By Tim Boivin
Talk about your budget blues: due to the pandemic, Gartner recently cut its Global IT Spending Outlook for 2020. Instead of the 3.4% growth for the year the analyst firm was predicting back in December 2019, it now expects spending to drop dramatically, by 8%.
Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 66% of decision makers have turned their focus to cost optimization, while 34% are prioritizing operational efficiencies, according to the Technology Business Management Council.
Our customers around the world are no different. However, they were better prepared than most because they had already invested in Total Access Control™ (TAC). TAC is a Zero Trust Access (ZTA) solution that enables them to consolidate their technology stack and save millions of dollars – all while strengthening their business continuity and security when the pandemic hit.
Today, we are kicking off a series of blog posts on cost optimization that will examine in detail how organizations can consolidate their IT solutions through a Zero Trust Access Control approach to save money.
The New Normal’s Numbers
While these spending shifts are to be expected given the dramatic impact of the pandemic on the business world, your IT team still has to deal with significant security challenges in our new normal. The hackers have not gone away – in fact, they see even more opportunity to attack with the rapid proliferation of employees working from home (WFH), logging in to overextended corporate VPNs through poorly secured home routers and personal devices.
And those remote workers aren’t going away anytime soon. Consider these seven nuggets from a recent Lenovo survey of workers in 10 developed countries around the world:
- 72% of employees say their work location has changed due to the pandemic.
- 52% of those employees expect their place of work to be forever altered outside a traditional work setting, even when the Covid-19 restrictions are eventually lifted.
- 63% feel they are more productive working from home than when they were in the office.
- 48% of employees have a positive perspective on remote work completely displacing working in a physical office, with 27% of employees saying they’re “happy” and 21% “excited.”
- 46% of employees feel their employers are only in the middle of the pack or falling behind in meeting their tech needs.
- 7 in 10 employees purchased new technology to navigate the WFH world.
- 1 in 3 employees worry technology can make them more vulnerable to data breaches and hacking (the top pain point for their WFH experiences).
As these numbers indicate, there’s no going back. The challenges you face today are how to:
- Lessen the reliance on notoriously vulnerable remote access solutions like VPNs.
- Streamline the sprawling amount of security products within your infrastructure.
- Significantly reduce the expensive volume of support calls generated by your remote workforce.
- Reevaluate whether applications such as Mobile Device Management (MDM) are as cost-effective – and secure – as they should be.
- Strengthen your existing security against today’s threats.
- Do all of this while focusing on cost optimization.
A Permanent Shift
Yes, corporate IT teams have done an amazing job of keeping everyone connected since the arrival of the pandemic, turning on a dime this spring to provide remote access to their employees around the world. But consider this: a Gartner survey in June found that 82% of companies intend to permit remote working some of the time after the pandemic. Nearly half intend to allow employees to work remotely full time going forward while 43% said they will grant employees flex days and 42% will provide flex hours.
Obviously, many of the traditional concerns regarding remote working – maintaining corporate culture, lower productivity, too many distractions, shadow IT, bandwidth issues, and above all, the costs – are not as much of an issue when your company’s very survival is on the line. Remote working has proven not only to be a success, but in fact it became a critical life preserver for many companies today…and will be well into the future.
Still, what hasn’t been dispelled in the new normal of today’s WFH world are the security concerns. For instance, phishing attacks shot up 667% in the first month of the lockdown. 270 million malware attacks were launched in the first quarter of 2020. It is plain to see that the hackers haven’t stopped, and neither can you.
Simply put, you can’t afford the budget blues when it comes to enterprise IT security. With enterprises becoming more highly distributed, threat actors will continue to greatly amplify ever more sophisticated attacks across the board. This was already a significant challenge for organizations trying to deal with decades-old legacy applications and whack-a-mole security solutions. Too frequently these have been installed in a patchwork approach and often don’t even communicate to each other. And it’s only become worse as organizations continue to move their critical resources to the cloud.
However, instead of looking at this as yet another onus thrust upon the IT team, I would encourage you to look at it as a golden opportunity to rethink your security profile and become a more cost-conscious organization – with an even stronger, simpler and more unified defense designed specifically for today’s perimeterless world.
There are several avenues where you can quickly shift gears yet again to adjust to the realities of tighter curves in your budgets as they relate to your roadmap. In blog posts over the next two months, we’ll examine how a Zero Trust Access approach is more cost-effective and flexible, all while making your security on premise and in the cloud more robust and resilient than ever.
This series will look at how to more cost-effectively secure and manage access to business resources. It will also explain how to reduce costs by targeting legacy technologies such as VPNs, RDP, SSO, Multifactor Authentication, endpoint inspection (both corporate and personal devices), application firewalls, cloud access control, Internet of Things (IoT) and much more. Areas we will focus on will include:
- Ways to combine the functionality of multiple disparate technologies into a single solution that controls access to all your resources, wherever they may be hosted – on-premise or in the cloud.
- What you will need to deftly implement Zero Trust Access quickly across your infrastructure to save both money and time.
- How you can strengthen security across the enterprise by implementing stronger policies designed to evaluate a user’s full context of access – both remotely and in the office – before granting or denying access to your critical resources.
- Some of the critical business continuity, bandwidth, tech support and reporting issues that a Zero Trust Access approach can help your administrators to resolve.
- The importance of building the security foundation now for your digital transformation roadmap, with a Zero Trust Access approach that makes the lives of both end users and IT administrators easier, optimizes your investment, and does it all in one solution.
Throughout this series, we will showcase examples of leading organizations in healthcare, critical infrastructure, government, and financial services that have all been able to improve productivity, gain more granular control over access, and greatly bolster security across their infrastructure with a Zero Trust Access approach. And to do so without having to bust their IT budgets.