Keeping Cloud Security Top Priority in Digital Transformation 

By Chris Spargen

Times are changing—employees are working from home, using more devices, and moving more data around than ever before. Organizations are recognizing that helping their employees to work and collaborate faster and more efficiently is key to surviving in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive market. While for some organizations, this may simply mean adding a new application to their ecosystem to streamline workflows, for others, it means undergoing a complete digital transformation. But what does this mean and how can organizations begin their digital transformation today? 

What is Digital Transformation? 

According to Gartner, digital transformation—or more specifically digital business transformation—is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust, new digital business model. The common objectives of digital transformation are to accommodate a growing and/or changing workforce, improve scalability to increase the speed and efficiency of employees’ work and collaborative efforts, streamline workflows, meet ever-growing customer and market demands, and ultimately, to grow profits.  

For small and large organizations alike, digital transformation is increasingly becoming much less of an “if” question and much more of a “when” question. They’re finding that by shifting to modern business models via new technologies and capabilities, their employees, customers, and future business outlooks all benefit in a big way. Consequently, organizations are often motivated to initiate and follow through with a digital transformation as quickly as possible. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has undeniably shifted how (and where) businesses and their employees operate, has only intensified this motivation. 

Unfortunately for many organizations, though, they’ve quickly found there is no one-size-fits-all solution for digital transformation; and, oftentimes, digital transformation can look far different for your organization compared to that of your closest competitors. In a 2020 study that surveyed 895 companies that had undergone digital transformation, Boston Consulting Group found that a staggering 70% of organizations did not reach their target with their efforts, including 26% of total respondents that failed to deliver outright and produced “no sustainable change.” In contrast, only 30% of surveyed organizations achieved or exceeded their digital transformation goals, resulting in sustainable change. 

This begs the question: “why does digital transformation fail so frequently, and how can I prevent this within my organization?” To answer this question, however, one must first understand how organizations are now commonly accelerating their digital transformation through cloud technologies. 

Why Are Organizations Turning to the Cloud for Their Digital Transformation? 

More and more, organizations are integrating cloud solutions into their daily operations and future business plans. The cloud infrastructure market is growing so quickly, in fact, that it made approximately $49 billion more in 2021 compared to the year before, according to Synergy Research Group. By adopting a cloud ecosystem, these organizations are making workplace collaboration faster and more efficient, streamlining workflows, and eliminating the need to purchase hardware and software. Furthermore, the cloud is flexible and scalable enough to evolve with your organization while simultaneously cutting maintenance costs for your IT department, giving them more financial space to work on innovation instead. 

Particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting spike in remote work, the benefits of implementing cloud technologies within your organization are only becoming more apparent. Whether your organization plans to use public cloud services, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud to consolidate the advantages of both, the flexibility and growth potential a cloud ecosystem can provide for your organization should make its implementation a relatively easy decision. With that in mind, though, rushing to make your organization’s cloud open and collaborative too quickly can lead to more problems than solutions. 

Establishing Cloud Security Will Help Your Digital Transformation Succeed 

While switching to cloud computing can undoubtedly be a big step in the right direction in your organization’s digital transformation efforts, one thing should be understood: cloud adoption is not always successful, and inadequate security is often the culprit behind its failure. The 2021 Thales Global Cloud Security Study found that approximately 40% of organizations experienced a cloud-based data breach this past year and a whopping 83% of organizations failed to encrypt at least half of their data being stored in the cloud. 

Cloud adoption can certainly also cut costs for organizations when used safely and appropriately, but data breaches can become a big contributor to some of the hidden costs of cloud computing. Not only can these breaches lead to the loss of customers and revenue, but they can also lead to hefty fines as a result of data compliance violations, and potentially even larger settlement costs that will go toward those affected by the breaches.  

What often fools organizations into thinking about cloud security as an afterthought is that many of the main public cloud providers, like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Elasticsearch, already have pre-existing security embedded in their cloud’s infrastructure. Because every organization uses its cloud resources differently, though, misconfigurations by the customer rather than the provider are often the cause of data breaches. Depending on which cloud model a given organization uses, a single breach can cost them an average of anywhere from $3.61 million to $4.8 million, according to the 2021 IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report.  

Thankfully for these organizations, just as cloud services can be outsourced, the same can be said for cloud security. They can begin to simplify and feel more confident in their cloud security by using automated tools to keep security settings in check and take human error out of the equation. Having adequate visibility into your organization’s cloud ecosystem from the ground up is just as important. Establishing a comprehensive corporate data security policy and then implementing layered data security solutions that follow those policies can serve to heighten your visibility while reducing the burden on your internal security teams. 

Chris Spargen is senior manager, solutions engineering at HelpSystems, a cybersecurity and automation software provider. Follow Chris on LinkedIn.

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