May 25 2021

Knowledge 2021: Managing Risk, Security and Cost Despite Disruption

With proper IT visibility and strong planning, businesses can manage growing risks to operations.

Security can present challenges for businesses. As technology changes, so do vulnerabilities that can lead to downtime and loss of revenue. With changes to the way we work pushing organizations into new digital environments, these challenges have only grown.

These challenges range from visibility into IT to defending an ever-expanding attack surface due to remote work, and even disruptions caused by natural disasters, according to Jeff Hausman, vice president and general manager for operations management and data foundations at ServiceNow.

“The bottom line is that there are a myriad of concerns that businesses need to be prepared to address,” Hausman said in a keynote at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2021 virtual event. “Often, they feel overwhelmed to manage them.”

This landscape is only going to grow in size and complexity, added Vasant Balasubramanian, vice president and general manager for the risk business unit at ServiceNow.

“Digital transformation, global markets, viral media — this is our future,” he said.

“The reality is that our world and our businesses are more interconnected and complex than ever before,” Balasubramanian said. “If we don’t understand our risks and plan for them, we simply don’t know how fast we can run.”

Managing the Risks of Unexpected Circumstances

Global events of the past year show that organizations need to approach risk management differently. It isn’t only about cybersecurity and defending against hacks but about building an operational infrastructure that can withstand various kinds of logistical curveballs.

“If disruption happens in that supply chain, you want to be able to say, ‘I’ve got other sources,’” Hausman said.

He added that businesses’ growing dependency on technology expands the kinds of vulnerabilities and disruptions that they can be exposed to. This could be at the hands of bad actors, such as in recent hacks on energy companies, or due to inclement weather or human error.

“Companies need a means of protecting themselves, being prepared against the unexpected,” Hausman said. “They’ve got to be able to keep their e-commerce sites, their banking services, their logistics applications and everything else up and running.”

Leveraging technology to achieve this can set organizations apart from their competitors, Balasubramanian added.

“Show me an innovative, efficient, technology-savvy company with a strong understanding of its interconnected risks, and I’ll show you a market leader that will go far,” he said.

Building Resilience with Integrated Visibility

Most of the risks facing organizations are outside of their control, but they need to be armed with the right tools to respond.

“There are lots of risks, security vulnerabilities and disconnected siloes across the enterprise,” said Balasubramanian. “The question is, how do we get ahead of it? How do we connect the dots and use that to make better decisions?”

The first step toward building resilience is knowing your infrastructure, which can be challenging in complex environments.

“It’s hard to do this if you don’t understand what hardware, software and cloud assets are running your critical services, or if they’re nearing their end of life,” Hausman said.

WATCH: Learn how to support your remote workforce without compromising security.

It’s crucial for businesses to know which system is supporting what applications. That way, in the event something does go wrong, leaders can prioritize fixes and restore systems effectively.

“Having that intelligence at your fingertips is key so that the risk team can act appropriately,” Hausman said. He added that ServiceNow’s Now Platform can bring that intelligence and visibility into one dashboard, integrating risk and resilience into daily work.

“Resilience isn’t just about responding to incidents after they’ve happened,” said Balasubramanian. “It’s also about surfacing risks so you can proactively manage them and avoid a problem.”

With the right approach, Hausman said, organizations can ensure they’re protected both before and after the unexpected strikes.

“The world’s going to continue to be volatile,” he said. “Events such as hacks, natural disasters, even blockages in the Suez Canal — they’re still going to happen. Companies are going to have to deal with more and more being in the digital space. But you can do this. You can work better, faster, and become stronger.”


Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.