Company Execs Are Concerned About Securing Data
November 20, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Server maker Unisys has a mainframe heritage, and that means it has a deep understanding of the security issues that large companies and government organizations face. To get a better understanding of what business managers are thinking, Unisys has launched a new metric called the Trusted Enterprise Index, which the company hopes will give it some insight over time about the impact of the issues of trust, privacy, and security on business practices around the globe.
To kick off the index, Unisys hired the Ponemon Institute, a private research firm, to conduct a survey of 1,700 senior-level corporate and technology leaders at companies large and small in the United States and in the United Kingdom. According to that survey, one third of the executives polled said that they do not think that their own companies can handle private or sensitive information; a third of those polled also did not think that most of their business partners consider them to be trustworthy when it comes to sensitive information, either.
Those are two shocking statistics, not just because of their magnitude, but because of the raw honesty that companies expressed. Unisys said in its announcement of the Trusted Enterprise Index that there is a big disconnect between business managers and IT managers when it came to trust and security. “IT leaders placed a much stronger emphasis on protecting privacy and IT security while business leaders focused on more financial-oriented measures,” Unisys said in its report.
In general, business managers think that risk management and good corporate governance are more important to building trust than IT managers believe it is, and they also believe that negative cash flow, weak fiscal management, and a lack of shared company values will erode trust more than IT managers do. This is, of course, not surprising in the least. Of course business managers believe this. On the IT side of the table, IT managers think that having a good image in the media, intellectual property protection, and responsible marketing build trust, and they also believe that having inadequate IP protection, weak privacy for data, and undependable IT systems erode trust more than do business leaders. Of course IT managers believe this.
None of these are opposing ideas, of course. But there is never enough budget to do everything, and that has always been the problem in the struggles between upper management and IT management at companies around the world. While the job has evolved from vice president of data processing to MIS manager to chief information officer–with the consequent tightening of the ties between business and IT managers–the IT operation is still often in contention with other business operations. And that is usually because IT managers oversell what they can do and business managers do not understand how rigid and cranky hardware and software both really are.