Chris Pace, Director of Product and Solutions Marketing at Blue Coat Systems talks to Comms Business Magazine about the need to change perceptions about security and instead shift our focus to provide a route to enablement and empowerment.
It’s probably fair to say that the very word ‘security’ has become synonymous with predominantly negative connotations. The battle laden language of security bears testament to this with headlines such as ‘are we losing the war on cybercrime’ or ‘criminal adversaries are winning’. Certainly, we live in challenging times and the need for vigilance and robust tools that can protect against more sophisticated forms of threats, is greater than ever.
However, security purchases have, primarily, been driven by fear; fear of the unknown, fear of attacks, and fear of new technology. Your staff wanted to bring in new devices? We need to set a policy to block and control this. Do users want access to Facebook or Twitter or any other unsanctioned applications? We need to block these or at least control the times at which they can access this. Employees are branded as an internal ‘threat’ to be managed. It’s no surprise then that security has become something of a grudge purchase.
Changing Perceptions – the department of ‘No’
The fact is that the world of cyber security has been dominated by the need to control everything and keep freedom to an absolute minimum. This belief, while understandable, has sometimes led to unnecessary constraints and has limited the choices workers have in almost every part of their work: which devices and applications they can use, at what times and under what conditions.
More than this, security had become the obstacle to business and strategic IT initiatives, such as enabling greater employee productivity or rolling out new customer-facing services. It was seen as standing in the way of letting people do business, through rigid policies that stifled innovation, productivity and growth. In fact, in a recent global survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, more than half of all business leaders believe IT policies slow customer service and innovation while a massive majority, some 76% of IT leaders, see security as a barrier to enabling employees to choose their own devices, technology and applications at will.
It’s time to rethink these old perceptions which pervade the industry and to change how businesses securely embrace technology to empower their users. Security is not just about what is prevented but also about what it makes possible.
Enablement and Empowerment to Drive Growth
If we shift our focus, security can provide the route to enablement and empowerment. It unlocks ways for organisations to take advantage of whatever technology they need to be able to achieve their objectives and lets employees get on with their job in the best way possible. It means that organisations have the freedom to choose whichever devices, applications, technologies, services and data they need.
Businesses need to harness the power of technology to deliver new products and services, improve customer experience and drive greater competitive advantage. This correlation was also borne out by the survey which showed that the fastest growing companies (those that are growing more than 10 percent) say new technology has empowered their business, made them more profitable, innovative and efficient. The fastest growing companies believe that providing technology choice to employees can increase revenue and profits by more than 35%. Overall, some 84% of respondents agree that empowering employees drives greater efficiency in the business.
Tellingly, however, the UK lagged well behind the faster growth economies – such as India and China – in its belief that IT innovation is the route to increase revenue. Is it time to make the case more strongly here to our customers that choice drives growth?
Partners as Trusted Advisors
This shift from security solutions as a grudge purchase to one which empowers and enables choice, has fundamental implications for the way the channel approaches sales opportunities – and how we market these to the end user. It also heralds something of a shift in the customer reseller relationship; if a partner can enable the security department to become an enabler for business than a blocker, then the reseller becomes more of a trusted advisor.
We’re moving from the idea that traditional security tools and methods are too rigid and outdated to match the pace of innovation adoption, to giving customers the choice they need to achieve strategic objectives. Be it enabling remote workers, unfettering access to social media channels, or driving business through a new sales channel we can provide the way to do this with minimal risk.
It enables partners to take on a more positive approach to sales and to build opportunities by talking in terms of what’s possible. For example, for organisations that want to safely embrace the mobile world – including users, devices and applications – partners can provide the route to extend protection and policy to users in any location on any device. Rather than hampering productivity, security has provided the route to improved ways of working.
Turning the Tide
The change in approach to the way that security is sold and perceived is starting to filter through the industry and CIOs and security professionals are beginning to realise that security, done right, can be the catalyst for higher productivity, increased job efficiency and job satisfaction, and, perhaps most importantly, accelerated innovation.
Businesses need to harness the very best tools, devices and applications to compete and win in their markets. Business leaders now firmly believe that having the freedom to choose, whichever technology they need, can lead to revenue growth and, as our findings reveal, the fastest growing companies have this choice.
As we move forwards, the role of Security and for all of us in the business of delivering these solutions to customers, must be to facilitate these choices; to be about what is possible not just what we should be preventing.
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