Barriers to Digital Transformation: Document Security in a Digital World| By |Lisa Croft

We’ve established that digital transformation is an important initiative for organizations, on both B2B and B2C levels. However, several barriers to digital transformation prevent organizations from taking the full leap. At the top of the list of concerns is security. Security is a chief concern for most organizations, and rightly so. How we transfer and store documents is critical for creating trust as well as for company integrity. Before we dig into how we can ensure document security, let’s look at why security is important for every transaction we make within our organizations.

Why is document security important?

You should consider security any time you share a document with anyone, whether internally or externally. Though the why is different for different documents and situations, the when is the same: always. Whether it’s to protect the document from being copied or reused, or to completely secure the information and document, including confidential or private information, security should always be top of mind.

The 2016 Internet Security Threat Report shows that all organizations, large or small, are susceptible to attacks at any time. More important, however, is that analysts found vulnerabilities in more than three quarters of sites scanned for the report. With attackers taking the long-game approach to data theft, more companies are vulnerable, and it’s likely that they will be attacked more than once—so it’s not a “one and done” issue. Security is an ever-changing process, therefore it’s important to view it as ongoing rather than a one-time solution.

Ensuring document security is not only important because failing to address security can open your organization to attacks, but it’s also a critical component of creating trust within your organization and with your customers. From sending digital documents, digitally signing forms, and managing digital rights, document security touches every aspect of an organization. Given the ubiquitousness of risk, security should be every organization’s top priority.

What happens when we don’t consider security?

Ensuring document security seems like a no-brainer, but many organizations don’t take the time to think about what it could mean if they don’t emphasize security from the get-go. From a business perspective, one of the greatest potential downfalls of not focusing on security is a loss of revenue. Data breaches can cost companies, on average, $221 per lost or stolen record, which can equal up to huge amounts depending on the size of a company’s database.

Another problem that arises out of placing security on the backburner is that in the end, you end up with a slower time to market for your software product. Security will always be a top concern for customers and clients, so when a product does not meet their standards, the development team will be forced to go back to the drawing board. If a product is nearing completion, having to go back to square one to address security concerns can add ample time to a product’s release date.

And this is just scratching the surface of issues that can arise from not considering security early in any digital transformation or innovation process. Ultimately, it comes down to losing trust, which will always affect a company’s bottom line.

How can we ensure document security?

IT Involvement. Recent research suggests that a key component of digital security is including IT teams in digital transformation plans from the beginning. IT teams are the front line of security for an organization, so their involvement in the transformation process is critical. Ninety percent of organizations surveyed said that IT teams could be a business enabler when brought into the conversations early enough. However, only 18 percent of those same companies said that IT was involved in all aspects of digital transformation. That’s quite a disparity that must be addressed by companies on the path to digital transformation. Including IT teams in the conversation from the get-go is as simple as being transparent and inclusive during the planning stages.

IT teams can get more involved in the security conversations and conversions in a variety of ways. The traditional silo approach to corporate management should be replaced with more cross-functional teams. Pairing traditional IT teams with data scientists who analyze large amounts of data can put the IT team in a better position to create data-centric security instead of the classic perimeter approach. Also, building a team of cross-functional document security champions can help reinforce the importance of security across all departments. This emphasis on importance gets the IT team involved in the earliest of planning stages for digital transformation, which is key to security success.

Software Research. Security strategies are much like the ocean; always changing. Digital transformation as a strategy is accelerating the need to rethink cyber security. The fact that the key decision makers are spending more time and budget on security means that product research is even more important than in previous years. Throwing money at the security problem doesn’t help unless it’s being spent on the right products.

There is an ever-growing market of esignature platforms, document encryption tools, and email security add-ons, but they are not all created equal. A product should be designed with security as the number one priority and have continued focus, spending, and transparency on the efforts around security. If it wasn’t, then it’s time to find different software. An example of a software company moving in the right direction regarding security is Adobe. Recent upgrades to the Adobe Document Cloud, in particular Adobe Sign/Acrobat DC, focus on security standards for digital signatures. Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Sign now enable digital signatures, the most advanced and secure type of electronic signatures used for things like healthcare forms or mortgage applications, in any browser or on any mobile device.

Beyond esignatures, the upgrades include solutions for mobile as well as web, so users can ensure security for their entire digital identity, not just their signature. This is the type of security-first thinking that makes a product ideal for ensuring security at all levels of your business workflows.

Moving Forward

Security concerns are an important barrier to digital transformation, but as we’ve illustrated, they can be overcome if you think of addressing security as an ongoing process that involves all teams. The right products coupled with strong IT involvement can alleviate security concerns for both internal and external stakeholders. Finding products that were created with security as their top priority and then getting buy-in from leadership and customers with targeted messaging can go a long way to getting through the security barrier to digital transformation.

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