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Weigh The Potential Costs of IT Conveniences

Ensure all new IT adoptions are accompanied with data security features.

Often, modern technological advances prove to be sources of cost-efficient innovation, allowing businesses to cut out error-ridden tasks or accelerate operations at the press of a button. But many CFOs will tell you that placing too much stock in the latest technology trends can sometimes backfire, causing more harm than good to an already budget-conscious enterprise. Make sure any IT investment has been well-researched and proven within the industry to offer a high return with limited risks to the company in the short or long term.

Don't be tempted by convenience
Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute, explained through a new report that there are many new IT innovations on the market that combine the user-friendly interface of a consumer product with the business demands of modern network applications and cloud computing platforms. These consumer-oriented collaboration tools offer significant benefits to companies looking to expand into new markets, support a more mobile workforce and enhance interactions with partners worldwide. The cost-efficient, extremely convenient solutions, however, also pose several risks to companies that get too caught up in the trend and fail to take the necessary precautions before adopting.

Consumerized business tools such as mobile devices, file-sharing programs and other cloud-based solutions have evolved over time to be more in line with similar technologies offered to individuals for private use. As a result, many firms will adopt the programs quickly, as they are easy to master and compatible with most existing infrastructure. However, the collaboration capabilities of the solutions make it easy to not only share information between users but also have business-critical information hacked, stolen or corrupted during transfers.

If a mobile device were to be hacked or stolen, for example, all information accessible to that employee is now available to thieves. When information is corrupted, lost or stolen, companies must spend significant time and energy recovering the data and making amends with any partners or clients whose information may have been impacted by the breach. The recovery phase of a security breach typically outweighs any cost benefits enjoyed by selecting the more affordable products, resulting in a major setback for the business. Where executives fail to plan ahead is by only looking at the technology's benefits, not its potential risks. A thorough assessment of the security features that can accompany most solutions would provide a clearer picture of how each tool can be used to enhance business practices as well as what protocol must be in place to protect the information being used, InfoWorld explained.

According to Ponemon's 2013 State of the Endpoint study, 29 percent of employees use consumer-grade file-sharing tools and 21 percent of them regularly leave business-critical information exposed to external threats. Programs such as Google Docs, DropBox and YouSendIt may offer impressive benefits upfront, but when information is compromised the average cost of exposed confidential data is about $194 per record. Nearly half of the organizations analyzed do not have an employee policy in place to govern the use of cloud-based solutions, which can leave an entire network open to malware attacks and in turn slows business and increases IT costs.

While it may seem like IT adoption is a strictly tech-related department, CFOs must stay abreast of the latest decisions and innovations throughout the company. Even the small IT decision can result in serious financial consequences or setbacks that CFOs and other leaders will have to address. 

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