Digital Transformation ITechnology Interviews SaaS

ITechnology Interview with Michael D’Onofrio, CEO at Orbus Software

ITechnology Interview with Michael D’Onofrio, CEO at Orbus Software

“The future of Enterprise Architecture will be strongly focused on drifting away from being heavily tech-focused, to focus more on delivery and value, in order to achieve the best business outcomes..”

Hi Michael, please tell us about your journey in technology. What inspired you to start at Orbus Software? 

As an engineer by training I have always been interested in ‘the way things work’, both form a technology and people perspective. This has developed into a desire to understand the technology that enables people and businesses to succeed. As an executive, investor and entrepreneur, I’m really excited about building a business from those three perspectives. With Orbus came the opportunity to lead a business that sits at the heart of organizations’ technology ecosystems and helps guide digital transformations journeys – which have been hyper-accelerated by the pandemic over the last 12 months. Orbus helps businesses layout the blueprint for their digital future and ensure they achieve their strategic goals. Most Orbus has a fantastic culture with great people who have made it the fast-growing cloud business that it is today.

What is Orbus Software and which markets are you currently catering to?

Orbus is a global B2B cloud software company that enables customers to architect their digital future with our SaaS enterprise architecture platform. The iServer Suite provides visibility and insights across an enterprise’s change-canvass, supporting decision-making to drive successful digital transformations.

Our customers are blue-chip enterprises and government organizations located across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, spanning all industry verticals. Orbus is customer-centric to its core and wholly focused on delivering technology innovation to accelerates customer success. Example customers include AstraZeneca, IKEA, BP, Dell, Mastercard, New York Power, Mayo Clinic, Rio Tinto, Brisbane Airport, CIB Bank, Schroders, and Saab.

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What is the most contemporary definition of Enterprise Architecture? How is it different from traditional IT networking?

Gartner refers to Enterprise Architecture (EA) as a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.

Modern enterprise architecture creates a sustainable organization that is able to achieve its current business objectives (not just IT ones). Enterprise architecture also safeguards for the future and enables the execution of strategic change by mapping the best, most cost-effective, low-risk way to reach the desired future state.

EA tools now need to go beyond enabling IT networking and planning and provide a shared, business-centric, enterprise-wide repository and operating model for change and from this the insights needed for leadership to make informed decisions that drive aligned business and IT transformation.

What makes customer service in the current Digital Age so challenging? What unique challenges / problems do you solve for your customers?

The current Digital Age in which digital transformation is accelerating at a rapid speed has meant there is a growing need to reduce complexities, establish solid technology processes, and ensure technology is used consistently across functional areas. For the modern CIO, this means they are faced with the challenge of now aligning their IT strategy, technology, and processes with much broader business objectives.

One of the greatest challenges Orbus Software solves for customers is navigating technology costs and complexity with Enterprise Architecture. As we move to a more interconnected and complex environment, the demand for suitable technologies is increasing – this is so much so that an average enterprise pays for approximately 1,516 applications. With a shift to remote working, we’re also seeing an overwhelming imperative to migrate to the cloud, and today, application costs are estimated to make up 80 per-cent of the entire IT budget. However, by providing a strategic view of change, Enterprise Architecture can ensure alignment of the business and IT operations, facilitating agility, speed, and the ability to make real-time decisions based on reliable and consistent data.

Not only does this reduce costs, but this can guide and de-risk Cloud migration journeys. Ultimately, an effective cloud migration must be fast and with minimal risk to data integrity and security. Achieving this requires careful planning, clear knowledge of the current and target states, and effective governance – something that Enterprise Architecture teams and strategic and technology road mapping solutions can offer. As an example, Enterprise Architecture (EA) provides the insights to define the current state of the technology landscape, providing a starting point from which all other plans can emerge.

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Why companies are now more vulnerable than ever before to the prospect of some of the largest cyber security attacks we have ever seen?

The effects of the pandemic and the shift to remote working have certainly heightened the possibility and severity of cyber security attacks. A recent survey from the UK and US-based security firm, Tessian, found that 56% of senior IT technicians believe their employees have picked up bad cyber-security habits while working from home. Therefore, despite the rise in technology need, it is noticeable that many organisations still do not provide a ’cyber-safe’ remote-working environment, nor were they ready for cyber-attacks, whether due to human error or simply because they lacked the systems in place to prevent them.

As a result, cyber-attackers have used the pandemic as an opportunity to step up their criminal activities by exploiting the vulnerability of employees working from home and capitalizing on people’s strong interest in coronavirus-related news (e.g. malicious fake coronavirus related websites). During the height of the pandemic Google reported that it was blocking over 100 million phishing emails daily, if left unchecked, the result of this could be dire for an organization. Take Levitas Capital, for example, they lost $8.7M to the cyber-attack and were forced to close after a senior executive clicked on a fraudulent Zoom invitation.

What some of these cyber-attacks are (e.g. REvil hackers) and what makes them so sophisticated today?

The downside of today’s interconnected global systems, software operations, and innovations are that they raise the chances of unwelcome attempts to steal, expose or destroy information through cyber attacks.

Cyber-attacks have become more and more sophisticated in recent years and attackers use a variety of tactics, such as social engineering, which is manipulation through phishing, vishing, smishing. Another tactic is Malware, a malicious software that damages your computer network or information, followed by Ransomware including Petya, WannaCry, and NotPetya. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, businesses around the world are attacked using ransomware about every 11 seconds.

These are tactics used by the notorious Equation hacker group, who demonstrated never before seen encryption methods in 2015, their ability to compromise deeply obscure systems, and their well-developed stable of custom hacking tools. This is in addition to the recent attack by Russian hacker group REvil, who breached the systems of US-based software firm Kaseya. The group was able to hit the IT systems of up to 1 million companies across the globe, demanding $70 million ransom in Bitcoin for a decryption key.

Another factor to consider is that there is a much larger scale of gadgets, software, and technology to hack. With everyone walking around with a smartphone in their pocket it is making it much more accessible and easy for cybercrime to occur. Hacking is no longer a niche activity performed by a small group of people, it has now grown into an industry, with online tutorials, instructions, and tools available on how to perform such attacks.

In this environment of increasing threat levels, a well-designed IT architecture is paramount to shield against cybersecurity threats.

Could you tell us some of the specific ways Enterprise Architecture can help bolster organizational risk posture and preparedness for a possible attack?

Now more than ever, security is seen as a global standard. In order to defend themselves against sophisticated attacks, businesses need to be able to orchestrate detailed risk management across the entire organizational infrastructure. There are existing frameworks within an Enterprise Architecture function that can help bolster organisational risk posture and preparedness for a possible attack. Take the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework (NIST CSF), or the Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture (SABSA), for instance. Both are open-standard, vendor-neutral frameworks that provide high-level taxonomy of cybersecurity outcomes, including the methodology to assess and manage them. The discipline behind applying and scaling these and other frameworks is security architecture, a sub-discipline of Enterprise Architecture.

Security architecture isn’t necessarily about threat management or the direct implementation of security platforms. It operates several levels above this, offering complete oversight and control over cybersecurity operations business-wide. This allows organizations to make the most of frameworks like NIST CSF and SABSA, tailoring them to their individual needs and planning their expansion alongside the business. While Enterprise Architecture operates on this ‘top line’ level, for the most part, there are enterprise architecture tools that give teams on the ground an enormous advantage when it comes to taking remedial action. For instance, being able to track every single instance of a breach or infiltration once it has been identified, across every single department and endpoint, rather than checking vulnerabilities one by one.

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IT support and customization of services are the keys to the adoption of any new technology. What kind of IT support do you offer to customers to ensure better customer experience and security on your platforms?

We provide Global Technical Support for all users and members to the iServer Global Community. Our Technical Support teams sit directly alongside the software development and consultancy functions which means we have unparalleled flexibility to deal quickly and effectively with customer support and enhancement requests. We have in place a support structure, Support Services Statement (SSS), and End User License Agreement (EULA) to ensure we are able to respond to all customer requests and resolve any issues as quickly as possible. Our fully operational offices around the world mean we have a support footprint in those key regions and expertise ‘on the ground’ to deal with local customer requirements.

What is the future of Enterprise Architecture? How would IT governance and compliance evolve to live up to the “hype” of this digital age / digital transformation journey? 

The future of Enterprise Architecture will be strongly focused on drifting away from being heavily tech-focused, to focus more on delivery and value, in order to achieve the best business outcomes. This will of course be a smooth transition, respecting all necessary technology processes. Another important factor is the need to align business goals with business strategy, combining multiple sources to achieve the two goals. We will see a rise in the importance of making communication between stakeholders as easy and seamless as possible, through new developments in enterprise architecture.

The importance of IT government when it comes to enterprise architecture will only become more prevalent with the ongoing growth and evolvement of technology and digitalization, which is where agile development will be required. Enterprise architecture is the tool that makes it easy to adapt to change, allowing architects to be prepared ahead of time to ensure speed and efficiency, and therefore keep up with the ‘hype’.

Likewise, enterprise architecture will evolve beyond solving individual challenges and help develop specific team skills over general methodologies. With companies requiring more architects with a wider skill set working across more areas of the business, enterprise architecture will be the tool to best support.

Expert tip on how to grow a Security-focused IT and Cloud Services company:

Always understand the real needs of our customers! When it comes to IT security, this is such a critical area for businesses with high risks involved and so we need to give our customers visibility across their IT landscapes which gives them the confidence to make the right decision around cybersecurity. As a cloud provider the key for us it keeping technology innovation at the forefront of what we do so that our customers can benefit from our R&D and device real value from our SaaS platform.

Read More: ITechnology Interview with Charles Fan, Co-Founder at MemVerge

Thank you, Michael! That was fun and we hope to see you back on itechnologyseries.com soon.

[To participate in our interview series, please write to us at sghosh@martechseries.com]

Michael is the CEO of Orbus Software, a technology executive, sustainability entrepreneur and growth investor with over 15 years of global experience across the UK & Europe, US & Canada, Australia and Asia Pacific regions.

Orbus Software Logo

Orbus Software is a global software vendor and a recognised leading provider of cloud solutions for digital transformation. Its products drive alignment between strategy and execution by leveraging familiar Microsoft tools to ensure rapid adoption and best-in-breed functionality.

Orbus Software’s market leading iServer Suite provides customers with a strategic decision-making platform addressing key digital transformation disciplines, including Enterprise Architecture (EA), Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM), Business Process Analysis (BPA) and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC).

Orbus Software’s customers are predominantly large, blue chip enterprises and government organisations located across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa and the Asia Pacific region, spanning all industry verticals. The company is customer-centric to its core, and wholly focused on delivering technology innovation that further accelerates customer success. Example global customers include AstraZeneca, IKEA, BP, Dell, Mastercard, New York Power, Mayo Clinic, Rio Tinto, Brisbane Airport, CIB Bank, Schroders and Saab.

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