IBM Security CTO on the changing shape of innovation

For a multinational technology company such as IBM, with its long history of innovation, the rapidly evolving cyber security threat landscape provides both challenges and opportunities. The emergence of consumer goods such as wearable devices and self-driving cars, alongside the increasing connectivity of the systems managing critical infrastructures, are creating a whole host of problems.

In response, IBM Security has been developing new products and services in the security space to counteract these ever-evolving risks. According to Gartner, IBM Security is now one of the fastest growing vendors in the market with nearly $3.4 billion in revenues, up 66% year-to-year.

In Information Age’s pursuit of understanding the great variety of chief technology officers we spoke with Sridhar Muppidi, CTO, Cloud Security, Identity & Access Management for IBM Security, to learn more about his position; how he defines it, what it takes for him to succeed, and some of the challenges he has faced.

>See also: Nico Fischbach, CTO of Forcepoint – CTOs on our Doorstep

A broad perspective

According to Muppidi, the CTO’s role has fundamentally evolved from being purely responsible for the technology in an organisation to a position that is responsible for a business’ organisational structure.

He said: “I describe my role in two parts, one is internal-facing; in that, as we develop new products and new offerings, I provide technical direction so we can do things right and provide value for our clients in an incremental manner.  On the other hand, I’m expected to understand the business side of things and be able to provide direction to where our opportunities are.”

>See also: CTOs on our Doorstep: INITION’s CTO on innovating in a state of flux

According to Muppidi, disruptive technologies such as quantum and blockchain are popping up every day, and it’s not just the good guys that are using them.

“A CTO also has to have a very broad perspective, especially when it comes to security. They need to understand how the threat landscape is evolving and how the bad guys are launching new types of attacks.”

Timing is crucial

Muppidi explained that understanding the market is another essential dimension of his role. He needs to understand new technological trends and asses if there is a business opportunity for them in it.

He said: “I need to know whether or not to invest in something new. And I need to keep an eye on our competition and make sure we are not missing out on any golden opportunities.”

>See also: CTOs on our Doorstep: Maintel CTO on using the customer to inform …

“However, when it comes to doing this effectively, there is no exact science.”

“Timing is always a challenge; there is the danger of releasing something before the market is ready or realising something too late. It can feel a little hit and miss if you’re are not taking a considered approach.”

This is why Muppidi believes keeping in close contact with his clients is so important, as he gets to clearly understand their real-world problems, and understand the specifics of the challenges they face.

>See also: CTOs on our Doorstep: Trainline CTO on prioritising the customer …

The changing shape of the market

Muppidi believes that the consumption model for security solutions is changing. For Muppidi, cyber security is no longer just a service or a product: it’s an outcome.

He argued: “We need to think about the industry moving more and more to adaptive security, you can no longer just say ‘if you instal this product good things will happen.'”

>See also: The rise of subscription billing in software and digital services

“In the past, people tried to solve security by getting the best products and people, when this was no longer good enough they moved to an ecosystem approach, where companies would opt for multiple teams and solutions for different parts of their business. But as attacks have become even more complicated and with the shortage of skills, customers are giving up and opting to have a company like us come along and manage all of their security.”

>See also: 5 tips to make goods-as-a-service a success

Nominations are now open for the Women in IT Awards London and Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley. Nominate yourself, a colleague or someone in your network now! The Women in IT Awards Series – organised by Information Age – aims to tackle this issue and redress the gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models

Avatar photo

Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future