Collaboration, compliance and security in the face of digital transformation

Gartner’s 2016 CIO Agenda Report revealed that digitalisation has now evolved from being an innovative technology to become a core business competency. Traditional corporate boundaries have become blurred to the point of non-existence, with employees now able to work on any device they choose from wherever they happen to be – whether that’s in the office, at home, on the train, or even abroad.   

Businesses need to remain aware, however, that while this evolution in digitalisation can offer greater opportunities, so too can it bring greater risk to their most sensitive information. Organisations must therefore ensure their corporate IP and data are secure while, at the same time, allowing their employees the flexibility to work in the way that suits them best for maximum productivity. 

Regulatory frameworks are another major reason for organisations to make data security a priority, not least the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is set to come into force in May 2018. Designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe and increase the protection of data privacy for EU citizens, the GDPR is set to have a significant effect not only on companies within the Union, but also on those exporting data to countries outside the EU. 

According to a global survey of IT and security professionals carried out in conjunction with the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) recently, organisations are currently facing three key barriers to implementing the level of collaboration - both internally and externally - they need to remain compliant and competitive in this increasingly digital world. 

No longer up to the task 

The term “digital transformation” can mean different things to different organisations. That said, it was clear from the results of the CSA survey that, regardless of their definition, many businesses still have a long way to go in their own digital transformation programmes.    

When transforming processes around collaboration, a business should first take a step back and look at how its data is currently being managed, stored and shared.   

In doing so for the purposes of the survey, it became immediately clear that the majority of organisations are currently using outmoded Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, with 80 percent of respondents admitting that their company still used traditional file folder arrangements to organise and share content.   

This being the case, an organisation’s employees, partners and wider stakeholders would find it virtually impossible to securely share digitised data if it’s being stored and processed on outdated systems that are no longer up to the task.   

Lack of communication 

Traditionally, systems for storing and managing data have tended to operate in silos. As a result, organisations have been forced to manage data across multiple different systems and locations without the ability to communicate adequately between them. Indeed, many of the information-sharing systems currently in use do not communicate effectively, which can lead to unnecessary infrastructure management and associated costs.   

This state of affairs was confirmed by more than half of the survey’s respondents (57%), who claimed that ECM systems and other content management tools used by their businesses operated in silos and proved difficult to interconnect.   

The recent rise in the adoption of cloud computing has led to this problem becoming more apparent although, by the very nature of its use, it has also offered a potential solution.  

Insufficiently prepared 

Concerns around data security and regulatory compliance were revealed as the main obstacles faced by organisations in implementing their digital transformation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EU GDPR and EU-US Privacy Shield weighed heavily on the minds of our respondents, given the impact they’ll have not just on European companies, but on any company that does business in Europe.     

More than half (54%) believe that their organisations aren’t sufficiently prepared for these regulations, with many lacking confidence in their company’s ability to meet the GDPR’s compliance deadline when it comes into force next May. Two-thirds of respondents went so far as to agree that the new data privacy rules will force them to change the way that their business stores and shares data. 

As they look to define their information governance policy in the face of digital transformation and increasing data privacy and security regulations, organisations should take time to consider vital questions such as how their content will be protected, where it will be stored, who will have access to it, and how this access will be controlled.   

Digital transformation underway 

The research has highlighted a number of issues around digital transformation, particularly with regard to organisations’ information security and data privacy amid the surrounding regulatory climate.    

Businesses are fully aware of what’s at stake should they find themselves unable to comply, and are therefore preparing for these impending security and privacy regulations. In doing so, they are starting to realise that their legacy ECM systems and methodologies are not sufficient to meet the needs of today’s digital enterprise.    

Fortunately, the survey reveals that more than three quarters of businesses already have digital transformation initiatives underway, largely championed by the company’s CIO.   

So with a strategy in place for building the right collaboration capabilities and measuring the preparedness of these technologies, organisations can have greater confidence in achieving a successful digital transformation.  

Daren Glenister, Field CTO, Intralinks, a Synchronoss business   

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