ROI is a critical aspect of running a successful organisation, and while incremental changes can be made around many parts of the business to improve this, eliminating the historically siloed approach to IT operations and cybersecurity is one way to swiftly improve a business’ finances, efficiency and security. Siloes tend to occur as a result of an organisation dividing broad goals into what could almost be described as micro-actions for different parts of the organisation. While it is good to have skilled teams focused in on particular aspects of the business’s ambitions, this approach often means that teams unwittingly restrict information from other departments and insulate themselves from the rest of the organisation. What is required for the forward-thinking organisation is an approach that is mindful of the varying aspects of IT infrastructures and one that allows different teams to work better together.
Unified IT is a holistic approach to operations which enables the increasingly varied roles within IT and cybersecurity to get the most insight and effectiveness out of their data, hardware and systems. Rather than having teams work as solitary units as they’ve done for the last few decades, an increasing demand for convergence largely due to technology trends like big data, cloud computing and automation, is driving organisations to find solutions which best utilise resources and time. Unified IT is all about breaking down the ideological and technological barriers that have caused so many different aspects of IT and Security to view each other as alien, so that they can better collaborate.
In practice, this means pooling together all of your resources, and even your budgets. Currently there is a huge discrepancy between the budgets of different IT teams. For most organisations this has not necessarily been a conscious decision. As the focus of the Board has changed, such as 49 per cent of CIOs now identifying cybersecurity as an operational priority according to the 2018 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey, other departments within IT may see less of these decision makers’ focus.
Restricted budgets along with a siloed mentality can often lead to a reactive approach to dealing with technological issues ‘as and when’ which can in turn set infrastructure up to fail. This can leave organisations trapped in a confusing and potentially dated environment that will get more expensive to deal with the longer it is left to stagnate. Organisations will encounter further roadblocks as they rely on numerous tools from different vendors that are incompatible, preventing potential collaboration. Unified reporting also makes it easier for the CIO or CISO to make well-informed decisions on how to use IT and Security to proactively improve the business in a way that is more cost efficient.
But outside of infrastructure costs, one of the biggest areas that will see benefits from Unified IT is cybersecurity. IT Operations and Security have long been siloed departments with very particular roles and responsibilities. However, as both technology and cybercrime evolve, these two parts of the business are starting to collide. Ultimately, cyberattacks cause IT downtime which results in both a reputational and financial cost. Furthermore, the first person to spot an imminent attack could well be from IT, as they would be the first point of contact when a user reports a PC or other device acting strangely.
The effects of a cyberattack can be defended against by both IT and Security. WannaCry is a perfect example of this. Large parts of the NHS were badly hit by this attack because many devices affected were still running on legacy systems like Windows XP. Additionally, others hadn’t properly patched devices using Windows 7. Legacy technology is an IT problem because IT is largely responsible for the digital transformation of the business; yet patching continues to be a security issue. However, as both areas affect both teams surely they should be working together in order to do both of their jobs more effectively.
Unified IT or operationalised security is the next step in these departments’ evolution. New advanced tools such as AI can be brought in to enable this evolution by automating and improving processes where relevant, for example by enabling self-service IT for users. In a unified environment, many of the problems associated with siloed teams and tools can be mitigated against. Unified IT provides further benefits in that it can reduce incompatibilities caused by relying on a diverse set of tools from different vendors, which can create siloes within siloes. In addition, unified tools open the door to joint reporting which helps prevent duplication of actions between teams and ultimately aids in giving CIOs and CISOs better visibility into the technology powering and protecting the business, enabling them to make well-informed decisions and have full visibility into the organisations, which is particularly key in a post-GDPR world.
The landscape of enterprise IT is evolving rapidly. As the workforce becomes more mobile and organisations become more reliant on the cloud, the same old siloed IT strategies will become harder to upkeep. Collaboration between departments and even different companies is now a vital part of how business is done, and with IT often driving change in the organisation it is hypocritical for IT to remain siloed and stagnant. Unified IT is the way forward for IT Operations and Security teams and is the best way for businesses to properly take advantage of the resources – and talent – at their disposal.