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Dysfunctional cyber, network teams disrupt digital transformation

Despite shared goals, combative and dysfunctional relationships within specialist tech teams are putting digital transformation projects at risk, according to a report

Digital transformation projects worth billions of pounds are being jeopardised by poor relationships between cyber security and networking teams, according to cloud security firm Netskope, which has released a new study exploring how a lack of collaboration between specialist teams can hamper large IT projects.

The poll of CIOs and IT pros at organisations with headcounts of over 5,000 drew on input from across Europe, as well as Latin America and North America. It found that in Europe, 54% of CIOs said failure to collaborate properly stopped their organisation from realising the benefits of digital transformation, even though 45% of networking teams and security teams in the region sit within the same group and report to the same person.

A slightly lower proportion, 43%, of European IT pros said their security and networking teams didn’t really work together all that much, and 46% of security pros and 48% of networking pros described the relationship between the two teams in negative terms. Among the terms used to describe the relationship were “combative”, “dysfunctional”, “frosty” and “irrelevant”.

Andre Stewart, VP and MD EMEA at Netskope, said: “All big companies have their politics and often different divisions compete for budget or strategic importance at the board level but digital transformation is happening now. A more dispersed workforce using a greater number of apps for greater efficiency is creating exponential data growth and a much broader attack surface for hackers.

“That means network transformation and security transformation must happen now with digital transformation. Given this evident divide between networking and security teams, CEOs and/or CIOs must get involved or the progress and competitive advantage that could be reaped from digital transformation will be weak.”

Stewart said the insights should be viewed with alarm given the scale of ongoing digital transformation projects – recent statistics from IDC suggest enterprises are on course to spend $6.8tn (£4.9tn/€5.67tn) between 2020 and 2023, and about 85% of the Netskope research participants said they were currently working on a digital transformation project, or had just completed one, with 56% of these projects involving both security and networking technology.

That said, both security and networking professionals tended to identify similar priorities driving their activity, including boosting productivity across the wider organisation, improving visibility and control, and expanding infrastructure to support growth.

Under the surface, there also appeared to be considerable agreement on some key points, with 82% of both security and networking pros stating that because security is built into the network architecture, it is part of the networking team’s overall responsibility. Security and network pros also tended to agree that in general, security was the organisation’s biggest challenge, more so since the pandemic began.

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