Business doomed without IT at the strategy table
With the emergence of Industry 4.0 and the consumerisation of IT, it is becoming increasingly important for IT and business to sit together at the strategy table.
Before advancements in digital technology drove business enablement and competitiveness, businesses could afford to be reactive in their approach to technology adoption. Today, however, a siloed approach to business strategy and operations greatly increases the security risk to organisations' systems and data.
Instead, an integrated approach that involves all stakeholders and all business units is imperative for ensuring investments in technologies are closely aligned with business needs, while maintaining a good security posture. Simply put, diverse expertise is needed for businesses to succeed in the digital age.
"We are quickly moving to a fully connected world, where cyber physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing are converging. This environment has no borders. While it brings a wave of unprecedented opportunities for companies, it carries considerable risks to IT security, which can expose vital business systems and sensitive company information. These risks need to be effectively and strategically managed. For this to happen, business can no longer separate IT from major strategic decisions, nor can individual business units afford to ignore IT risks or opportunities. Risks to IT are risks for the business," says Charl Ueckermann, CEO at AVeS Cyber Security.
The importance of leveraging technology and aligning systems closely with an organisation's goals cannot be underestimated if those goals are to be accomplished. In a lot of businesses, achieving strategic business goals is difficult, if not impossible, without the smart and extensive use of technology. However, companies should have a digital transformation roadmap to guide IT investments and implementations so they are aligned with business strategy, while avoiding associated risks.
A well planned digital transformation roadmap can help translate business requirements into stable, scalable, secure and efficient IT environments. It also helps to identify and manage business and project risks more intelligently.
"Technology can enable business competitiveness, increase workforce productivity and boost service profitability when it is designed with business in mind. But, many businesses are still grappling with integrating their existing environment with new digital capabilities. Legacy systems also tend to be more vulnerable to attack.
"The transition is made smoother with a phased roadmap that acknowledges the needs of the CFO, the CEO and the CIO alike. A digital transformation roadmap is, therefore, the essential starting point for all businesses wanting to get more out of their IT investments, as well as meet their business goals; whether it's empowering employee mobility, streamlining business processes, reducing exposure to IT security risks or increasing revenues.
"As clich'ed as it may sound, it is true that IT systems and automated processes streamline operations, drive productivity and reduce the margins for error and delays. This propels the company towards its goals through the achievement of higher levels of efficiency and productivity," adds Ueckermann.
The volumes of data that companies process are continually growing, as are the systems they use to store and access that information. The bigger the infrastructure, the bigger the quantity of sensitive business information they have that must be secured.
"As systems grow and threats evolve, so do the security requirements for protecting and managing the information contained therein. Appropriate, effective and integrated tools need to be put in place to reduce IT security related risk while ensuring availability, performance and legislative compliance. However, when implementing new systems or scaling up, it is crucial for organisations to act proactively and to ensure no vulnerabilities are created because of poor planning and lack of integration. So yes, it all begins with a comprehensive roadmap," agrees Riaan Badenhorst, Managing Director at Kaspersky Lab Africa.
Ueckermann concludes: "The faster the world around us transforms, the greater challenge we have as businesses and business people to keep pace. Watching what works in the market and beating competition through flawless execution becomes significantly more difficult as the tempo of advancements accelerates. The response to this must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders and all business units."