Energy & Utility Management

Driving Data & Decisions

Working From Home Still Needs to Mean Working Securely

It’s no secret that telecommuting or working from home has been on the rise over the last ten years, particularly as high-speed Internet connections have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. Everyone knew that this was the way of the future – thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, “the future” arrived quite a bit faster than most people probably expected.

According to one recent study, at the highest point of the pandemic in May of 2020 roughly 35% of people found themselves working from home indefinitely. A significant percentage of them are expected to continue to do so long after the pandemic has passed us by.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Another study estimated that working from home has the potential to increase productivity by as much as 13%. About 77% of respondents to one Stanford study said that working from home at least a few times per month increased their productivity, allowing them to do more work in less time. It also improved employee satisfaction, while cutting attrition rates by as much as 50%.

Working from home does bring with it its fair share of challenges, too – especially for organizations dealing with inherently sensitive information like accounting firms. All the productivity and performance benefits in the world ultimately won’t mean a thing if employees are suddenly sharing and working with confidential information in an insecure environment.

Recently, the team at M-Files did a survey with Accountancy Age on data security-related issues that accounting firms in particular face when having employees work remotely. The survey’s findings paint a vivid and important picture about how far telecommuting has come, where it all might be headed, and the challenges we’ll need to face along the way.

The Issue With the “Old School” Methods of Communication and Collaboration

Obviously, it’s critically important that accounting professionals have the ability to create, share and collaborate on data with one another – regardless of where they happen to be. When everything shut down and people suddenly found themselves working from home indefinitely during the onset of the pandemic, firms turned to a number of “solutions” to help make this possible – with mixed results along the way.

According to the aforementioned study, some firms took to sending important documents and other pieces of information through the postal service to get it all into the hands of the people who needed it the most. The issue here is that it simply takes too long to get items to employees who depend on it to do their jobs – to say nothing of how this method makes collaboration essentially impossible.

Not only that, but a sudden delay in postal deliveries – like the ones experienced during the last half of 2020 – could grind productivity to a stop. Early on in 2020, three-day USPS mail service was already taking an additional four or five days to reach 99% of recipients. Flash forward to the end of the year, and it was taking an extra 14 days. This, coupled with the potential that a sensitive item could always be lost in the mail with no way to recover it, make this method essentially a non-starter.

Other firms turned to email – a tool that they’ve used successfully in the past. This, too, brings with it a number of issues – chief among them being confidentiality. It’s simply far too easy to click one wrong button or mistype a character and send sensitive client information to the wrong person.

If you’re trying to collaborate on a project with other employees, this too is less than ideal because it creates too many unnecessary steps. If three people need to sign off on a document before it can be approved, Person A has to send it to Person B – at which point the waiting begins. Maybe Person B gets to it today, maybe they don’t. Regardless, Person C literally can’t do anything because they’re waiting on someone to act on an item that this individual may or may not have even seen yet.

On top of it all, emails are inherently insecure. Unless you can guarantee that all remote employees are using advanced security methods like two-factor authentication – which you can’t – there is always the potential for an email account to be compromised, exposing all of the proprietary and sensitive information that has ever passed through it at the same time.

Finally, the working from home revolution has exposed a major issue at the very core of many accounting firms – namely that they’re using far too many applications or systems to manage and share business and client documents to begin with. According to the M-Files study, 23% of firms use at least three such systems on a daily basis. This can include things like email folders, files and folders across shared network drives, CRM and ERP systems, a dedicated accounting solution, file sharing applications like Dropbox and more.

At that point, simply knowing where to find an essential document becomes a uphill battle. Likewise, if something important is stored on a local shared network drive and you’re now working from home, how do you access it? The answer is clear:

You don’t.

Tearing Down the Old School to Build the New One

Thankfully, there are modern solutions built with this type of data security – not to mention communication and collaboration – in mind. It’s simply up for accounting firms to embrace them.

A document management solution like M-Files, for example, can consolidate all data across an enterprise into a single, easy-to-use system. It allows accounting firms to organize information based not on where it is, but on what it is – all while giving people the chance to access it through a single view without needing any expensive or time-consuming data migration.

Keep in mind that if information is being shared among employees with a private tool like Dropbox, firm leadership suddenly has no control over what it is and what is being done to it. It can easily be lost or compromised in some way and this is actually a major source of duplication and version issues. But with M-Files, you can leverage features like dynamic organizational permissions and permissions-based content and context to secure documents and folders based on who needs access to them to do their jobs. For the right person, that information is easier to find than ever. For the “wrong” person, they’re totally cut off from it – exactly as it should be.

In the end, working from home isn’t going away anytime soon – and that can very much be a good thing under the right conditions. Trying to manage sensitive accounting firm information using methods that were designed for a time when everyone was still in the office is only inviting disaster. Instead, true document and content management is needed and tools like M-Files can help bring it to accounting firms everywhere in the easiest and most cost-effective way possible.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/working-from-home-still-needs-to-mean-working-securely

The Key to a Successful Digital Transformation in the Work From Home Era

Regardless of the type of business, you’re talking about, organizations invest in digital transformation for a myriad of different reasons.

Some turn to the power of modern technology to improve efficiency – empowering employees to communicate from department to department easier than ever before. Others want to guarantee that data can flow freely across the enterprise, making sure that the critical information that people need to do their jobs is always in the right hands. Others still do it for cost savings. Not only can a digital transformation save a tremendous amount of money upfront, but it’s an investment that will also continue to pay dividends for years to come.

All of these benefits have always been important – but they’re especially so given everything going on in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March of 2020, as the pandemic first began to make its way across the world, millions of employees suddenly found themselves working from home indefinitely. As a result, many organizations suddenly realized that they lacked the infrastructure needed to support this revolution. In addition to not having access to the tools people needed to work as productively as possible, they found themselves in dire need of solutions that would allow them to share critical information as securely as possible. This is especially true in an industry like accounting and financial services, where firms are dealing with data that is decidedly more sensitive than most.

Even though vaccines are rolling out across the world, the number of remote workers isn’t exactly dropping. One recent study revealed that in August of 2021, about 13% of people were still working remotely full-time due to concerns about the pandemic and the newly emerged Delta variant, among others.

Indeed, working from home is a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon – which means that organizations who were preparing for digital transformations prior to the pandemic need to seriously rethink their approach. The world has changed in a dramatic way and there’s no putting that particular genie back in the bottle. This is only a negative thing if you allow it to be. If you approach your digital transformation from the right perspective, you stand to gain enormously in a wide range of different ways, all of which are worth a closer look.

The Shifting Landscape of Post-Pandemic Life

Not too long ago, the team at M-Files partnered with Accountancy Age on a report that detailed what digital transformation – and business in general – has been like before, during, and (hopefully) after the pandemic. It featured survey respondents from a mix of organization sizes, ranging from those with 51 employees all the way up to those with 1,000 or more.

Overwhelmingly, the report revealed that accountancy firms in particular were simply not ready for the transition to fully remote work when lockdown restrictions were originally imposed. A massive 76.6% of respondents said that they initially battled significant challenges in terms of enabling staff to work productively from home – not to mention the difficulty they experienced in servicing clients as effectively as possible.

So much of this has to do with the fact that the accounting industry has long adopted a myriad of different applications and solutions to share, manage and store sensitive business data. This includes but is not limited to chat and video conferencing tools, enterprise content management systems, and more.

The issue here is that this almost immediately runs the risk of creating data silos that firms simply cannot afford to have existed. Again, information needs to be able to flow freely from one segment of the business to the next – regardless of where those employees happen to be. This is true not only in terms of allowing people to effectively collaborate with one another but with regard to empowering workflows as well. If critical data is trapped in a single repository and the person who needs it to do their job doesn’t have access to it – or worse, isn’t sure it exists at all – this only runs contrary to a firm’s goals.

Initially, in an effort to combat some of these risks, many accountancy firms took to sharing information with clients by sending physical copies in the mail. This was true of 44.4% of respondents. Another 79.4% of respondents said that they shared the same information via email. Not only do these methods pose a significant security risk, but they also affect traceability as well – leading to a poor client experience when the opposite should be your primary objective.

The Future of the Workforce Has Arrived

All of these things underline the importance of digital transformation in the modern era – particularly during a time when the “new normal” that we’re all about to return to will likely have little resemblance to the one we left behind.

Case in point: data security. As stated, accountancy firms in particular lacked the infrastructure needed to truly support remote workers in the most secure way possible. In addition to email folders, respondents to the aforementioned survey said that they used files and folders across shared network drives, solutions like Microsoft SharePoint, CRM and ERP systems, dedicated accounting solutions, file sharing applications like Google Drive, and more to manage and share business and client documents within the firm itself.

The right approach to digital transformation is an opportunity to consolidate all of this down into one simple, easy-to-use system that is built with modern workflows in mind. M-Files, for example, is a document management system that allows information to be accessed based on not where a file is stored, but on what is contained within it. All data is stored via a system that can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on any device. More than that, permissions can be set to make sure that only the people who need a particular file to do their jobs have access to it – thus preventing that information from falling into the wrong hands.

Likewise, a digital transformation can be a great opportunity to create branded, customizable client portals that themselves can help accountancy firms better collaborate with clients. Not only does this guarantee the security and privacy of client documents, but it also improves the digital client experience as well.

In the end, a digital transformation is a massive undertaking, yes – but for most accountancy firms, the pandemic has proven that it’s an investment that is well worth making. “Change” and “disruption” are only negative words if you allow them to be. With the right perspective, you can see them for what they really are – opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of to propel the next decade of your firm’s success and beyond.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-key-to-a-successful-digital-transformation-in-the-work-from-home-era

What You Need to Know About Telling Stories with Your Data

One of the most important things to understand about the data that your business is creating is that you’re talking about so much more than just a collection of files sitting on a hard drive somewhere. Contained within that data is the context and insight you need to not only understand how far your organization has come, but also to better predict where it might be headed. It holds the key to better understanding your target audience, all so that you can serve them in a far more effective way than ever. It has what you need to understand everything you’ve already worked so hard to build on a fundamental level, thus allowing you to reinforce and strengthen your position moving forward. In other words, hidden inside that data is a story — and it’s one that absolutely needs to be told. Data storytelling itself can take many forms — from simple visualizations to complicated investigative pieces and everything in between. But regardless of the exact shape data storytelling takes, the end result is clear — it’s an opportunity to better inform and persuade audiences on just about any topic that you can think of. Using data to tell stories is one of the best chances you have to engage with key audiences like never before. Thankfully, getting to this point isn’t nearly as difficult as one might think. You just need to keep a few key things in mind along the way.

The Art of Data Storytelling: Breaking Things Down

One of the major reasons why data storytelling is so effective ultimately comes down to the power of stories themselves. Not only are stories inherently memorable, but they’re also essential to help us process the world around us. Stories help people detect patterns, understand context, and derive meaning from experiences in a way that they may not otherwise be able to. They help us focus on key information and remember it for far longer than we otherwise would. But within the context of your business, it’s important to understand that the types of data professionals you’re likely working with don’t necessarily get training related to storytelling. They understand how to help you work with your data, but they lack the skills needed to do so more effectively than ever. Therefore, building up your data storytelling skills and empowering those professionals becomes one of the best chances you have to do all of this and more.

Putting Data Storytelling to Work for You

In an effort to empower your own data storytelling efforts, you need to first understand more about the core elements of data stories. The first, obviously, is the data itself. This means that as your storytelling efforts begin, you need to think about what data you should include for the best results. This means having not only an understanding of your data but also the context of that information, the quality and even the metadata. Familiarizing yourself with the core fundamentals of this data will give you everything you need to build a better story from here. Speaking of the story, the next most important element that you’ll want to focus on is the narrative itself. What, exactly, are you trying to say with your data? What is your data trying to say to you? Whether you’re attempting to summarize data, make comparisons between two or more ideas, or even highlight outliers, it doesn’t actually matter — you need to understand the goal of your data story before you can begin to tell it in the most effective way. Start with the main idea that you’re trying to get across and then work your way back to the data, choosing those sources that support the narrative as it unfolds. Finally, you have the technique of data visualization — something that can help tell your story in a natural and organic way. Human beings are visual learners — they always have been, and they always will be. When information is presented to us visually, we don’t just understand it better — we also remember it for far longer, too. That’s why data visualization is another crucial element of your data storytelling efforts. By showing, not telling, you make it easier to get your point across in a way that resonates with your audience. But in the end, you can’t forget to focus on the most important element of all: your audience. By taking the time at the beginning of this process to define who your audience actually is, you put yourself in the best position to get the right story in front of them at exactly the right time. source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-telling-stories-with-your-data

Productive Processes and Profit Begins at Home!

In this age of 24/7 Client focus, it is easy for Practice Management to lose sight of the fundamentally important job of looking for internal systematic operating process bottlenecks.

In many cases hidden away in the business, there are functions that remain supported primarily by a mixture of seemingly permanent ‘temporary Shadow Systems” such as spreadsheets and shared drives, all supported by manually driven processes.

Quite often, due to budget prioritization, resource focus or simply not allocating “your own business review time”, opportunities to introduce robust, low-risk digital solutions to help improve productivity and bottom-line profitability are missed.

Typical questions that need to be asked include:

  • Can we ensure our compliance and governance processes are adhered to?
  • Are our data sources secure and controlled?
  • Are we maximizing the value of our data?
  • Do our processes work seamlessly across the Practice and externally to our Clients?
  • Can we guarantee that the GDPR request can be answered?
  • Am I sure that my KPI’s are based upon fact?
  • How can we work smarter?

Many organizations do not have an accurate accounting of their own IT estate. How many and what types of servers? How many and what types of applications? How well utilized is the IT estate? Are there redundancies in application licenses and maintenance? How much of the estate is at the end of service life (EOSL)? Can the estate be consolidated based on newer infrastructure?

Regular analysis of the costs and performance of your legacy applications identifies the gaps, performance degradation, outages, and service interruptions that inevitably arise.  The resulting analytics highlight areas that need to be modernized to improve the performance, availability, and support of your systems.

Importantly, the benefits of process optimization have a wider reach than just the business processes. The operational knowledge and experience needed to manage and oversee people-dependent processes tend to be concentrated in the heads of a few key individuals. This results in greater risk to the business.

Ironically, fewer people with complete knowledge of key processes, also complicate succession planning, making transitions prone to disruptions, relationships with partners strained, and general discontent within the organization.

Ultimately, a more structured, stress-free working environment that enables your teams to function effectively, enhances well-being, and can contribute to staff retention, will enhance productivity, increase customer satisfaction and contribute to greater profitability.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/productive-processes-and-profit-begins-at-home

Risk Management Transformation

Risk managers are facing possibly their biggest challenge in these pandemics hit times. Increasing regulatory pressures, complex demand from remote worker management, aligned with previously unseen volumes of data. This perfect storm of circumstances is driven by the complexity and demands of risk management, each with their own unique compliance and regulatory challenges. Across all sectors, radical transformation is required to address increasing internal and external challenges. The need for creative solutions that offer agility, empower growth and profitability, whilst enabling a comprehensive approach to tackling risk management.

The challenges

The risk management community are required to identify and address risk and issue challenges, often driven by:
  • Environmental and technical Inter-program dependencies
  • Internal political pressure
  • Cross-organisational initiatives, such as third-party suppliers
  • External factors, such as political, economic, social, and legislative
To address the above challenges, Risk Managers need clarity of information, quality, and certainty of data and above all, a 360 view. In addition, they are looking for analytics and insights from the data to support decision-making processes. Identification typically includes:
  • Sources of risk to the business
  • Define specific risks and issues
  • Identify and create a working risk framework
  • Analyse and describe the steps in risk management
  • Identify threat and opportunity responses
  • Identity and create process flow of information flow
  • Identify, create (where required) risk and issue documentation
  • Obtain full buy-in and continuous support from the C-Level team
Not uncommonly, identification presents a series of further challenges, mainly from the sheer amount of information available across an organisation. In many circumstances, critical information resides in non-integrated silos across a technology estate. Legacy systems, files in local shared drives and non-protected “shadow systems such as Spreadsheets or databases.

Digital Transformation enables the risk management function to be smarter, more agile, and more strategic

Half of all organisations were unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic with updated crisis management plans. Many organisations acknowledge a pandemic or similar global crisis risk event was not on their radar of potential threats. With many acknowledging that data resided in multiple sources and needed to be pulled together manually resulting in:
  • Critical information missing negating faster or smarter actions?
  • None or limited connectivity across systems
  • Data, systems, or processes that could have helped confident decisions making were not in place
The first step in transforming risk function is to identify where to improve. Where can improvements be found. What gaps in current mission -critical processes surfaced during the pandemic crisis? The pandemic provided risk professionals with critical, real-life insight into how current processes held up in mission-critical situations.

Wealth of Data

Most sectors rely heavily on access to a very broad range of information. This wealth of information can help risk management in becoming a more strategic area for organisations. Data such as climate change, social unrest, or legislation, is critical when investing in new business opportunities, such as geographical locations. With this enhanced visibility, the risk manager can play a far greater strategic role in the company, ensuring that adherence to localised compliance rules such as environmental, technical, or logistical, will prevent a loss in the first place. Corporations now need qualified data to add greater value in better decision-making. Risk managers have moved on from simply taking a financial view on risk, they are expected to also support the business goals of their companies in a much more holistic management sense. And it is here that technology can provide the support and the means to make this happen.

The way forward

Emergent digital technologies are providing huge benefits and support to risk managers facing today’s challenges. From integration via application programming interface (API) to comprehensive use of both structured and unstructured Metadata, enabling intelligent search to extract the full value from data held. Developing a 360 view of risks, how they interrelate, and the potential impact on the organisation is essential for building resiliency. Consolidation into a fully searchable environment, enabling risk managers and other stakeholders to securely analyse data, share information, and collaborate on business exposure.

Use of Risk Hubs

The frequency and severity of disruptive risk events are undeniably increasing. Risk teams need to have the ability to plan, run scenarios and respond to future events effectively, safe in the knowledge that the data they are using or providing, is as factual and near real-time as possible The use of portals “Risk Hubs” to securely share data, offers an excellent approach in ensuring the right information is available at the right time. These have the benefit of enabling both internal and external co-operation, along with information updates, real-time exchange, and knowledge share. Digital transformation of risk management, enhances the traditional business model, transforming it into an aligned, collaborative, and interconnected digital environment. By adopting the correct processes, procedures and by using the most appropriate tools, the capability to confidently lead an organisation through a crisis, swings heavily in favour of the risk practitioner. Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/risk-management-transformation

M-Files and Hubshare: Delivering a Best-in-Class Digital Client Experience

A key component of most successful organizations is truly seamless collaboration. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to think about collaboration with an internal focus – is everyone at my company able to collaborate? While that is certainly an important part of the equation, of equal or greater importance is the ability for companies to effectively collaborate with their customers and clients. Within the bounds of a single organization, it is possible to deploy a standard set of tools and processes that help aid in fostering a collaborative environment that is efficient, secure, and controlled. Outside those “walls”? Well, that’s another story. A confusing mix of email attachments, various file sync and share solutions, SharePoint repositories, and collaboration apps like Teams and Slack can create more complications than valuable connections. Relying on a hodgepodge mix of point solutions to share files, manage electronic signatures, or review project documents limit productivity and can increase business risk. Things can be simpler, intuitive, and more secure. M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. We feel like we’ve made great strides to meet that mission head-on and integrating Hubshare into our product portfolio is a key component of fully realizing our mission. Getting the right documents and information to the right people, when they need it, no matter where they are. With Hubshare, we are expanding that reach to include external parties and clients. Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management. Businesses can quickly and easily customize each portal to their client or project needs and provide users and external parties access to documents, processes, people, discussions, and more. The environment for Professional Services and client-facing companies is fraught with challenges. Meeting and exceeding client expectations in an ever-evolving business landscape while ensuring workforce productivity is no small feat. Over the last year, we’ve all learned how important is to remain flexible and agile. The good news is that there are powerful solutions that can help your organization and your clients’ businesses thrive, no matter what lies ahead. Contact us to learn more about how M-Files and Hubshare can strengthen your external content sharing capabilities and help you deliver best-in-class digital client experiences. Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/m-files-and-hubshare-delivering-a-best-in-class-digital-client-experience

M-Files Acquires Hubshare to Strengthen External Content Sharing and Collaboration, Deliver Best-in-Class Digital Client Experiences

M-Files, the intelligent information management company, today announced the acquisition of Hubshare to bolster external content sharing and collaboration and deliver an improved digital client experience. Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management.

Now part of the M-Files product portfolio, Hubshare provides a secure information exchange platform where companies can be forerunners in driving digitalization and improving the customer experience using branded, customizable client portals. The portals can be quickly and easily tailored to meet individual client needs which drive collaboration and productivity.

“The Hubshare acquisition helps us deliver a unique digital client experience and better serve knowledge worker industries such as Professional Services, where information sharing and external collaboration are critical requirements,” said Antti Nivala, founder, and CEO at M‑Files. “Our integrated offering takes M‑Files from the back office to the frontline of our customer’s business, helping provide a digital window for our customer’s clients as they drive digitization across the organizations they serve.”

Unlike typical file sync-based document portal solutions where information is copied from an enterprise content repository, M-Files now offers a secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration without data duplication. While the M-Files user experience is optimized for streamlining internal document management processes, the new Hubshare hub in M-Files provides key information such as documents, people, processes, discussions, and more to external users, such as clients, via a branded portal that is optimized for an improved external user experience. This helps strengthen customer satisfaction with a better and more compliant collaboration experience.

“Today, with the announcement of our acquisition, we celebrate our common vision and goal of making work smarter and collaboration more efficient for our clients,” said Nicholas Child, CEO, Hubshare. “Our combined offering will undoubtedly benefit organizations across the globe seeking a more secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration. We are delighted to be an integral part of the M-Files journey, delivering our digital client experience and collaborative workspace solution alongside the visionary M-Files intelligent information management platform.”

M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. M-Files connects siloed systems, applications, and repositories and provides a full view of all relevant information across an organization. Delivering connected content and intelligent automation, M-Files increases the productivity of knowledge workers, ensures a seamless digital experience, enables business continuity, and reduces business risk.

About M-Files Corporation

M-Files’ AI-powered intelligent information management solution connects all documents and information, across every platform and repository, then analyzes them to place them in context. This makes it possible to serve up the right information to the right people right when they need it—and automate information-driven business processes—while maintaining complete control and compliance. Thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries (including NBC Universal, OMV, SAS Institute, and ThyssenKrupp) use M-Files to manage their business information and processes—and give their employees A Smarter Way to Work. For more information, visit http://www.m-files.com.

M-Files is a registered trademark of M-Files Corporation. All other registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.

About Hubshare

Hubshare enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file-sharing, and project management. The solution provides an all-in-one, flexible, and customizable digital workspace that allows unlimited customer-specific portals, each one unique to each customer’s requirements. Hubshare helps its worldwide users boost their productivity and facilitate external and internal collaboration. Hubshare has offices in France and distributors in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and North America, and resellers in numerous other countries.

source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/m-files-acquires-hubshare-to-strengthen-external-content-sharing-and-collaboration-deliver-best-in-class-digital-client-experiences-2

5 Best Security Practices for Remote Teams During Coronavirus and Beyond

Social distancing measures taken by responsible employers have greatly increased the number of employees working remotely. Even in the midst of this crisis, some companies and their employees can enjoy the objective benefits of not having to waste time and money on long commutes. At the same time, plenty of businesses really didn’t have the structure in place to support a vast, full-time work-at-home workforce with the security of business processes they needed.

Remote Workforce Security Challenges During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Because employees or departments scrambled for ad-hoc solutions to remote working, they sometimes sacrificed robust security to get up and running as quickly as possible. Sadly, cybercriminals can also work from home or other remote locations, and many saw the rise in remote workers as an opportunity.

For example, one survey of security professionals found:

  •  A majority of security employees struggled to offer strong security solutions to remote employees.
  • At the same time, almost half of the respondents reported seeing an increase in phishing attempts.
  • Most of these corporate security pros had concerns about their ability to scale security, respond to abrupt environmental changes, and the difficultly of controlling employee use of unknown and untested software.

Five Best Security Practices for Remote Employees

With the increase in cyberthreats and the concerns of security professionals in mind, it’s a good idea to consider some best practices to help keep business systems free of threats and just as important, to ensure compliance with rules that govern privacy and security in different industries.

1. Two-Factor Authentication

With two-factor authentication, sometimes called 2FA, users have to finish their login with a code that gets sent to another device, typically a cell phone. It takes a few seconds longer to access the system, but it provides better protection against phishing attacks. One CTO found that this simple measure reduced security problems in his company by almost 40 percent.

2. Use Secure Connections

Obviously, most of these home workers will rely upon their home Wi-Fi connections. Without any other protections, your security will only be as good as whatever the employee’s home internet company, router, and password can provide. To boost security, you might have employees log in through a VPN or other method of encrypting communication between their home device and your corporate systems.

3. Endpoint Security and Monitoring

No matter how well you protect logins and communication, you still can’t always avoid the threat of malicious code entering your system. On your server end, you can employ software to block threats and monitor system usages.

Even though most threats may stem from accidental vulnerabilities, it’s impossible to ignore the rise of inside jobs as a source of risks. Not only will these systems provide a firewall against malicious software, they can also send automatic alerts for unusual data use and provide a clear audit trail just in case something does happen.

4. Develop and Create Clear Security Policies

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, companies grappled with security issues that stemmed from remote workers and the rising use of personal devices.

For example:

  • In some cases, you may allow personal devices, so long as employees adhere to other security policies. For instance, you may require installation of approved security software and only let employees login to your network through your corporate VPN.
  • In other cases, you may ask employees in sensitive areas to only use the laptops or other devices that you have issued to them and to only use them in approved ways. For example, you may restrict these company-issued devices to work and not allow employees to use them to watch videos or browse social sites.

In any case, it’s important to develop clear policies. In addition to communicating these rules, you should also ensure that employees understand why they’re important and that they can incur consequences for ignoring them.

5. Deploy Secure Information Systems

Deploying intelligent and robust document and data management systems may not take as much of an effort as you think it will. These systems come designed and built to offer robust security and rule-based access for both in-house and remote workers. They also provide audit trails and guarantee recoverability, so if something suspicious happens, it’s easy to trace the issue to its source and remediate it.

How M-Files Offers the Best Solution for Remote and In-House Employees

Companies that already employed a smart data management system like M-Files didn’t have to worry about an abrupt change from working in a corporate office to a home office.

For example:

  • Access to documents could already have been set by role, so the people who needed information would have an easy time accessing it, according to their security levels. To others, that same information would be invisible. The right people could view, change, add, or delete information, and others would not even see it exists.
  • With built-in encrypted access and simple rollbacks for recoveribility, M-Files also has already been certifed as an ISO-27001 Certified Provider. This standard meets the requirements for the most sensitive data and systems.

Besides security, the intelligent features of M-Files can help improve your business processes. To learn how M-Files can help protect your business, employees, and information, schedule a custom demo today.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/5-best-security-practices-for-remote-teams-during-coronavirus-and-beyond

Your Digital Transformation Success or Failure Depends on these 6 IT Department Roles

Thanks to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses find themselves in urgent need of a digital transformation to stay afloat. This includes both organizations who were previously interested in the idea but who didn’t think it would happen quite so quickly, along with those who never really gave it much thought at all. Regardless, your IT department will play a crucial role in determining whether your own transformation is the success you need it to be or the failure you fear it might become. More specifically, there are six core IT department roles that will be instrumental in guiding your organization’s digital transformation.

The Cloud

By far, one of the most important contributors to the success of your digital transformation comes down to the cloud specialists you choose to surround yourself with. Remember that these professionals are tasked with doing more than just managing the migration of information and services from one platform to another. They also need to be on hand to quickly troubleshoot any issues, to help team members navigate the cloud environment, and to help mitigate risk for your rapidly transforming organization. This is especially true during the COVID-19 era, where industries are constantly evolving in new and unexpected ways and businesses have to evolve just as quickly to stay ahead in increasingly uncertain times.

Systems Integrators

Another invaluable role during your digital transformation will be that of the system integrators. These IT professionals will need to customize the employee experience before, during, and after the digital transformation itself, carefully selecting the best combination of hardware, software, networking, and storage products to support your people and the important work they’re doing on a daily basis. In a best-case scenario, systems integrators will be able to create a highly specialized experience that not only meets your business’ needs as they exist today, but that also makes sure your technology is finally aligned with your long-term business goals — which is a big part of what your digital transformation is supposed to accomplish, to begin with.

Information Security

Any digital transformation always brings with it a certain degree of risk in terms of cybersecurity, which is why another one of the most important IT department roles that can mean the difference between success and failure will ultimately come down to your information security team. As more and more information and activity happen within a cloud-based, “anytime/anywhere” infrastructure, security must become and remain a top priority no matter what. Information security specialists can not only help come up with a cybersecurity strategy that makes the most sense given your environment, but they can also monitor for any suspicious activity to help stop small problems today before they have a chance to become potentially catastrophic ones tomorrow.

Data Analysis

Hidden inside the massive volumes of data that your business is creating on a daily basis is a treasure trove of insight that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. This is especially true during a digital transformation when you need access to current and high-value information to make the most informed decisions possible every day. Data analysts help enormously to that end by retrieving, gathering, and analyzing data — all of which allows you to take a more organic data-driven approach to what you’re doing. Not only can they spot important patterns and better understand how certain activities impact your business, but they can also make smarter recommendations on how to improve your operations to help you reach your long-term goals more efficiently than ever.

The User Experience (UX)

User experience designers also have a crucial role to play in your digital transformation by capitalizing on opportunities to improve not only the accessibility of your system but its usability and interaction potential as well. In a larger sense, they’re tasked with providing all of your users with the best possible experience that they can — all so that your employees can spend less time trying to figure out how to get their technology to work and instead focus on putting that technology to work for them. This is once again particularly important during COVID-19, given the fact that your online experience is essentially the only experience that you’re able to offer your employees for the foreseeable future. Therefore, user experience designers are critical to not only help make sure that your digital transformation goes off without a hitch but to do so in a way that also makes sure that your employees have access to everything they need to do their jobs every day.

Information Management

Finally, we arrive at information management specialists, otherwise known as the hardworking men and women who are tasked with making sure that data is flowing freely across your organization at all times. Especially when you’re talking about something as important as digital transformation, you cannot afford to deal with data silos at any point. If you’re not sure where information is or even what is important and what isn’t, it’s difficult to make sure that everything transitions from one system to another as securely and as smoothly as possible. Information management specialists can leverage solutions like M-Files to bring all of your data together, regardless of where it might be stored. An information management platform like M-Files will create a single data repository for all of your important files, regardless of whether they’re stored in the cloud, on personal drives, on network shares, or on something else entirely. In the end, any digital transformation will always be a time-consuming and somewhat stressful process, but that is especially true during the COVID-19 era when more people are working remotely than ever. But by making sure that these six core IT department roles are filled before, during, and after the transition, you’ll have put your business in an excellent position to enjoy all of the benefits of this process with a few of the potential downsides as possible. Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/your-digital-transformation-success-or-failure-depends-on-these-6-it-department-roles

The 4 Types of Collaboration Habits That Make Information Security Breaches an Inevitability

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before. On the one hand, productivity hasn’t really suffered as there are a large number of cloud-based tools that make it possible to be just as productive outside of the office as you are in it.

But on the other hand, there are also certain types of collaboration habits that make security breaches no longer a matter of “if” but “when.” Understanding what these are is the best way to avoid them at all costs.

The Dreaded “User Error”

If you had to make a list of all the reasons why data breaches are allowed to occur in the first place, the human error would undoubtedly be right at the top. It’s not that your employees are outright trying to sabotage your network — far from it. But when people share passwords with other employees, share sensitive data via insecure collaboration tools or make any similar mistakes, they’re essentially opening the door to your network for anyone to walk through.

To combat this as much as possible, you need to make it as easy as possible for employees to access the data, the tools, and the systems they need to do their jobs. Likewise, you need to invest in ongoing cybersecurity training to help make sure people are aware of all of the potential risks they face. You can’t expect someone to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack if they’re not even really sure what one looks like.

The Risk of Data Overexposure

A lot of people don’t realize that the types of chats and files shared by employees on online collaboration platforms are usually retained forever — meaning that this data is always going to be vulnerable to a cyber-attack if you’re not very, very careful. So even if your business’ network isn’t breached, you’re still not out of the woods if that collaboration tool is as at that point hackers would have access to everything someone ever said or did with the platform.

This is why you always need to choose your cloud-based partners wisely and assess each one’s level of data and system security before picking one to go with moving forward. Likewise, you should add as many security measures to reach the data repository as possible to help reduce your risk surface as much as you can. Always make sure that employees are using two-factor authentication, for example, and move away from free applications. Finally, make sure that all sensitive or otherwise confidential information is always classified that way so that you know exactly where critical data is and where it needs to be protected.

M-Files gives organizations full control over who can access information at different stages of a process. Access will also automatically change when people leave or move into a new role.

Risky Personal Devices

Another one of the major collaboration habits that makes it possible for data breaches to take place has to do with employees who insist on using their (inherently insecure) personal devices.

If you give an employee a laptop computer, you can encrypt any data contained on it. You can always make sure that it is up to date in terms of patches and you can take whatever other steps are necessary to mitigate risk. You don’t have that option when someone is using their own personal devices, which is why you need to pay close attention to this phenomenon at all times.

Always audit your IT environment and network activity and pay attention for suspicious activity. If you find that users are working with their own devices, try to get them to use corporate devices and always install endpoint protection tools on each one.

Shadow IT

Finally, one of the biggest collaboration habits that increase the chances of a data breach ultimately comes down to the use of unsanctioned tools, otherwise known as Shadow IT.

Sure, your employees may feel more comfortable working with their own personal file sharing services. But you can’t protect this data repository if you don’t know that it exists in the first place and if someone is using it to link to or share corporate files, it runs afoul of the very best practices that cybersecurity plans are built on.

For the best results, always be sure to work closely with all departments to understand employee workflows and their business needs. Try to really understand WHY someone is using Shadow IT — what feature do they need that you’re not giving them access to, or what other concern do they have that this relieves? Then, select collaboration tools that address these issues — thus minimizing security risks across the board.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-4-types-of-collaboration-habits-that-make-security-breaches-an-inevitability