The Risks of Modern IT

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Ten years ago, as vendors were beginning to shift from on-premises to software-as-a-service solutions, most of the “sales pitch” to executives was around the strength of security in the cloud — and how, ni most cases, it was stronger than the security of most on-prem platforms. Fast-forward to today, and security remains the number one concern for the cloud. Leading providers like Microsoft have done an excellent job in educating customers (in my opinion) on why the cloud is secure, and how cloud infrastructure investments provide customers with a solid base upon which they can build.

But there are always risks associated with change. Business transformation through technology is happening faster and more pervasively than any other point in history. In today’s connected, mobile, application-based world, organizations must constantly innovate to satisfy the appetite for customers who expect quick and reliable service at their fingertips, on any device they choose. With the latest advancements in cloud technology, the ability to modernize for better security, greater functionality, and workforce efficiency is now within reach of organizations of all sizes.

In research conducted by CollabTalk and the Marriott School of Business at BYU back in 2019, we asked survey respondents to identify their biggest security challenges. At the intersection of their responses was a lack of proper planning and governance:

Survey results for the risks of modern IT

 

Within the modern organization, IT infrastructure is the foundation upon which a company can continue to transform products and services, accelerate operations, and empower users to do more with less. But there are a number of risks that can also slow down or halt any progress if not properly mitigated:

Shadow IT

Shadow IT may not be a problem within the individual workloads of Office 365 and the Microsoft Office family of productivity tools, but the use of unauthorized third-party tools and cloud-based services is a problem within most organizations, regardless of company size or industry because they often circumvent security and compliance protocols.

Rapidly changing standards

Security and compliance are rapidly evolving areas within the collaboration technology sector. However, many organizations have become overly reliant on the tools and platforms they use, assuming they will provide the right levels of security and compliance coverage. Unfortunately, it is far too common that companies do not take action on gaps in coverage until a security breach has taken place, or under the threat of fines due to non-compliance.

Pace of change of innovation

The rate at which new technologies are made available through the cloud can be staggering. How you manage your collaboration platform — from engineering activities, to risk management and compliance audits, to the overall change management and IT ticket prioritization — is essential to managing this pace of change. Transparency is often missing. People don’t like to be left in the dark. Share what is happening within the platform so that people have a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t and share their feedback and experiences.

Internal and external threats

Every organization maintains trade secrets and other sensitive information that, if compromised, could cause them to lose their competitive advantage or even cease to operate. Regardless of the technology platform used, it is critical that companies can trust that it will not leak out sensitive information – whether internally by managing access and permissions controls or configuring solutions to reduce external threats by preventing unauthorized release of sensitive information.

Failure of strategy and/or ability to execute

Finally, one of the greatest risks to modern IT is inaction. Rarely is this intentional, but unfortunately it can be fairly common as organizations become overly reliant on the outof-the-box security and compliance capabilities of the platforms and services they use without fully understanding the gaps within their own unique business requirements. Taking the time to properly plan, or to properly execute on a plan, can be viewed as timeconsuming or costly – and then skipped over.

The tools you deploy should enable you to improve upon key business processes. Your platform should enable quicker, more detailed collaboration between co-workers, partners, and customers, allowing you to do more, and do it better and more accurately. This also speaks to the need for end user adoption — the better and more clearly you can align how your platform works to how your business works, the happier your employees will be.

Good collaboration streamlines business, through things like workflow and process automation, forms and wizards to walk you step-by-step through data entry and by putting social activities at the center of everything you do, so that your content has better context, and is more searchable, more findable. However, good collaboration should not come at the expense of secure, compliant, and well-governed solutions. There needs to be a balance.

Christian Buckley

Christian is the Microsoft GTM Director for AvePoint Inc., and a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He hosts the AvePoint Office 365 Hours (#O365hours) series, monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the #CollabTalk Podcast, and leads the monthly Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) live stream. He is based in Lehi, Utah (Silicon Slopes).