Feb 5, 2021

The Top 5 Challenges for CIOs in 2021

Laura V. Garcia
4 min
Manufacturing technology, CIO, security, big data
The challenges facing CIOs today are monumental, let’s review, and not underestimate, what they’re facing...

 Oh, where to begin. The challenges facing CIOs today are monumental. As a global pandemic has businesses worldwide making the transition to remote work, Industry 4.0 continues to revolutionise the production floor with even more urgency. And the face of consumerism slowly recovers from an extreme makeover, CIOs have a lot to concern themselves with.

Adding insult to injury, the threats of cybersecurity loom larger than ever before, as the power of the dark web fuels eCriminal groups and government-backed allies. As Greg Foss, senior cybersecurity strategist at VMware Carbon Black says, “Criminals never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

Once perhaps lacking attention, CIOs have suddenly grabbed a seat at the head of the table.

Let’s review, and not underestimate, what they’re facing.

The Five Challenges Facing CIOs in 2021

1. Home network security

Although remote work brings safety from COVID-19 and the joys of working in sweatpants, home networks have made organisations more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Here are some statistics to help put it into perspective.

From a sample size of 41,000 US-based organisations, found that remote home networks were:

  • 3.5x more likely than corporate networks to have at least one family of malware
  • 7.5x more likely to have at least five distinct families of malware
  • Common families of malware are extremely prevalent, including Mirai, which is observed 20x more frequently, and Trickbot, which is observed 3.75x more frequently.
  • More than 25% of all devices have one or more services exposed on the internet.
  • Almost 1 in 7 WFH-RO IP (work from home- remote office) addresses have exposed cable modem control interfaces.

2. Supply chain cybersecurity

Tom Kellermann, head of cybersecurity strategy at VMware Carbon Black says the recent findings suggest a significant renaissance in cybercrime, which he believes is leading to a new era of agile organisation and sophistication. 

“The disruption caused by COVID-19 has created a massive opportunity for criminals to restructure their businesses,” he says. “Traditional criminals are flocking online in a newly shifted digital-first world, fueling the expansion of cybercriminal cartels.”

Carbon Black— As eCrime groups grow more powerful, counter incident response is now seen in 82 per cent of attacks, with island hopping occurring 55 per cent of the time—where an attacker infiltrates an organisation’s network launch attacks on others along its supply chain.

3. The Customer Experience- Redesigning your digital business strategy

According to Acquia, since the beginning of the pandemic:

  • 74% of consumers report their digital experience with brands has changed
  • 84% of consumers used digital channels more in 2020 

The customer experience is one of the most defining aspects of business today. In 2021 and likely beyond, the CIO must work collaboratively with the CMO to co-design a friction-free customer experience. Many organisations continue to struggle with achieving the digital experience that today’s consumers demand.

ICOs must address Inadequate or outdated approaches to how customers engage with your brand. From real-time engagement to supporting customers through third-party devices such as Google and Alexa, customers today expect a seamless, multichannel approach. 

4. Big data

Big data is a big buzzword doing big things. Making sense and putting to use complex sets of data is a must for enterprises today. In fact, a GE and Accenture report says that 88 per cent of organisations said Big Data analytics is a top priority.

Big data and data analytics can be leveraged to lessen supply chain disruptions, improve forecasting and provide insights-driven procurement and sales and ops planning. Part of Industry 4.0, big data merges with AI to predict and prevent machine failures and increase uptime.

Organisations can also gain a competitive advantage by using data-driven insights to better engage with their customers. Big data can provide valuable insights so you can identify growth opportunities and improve the efficacy of buyer-facing interactions. For example, chatbots not only offer cost-effective around-the-clock customer service, but they can also be a gold mine of growth opportunities, such as identifying customer issues and revealing barriers to purchase.

5. Industry 4.0- Increasing efficiencies

CIOs are a critical part of driving profit improvements through innovative technologies. Once perhaps merely a wish list, as many companies struggle with profitability, increased downtime due to supply chain disruptions, and labour shortages due to Covid-19, creating a digital transformation roadmap floor has quickly moved up the list of priorities. 

Smart factories boost production revenue and increase efficiencies, but they also present massive challenges. CIOs must lead the way. However, the talent gap of highly skilled IT specialists may be yet another challenge. Therefore, CIOs are advised to start filling their talent pipeline if they haven’t already.

“The value of digital channels, products and operations is immediately obvious to companies everywhere right now,” says Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “This is a wake-up call for organisations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”

CIOs hold a grand opportunity to support a more agile and efficient supply chain and a smoother, more connected customer experience through digital transformation initiatives. And yet, they must do it all while battling the evils of the dark web. It is, indeed, a mighty challenge. May you go forth and conquer. 

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Jun 17, 2021

Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router

3 min
Siemens’ first industrial 5G router, the Scalancer MUM856-1, is now available and will revolutionise the concept of remote control in industry

Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age. 


Siemens Enables 5G IIoT

The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). 

Siemens presents its first industrial 5G router.
Siemens presents the Scalance MUM856-1.

The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.


Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance


  • Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
  • The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
  • A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
  • Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites


5G Now

“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.


Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said. 


Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future

Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’ 


And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.


The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.


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