Why Security Needs to Understand Digital Transformation: A Primer
By Don von Hollen, Business Innovation and Support Team Lead- City of Calgary Corporate Security; and Kathleen Kotwica, EVP and Chief Knowledge Strategist, Security Executive Council and Principal Analyst, Security Leadership Research Institute
What Is Digital Transformation?Digital transformation is an end state that is generally preceded by two other steps. In defining digital transformation, it's helpful to look at the three together.
As you can see, digital transformation is less to do with the technology itself than the culture shift that drives the technology's use.
Executive leadership will often pursue digital transformation with one or more of these outcomes in mind:
Common technologies used to reach these ends may include:
What digital transformation looks like differs from organization to organization. However, in one example presented in the MIT Sloan Management Review report "Strategy, Not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation," an online travel company used wearable sensors on employees to identify patterns of collaboration by analyzing how and where employees talked to one another. The results showed that when more employees ate lunch together, they shared more insights, which led to higher productivity. A simple change based on this analysis – increasing the size of the tables where the workforce ate lunch – had a direct and measurable impact on employees' ability to produce.
What Is the Impact on Security?At first brush, it may not look like this concept has a lot to do with the security function. Chances are that digital transformation isn't on the radar of most security leaders.
The critical thing to understand, though, is that it is on the radar of executive leadership.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "Existing operations and legacy technology infrastructure pose a risk to companies that can't transform quickly enough to compete against companies that were 'born digital,'" and executives' concern about this competitive disadvantage has surged in the last two years.
The SEC believes that the security industry will find opportunities for digital transformation specifically in the areas of risk assessment/management and the integrated optimization between IT and corporate security. But before they pursue these possibilities, security leaders need to be asking where their organizations stand on the path to transformation and where their executive leaders want the company to go. Is the company even on this path? Only with this understanding can the security function position itself appropriately and successfully within the corporate strategy.
Are You a Candidate for Digital Transformation?Once you know where your company wants to go, it's also essential to think about how prepared your function is for digital transformation.
How do you assess if there's a business value in moving toward transformation at this time? At what level are your services now? Remember that in security's case, the customers whose experience you may be looking to improve are likely internal customers. Could you benefit from digitization but not yet digitalization? Would it make sense to pursue the goal of increasing efficiency through digital technology, but not yet innovation?
Remember, there are no blanket solutions. The right equation for you will depend on your current circumstances, conditions, culture, and resources (what we at the SEC call your C4R).
For more resources on this topic see Security Program Strategy & Operations: Emerging Issues
Watch our 3-minute video to learn about how the SEC works with security leaders. Contact us at: contact @secleader.com.
Copyright Security Executive Council. Last Updated: September 10, 2020
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1. [CAP stands for Crimes Against Persons, Crimes Against Property. See www.capindex.com] Return to text.