COVID-19 transformed the trend
Since we have started our business in Taiwan, we have sponsored the iThome CyberSec events. And, every year as we sponsor the event, I have a chance to write about security trends. This is a good opportunity for me to think about the current IT industry situation and think about how the IT security industry will be in the near future.
Because of COVID-19, 2020 was the year in which many people were forced to work differently than before. And, this is still continuing today. At this moment in February 2021, only 10% of employees are going to the office in our headquarters and others are working remotely. Fortunately in Taiwan, we can work normally although we need to wear masks to go around. But still, there are many industries affected by COVID-19.
Recently, I have noticed some changes caused by COVID-19. I noticed that business society has become more digital friendly. Previously, not only in Taiwan but also in Japan, meeting in person was quite a must for many companies so that our sales members always needed to go to customer places. However, there are more companies accepting online meetings recently.
Since business is a series of transactions between two entities(or companies), in fact, there were a lot of tasks which could not transform into digital because business culture did not allow it. No matter how much your company would like to transform a task into digital, if the opponent entities such as companies or government institutions would not accept in a digital format, digital transformation was not possible. Signing contracts or sending invoices are some examples of these. But now in Japan, there are several big IT companies declaring that they will only sign digitally for the contracts between companies.
I’m starting to see some rising trends that digital transformation is pushed forward by the transformation of business society becoming digital friendly.
Basics of digital transformation(DX)
It is obvious that a company needs profit to grow their business. But, how are the profits made? Simply, profit is the positive gap between revenue and cost. It also can be said as the gap between input and output. Less input with greater output is the key to maximize profit. And, productivity is the amount gap between input and output.
By adopting IT, we have replaced many of manual works to be done in digital. By replacing tasks to digital, we can have the same output with less input. For a simple example, compare searching a person in the physical directory and data in a spreadsheet application. In the physical directory, you need to look for a name by looking at each page but in the spreadsheet, you can search and jump to the person you would like to see. I believe it is obvious that there is less input for searching in spreadsheets.
Digital transformation(DX) means not only replacing manual tasks into digital but also replacing old digital technology to updated digital technology for better productivity. Therefore, how digital transformation(DX) is different from IT-nization(IT化) is that digital transformation means not only “manual-digital” transformation but also “manual-digital-digital” transformation. Adopting CRM systems instead of managing customer data in spreadsheets is one of examples of digital transformation. In any cases, the purpose of digital transformation is to maximize productivity with updated digital technology.
“Best-of-Breed” can be the key for a better productivity
American psychologist, Adam Grant shows in his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” that people who used Chrome or Firefox as their browser are likely to stay at their jobs longer than people who used Safari or Internet Explorer. Plus, they were people more productive with less likely to miss work. This is not because Chrome and Firefox are better browsers but those people who used those browsers had the mind to explore and chose other browsers than default to make better performance.
This means, the one who explores for a better solution will have better performance. And, this fact can apply to a company also. A company which explores for a better productivity solution will have more chances of growth in their business.
“Best-of-Breed” strategy is to choose the best product which meets your business requirements. Compared to this, there is an opposite strategy called “All-in-One” or “Best-of-Suite”. “All-in-One” strategy is good to start where you are not familiar with new tools. But, to improve productivity, after understanding the tool, I believe switching to “Best-of-breed” strategy will provide more chances to grow.
IT manager transformation
About 10 years ago, I was in charge of IT in our headquarters working on adopting cloud email systems to our headquarters. At that time, most of my job was to maintain existing servers to make sure servers were running properly, other than to support IT on our employees. Today, our IT manager of headquarters spends most of time finding or trying “Best-of-Breed” products for better productivity. Since all of our systems are now all based on SaaS, our IT manager has no servers to maintain. Although, supporting our employees in IT remains the same, the job description of our IT manager has changed significantly. I feel digital transformation(DX) will also transform how the IT department of a company needs to be.
What is security harmonization
Compared to the “All-in-One” solution, many say that the disadvantage of “Best-of-Breed” products is that they are less capable to be integrated. However, “Best-of-Breed” vendors know that they will only cover certain tasks so that they will add more functions for integrations. Plus, there are vendors who provide solutions to integrate so that integration will be easily done. Therefore, I believe integration is not that big of an issue. In this meaning, our product HENNGE One Access Control can be said as one of integration solutions which will provide a single sign-on feature for different “Best-of-Breed” products.
Even if we say “IT security” in a simple way, there are different aspects. Preventing malware infection, backup data to protect data from mismanupulation of employees and protecting servers from DDoS attacks are all security issues but need different technology to solve. From this, we can say the “Best-of-Breed” strategy also works for the IT security area.
I’m using the term “harmonization” to describe smooth integration between different products making the best solution as a whole. And, “security harmonization” means to integrate multiple solutions to achieve a rigid security.
Security harmonization with HENNGE One
In order to have continuous growth, having high productivity is important. And, improvement of productivity can be achieved by the “Best-of-Breed” strategy making business operations as efficient as possible. In addition, HENNGE One Access Control can be one of integration solutions which provide a single sign-on feature with higher and unified security level.
Now, to present the beauty of security harmonization, let me show an example using HENNGE One Access Control. HENNGE One Access Control is a solution which will provide a secure single sign-on feature for multiple cloud services. And, HENNGE One Access Control will prevent unauthorized access to your cloud services.
The key to prevent unauthorized access is to make sure the person is the one authorized to sign-in. Today, the most common way of sign-in is by ID and password. However, ID in most cases is an email which can be easily assumed. And, there are always a certain number of people who will set easily predictable passwords. As a result, many think ID and password are not enough and multi-factor authentication becomes popular as a more secure way to sign-in. In multi-factor authentication, usually the system will send OTP(One Time Password) to make sure the person signing-in is the person who owns a registered mobile device. This is quite a secure way to sign-in, but the sign-in process becomes quite complicated.
Today, most mobile devices have biometrics sign-in features such as using fingerprint or by face recognition. This means, the person successfully login to the device can relate to the person who owns the device. HENNGE One has a product called Device Certificate which is used by installing a digital certification key to the device. Since a digital certificate is related to a user so that HENNGE One will allow the user owning the device to sign-in using the digital certificate. Although, HENNGE One doesn’t have any biometric authentication function, by combining a biometric authentication feature of a device to sign-in to the device with device certificate sign-in feature of HENNGE One, the user can harmonize the solution as if user can single sign-on to multiple cloud services by the biometric authentication to the device. I believe this is a quite secure way to sign-in yet maintaining simplicity of sign-in process.
Business environment is constantly changing and we have learned that there are situations where natural disasters such as COVID-19 force us to change our business behaviors. From these facts, I believe the best way to survive in business is to constantly try to improve business operations to fit the current situation. And, I believe this is one of the reasons why people are realizing the importance of digital transformation(DX).
However, since every company has different styles of pursuing their business, I believe there is no single solution which will solve all problems for all companies. Therefore, it is important for each company to explore solutions which will fit their business style. To do so, I believe “Best-of-Breed” strategy is a way which every company can try.
Lastly, during the course of digital transformation, we hope our solution will help companies to harmonize their “Best-of-Breed” solutions for its efficiency and security.