Time to Heed Some Digital Business Advice from Ben Franklin

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July 4th is always a good time to appreciate the perspective of one the most beloved founding fathers of the  United States. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Penned by Ben Franklin at a time when America rebels feared being hanged for treason, those words still resonate with business and IT leaders over two centuries later.

IT security has never been more threatened.   Just about every business leader now recognizes the need to create a digital business strategy  in order to stay relevant to their customers. New competitors that are leveraging advances in IT are making gains in almost every vertical industry. The potential those startups have to dethrone even the most well-heeled institutions are immense. A wave of financial technology (FinTech) companies are well along the path to doing to traditional banks what Uber and AirBnB did to the livery and hotel industries.

The first and single biggest challenge any company encounters when trying to implement a digital business strategy is security. While customers may love the new services being provided, any compromise of their security often ends with the customer reconsidering their options; not to mention a fine from one or more regulatory bodies.

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As troubling as that may be, however, some sort of IT security incident is all but inevitable. Gartner earlier this month published a forecast earlier this month that suggests 60 percent of digital business will suffer a major service failure due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk. While that prospect may give many organizations cause for pause, it should not deter them from implementing a digital business strategy. The challenge is to find a way to implement that digital business strategy in a way that minimizes those IT security risks.

Arguably, every business initiative is fraught with risk. Business leaders have been factoring those risks into their business models for centuries. For as long as there has been commerce there have been bandits. Cybercriminals are only the latest manifestation of an element of society that has existed for time immemorial. Merchants have been investing in security to protect their goods and services since the first caravans began cross the deserts. Digital business is no different. There will never be such a thing as perfect security. But with enough prudent IT security measures in place cybercriminals will be deterred.

Digital business is clearly going to be the lifeblood of the modern economy. In much the same way governments dealt with pirates in the days of old cybercriminals will be pursued to the ends of the earth. But that takes time. Business and IT leaders need to recognize that in the meantime IT security on one hand is a very real concern. Then again, so too is staying in business. Between those two extremes lies a digital business strategy that should take into account all the classic risks, including IT security, associated with any new business venture.

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike also blogs about emerging cloud technology for Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda.

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