Digital transformation has been a major goal of many organizations for some time. However, the pandemic has accelerated timelines from 4-6 years to 4-6 months. Global remote work and increased digital interactions - be it video, voice, or messaging - means an exponential growth in digital footprint for individuals, as well as corporations. Suddenly having to store, process, and move this much data quickly into the cloud and manage the expanded digital footprint requires agility of decision making, cloud native infrastructure, and security and privacy by design implementation and operation. Global customers and regulators expect -- in fact, demand -- that security and privacy protections are adequately addressed. Missteps not only set the organization back in trust with their customers but also with their own employees. It is crucial that organizations understand how data-privacy laws affect their data movement and how to keep that information secure. There are three major themes that can help digital and information security leaders embark on this rapid digital transformation journey and deliver results for their customers.

Data is your friend, lean on it

Like a true friend who tells you the truth and helps you make the most informed decisions in life, data is also your friend in the business context. Data, when used with clarity of purpose, can lay bare truths of what is important to your customers and your employees. Business leaders can leverage data to make more informed decisions and build better forecasts. Granular data paints better pictures of customers and market segments. Leaders can look at how different customers in different industries use products and features and leverage that feedback to build better products and scale it. All this adds up to better customer experience. Data analytics can also identify operational and organizational inefficiencies and help organizations fix them. Operational and workflow data can help you understand what collaboration and communication tools and processes are working for your employees and what may need retooling. Use this data and act on it to empower your employees and improve employee experience.

To digitally transform securely, companies must leverage data for these purposes, and also understand how that information flows throughout their organization. Leaders must constantly - and carefully -  assess the data hygiene that includes accuracy and relevancy of the data, as well as the security of the data at collection - both in transit, and at rest. 

Leaders also need to clearly map out how global privacy laws affect use of this data. Businesses must identify the risks as they pertain to a given data-privacy law and know whether their data use complies with each law. This type of analysis and approach requires an intentional and ongoing effort and hence the culture of the organization plays a crucial role.

Develop and affirm a security and privacy culture

One common use of data is for the development of better products and services. To ensure organizations develop these new offerings in a secure manner, they should define, communicate, and drive adoption to a “security first” or “security by design” culture. What this means is that there are specific policies and blueprints adhering to most up-to-date security best practices, such as the Zero Trust model, that should be clearly articulated and communicated throughout the organization. Adoption should also be measured, as well as rewarded. As security and privacy are tightly interlinked, organizations should also practice privacy by design. The main idea of privacy by design is that, "Privacy must be incorporated into networked data systems and technologies, by default." That is, product developers must consider and include privacy controls from the ground up.

In order to digitally transform securely within a privacy by design environment, leaders should ask:

  • what data they're collecting,
  • how they can protect that data at rest and in transit
  • who has access to control that data

But these questions must be asked - and addressed - early on. Organizations can only successfully transform when they build privacy and security into their products and services from day one.

Agility in decision making

With increased data usage and privacy by design in place, organizations have one other dimension to get right: agility in decision making. Even as the prospect of a vaccine offers a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, speed remains of the essence. Companies that can transform faster than their competitors, that can more efficiently move to new operating models and realize new revenue streams will earn market share.

To achieve transformation goals in shorter time frames, companies must consider moving to daily sprints, from weekly sessions. Only a maniacal focus on improving security postures will enable the right kind of security in their products and infrastructure. This will empower companies to adapt more rapidly in order to deliver features and services that address evolving customer needs, in real time.

Privacy and security are non negotiable

The way we worked pre-pandemic is likely forever changed. The events of the last several months have highlighted the importance of robust communication and collaboration tools for businesses to ensure their employees can connect with each other and with their customers from anywhere, at any time - no matter what.

We are seeing a secular shift in the way businesses need to operate. Many companies have shifted to a remote or virtual work environment and realize that the ability to enable employees to work from home will and should be a part of their business continuity plans now and well into the future. This is especially true as more and more businesses embrace the use of APIs - such as programmable video capabilities,  to create new ways of connecting and transforming their industries.

The cloud—and the digital transformations it enables—will only become more important moving forward. The only way forward for organizations to continue to digitally transform for maximum flexibility, agility and success is to ensure security and privacy are pillars of these initiatives.