Saturday, December 19, 2015

(The Big Disrupt) IT: The Double Edged Sword That IS Being A CISO





In an age where IBM CEO Virginia Rometty well-worn phrase that data is the natural resource of the 21st century is looking less and less presumptuous, companies across the aboard are investing an awful lot of money securing their data and their IT infrastructure from attacks which should be good news for CISO’s who are solely in charge securing both as the role has risen to prominence in light of large data breaches however, this puts a lot of pressure on CISO’s to get things right when the odds are firmly stacked against them.

Sure you might think CISO armed with growing budgets, years of experience dealing with cyber-attacks and threats, a rash of tools offered by security vendors, and a strong team behind them would put in a great position to stave off the threat of hackers but CISO’s, despite all these advantages are still at a disadvantage as they face an enemy that outnumber them and are often as good or better at breaching security systems as CISO’s are at protecting them. While attackers can get caught and prosecuted, the cost barrier to entry is almost insultingly low given how much companies have to spend to deal with a data breach. To give you an idea, TalkTalk’s data breach in October will likely cost the company 30- 35 million while the attackers would be breaking the bank if their efforts broke into the thousands[1].

A good chunk of that 30 million will likely go to their CISO’s budget as the company stated that they will give their CISO “carte blanche over security investments” which was likely to happen anyway given the company’s managing director Charles Bligh revealed that they were discussing spending more on security before the breach happened [2]. TalkTalk’s renewed commitment to security may reveal the company intention to avoid being breached again but this new focus in various organizations across many fields is leading to a strange occurrence of CISO’s budgets increasing despite companies experiencing breaches.

While security is obviously going to become a top priority for organizations after experiencing a breach, it’s highly unlikely a costly failure in any other role in the C-suite would be rewarded with an increased budget. You don’t have to be rocket scientist to find out what would happen if a CMO burned a 30 million hole in his budget on a marketing campaign that failed horribly or a CEO presided over sustained period of no or low growth as both would be out of a job before long. However, Unlike CEO’s or CMO’s, a CISO’s job is largely about planning for worst as opposed for the best working to stop multiple threats which means they negotiate a higher degree of risk of failure.

The high risk of failure seems to be growing by the month as CISO’s experience their responsibilities expand at a rapid rate with organizations embracing new technologies such as wearables, mobile, and the internet of things which CISO’s have to secure. This should prove good news for CISO’s as more responsibility means greater stature in the organization but they also have contend with a notable increase in cyber-attacks and  a much talked about lack of talent in the cybersecurity field which makes covering their growing remit that much harder.

In sum, like a number in the C-suite, CISO’s find themselves subject to a growing budget, greater responsibility and yet overwhelmed by their role but whatever happens, expect CISO’s to be prepared for it.





[1] N. Wood, 2015, Talk Talk CISO given carte blanche over security investments, http://www.totaltele.com/view.aspx?ID=492027
[2] Ibid

Sunday, November 22, 2015

(Sports) Boxing: Canelo v Cotto - Canelo Crowned Champ In Tight And Tense Affair





Tonight pretty much went the way described in our pre-fight prediction piece just without the Canelo knockout as we pretty much saw (as we predicted) Cotto out box Canelo for the first six rounds until Cotto started to slow and Canelo was finding his range landing the cleaner and most powerful shots of the fight.

Cotto was in the fight for whole bout but a notable slow down and Alvarez's punching power was clearly taking its toll as power differential between the two was clear from outset and played a bigger role as the fight went on. Though, impressively, Cotto was riding most of the clean right hands and left hooks to the body Canelo was landing for most of the second half of the fight. Canelo's footwork was slightly better than it has been in past fights but what was most impressive was his head movement as he slipped a number of Cotto's attacks particularly as the fight wore on.

What happens next for Canelo going forward is just as interesting as anything that happened in the ring as Canelo will likely be ordered by the WBC to fight easily the most avoided man in the sport (maybe save Main Events' light-heavyweight boxer/puncher Sergei Kovalev) Gennady Golovkin, a man Cotto has avoided like the plague since he snatched the middleweight crown from a legless Sergio Martinez two years ago.

Canelo has already proven that he's willing to take on anybody and is likely to invite the intimidating challenge Golovkin provides no matter how much Oscar De La Hoya will advise him against doing so. If Canelo ends up squaring up with Golovkin it would be his toughest fight yet and should he do the improbable and beat Golovkin who is both the bigger puncher and better boxer, it would confirm him as the biggest star of the sport and almost certainly its biggest draw given the already strong Mexican following he has.

In sum, tonight's main event was a good one as power and youth came up trumps against skill and experience but in truth the huge subplot that hung over this fight is what made it truly interesting regarding who's going to square up with the hard hitting Kazakh and now we have our answer (possibly the one everyone wanted),  the super-fight of 2016 is almost going to be made. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

(Sports) Boxing:Prediction – Cotto v Canelo






In an era where “low risk/ high reward” has become the prevailing mantra among fighters at the highest level of the sport, this Saturday evening presents us with a clash where the philosophy of “low risk/ high reward” is put aside for at least an evening as Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez go toe to toe in a bout that is truly a 50/50 match up.

Tonight’s fight between the Mexican and Puerto Rican natives promises to be a classic slugfest full of twists and turns as both are come forward fighters and can take punishment.

However, it’s hard to see a scenario where the Puerto Rican legend and future hall of famer Cotto ends the bout with his hands raised. While Cotto is more experienced ( he’s 10 years older than Canelo) and is the better boxer at least in terms of skill and ring IQ, it’s hard to see the stubborn 35 year old either knocking out or out boxing the younger, stronger and bigger fighter in Canelo.

I can see Cotto out boxing Canelo for at least the first three to four rounds owing his superior footwork but I also see Canelo coming on strong in the later rounds and ending the fight as Canelo will almost certainly push the pace of the fight which means Cotto may tire in the face of relentless pressure.

While Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach has solid grounds to accuse Canelo of laziness and claim that this will allow Cotto to box clever all night due to Canelo’s notably poor ring cutting skills, Cotto will slow down in the third and final quarter of the fight as while chasing and missing an opponent can prove to be an exhausting enterprise, being hunted all night by an opponent who’s younger, bigger, hits harder, and can eat your best shot is just as tiring as it is discouraging.

Another advantage Canelo has is that he actually has a longer reach than Cotto which means he won’t have to work as hard to close the distance given he can throw punches from a longer range and still land punches that can hurt Cotto.

There are plenty of variables that could prove my prediction wrong as Cotto is the better boxer with one of the best trainers in the world in Freddie Roach in corner and both have enough experience to come up with a winning strategy to exploit Canelo’s weaknesses (ring cutting, low work rate) and nullify his strengths (power, youth) to great effect.

However, while Cotto will almost definitely expose weaknesses in Canelo’s game, I don’t see the him doing it for twelve without taking lot of punishment which I fear will force the referee to stop the fight if Canelo hasn’t already.    


In sum, whatever happens, this Saturday evening is going to  be a great night of boxing as two of the best in the sport of boxing go toe to toe but we believe  the power and youth of Canelo will overcome the skill and experience of Cotto.        

Friday, November 20, 2015

(The Big Disrupt) Music: why “will _______ save the music industry” stories need to die





With the release of Adele’s long awaited “25”, there’s been a rash of stories about whether both can save or revive the ailing music industry and while “25” is likely to sell millions of copies, be assured that the music industry will still be in need of saving.

Stories about what or who will save the music industry miss the crucial point that nothing and no one will save the music industry outside of the music industry itself. These stories can talk about the release of “25” supposedly “breaking the music industry” but all “25” looks set to do is break the bank account of Adele and her record label XL recordings.

To be sure, “25” selling millions of records will represent a win for the music industry in an age where a great deal of artists struggle to make it into six figures but that win stops where Adele and XL recordings ends and the rest of the music industry begins. Adele’s sales can’t heal or even mask the slow decline of the industry that has struggled in the digital era and that trend looks set to continue for the same reason windows 10 can’t and won’t save the PC.

There been plenty of words expended on stories that saw music streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify as the music industry’s savior but a closer look has revealed that Spotify and Pandora are anything but. This isn’t particularly because Spotify and Pandora aren’t honest brokers, it’s that Spotify and Pandora are neither large enough nor even inclined to pull it off. Music streaming companies have been great for the music industry as they’ve discouraged music piracy by providing a much better experience for music fans and consumers to find and explore music. They also provide data for artists and labels to get a read on their audience but if Spotify and Pandora plan to stay in business, that’s about as far as they can go regarding saving the music’s industry’s skin.

However, despite music streaming companies being a force for good in the music industry, they’re a key factor as to why the music industry needs saving in the first place. XL recordings still make millions from Adele’s last album “21” and looks like it’s about to earn another payday with “25” with Sony and retailers forecasting the album to sell more than a million copies in the first week. However, even XL aren’t safe from music streaming companies such as Spotify eating into cd sales and downloads with the label reporting a significant fall in turnover and profits with their turnover falling to £26m from £37.4m and their profits slipping to £7m from £12.3 million[1].

Very few majors never mind independent labels have artists selling millions of records which make the long term contraction of the music market more pronounced as far as their bottom line is concerned. This affects artists as the vast majority don’t make money from their music and are largely of the opinion that they’ve been shortchanged by music streaming companies (particularly Apple and Spotify) and their labels.

The reason why we even see the explosion of “will ______ save the music industry” stories is because the music industry has lost total control over how its core product is consumed and distributed well before Napster and a pushy Apple CEO came along. In sum, an album selling well is great for artist who created, the label that backed them, and the retailers and platform who’ll make a killing but for obvious reasons, a commercially successful is not enough to save an industry.



[1] A. Lawson, 2015, XL Recordings profits hit by falling CD sales despite success of Jack White, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/xl-recordings-profits-hit-by-falling-cd-sales-despite-success-of-jack-white-a6728931.html

Sunday, November 15, 2015

(Sports) UFC 193: Why Ronda Rousey Lost To Holly Holm







It was no secret before the fight that Holly Holm was easily the most technically gifted and accomplished striker that former UFC champion Ronda Rousey has ever faced and would possibly prove to be her toughest opponent yet but nobody ( maybe except  her coaches) was expecting Rousey to be severely outclassed in the first round and get put to sleep with a brutal head kick in the second. 

It was clear from the outset of the fight that it was going to be a long night for Rousey as she was chasing Holly Holm but failing to catch her as Holm was pretty much in control of the distance of the fight for as long as it lasted. Rousey had a few moments of control when she managed to close the distance from a missed counter and got Holm into a clinch and later on when she attempted arm bar but that short of that Holly Holm was busy showing the holes in Rousey striking ability.

And that's what was really shocking, not that Holly Holm was a better striker than Rousey but just how much better she was than Rousey. When facing someone as good as Holm at distance management, creating angles and landing counters, the last you want to do is get desperate and chase them as you’ll eat counters, hit air all night and possibility get knocked out which was basically happened last night.

A good deal of fighters in both boxing and MMA struggle at cutting off the ring but Rousey was particularly bad at it last night as there were several instances where she was following Holly Holm into a series of stiff straight rights and lefts which bloodied her nose. The amount of energy Rousey wasted for most of first round chasing Holm took its toll and as soon this happened the fight was lost as Rousey’s only chance from of winning the fight from that point on was Holm tiring, getting sloppy or complacent.

Rousay has eaten stiff punches before coming in but she basically harassed and closed the distance on fighters who were nowhere near as skilled as Holm is at circling or evading attacks particularly clinches and shots for take downs. To even get close to someone like Holm requires someone who can match her for creating angles and movement but Rousey wasn’t even close on both fronts.

It’s quite ironic that an MMA bout at the highest level turned out to a be a boxing clinic in using footwork and movement to keep an opponent out of position and punish them for their mistakes as Rousey most almost always out of position to throw a punch and paid for virtually every one she threw.

Rousey is almost definitely going to have get her chance to win her belt back but it’s hard to see how she’ll regain her crown given the night and day skill deferential between her and holm that’s damn near impossible to close in three to six months.

In sum, a near capacity Etihad stadium crowd was treated to technical clinic as the queen of MMA was deposed by, quite simply, the better fighter on the night.




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