Digitalization encompasses all parts of business as well as everyday life. It creates opportunities for companies to be more efficient and to spend less. Innovative new business models not even possible only a few years ago, such as Uber, are now threatening traditional market leaders.
According to the recent study on the Digital Transformation Index by Dell Technologies, 78 % of business leaders worldwide agree their operation should utilize more digitalization to increase their competitiveness. More than half of the leaders are worried they’ll be left behind with the disruption. Analytics and quality data are definitely ever more critical assets, but why is digitalization still in its infancy at so many companies?
Industry 4.0 will completely restructure manufacturing
With the Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturing is becoming smarter and more agile. We’re looking at faster delivery chains, increasingly flexible production and better quality. When the machines communicate autonomously with each other, there’s less manual labor and the resources can be focused on more productive tasks.
Industrial digitalization is delayed by concerns for data security. The more devices and systems running production are connected to the internet, the more potential risk there is. Even a minor data breach can risk a brand ‘s reputation, or worse cause an environmental catastrophe.
Cyber security not only affects corporations, but the whole society. In a national risk assessment published earlier this year the Finnish Ministry of the Interior puts cyber-attacks and serious disruptions of communication networks in the top five most serious national disruptions. The impacts of such events are comparable to a military conflict, so the threat to security must be taken seriously.
From corporate competition to battle of ecosystems
The security of applications is integral to networks, i.e. ecosystems, within which companies or groups of companies sell products and services to the same customers. A network of small companies can compete with a large corporation, and a big enterprise can source capabilities from smaller vendors.
Where previously large investments were required to build a manufacturing facility, in future ecosystems one company owns the factory and another the product’s “digital blueprints”. In such an environment security has a whole new meaning, as the product owner must now safeguard both the product drawings and manufacturing parameters. At the same time running the factory comes with the responsibility of making sure the manufacturing process can’t be infiltrated to alter the product.
In a functional ecosystem each member knows their role and communicates fluently. Communication media ranges from digital message platforms to management tools and sales and marketing applications. A breach or malfunction of just one part can make the whole ecosystem vulnerable or even cripple it. This is why identifying users and devices reliably within the system is essential to keeping the process running.
Security is built around humans
When talking about security it is important to also talk about people. It is extremely important to make all employees understand and apply data security in their work and subsequently in the whole business. The weakest link in secure digitalization is always a human being – it’s either your people or you yourself.
With your team there are two ways to approach the issue. The team members can either be categorically non-trusted or they can be systematically trained and educated to spot risks and act right.
Internal and external security risks can be minimized by keeping the organization’s security protocol up to date. Regular communication on the subject with relevant examples help build the employee awareness on cyber security. Training the people is the most cost-effective way to raise the level of cyber security.
Secure digitalization needs management
Whether we like it or not, secure digitalization will be mandatory for most companies. Instead of a threat, it should be seen as an opportunity and actively managed like any other part of a business. It is important that the risks and their potential impact on the bottom line are identified, responsibilities are clearly placed and managing data security is a high priority.
Trying to add security afterwards is like trying to rebuild the foundation after the house is built – expensive and difficult if not impossible. With security addressed early on, I dare claim new digital devices are more secure than old. It is an investment worth making.