Cloud computing and security in the built environment

Cloud computing and security in the built environment

Rich McCraw, CTO of Improving, is a cloud computing expert who will share his knowledge at Shadow Summit this fall. We spoke with him to get his take on the biggest misconception about the cloud, and why this technology is particularly important for an industry like the built environment.

Can you tell me about your day-to-day role as CTO?

Being a services company focused on IT, my job is 2 fold. One is to make sure we’re looking toward the right tech to help our customers, and that our staff is ready to meet their challenges. It’s also in a large part to work with our strategic partners to identify technology roadmaps or changes in the landscape that enable them to do new or different things in their business so they don’t get disrupted by technology, and instead, that they leverage it.

You’re less secure if you’re using your own devices ... than you are when you’re using the cloud. 

What is the biggest trend you’ve witnessed evolve in your role?

Some of the big changes happening now are the final maturity of cloud computing. It’s lowered the bar of what it takes from a cost standpoint to have solutions or technology that used to be reserved for large enterprise budgets. 10 years ago, having heavy customer touch technology out there required a large investment upfront. Now the cloud has really lowered that bar so that any size business can have enterprise-size tools. That’s enabled a lot of players to step up and bring solutions to the table their company couldn’t have done 5 years ago. The amount of time and money it takes to enter tech space has really come down.

What are the benefits of cloud computing in the built environment?

Cloud lets you buy in on a much smaller scale. I might be a firm with a part-time IT guy. I can still leverage full CRM or financial suites. I can leverage mobile portals that allow my customers to interact with build status and states and communicate in ways that would have cost 7 or 8 figures 10 years ago. And I can do it at a scale that matches my size, at a cost that only grows if I use it more. There’s a change from IT as a big capital investment that I have to plan years for and hope will pay off, to become more tactical and focused.

What obstacles have you seen to leveraging cloud computing well?

The biggest challenge is the sheer breadth of the options and opportunities out there. It’s difficult to decide what tools to leverage when there’s 100 tools to fix every problem. Much like anything else, cloud computing platforms promise a lot of solutions which look great in a slide deck but don’t apply to how a certain business runs. It really takes someone with experience in the space to help guide you through that. It’s very easy to implement a lot of things that don’t have any impact, because they were tools designed for someone else. How do you make it fit your business, your process, and your value?

Are there additional security risks owners need to be aware of when it comes to cloud computing?

That may be one of the larger myths out there. The answer is always yes: there are additional security risks. But cloud computing isn’t what causes those. Unless you’re very dedicated, you’re less secure if you’re using your own devices or on-premise security than you are when you’re using the cloud. Whether it’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or whoever provides your platform services, they have a minimum level of security protocols, and are constantly updating and responding to threats. Moving to the cloud can help you offload risks and make sure you’re one of the harder targets to hit. Chances are, you’re not doing that well today.***To hear more from Rich McCraw at Shadow Summit, grab your ticket today.

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