In theory, IT should be a boon for business continuity. Speed, reliability, automation, efficiency, productivity, all these things are positive effects available by moving to a digital environment driven by information technology.
However, IT also brings its own risks of interruption and breakdown. These can then compromise the continuity of an entire organisation.
Consultancy firm EY published a report a little while back. Here’s an overview of some of the main drawbacks in using IT, with a few pertinent updates:
- Insecure use of BYOD and uncontrolled (from a business point of view) use of social media have now been joined by the shadow IT phenomenon, in which anybody can subscribe to a cloud service by just using a credit card and send enterprise data “up there” willy-nilly.
- Malware to steal or damage data has since then been extended to include ransomware, which simply makes data unavailable, coupled with a threat of reputational damage by announcing the victim’s plight on the web.
- Data loss and leakage. The insider threat was already present, but only now are enterprises measuring the real impact of end-user error and exposure (unintentional or deliberate) of enterprise to unauthorised third parties.
- Cloud computing. New regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) could mean restrictions on the choice of cloud service providers.
- Unsatisfactory IT disaster recovery and business continuity plans. New initiatives like Agile Business Continuity could help businesses better understand how DR and BC should be planned and managed to help businesses do better, rather than simply reply to stock company audit questions.
- IT hiring difficulties. Attracting and retaining skilled staff is increasingly complicated by a fast-changing IT environment. Use of outsourcing runs the risk of putting the IT of an enterprise in the hands of people who know little or nothing about the business goals of the enterprise.
IT should do more good than harm (or indeed, no harm at all). But businesses must also understand that IT is also a two-edged sword, and that self-inflicted injuries are a real danger too.