30 August 2018 by Spencer Symmons
When a business decides to dramatically transform their IT infrastructure, senior technical experts should be the primary leaders of the project. Bringing years of experience and specialist knowledge, their input in the digital transformation of the workplace will be invaluable.
Yet, according to a recent study from The Modern Workplace, over a third of employees surveyed said they felt their companies did not invest enough in next-gen workplace tools. Based on a pool of 1,000 employees of UK SMEs, the report found that IT departments no longer felt they had a say in which technologies were implemented in the business. Instead, they claimed that younger staff members from generations Y & Z were leading the charge on digital transformation, encouraging the business to introduce tools for instant messaging, video conferencing and file hosting that would allow for remote working.
At first, their influence may seem like a positive step forward: after all, isn’t one of the advantages of a younger workforce their connection with - and understanding of - digital technology? Unfortunately, it’s this kind of logic that can see large-scale IT transformation projects back-fire and cause critical security issues for the company. If businesses are to successfully innovate their IT systems to create more flexibility for their staff and gain an edge over the competition, experts should take the lead in helping them make data-based decisions. But how can they retake their place in the driver’s seat?
The answer is simple: IT experts must secure commitment from senior management. As it stands, many business leaders still see technology as a necessary evil; an expense that will undoubtedly create further expenses due to training needs. As a result, they are reluctant to implement new systems or solutions, despite advice from their trusted IT teams. The problem with this attitude is the consequence it has on the business. Soon, members of staff across all departments start taking initiative in enhancing workflow and improving efficiency. However, without prior training on cyber-security or expertise within the realm of information technology, the solutions they opt for can easily put the company’s network at risk.
Gartner studies have recently shown that shadow IT equates to 30 to 40 percent of IT spending in large enterprises - that is to say, information technology projects that are managed outside of, and without the knowledge of, the IT department. A report from Research from McAfee further confirmed the prominence of shadow IT with the revelation that 80 percent of workers use SaaS applications at work such as Dropbox, often without IT or management approval. Their study found that 33% of respondents used these apps because the IT approval process was "too slow or cumbersome” while 23% that it suited their needs more than their IT-approved equivalent.
There’s no denying that certain apps can boost productivity - however, when staff aren’t familiar with the threat of malicious applications, a simple download of a seemingly useful tool can open the door to the company’s network for cyber-criminals to walk in freely.
Should employees feel that the computer provided by the company is not sufficient in assisting their performance, most won’t hesitate to bring their own laptops from home instead. Unfortunately, this can do more harm than good. When an employee relies on their personal device for professional use, leaders suffer from a loss of control and visibility of the enterprise data which is being transmitted, stored, and processed on their computers. While companies who have established a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy have benefited from increased staff retention, lower hardware costs and increased flexibility, this is by no means a solution that businesses should implement without seeking advice and assistance from trusted information security experts. As digital natives become more prominent in the modern workforce and technology continues to transform the way we do business, leaders must look to specialists to lead the revolution.
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