According to research by HPE Aruba Networking, 64% of IT leaders believe that cybersecurity concerns are negatively impacting their organization’s willingness to invest in innovative tech. This is perhaps unsurprising as 91% either consider emerging tech a danger or admit to having already experienced a breach because of it. But this comes at a time when IT leaders must be empowered to embrace tech innovation such as generative AI to accelerate business-critical transformation – something 89% say their organization requires high levels of over the next 12 months to succeed.
With headlines full of the promise of the latest technologies, the research, which features responses from 2,100 IT leaders across 21 countries, examined how organizations are currently approaching the interplay between tech innovation and risk. The report also sheds light on the role IT leaders and the network have to play in facilitating safer innovation.
The rise of innovation
A vast majority (95%) of IT leaders state that digitization is fundamentally important to unlocking new revenue streams in the next 12 months. In fact, both IT and the broader business are pushing to bring in new technologies that can boost innovation in terms of how the business functions and what it offers. As they look to increase tech innovation, organizations are turning to emerging technology, and are currently using or planning to bring in 5G (91%), AI and machine learning (ML) solutions (89%), or IoT and smart sensors (88%).
Despite this push, only 45% of IT leaders describe their organization as innovative – and worryingly, even less describe it as secure (44%).
Managing the growing risk
There is also a growing gulf between tech demands and the IT team’s capability to manage it all – 66% of IT leaders have concerns about their organization’s ability to keep up with the latest tech and digital demands, and 55% say their IT teams are already stretched to capacity.
Combining this rise in technology use with the lack of resource and broader trends around remote working, hybrid cloud, and distributed centers of data, organizations are facing greater exposure than ever.
“Business needs have evolved, and teams are increasingly deploying new technologies to meet these needs. However, security measures that can support the rise of emerging tech must evolve alongside them,” said Scott Calzia, vice president marketing, HPE Aruba Networking. “For IT teams, this means realizing that AI networking –– can support their teams in being more efficient, alleviate laborious admin tasks, and further their security strategy by delivering built-in protection.”
The role of the network
According to the research, there is growing recognition of the network’s role in business transformation – and, in particular, of the link between the network and both security and innovation. In fact, 64% of IT leaders believe the network can support cybersecurity effectiveness and 61% believe it can support greater innovation. And IT leaders are investing accordingly – organizations are starting to press ahead with network-based security solutions including, Security Service Edge (SSE) or similar edge-to-cloud security (89%), policy-based network access control (88%), and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) security (87%).
But evidence suggests that they still need help tying these investments together to realize their benefits – only 47% of IT leaders believe their current network can deliver or support flexible enterprise security and even less see its role in supporting emerging technologies (37%).
Calzia concludes: “While pressure to innovate isn’t going to ease, IT leaders need to find a secure, streamlined way to overcome the risk conundrum. This requires a unified SASE (SSE + SD-WAN) approach to bring together all disparate network technologies and truly deliver a network capable of supporting safe innovation. Given the prevalence of hybrid working, a strong network security foundation that includes using Zero Trust principles is a good starting point to then guide investments in SASE, SSE, and NAC.”