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Q&A with Forrester Senior Analyst Heidi Shey: Secure Information Exchange in the Digital Age

Forrester Senior Analyst Heidi Shey recently joined OpenText to discuss how secure information exchange can help your organization seize its digital future.  As a follow up to the webinar, Why Secure Information Exchange is Critical for Digital Transformation, Heidi shared more insight into the common questions asked about digital transformation – and how you can be successful in your journey.

Q:  How is digital transformation changing the way organizations think about, share, use, and store documents?

Shey:  Digital transformation changes both customer and employee expectations, which in turn changes how organizations must think about information and document handling. Customers expect more and faster ways of discovering information, as well as sharing their information with you. Employees have the expectation of getting the information and tools they need to do their jobs anytime and anywhere, so that they can be productive. The information contained within documents is only useful if someone is able to use it, and use it appropriately. Digital transformation has organizations thinking about who should have access, defining what constitutes sensitive information, as well as considering compliance for handling personal information.

Q:  How is the way that organizations exchange information changing due to transformation?

Shey:  In many ways, it hasn’t fully changed, which is part of the challenge for securing this information. Employees naturally turn toward using common methods of exchanging information, like email, USB drives, and consumer file sharing services. The result is that the organization often has no visibility into how information is flowing and where it is stored, and the movement of this information using these methods is not secure. There are also cases where organizations do bring in enterprise technology for employees to use to exchange information securely, but if this tool doesn’t align with how employees work or causes unnecessary friction, employees may not use it, or find ways around it instead. Organizations should seek solutions that are easy to use and easily accessible, which will facilitate greater adoption and eliminate risky and unsecure workarounds.

Q:  With the need for information to be available 24x7x365 and sharable across multiple platforms, devices, and applications, what must organizations keep in mind when exchanging information?

Shey:  A lack of control in protecting your sensitive information will undermine your efforts for availability and accessibility of this information by placing your company at risk of a breach. This could be a data breach of personal information or intellectual property; a breach of the terms of a business partner contract that stipulates how data must be handled; or noncompliance with relevant security and privacy requirements and regulations. Proper authorization for access to information is critical, as are capabilities to audit information exchange and usage. And as much as we would like to think we have everything under our control, accidental data loss may happen. You must also have a plan in advance for what to do in case of a breach.

Q:  Can you offer some best practices for effective, compliant, and secure information exchange?

Shey: You must understand your data first. Identify what types of information the business needs to exchange, and why, to comprehend its value. This helps to determine the appropriate level of effort and investment required to protect and exchange it responsibly, and the risks of not doing so. Identify how this information needs to flow — who and what systems and applications need access and why — to optimize efficiency and productivity. Identify what types of information are sensitive, and define sensitive data for your organization, to gain a better handle over how you should protect and control this information and how employees should handle or use this information. This goes beyond understanding your compliance requirements for security and privacy; for example, an executive’s travel itinerary, a marketing strategy plan, and other types of intellectual property are all examples of sensitive information, too.

Q:  What role does faxing, either on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid, play?

Shey:  Documents printed out on paper can easily fall into the wrong hands, get lost, or be disposed of improperly. With digital documents, we can track and take measures to appropriately control and handle sensitive information. An electronic fax solution can help to eliminate the risks of traditional, paper-based faxing while supporting the organization in its digital transformation efforts for their business environment. I see both on-premises and cloud-based fax as viable deployment options for the enterprise based on their IT and risk management strategy. Flexible deployment options are necessary. Some organizations are moving fast to the cloud, some have a preference for keeping certain applications and systems on-premises, and others seek a more hybrid approach. There’s no right or wrong here; they are just different approaches that require different security strategies.

Watch this webinar featuring Forrester Senior Analyst Heidi Shey and learn how secure information exchange solutions can help your organization seize its digital future.

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Amy Perry

Amy Perry is the Director of Product Marketing for fax and secure messaging solutions with OpenText Business Network. Her 20 year career has crossed between Product Management and Product Marketing in the CPG and software industries.

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