Thanks to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses find themselves in urgent need of a digital transformation to stay afloat. This includes both organizations who were previously interested in the idea but who didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly, along with those who never really gave it much thought at all.
Regardless, your IT department will play a crucial role in determining whether your own transformation is the success you need it to be or the failure you fear it might become. More specifically, there are six core IT department roles that will be instrumental in guiding your organization’s digital transformation.
By far, one of the most important contributors to the success of your digital transformation comes down to the cloud specialists you choose to surround yourself with.
Remember that these professionals are tasked with doing more than just managing the migration of information and services from one platform to another. They also need to be on hand to quickly troubleshoot any issues, to help team members navigate the cloud environment, and to help mitigate risk for your rapidly transforming organization. This is especially true during the COVID-19 era, where industries are constantly evolving in new and unexpected ways and businesses have to evolve just as quickly to stay ahead in increasingly uncertain times.
Another invaluable role during your digital transformation will be that of the system integrators. These IT professionals will need to customize the employee experience before, during, and after the digital transformation itself, carefully selecting the best combination of hardware, software, networking, and storage products to support your people and the important work they’re doing on a daily basis.
In a best-case scenario, systems integrators will be able to create a highly specialized experience that not only meets your business’ needs as they exist today, but that also makes sure your technology is finally aligned with your long-term business goals — which is a big part of what your digital transformation is supposed to accomplish, to begin with.
Any digital transformation always brings with it a certain degree of risk in terms of cybersecurity, which is why another one of the most important IT department roles that can mean the difference between success and failure will ultimately come down to your information security team.
As more and more information and activity happen within a cloud-based, “anytime/anywhere” infrastructure, security must become and remain a top priority no matter what. Information security specialists can not only help come up with a cybersecurity strategy that makes the most sense given your environment, but they can also monitor for any suspicious activity to help stop small problems today before they have a chance to become potentially catastrophic ones tomorrow.
Hidden inside the massive volumes of data that your business is creating on a daily basis is a treasure trove of insight that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. This is especially true during a digital transformation when you need access to current and high-value information to make the most informed decisions possible every day.
Data analysts help enormously to that end by retrieving, gathering, and analyzing data — all of which allows you to take a more organic data-driven approach to what you’re doing. Not only can they spot important patterns and better understand how certain activities impact your business, but they can also make smarter recommendations on how to improve your operations to help you reach your long-term goals more efficiently than ever.
The User Experience (UX)
User experience designers also have a crucial role to play in your digital transformation by capitalizing on opportunities to improve not only the accessibility of your system but its usability and interaction potential as well. In a larger sense, they’re tasked with providing all of your users with the best possible experience that they can — all so that your employees can spend less time trying to figure out how to get their technology to work and instead focus on putting that technology to work for them.
This is once again particularly important during COVID-19, given the fact that your online experience is essentially the only experience that you’re able to offer your employees for the foreseeable future. Therefore, user experience designers are critical to not only help make sure that your digital transformation goes off without a hitch but to do so in a way that also makes sure that your employees have access to everything they need to do their jobs every day.
Finally, we arrive at information management specialists, otherwise known as the hardworking men and women who are tasked with making sure that data is flowing freely across your organization at all times.
Especially when you’re talking about something as important as digital transformation, you cannot afford to deal with data silos at any point. If you’re not sure where information is or even what is important and what isn’t, it’s difficult to make sure that everything transitions from one system to another as securely and as smoothly as possible. Information management specialists can leverage solutions like M-Files to bring all of your data together, regardless of where it might be stored. An information management platform like M-Files will create a single data repository for all of your important files, regardless of whether they’re stored in the cloud, on personal drives, on network shares, or on something else entirely.
In the end, any digital transformation will always be a time-consuming and somewhat stressful process, but that is especially true during the COVID-19 era when more people are working remotely than ever. But by making sure that these six core IT department roles are filled before, during, and after the transition, you’ll have put your business in an excellent position to enjoy all of the benefits of this process with a few of the potential downsides as possible.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before. On the one hand, productivity hasn’t really suffered as there are a large number of cloud-based tools that make it possible to be just as productive outside of the office as you are in it.
But on the other hand, there are also certain types of collaboration habits that make security breaches no longer a matter of “if” but “when.” Understanding what these are is the best way to avoid them at all costs.
The Dreaded “User Error”
If you had to make a list of all the reasons why data breaches are allowed to occur in the first place, the human error would undoubtedly be right at the top. It’s not that your employees are outright trying to sabotage your network — far from it. But when people share passwords with other employees, share sensitive data via insecure collaboration tools or make any similar mistakes, they’re essentially opening the door to your network for anyone to walk through.
To combat this as much as possible, you need to make it as easy as possible for employees to access the data, the tools, and the systems they need to do their jobs. Likewise, you need to invest in ongoing cybersecurity training to help make sure people are aware of all of the potential risks they face. You can’t expect someone to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack if they’re not even really sure what one looks like.
The Risk of Data Overexposure
A lot of people don’t realize that the types of chats and files shared by employees on online collaboration platforms are usually retained forever — meaning that this data is always going to be vulnerable to a cyber-attack if you’re not very, very careful. So even if your business’ network isn’t breached, you’re still not out of the woods if that collaboration tool is as at that point hackers would have access to everything someone ever said or did with the platform.
This is why you always need to choose your cloud-based partners wisely and assess each one’s level of data and system security before picking one to go with moving forward. Likewise, you should add as many security measures to reach the data repository as possible to help reduce your risk surface as much as you can. Always make sure that employees are using two-factor authentication, for example, and move away from free applications. Finally, make sure that all sensitive or otherwise confidential information is always classified that way so that you know exactly where critical data is and where it needs to be protected.
M-Files gives organizations full control over who can access information at different stages of a process. Access will also automatically change when people leave or move into a new role.
Risky Personal Devices
Another one of the major collaboration habits that makes it possible for data breaches to take place has to do with employees who insist on using their (inherently insecure) personal devices.
If you give an employee a laptop computer, you can encrypt any data contained on it. You can always make sure that it is up to date in terms of patches and you can take whatever other steps are necessary to mitigate risk. You don’t have that option when someone is using their own personal devices, which is why you need to pay close attention to this phenomenon at all times.
Always audit your IT environment and network activity and pay attention for suspicious activity. If you find that users are working with their own devices, try to get them to use corporate devices and always install endpoint protection tools on each one.
Finally, one of the biggest collaboration habits that increase the chances of a data breach ultimately comes down to the use of unsanctioned tools, otherwise known as Shadow IT.
Sure, your employees may feel more comfortable working with their own personal file sharing services. But you can’t protect this data repository if you don’t know that it exists in the first place and if someone is using it to link to or share corporate files, it runs afoul of the very best practices that cybersecurity plans are built on.
For the best results, always be sure to work closely with all departments to understand employee workflows and their business needs. Try to really understand WHY someone is using Shadow IT — what feature do they need that you’re not giving them access to, or what other concern do they have that this relieves? Then, select collaboration tools that address these issues — thus minimizing security risks across the board.
Various reports over the years suggested that knowledge workers spend anywhere between 5-12 hours per week to find information they need to do their job.
If an organization could cut that time in half for each knowledge worker, imagine the huge productivity bump companywide. The solution may indeed be hiding in plain sight with intelligent information management platforms like M-Files, which:
- Enables users to find the information they need lightning fast with Google-like results
- Automates many of the mundane, time-consuming tasks that sap productivity
Check out this recent infographic, where you’ll find:
- 10+ actionable statistics on productivity loss
- An alarming calculation of the real cost wrought by inefficiency
- 10 ways to combat productivity lost to poor information management
Get the infographic on this article:- https://resources.m-files.com/infographics/infographic-how-to-save-half-your-workday-with-intelligent-information-management-2
The following article is a guest post by Wendy Seykens, Marketing and Communications Coordinator with M-Files partner BMconsultants.
This year has become the year of virtual meetings — where we all convene together to discuss business. An hour here, half an hour there. Sounds familiar, right? These meetings are a source of the occasional funny moment…
“Oh wait, my microphone was still muted.”
“I’m having connection problems.” (Sounding like a garbled, drive-through speaker.)
“Please excuse my 5-year-old’s temper tantrum.”
But put all of these light moments aside, the advent of remote work (and how that carries into an abundance of virtual meetings) has led to many inefficiencies and, frankly, unnecessary stress in working with business documents.
The following document mismanagement moments are all too common sources of stress for knowledge workers — and they’re avoidable, too. Check out these situations that many have surely found themselves in.
1 | It’s Challenging to Search and Find the Right Documents
During a strategy meeting on Microsoft Teams, you’re looking for the latest version of an agenda made by a colleague.
“Wait a minute, I think this is it! Do you see it? Oh. This is not the latest version? Okay, what about this one?”
It’s so frustrating and time-consuming to constantly search for the right information.
You send the link to a document in the chat window. Later, multiple links are shared back and forth, and multiple comments are made in the chat.
Note to self: Don’t forget which is the link to the latest version and don’t miss those comments that pertain to your work.
Two days and three projects later… You’ve forgotten which chat the links were in, which link is the most current and which comments you need to pay attention to. So, you reread the whole chat log all over again, like a bad novel.
3 | It’s a Secure Work Environment, Right?
“Hello, everyone. This meeting is being recorded. Did you adjust the cost breakdown? And did you also make sure that the associated contracts are changed? Oh. You’ve already sent the documents in the chat? Thank you very much.”
And then you think to yourself… Is this actually a safe way to share sensitive information and files? Have we checked this with IT?
4 | Which Device is that Document on, Again?
Just before a meeting, you look for a document, so that you can discuss it.
“It really should be on my laptop.” Searching, searching, searching. No luck.
“Didn’t I have it on the desktop in my home office?” Nope.
“Wait, no. It was on my iPad. Let me email it to myself.” Still waiting. Ah, there it is.
Fifteen minutes later than planned, you finally join the online meeting with the right document.
A Simple Solution: M-Files Intelligent Information Management
Have these situations happened to you? And now that you’re aware of these situations, think about how much time is wasted searching and, above all, finding the right documents. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. All of it adds up. In fact, Gartner says that professionals spend 50% of their time searching for information, and on average, take 18 minutes to locate each document.
How nice would it be if you could search and find all of your work files in one central system? What if it no longer mattered where a file is? What if you could you search across the entire information ecosystem with the help of metadata? What if that central system was integrated with, for example, Microsoft Office 365 and Teams?
There must be an easy solution for that. Yes, there is. With M-Files, these stressful, annoying moments are forever a thing of the past. M-Files is a unique intelligent information management solution that enriches the way businesses secure, process and manage data and content — documents, images, emails, customer information, or other information objects.
M-Files classifies and manages information based on ‘what’ it is, rather than ‘where’ it’s stored. Regardless of whether that information lives in the M-Files platform, or across other systems and repositories, information can be accessed and managed through a single view, without needing an expensive and time-consuming data migration.
M-Files offers connections to network drives, Microsoft and Google apps, as well as major business applications and other document management systems. Ultimately, M-Files lets you fast-track digital business transformation by breaking down silos in separate applications, systems and repositories.
Shadow IT is when employees use unapproved software, apps, and devices to do their jobs. Typically, employees have good intentions and may turn to various ad-hoc services to get their work done because they don’t believe their employer provides them with a good solution. Since the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, surveys of IT professionals have revealed that the rise in employees working from home has generated a surge in this practice. Find out why even the best-intentioned uses of shadow IT can pose a security threat to your valuable information and how you can control it.
Why is Shadow IT a Security Problem?
According to reports from MS Office, almost three-quarters of executives admit they don’t know how many shadow IT applications or devices their employees use. This isn’t surprising. According to Microsoft, even security professionals gravely underestimate the problem. On average, they believe all workers in their organization use 30 to 40 unapproved tech solutions when a better figure would probably be closer to 1,000.
These facts also aren’t surprising when you see studies that reveal that about 87% of senior managers have uploaded sensitive documents to a personal email or cloud account. If even senior leadership succumbs to these temptations, you can bet your business has a widespread problem.
While mostly well-intentioned, using all of these unapproved and unknown apps can generate dozens of serious problems for data security and data integrity. Some critical issues include:
Lack of visibility: IT can’t manage resources that they aren’t even aware of. Companies need tools to monitor their networks and any new devices or applications that interface with it.
Impossible to enforce compliance rules: If a business doesn’t even know a resource exists, there’s no way to make sure it complies with government regulations or internal governance. Especially with sensitive data, organizations need to ensure employees get permission before using third-party solutions.
High risk of lost data: Again, there’s no way to know if somebody uploaded the latest and most correct version of a document to their personal email or cloud service and then got sick or abruptly left the company or simply had a problem with their unapproved device or software’s storage. Businesses need a way to track information additions, deletions, and changes, and they also need to ensure these changes get backed up.
Impaired efficiency: If one team has decided to share documents on a cloud server but another team’s passing email attachments around, departments will fall out of alignment. If multiple departments need solutions for such issues as collaboration and document sharing, the company should implement one approved solution.
Vulnerability to digital threats: Obviously, this is the 900-pound gorilla in the room. You have probably read plenty of stories about attacks on popular software like Zoom and Google Drive. These days, companies are particularly vulnerable to phishing attempts made on an unsuspecting user’s email. Solutions that can reduce the risk could include enterprise-security software, audit trails, and two-factor authentication.
Again, most employees turn to outside solutions out of the best of intentions. A good first step probably includes surveying your workers to find out what features they lack in the toolkit your business already provides for them. Then, you can keep people productive and your business safe by evaluating various solutions to fill in these gaps.
At the same time, you’ll also help improve company-wide efficiency and alignment and make security’s job easier by keeping your entire company in alignment. You won’t have to worry that a director has uploaded a sensitive document to his email and one team leader uploaded the attached document to Google docs right before sharing the Edit link with his entire group. In the end, nobody can say which version was correct or even if any of them were.
Future-Proof Your Workforce and Business With M-Files
An enterprise-grade, AI-enabled information management solution like M-Files can almost automatically remove the temptation for employees to turn to ad-hoc solutions to do their jobs.
- The software’s smart features can give employees everything they need to work, share, and collaborate. They won’t have the motivation to turn to private email, software, or storage accounts to get their jobs done — especially when they can access business critical information from anywhere and from any device.
- The sophisticated, certified security will ensure that employees have only the access they need, and even better, M-Files will handle audit trails and version control. You won’t have to worry about lost, missing, or confusing data.
- Using this one, standardized solution will also help keep teams, departments, and entire companies in alignment as they all rely upon the same system. This helps improve communication, business processes, and efficiency.
- Employees will also appreciate the fact they can securely login to M-Files from anywhere and with various internet-connected devices. M-Files enables the remote workforce you employ today and in the future.
Schedule some time with us — we’re here to be a resource for you about your shadow IT concerns within your organization. We’ll explain how M-Files features can ensure your employees have a secure, workable solution. We can also arrange a free trial or demo, so you can actually watch M-Files in action as it improves your company’s security, efficiency, and alignment.
The pandemic has unsettled the world, leaving us all to navigate the uncertainty. I don’t need to elaborate. We all know and feel the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our economy, workplaces, and personal well-being.
However, at the time of writing this, restrictions around the world are starting to lift, little by little. And as the initial hurdle comes to a close, we are gradually shifting our attention from the panic of What now? and instead, shifting our focus to What’s next?
As a Product Marketing Manager for M-Files, I am in the game of figuring out what moves and shakes people to change, or more specifically what drives companies to invest in new technology. This pandemic has certainly offered a new driver to the mix.
COVID-19 has Forced Companies to Transform (and Transform Quickly)
Before this crisis, some common drivers across many industries included items like increasing efficiency in a competitive landscape, winning and retaining new business, and minimizing risk.
These drivers are still relevant. The pandemic, however, has presented a new driver — resilience. Namely, how can companies ensure and maintain operations in times of crisis? How can companies continue with business as usual in times when business is not usual?
While the initial hurdle of this pandemic seems to be coming to an end, there is no guarantee that the pandemic will not grow worse or that further restrictions will be enforced in the future (some news media portends the possibility of a second wave of cases globally). And as experts warned us of a possible pandemic before COVID-19, they are also insisting that we realize that other pandemics are just as possible in the future. We simply do not know. We used to operate with a false sense of certainty about the future, but this crisis has exposed just how uncertain things really are. Despite this, we are certain that the COVID-19 crisis has taught us that businesses need to transform. We can feel confident about that lesson. And when there’s need for great transformation, there’s need for great guidance.
Bring in the Consultants!
The reason I boldly claim that we need consultants now more than ever is because we’re in uncharted territory. Emotions are strong and it’s difficult, for both employees and business leaders, to wrap their minds over what to do next. Consultants, by and large, are transformation experts. We call on consultants to get us from one state to the next, because they have the expertise, experience, resources and know-how to pave a path to our objectives.
When it comes to the topic of resilience, businesses are plagued with questions around policy, leadership, technology, security, and change management while also grappling with the struggles of maintaining business today. This presents an interesting opportunity for people in the thinking industry.
The Driver: What’s driving or forcing companies to change?
The COVID-19 crisis has tested the resilience of the business world.
The Objective: What do companies need to do in response to this driver?
Companies have been forced to establish and maintain organizational resilience — to handle future crises.
Business Changes: What transformations must take place for companies to meet these objectives?
To establish and maintain organizational resilience, companies must:
- Institute a flexible and secure work environment
- Reduce costs to buffer current and potential decreases in revenue
- Enable a remote, yet effective workforce that can work either from the office or at home
- Establish policies and procedures for times of crisis and train staff on policies
- Train leadership on managing and leading in times of crisis
- Uphold excellent customer experiences in times of crisis
Business Value: What is the potential business value of these transformations?
When companies are resilient to crises, they:
- Retain more business
- Maintain business continuity in times when business is not usual
- Have better buffers for sudden revenue decreases
- Mitigate risks to security and quality — in areas like information security, safety, and compliance
- Increase workforce satisfaction and trust
So, if you’re in the service of helping businesses transform, take a moment to consider if this new driver offers your firm new opportunities. And in doing so, consider the following:
In times of global uncertainty, we need people in our corner to help us put one foot in front of the other. That’s why we need consultants now more than ever.