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Rob Price: Technology Blind Spots: Is Lack of Visibility Leaving Your Business Exposed?

Written by Rob Price, Senior Specialist Solutions Consultant and Global Lead for Risk & Compliance at Snow Software

One of the most concerning issues for IT leaders and organisations in 2021 is the impact of technology blind spots. Snow Software’s 2021 IT Priorities Report found that an awareness gap still exists between IT leaders and employees when it comes to unmanaged and unaccounted for technology. For example, while both groups agree that security is the primary problem caused by technology blind spots, there is a 20-point difference between IT leaders (72%) and employees (52%) who believe it is an issue. And concerningly, 16% of workers don’t believe unmanaged or unaccounted for technology causes any business issues at all.

Any business operating today is putting itself at risk if it doesn’t identify and address technology blind spots. The repercussions can include unexpected costs, government fines and contractual breaches to name just a few issues. Yet the gap in understanding where risks lie in an organization shows the challenge of digital enablement, education and communication across enterprises.

Risk around the world

The report, which surveyed 1,000 IT leaders and 3,000 workers across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, found data that suggests COVID-19 has created new concerns and challenges for the IT discipline. However, organisations with complete insight and governance across their technology ecosystem are better positioned to deliver on their priorities even in the current climate. This makes the current disparity between IT leadership and worker sentiment even more significant. While the issue is global, there were some notable differences between different countries. Depending on where your staff is located, you may need to adjust your approach.

  • Germany had the highest percentage of employees (22%) who felt that unmanaged or unaccounted for technologies weren’t an issue, compared to the US (12%), the UK (14%) and Australia (15%).
  • Australia had the highest percentage of IT leaders concerned with security, where 77% of those surveyed said it was the number one issue caused by technology blind spots, followed closely behind the US (74%), UK (70%) and Germany (67%).
  • Australia also tied with the UK for the highest percentage of employees (58%) who agreed with IT leaders that security was the top problem that resulted from unmanaged and unaccounted for technology, compared the US (49%) and Germany (45%). The biggest gap between employees and leaders was in the US at 25 points.
  • In the UK, IT leaders listed compliance (51%), privacy (48%) and financial risk (45%) as the next biggest concerns after security. UK employees were close to their IT counterparts with their views on privacy (40%) but were 17 and 13 points lower on compliance and financial risk, respectively.
  • 46% of German employees responded that privacy was the top issue stemming from unmanaged and unaccounted for technology, making them the only group to rank another issue ahead of security.

Shining a light on your technology blind spots

Gaining and maintaining visibility across your technology ecosystem should be priority number one for any organisation concerned about blind spots. According to the report though, it seems like it will be an uphill battle for many – 63% of global IT leaders indicated that technology management had become more difficult over the past 12 months.

For those that can achieve this visibility and incorporate governance practices, the data suggests there is a significant benefit. While only 14% of IT leaders surveyed indicated that they had mature technology intelligence – or confidence in their understanding of how their tech investments impact their larger organisation – this pool also seems to have a stronger security posture and is better able to rein in spend, among other things.

For this group, 100% strongly agreed that they could identify and address known vulnerabilities across their ecosystem. In addition, 100% also indicated that they could accurately report on spend, identify duplicate and overlapping functionality to optimise that spend and predictably stay on budget when it comes to cloud spend.

If all else fails, fall back on best practices

Of course, fully banishing blind spots requires an important collaborator – your employee base.

It’s essential that organisations have ongoing communication, training and enablement for employees, especially at such a critical and pressurised time. With remote and hybrid working here to stay in 2021, these new ways of working are one of many factors exacerbating the potential risk landscape right now.

But mitigating risk is not just about security. Unmanaged technology can lead to soaring IT expenses, unexpected true-up costs, fines, contractual breaches and more. With more uncertainty ahead in 2021, organisations should re-evaluate how they are managing their overall technology stack and the data stored on it to appropriately mitigate an increase in these business risks.