This is the first issue in an insightful new series from the San Diego Business Journal that features advice and commentary from regional experts on various aspects of technology and its applications in our new digitally-driven business world. Our first section focuses on evolving approaches to data management and storage from the “cloud” to traditional legacy systems. Future issues will feature tech’s influence on the business of health care, real estate, banking and finance.

Stephen Cobb, Security Evangelist

Technological change can be very expensive for an organization involving purchase and installation of equipment, maintenance, training and replacement/upgrading. What advice would you give to companies looking to evolve to a more technologically-driven business operation, but are resistant because of potentially high costs?

One of the biggest questions facing decision-makers today is whether to invest in IT infrastructure or start migrating to cloud services. But let’s face it: there is little need to build and operate your own IT gear when such services can be sourced much more affordably and flexibly via the cloud.

When doing the math of “build vs. buy”, it is easy to overlook factors not directly associated with initial purchase, such as the value of all the time required to source, configure, implement, monitor, upgrade, and troubleshoot equipment; annual hardware and software maintenance fees; ability to ramp resources up and down easily when demand changes; and the need to hire, motivate, and retain dependable IT talent.

Bottom line – the operational and financial reasons for migrating to cloud services are quite compelling. In other words, can you afford NOT to do it? Don’t simply fall prey to the old way.

As businesses move more and more processes and transactions online, IT has taken a central role in some of the most important business-ethic issues of the day – privacy and the ownership of personal data. Changes in technology and business procedures can outpace a company’s ability to train employees to deal with these issues. What should businesses do to establish ethical parameters for managing data?

To ensure the safe and ethical handling of data, companies first need a clear and well-documented understanding of exactly what personal data they handle. Depending on the type of business, a company’s systems may contain personally identifiable information (PII), relating to its customers or employees or both. You need to know where PII in your systems comes from, where it is stored, where it goes, and who needs to access it. You should also know what legal requirements pertain to the information (as these may not align exactly with ethical constraints on the use of PII).