research for RES found that cloud computing (53%), security (41%) and mobile workforce (43%) will be key areas of investment, although the majority of respondents (76%) expect their IT budgets to remain the same or decline.

Yet half the respondents rated the relationship between the IT department and the business as “poor” with 65% identifying a pressing need to improve end user experience and service.

“The daily tasks required to simply keep IT systems afloat and users up and running can be incredibly time consuming,” noted Tracey Mustacchio, chief marketing officer for RES. “But with so many resources aimed at keeping the lights on, many IT departments find themselves falling far short of their own – and the business’s – expectations.”

[On that note, what are the characteristics of a good CIO anyways? Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shares some thoughts on that along with a few other interesting IT insights in the interview below.]

That’s a worrying trend in terms of cybersecurity needs as well – something IDG discerned in another study it conducted for CSG Invotas.

The survey found that more than one-third of cyberattacks take hours to detect and that resolving such security “breaches” takes days, weeks, and in some cases, even months.

Despite increased resource allocation designed to protect networks, the CSG survey found that 82% of respondents report no decrease in the number of network security events or breaches last year—and more than a quarter of those surveyed reported an increase.

“There’s no doubt that improving intrusion response and resolution times reduces the window of exposure from a breach,” stressed Jen McKean, research director at IDG. “More companies seek security automation tools that will enable them to resolve breaches in mere seconds and help maintain business-as-usual during the remediation period.”

“It is no longer a surprise to hear that a breach has compromised data related to customers, employees, or partners,” added Paul Nguyen, president of global security solutions at CSG.

“CIOs [chief information officers] recognize that they need faster, smarter ways to identify security breaches across their enterprises,” he said. “More importantly, they need faster, smarter ways to respond with decisive and coordinated action to help protect threats against company reputation, customer confidence, and revenue growth.”

Something to keep in mind as the IT needs within trucking are only going to keep on growing.

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