If you’re considering digital transformation, it may be tempting to jump right in, but there are certain strategic decisions you need to make first.

We’ve discussed many of these strategies in our blogs over the years, but today, we’d like to talk about security. What security strategy will you need to implement to avoid digital transformation security challenges and potential project failure? More importantly, what are the exact challenges you need to prepare for?

Today, we’re sharing answers you need to make sure your transformation is as secure as possible.

The Uptick in Digital Transformations​

Since the very first stay-at-home order was enacted in March 2020, companies have been innovating at a breakneck pace.

At first, they implemented new digital technologies to make it easier for remote team members to clock in from home. This meant shifting their in-house legacy systems onto automated platforms and virtual channels. Now, they’re still initiating digital transformations, mostly to keep up with the competition and keep customers engaged.

A Failed Payroll System Implementation

Panorama’s Expert Witness team was retained to provide a forensic analysis and written report to the court regarding the failed implementation of a major software developer’s ERP/payroll system.

New Challenge to Face​

Today, digitization isn’t a nice-to-have feature. It’s what audiences expect, and what top-performing brands have made a priority. However, in the rush to get here, there have been many security vulnerabilities left unaddressed. Let’s take a look at seven of the most prominent ones.

1. A Wider Attack Surface

Previously, companies implemented digital technologies only in certain areas. For instance, they may have added a solution to automate back-office work.

Now, they’re looking for ways to digitize almost every aspect of their operations. As they invest in these solutions, they’re opening up their companies to an extensive number of security threats.

They’re deploying different technologies to connect with one another and their customers, including:

• Artificial intelligence (AI) products
• Cloud services
• Big data analytics
• Internet of Things (IoT) devices

These tools make day-to-day life easier, but they also give hackers more ground to cover.

Attackers use these programs to access networks and expose vulnerabilities, so companies must stay one step ahead to keep their systems secure.

2. Increased Reliance on Third-Party Suppliers​

As organizations adopt new tools and technologies, they become increasingly reliant on the third-party suppliers that provide them, such as cloud vendors or SaaS providers.

If those suppliers have an existing security threat, that vulnerability gets passed down to the purchasing organization. The same applies if the suppliers suffer a breach. This requires companies to be even more diligent about the third parties they allow to access and become part of their supply chains.

3. Rushed Programs Lack Protection​

With digital tools, companies have new ways to communicate with colleagues and share data with customers. This includes online collaboration tools that are convenient, yet not always secure.

Not only are these tools difficult to manage, but they also increase the likelihood of a breach. It’s easy to misuse these platforms and accidentally expose your company’s confidential or sensitive information. Though there are cybersecurity programs available to help companies protect their data, they aren’t always used.

This is because many transformations are rushed, and many contain insufficient security budgets. As a result, companies add these collab tools without giving extensive thought to how secure they really are.

4. Lack of Funds​

As mentioned, security budgets are often thin in a digital transformation. Most of the funding goes toward the new system being implemented, which leaves little wiggle room for other expenses. For companies to maintain their data integrity in an increasingly high-tech world, that mindset must shift.

Executives and stakeholders should know the risks they’re incurring by minimizing this part of the project. Project team members should be prepared to explain the cybersecurity risks that the new systems could introduce, and the steps required to mitigate them.

5. Employee Lack of Understanding​

For data security programs to work, all employees must understand their importance, as well as how to use them. Early in the transformation, invest in training so your entire workforce understands the steps they must take to stay secure. Examples of key topics to cover include:

• How to stay safe in the cloud
• How to use security controls effectively
• How to recognize the signs of a cyber attack

Once the systems are in place, conduct refresher training to address new concerns and encourage knowledge retention.

6. Distributed Workforce

From 2019 to 2021, the number of people primarily working from home tripled, growing from 5.7% to 17.9%. Today, companies have a more widely distributed workforce than ever before. With less reliance on in-person meetings, employees can be located almost anywhere on the globe, as long as they have internet connectivity.

By nature, this makes a company more vulnerable. There are a greater number of connected devices and more points of entry. This is catalyzing the shift toward cloud-centric implementations, as well as more advanced security approaches.

7. Strategic Planning

Security should be top of mind in any digital transformation. As with every other core phase, it requires a dedicated, strategic plan. This isn’t a topic that companies can just address as they go.

A written, documented process for strengthening security protocols is the only way companies can fortify their operations against the threat of attack. This includes creating a change management plan that addresses how the team will guide employees through this transition.

Unless there’s a clear-cut plan in place, it can be difficult to identify current pain points and opportunities. Teams should brainstorm the security requirements they’ll need and evaluate how those measures fit into their greater digital strategy.

Address These Digital Transformation Security Challenges

It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of digital transformation. There are many new technologies to consider, and it’s exciting to think about how they could benefit your organization.

However, it’s important to be realistic about this next step. While digital tools have the capacity to make your organization faster, smarter, and more efficient, they can also open it up to some serious security risks.

These are only a few of the digital transformation security challenges you need to consider. To get started on your digital transformation, contact us below for a free ERP consultation.

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