Moving toward a consistent framework for digital security transformation

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By Curtis Price, IDC

Organizations pursuing digital transformation initiatives are typically doing so to achieve a variety of possible business outcomes ranging from improved customer experience to improved operational efficiency. As enterprises plan their digital journeys, they are increasingly moving to a more distributed IT environment where corporate applications reside on premises as well as in public cloud environments, and access to these applications is provided on an anytime, anywhere basis to a variety of endpoint devices.

In this type of environment, there are a number of technology-related issues that will drive enterprises to think about new security risks such as the adoption of new technology, IT architectural migration, and the implementation of new operational processes. While these issues typically drive the front end of a digital transformation plan, security is often viewed as an obstacle to a digital transformation initiative or is an afterthought and only considered after the plan and design of the digital transformation initiative is finalized.

Security as an obstacle to innovation

Technology issues like cloud migration, the proliferation of endpoint devices (or “things”) attached to the network, and the adoption of new technologies like AI and IoT can potentially create new vulnerabilities for attackers to exploit. For some organizations, the thought of digital transformation creating a need for incremental security spend above what is currently being spent can slow the pace of digital transformation or stop it entirely.

The reality is that digital transformation is driven by business objectives and the development of a digital transformation strategy must include security requirements at the outset to minimize potential technology and business risks that cybersecurity represents to an organization. What is needed is a better understanding of the business risks associated with a digital transformation plan and the potential impact to the business if those risks ever materialize.

Attempting to “bolt on” a security strategy after the digital transformation plan is in place can put an organization at significant risk once the transformation plan is implemented by not having the proper controls, processes and technologies in place. Every component of a transformation initiative brings inherent risk, and organizations must rethink their overall security posture and the effectiveness of the current security controls they have in place.

Therefore, in the shift from an organization’s current state of IT operations to their future state, IDC believes that a framework for security that includes the combination of a comprehensive security strategy in conjunction with a digital transformation strategy would provide a guide to help organizations understand where potential risks exist and how best to address the risks inherent in their digital transformation journeys. This approach brings security concerns and technical risk in better alignment to business objectives.

Accelerating the path to digital transformation securely

Reference architectures are commonly used as a template for highlighting the various components of an architecture, their functions, and the interdependencies of the functions provided through a set of interfaces. The objective of the reference architecture is to provide a level of commonality for consistent implementation and reuse. This helps to accelerate the delivery of a technology solution while ensuring consistent implementation.

When considering the architectural changes taking place in enterprise IT environments as organizations execute on their digital transformation strategies, the use of a security reference architecture can help bring business objectives and security concerns in alignment, while also accelerating the path to digital transformation in a secure manner.

Given the challenges businesses face today keeping pace with the ever-changing security threat landscape and the demands for IT to be an enabler to digital transformation, a consistent approach to implementing security at the strategy, operational and technical level is a business imperative. The use of a holistic framework that provides a consistent methodology, uses a common language and provides a step-by-step guide for embedding security into any digital initiative will help organizations streamline transformation and accelerate the time to realize real business value.


Curtis Price is the Program Vice President of IDC’s Infrastructure Services group. He oversees all research efforts within IDC’s Network Life-Cycle Services, Wireless Infrastructure Services, and Software and Hardware Support Services programs. Mr. Price provides expert insight and analysis of the trends and market dynamics impacting the network services market within the enterprise and telecommunications sectors.

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