CIO Focus Interview: Isaac Sacolick, Greenwich Associates

CIO Focus InterviewFor this CIO Focus Interview, I got the pleasure of interviewing Isaac Sacolick. Isaac is the Global CIO and a Managing Director at Greenwich Associates and is recognized as an industry leading, innovative CIO. In 2013, he received Tech Target’s CIO award for Technology Advancement. The past two years, he’s been on the Huffington Post’s Top 100 Most Social CIOs list. I would highly recommend reading his blog, Social, Agile and Transformation and also following him on Twitter (@nyike).

Ben: Could you give me some background on your career?

Isaac: My career began in start-ups, and I have never lost that start-up DNA. My past few jobs have been taking the way start-ups work and applying that mentality and framework to traditional businesses that need to transform.

Ben: Could you give me some background on your company and your current role within the company?

Isaac: Greenwich is a provider of global market intelligence and advisory services to the financial services industry. I’m the CIO and am leading our Business Transformation Initiative. I’ve been focused on a couple of key areas in my role. These include creating agile practices and a core competency in software development, as well as building and standardizing our Business Intelligence platforms.

Ben: You recently started at Greenwich. As a CIO in this day and age, what are some of the challenges of starting a new role?

Isaac: When starting a new role, you’re constantly switching hats. You need your learning hat to be able to digest things that you know very little about. You need your listening hat to hear where a pain point or opportunity is so you can understand and apply your forces in the right places. It’s important to look for some quick wins while taking baby steps towards implementing changes and transformations you think are necessary. It’s like a clown picture with 7 or 8 different wheels spinning at the same time. I had to learn how our business operated and to work with the IT team to transition from one way of operating to another way of operating. An important piece is to learn the cultural dynamics of the company. That’s been my first three months here.

Ben: What projects have you been able to work on with all the chaos?

Isaac: I’ve instrumented some tangible results while getting situated. We now have an agile practice. It was one of those things that had been talked about in the past, but now we have four programs running with four different teams, each in different states of maturity. We’ve also changed our approach with our developers. They were operating in support mode and taking requests to address break fix things, etc. Now, we’ve put the brakes on some of the marginal work and have freed some of their time so some of them can be tech leads on agile projects. This has helped us make great progress on building new products. We’re a tech team focused on more strategic initiatives.

I’ve been doing similar work with Dev Ops by getting them an expanded view of support beyond service desk and having them look at considerations that our organization has that need support around applications. We’re trying to get in the mindset that we can respond to application requests in need. We’ve gone from a help desk and infrastructure model to one that adds more focus on supporting applications.

Which areas of IT do you think are having the biggest impact on businesses?

Isaac: I would say self-service BI programs. If you roll the clock back 3-4 years ago, the tools for data analytics most organizations were using could be split into two camps. You were either operate out of do-it-yourself tools like Microsoft Excel and Access or you deployed an enterprise BI solution. The enterprise BI solution cost a lot of money and required extensive training. Over the last 3 years, there has been an emergence of tools that fit in that middle ground. Users can now do more analytics in a much more effective and productive fashion. The business becomes more self-serving, and this changes the role of the IT department in regards to how to store and interpret data. There is also a lot of governance and documentation involved that needs to be accounted for. These new self-service BI programs have taken a specialized skill set and made it much more democratic and scalable so that individual departments can look at data to see how they can do their jobs better.

Ben: What’s the area of IT that interests you the most?

Isaac: I would have to say the Internet of Things. The large volumes of data and the integration of the physical world and virtual world are fascinating. The Internet of Things has capabilities to really enrich our lives by simplifying things and giving us access to data that used to be difficult to capture in real time. Take wearables for example. The Apple Watch came out and then there will be many more things just like it. I’m really interested to see the form and functionality wearables take moving forward, as well as who will adopt them.

Ben: What sorts of predictions did you have coming into 2015?

Isaac: I actually wrote a blog post back in January with my 5 predictions for 2015. One was that big data investments may be the big bubble for some CIOs. To avoid overspending and underachieving on big data promises, CIOs are going to have to close the skills gap and champion analytics programs. Another was that Boards are likely to start requesting their CIOs to formally present security risks, options and a roadmap as companies become more active to address information security issues.


By Ben Stephenson, Emerging Media Specialist

Wireless IoT Forum launches to drive Internet of Things development

The Internet of Things is in need of standards

The Internet of Things is in need of standards

The Wireless IoT Forum (WIoTF) has announced its launch, saying it aims to drive the standardisation and deployment of connected devices and appliances, and the development and adoption of wireless wide-area networking (WAN) technologies, reports

The organisation said it will work with stakeholders across the board, including operators, infrastructure providers, app developers in utilities, government and specialist SMEs, semiconductor vendors, and end-users.

Its goal, according to the WIoTF, is to encourage the adoption of WAN IoT connectivity in competition with, or as a complement to, LAN, PAN, mesh and other options, spanning all forms of WAN connectivity, including 3GPP cellular-IoT and license-exempt WAN IoT

Although the founding members of the WIoTF won’t be revealed until 28 April, apparently to be announced at the M2M World Congress, the group said Will Franks has been appointed as Chairman and William Webb as CEO. Franks’ background is in Cisco-acquired small cell vendor Ubiquisys, where he was Founder and CTO. Webb is currently also President at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as well as previously having held senior positions at Ofcom.

According to Franks, openness is a key to successful mobile technologies. “Successful wireless technologies have always been founded on interoperability, open standards, and a focus on the demands of end-users,” he said.

“The Forum is committed to securing these conditions and working with all major stakeholders to ensure successful and timely deployment of the Internet of Things worldwide. We are delighted to have helped bring together key industry players with the common goal of driving standardisation and interoperability. These players have the vision to recognise the need to collaborate to create robust technology platforms while competing to create dynamic markets.”

One of the aims of the WIoTF is to minimise fragmentation within the IoT market. Webb said: “The wireless Internet of Things is bringing connectivity and control to an order of magnitude more devices, however there is a very real risk of fragmented standards and technologies holding back the development of the market.

“There has also been a tremendous amount of work done in the IoT world across a wide range of technologies. As in the cellular world, the success of this will lie in the promotion of open standards. The Forum will work tirelessly to make this a reality in the IoT world.”

Nicolas Graube, fellow at Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), agreed with the view the IoT will not materialise in a meaningful way unless common standards are put in place. Commenting on the back of an announcement about Cambridge Wireless’ upcoming Future of Wireless International Conference (to be held 23 and 24 June), he said: “The IoT is arguably at the peak of its hype cycle and there are some significant obstacles that must be overcome before this dream can become a reality.

“Standardisation coupled with the logistics involved in managing, protecting and making accessible the constant stream of data generated by an ever growing number of connected devices are just some of the key challenges that lie ahead’.

IoT certainly has been one of the industry’s most prominent buzzwords for some time but it seems lately a growing number of people have started to voice concern over the absence of any standardisation. As recently reported by, the importance of security and simplicity of use have also been highlighted as key considerations for the IoT. It looks like the period of hype is beginning to come to an end and the industry needs to start focusing on developing a framework under which the IoT can materialise in a meaningful way.

The 2nd annual Internet of Things World event to be held in San Francisco in May is due to address some of the challenges ahead of the industry in terms of IoT. Sign up here.


Deloitte, Verizon team on cybersecurity

Verizon and Deloitte are teaming up on cybersecurity

Verizon and Deloitte are teaming up on cybersecurity

Deloitte and Verizon Enterprise Solutions have announced a partnership that will see the two firms deliver a comprehensive set of cybersecurity and risk-management solutions to enterprises.

The deal will see Verizon leverage its experience in digital forensics and managed services experience and Deloitte’s cyber risk advisory services to deliver end-to-end incident response services.

“As the cybersecurity landscape becomes more formidable, this alliance enables enterprises to better prepare for today’s new reality,” said Mike Denning, vice president, global security for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

“We understand that companies need to have the mindset that being breached is a matter of when, not if. With our combined capabilities, we are preparing enterprises to better withstand a cyberattack before and beyond the breach.”

Ed Powers, national managing principal, Deloitte cyber risk services, Deloitte said companies today are looking for more comprehensive cybersecurity tools rather than acquiring them in bits and pieces.

“Organizations today need to quickly contain the damage, but they also need a solutions provider that can help them regain full business strength and improve their capacity to withstand future crises. We are making it possible for our clients to meet tomorrow’s cyber challenges head-on while continuing to power performance in their businesses,” Powers said.

The move comes as cyberattacks like DDoS are becoming more frequent and more impactful. According to a recently published Neustar DDoS report which surveyed 250 businesses across a broad range of sectors globally, about 40 per cent of companies now estimate losses of over £100,000 per hour at peak times during a DDoS outage.

NTT America and Verio to merge, keeps NTT America brand

The Verio brand will be no more under the proposed merger with NTT America

The Verio brand will be no more under the proposed merger with NTT America

NTT America and American cloud service provider Verio have announced a merger that will see the Verio brand absorbed into NTT America.

“Upon the merger, NTT America, the surviving company, will be taking over the whole existing services of Verio in the Cloud and Web hosting business domain,” the company said in prepared remarks.

“The intent of the merger is to maximize the competitiveness of NTT Com group’s cloud services within the rapid-changing business environment. NTT America and Verio will further improve the operational efficiency with the aim to strengthen cloud services for its enterprise customers.”

The move comes nearly fifteen years after NTT Com acquired Verio in an all-cash $5.5bn deal, a move aimed at leveraging expansion to the US in its dealings with large multinationals, which at the time were predominately in Asia.

At the time the acquisition was the subject of an investigation by the US government on national security grounds, but months after the initial deal was announced the Clinton-led government declined to intervene.

Over the past few years NTT Com has moved aggressively to bolster its cloud presence globally, with many of the NTT brands and sub-brands (DiData, Gyron, and Digital Port Asia) on hiring sprees. It also recently acquired e-shelter, a German hosting and cloud services provider.

Why organisations need to be extra vigilant over their cloud security and partner use


A report from Skyhigh Networks has examined the issues for enterprises who share cloud data with partners, with almost 30% of data shared with partners considered “high risk.”

The report, the latest Cloud Adoption and Risk Report, argues the case that security does not end at the corporate perimeter. The average number of cloud services in use by company has risen again, from 545 in Q313 to 923 in Q115. Broken down by cloud service category the average company uses 162 distinct collaboration services, 51 development services, 49 file sharing services, 42 content sharing services and 30 social media services, with the average employee using 28 cloud services.

Assessing the recent Target breach, which cost the company $148 million to fix, the attackers exploited an unsecured heating and cooling vendor to get around Target’s security defences. Skyhigh therefore fires a warning shot about how much data is uploaded to various partners of the company. According to the research a third (33.7%) of data is uploaded to media and entertainment, followed by manufacturing (20.9%), high tech (16.6%) and retail (11.3%).

Even though only 8% of partners are considered “high risk”, this transfer accounts for 29% of data overall. The riskiest partner industries were telecommunications, agriculture and mining, and construction and real estate. Skyhigh gives examples of high risk partners, including an advertising agency with 1565 compromised identities, and an airline with 209 machines infected with malware and 9716 compromised identities. The message is clear: if you connect with partners such as these, your data is seriously at risk.

But which vendors enable the most connections between partners? Given most partner activity is for collaboration, customer service and file sharing, the apps identified reflect this. Cisco WebEx was the most popular collaboration tool ahead of Slack and Office 365; Sharefile was the number one for file sharing ahead of Box and Wiredrive, and Zendesk was the most popular for customer service beating Salesforce and GrooveHQ.

Skyhigh again chose this moment to fire a warning shot across the bows. “As more attackers seek to exploit vulnerabilities in partners to infiltrate high value targets with sensitive data, super partners could potentially lead to large scale attacks that compromise hundreds of companies at the scale of the Target or Sony breaches,” the report explains.

The overall ethos of the report is to control operations as much as you can, and to ensure as little ‘shadow IT’ activity – unless it’s harnessed properly, as sister publication Enterprise AppsTech has previously explored.

“As cloud adoption in the enterprise steadily increases, the cloud is having a measurable impact on the way businesses operate,” the report notes. “IT departments are migrating to cloud services to take advantage of faster time to market, lower cost, and increased operational efficiencies.

“In parallel, employees are rapidly adopting cloud services that help them do their jobs better and with greater mobility. However, not all employee-led cloud adoption is sanctioned or even known to the IT department,” it adds.

You can take a look at the full report here.