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Security as a Business Enabler: How Collaboration Between IT and Business Teams Strengthens Data Protection

By Abhas Ricky, Chief Strategy Officer at Cloudera

It’s no secret that the convergence of technology and strategic initiatives is the gold standard within any enterprise. Data is an organization’s lifeline, and its effective management and use stands between effective decision-making processes and innovation. However, despite its pivotal role, many enterprises grapple with fully harnessing the potential of their data due to a persistent gap between IT and business teams. This schism not only impedes business growth and efficiency, but also compromises the integrity and security of valuable data assets.

The average amount of money lost by businesses as a result of cybercrime in 2023 was $1.3 million, according to a recent IBM Security report. Enterprises may recognize the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape and the importance of data security, but a truly agile organization must pivot from viewing security solely as a protective measure to embracing it as a strategic business enabler. Facilitating collaboration between IT and business teams emerges as a linchpin in this paradigm shift, offering a pathway to fortify data protection while unlocking new avenues for innovation and growth.

Security Implications of the IT- Business Team Disconnect

The core of the disconnect stems from the fragmentation of data systems within companies. Traditionally, IT and business teams have operated separately, each with distinct priorities, goals, and methods. This often transcends operational issues to encompass communication obstacles (such as IT professionals using technical terminology with their business counterparts). Conversely, business teams may struggle to express their data requirements in a way that IT can practically implement. This lack of communication and comprehension not only drains valuable time and resources, but leads to serious security problems, including subpar data quality, increased risk exposure, and sluggish responsiveness.

When data is dispersed across various systems and departments, maintaining consistency, accuracy, and integrity becomes challenging — compromising security. Siloed data systems increase the likelihood of data breaches and cyber-attacks due to fragmented oversight and inconsistent security protocols. Additionally, inadequate communication between IT and business teams hampers the timely detection and response to security threats, leaving the organization vulnerable to exploitation.

Read: AI In Marketing: Why GenAI Should Be in All 2024 Marketing Plans?

Security as a Catalyst for Emerging Technology

Data oversight not only prevents data breaches and cyber threats, but enhances both innovation and collaboration among IT and business units as it is a critical piece to the effective use of emerging technologies like AI. Both business and IT leaders alike historically have had different priorities and ways of thinking but have no trouble agreeing on one thing: AI is critical for maintaining operational agility and competitiveness. It allows IT teams to better optimize infrastructure and operations, and business teams to enable advanced analytics, personalized customer experiences, and innovation in products and services. In fact, 53% of organizations in the U.S. currently use Generative AI technology and more than a third (36%) are in the early stages of exploring AI for potential implementation in 2024, according to data from Cloudera.

And this is just the beginning, as the gap between the current market and the total addressable market is massive; only 10 percent of the security solutions market has currently been penetrated. The total opportunity is a whopping $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion, according to McKinsey.

However, realizing the transformative potential of technology like AI hinges on trust in the data you input into those applications. By dismantling traditional barriers and nurturing cross-functional collaboration, organizations can streamline security processes and fortify data governance— especially with the use of AI. A critical part of leveraging AI is for organizations to work with a provider that focuses on the key aspects of cybersecurity that are instrumental in cultivating trustworthy data– notably cloud technology, pricing mechanisms, and managed services.

Cloud technologies are pivotal, as the migration to the cloud continues to dominate the technology strategies of many organizations. Organizations need to partner with providers that ensure both general and specialized cloud configurations are secure, creating a reliable environment for AI applications. Additionally, pricing mechanisms must be used, as most cyber solutions currently on the market are not aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses. By tailoring products to these businesses, cybersecurity providers can capture this market and support the adoption of AI-enhanced security solutions.

Managed services also play a role, with demand for full-service offerings set to rise by as much as 10 percent annually over the next three years. A trusted partner should develop bundled offerings that include hot button use cases and focus on outcomes, not technology. By addressing these areas, providers can dismantle traditional barriers, streamline security processes, and fortify data governance—ensuring that AI is implemented effectively. This focus enables organizations to prioritize a collective security posture, identify vulnerabilities, address security gaps, and proactively strategize against emerging threats. Consequently, the time and resources needed to ensure adherence to new and ever-emerging security and data privacy regulations are significantly reduced.

With both teams on the same page in terms of secure AI use, the time and resources needed to ensure adherence to new and ever-emerging security and data privacy regulations is significantly cut down. Both parties must also know that adhering to these regulations not only ensures legal compliance, but also enhances trust among stakeholders, critical for business growth.

Read: Role of AI in Cybersecurity: Protecting Digital Assets From Cybercrime

Steps to Ensure Effective Security Across Teams

1) Data Ecosystem Consolidation

In today’s landscape of heightened cybersecurity threats, organizations must prioritize security measures to safeguard their valuable data assets. One crucial strategy is the consolidation of data ecosystems into a centralized architecture, bolstering defenses and mitigating vulnerabilities.

By centralizing data systems, organizations can fortify their security posture by implementing robust access controls, encryption mechanisms, and monitoring protocols. This consolidation simplifies the security infrastructure, reducing potential points of entry for malicious actors and enhancing overall resilience against cyberattacks.

Furthermore, a unified data ecosystem enables more effective threat detection and incident response capabilities. With streamlined processes and reduced complexities, security teams can promptly identify and address suspicious activities, minimizing the impact of security breaches and ensuring business continuity.

2) Fostering a Security-First Culture

In addition to technological enhancements, organizations must cultivate a culture of collaboration focused on security across all departments. By fostering open communication and knowledge sharing, businesses can harness the collective expertise of both IT and business teams to effectively address emerging security threats.

Establishing cross-functional security teams comprising members from diverse departments facilitates collaborative efforts in identifying vulnerabilities, implementing preventive measures, and responding to security incidents. Through shared insights and collective vigilance, organizations can proactively safeguard against evolving cyber threats and swiftly adapt to emerging challenges.

We are seeing this being especially critical for IoT and IIoT providers in the manufacturing and automation space, for example. Log monitoring is an essential process that enables real-time collection, processing, and analysis of vast amounts of machine and sensor data, ensuring operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, and swift anomaly detection to minimize downtime.

Read:How AI Is Transforming Big Data?

However this must be achieved through encryption and risk-based automation. Encryption protects sensitive data, while risk-based automation enhances real-time threat detection and response, ensuring compliance and operational efficiency. These strategies are crucial for maintaining data integrity, fortifying defenses against cyber threats, and meeting regulatory requirements in industrial settings.

Furthermore, with the advancement of AI, achieving these objectives has become more accessible. However, to mitigate risks effectively, it is imperative to instill trust in the models employed across the organization—a critical factor for delivering reliable outcomes that drive alignment between IT and business objectives.

Organizations must also invest in comprehensive security training and development programs to further strengthen the collaborative mindset, equipping employees with the skills and awareness necessary to prioritize security in their daily operations. By instilling a culture of security awareness and accountability, organizations can create a formidable line of defense against cyber threats at every level of the workforce.

3) Aligning Common Goals

Finally, organizations must align security efforts with overarching business goals to ensure a unified approach towards risk management and resilience. This starts by clearly defining what these common goals are. Not just metrics such as revenue and profit, but secondary metrics such as core hours, number of mobile app developers, numbers of people on specific platforms, etc. These metrics provide insight into future-based alignments organizations wish to pursue.

By integrating security considerations into strategic decision-making processes, businesses can strike a balance between innovation and risk mitigation, safeguarding long-term success and reputation. Aligning IT and business teams around shared security objectives fosters a sense of collective responsibility and ownership towards protecting valuable data assets. This alignment enables organizations to allocate resources effectively, prioritize security initiatives, and drive continuous improvement in their security posture.

The gap between IT and business teams presents a serious barrier, disrupting not just workflow efficiency, but also jeopardizing the safety and reliability of data. The acknowledgment of cybersecurity as a driving force for business evolution marks a pivotal turning point, demanding joint efforts from IT and business units. Through uniting these factions, companies can enhance data security while also uncovering fresh avenues for advancement. Embracing this comprehensive strategy not only shields critical assets but also propels enterprises toward lasting success in a highly competitive environment.

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