IT Defense vs. Offense for Architects
Today, we’re unpacking a subject that will help architects think and act on their competitive advantage, which is technology.
The topic is this: IT offense versus IT defense and what each represents.
Understanding IT Defense and Offense
IT defense includes the most important pieces of technology infrastructure that your company requires for security, productivity, and efficiency. It covers all your bases and protects your firm while allowing you to run your day-to-day business.
IT offense is more about your strategic approach. Continuous improvement is part of the offense, and in just a few minutes, you’ll understand why combining the two results of defense and offense offers a competitive advantage.
Components of IT Defense Strategies
With most people working from home over the last year, cyber security has been a huge topic. A strong cyber security system is a must, and inside of that, you’ll need the following:
- Antivirus software that can minimize risk.
- URL filtering so bad websites are blocked.
- Email protection against phishing and other threats. Fear phishing has grown, and it’s where someone has information about your firm or an employee and they use that information to try to get them to do something.
- Good backup strategy. This will help you recover if all your files are encrypted and you need to restore them without losing that data.
All of this attention to cyber security is great, but you also need a team that understands the newest threats. Ongoing security training is important. You’ll also want to ensure someone is managing and watching your devices and your servers. Patching them against the latest threats requires ongoing attention. There are new dangers all the time and you need protection.
Inventory and Documentation Management:
Knowing what you have is the next component of a good IT Defense. This includes:
- Proper network documentation. Inventory all the equipment you have in your environment, including hardware, document applications, and cloud software. Everything from HR software, marketing software, Google drives, and Dropbox has to be documented. Manage access as well so only people who need access can get there.
- Track your hardware. You need to know when it was purchased and when the warranty expires. The lifespan of a good workstation is about three to five years. If your device is seven or eight years old, that might explain why it’s slower. This can cost you productivity, which means you need to know when it’s time to upgrade.
- Keep all software up to date. Install the latest updates and upgrades. New features are rolled out on a faster scale now. Be on top of those changes to make sure your team is always using the latest tools and being more productive.
The last part of a good IT Defense is continuous monitoring. Monitor for potential issues that could be a problem down the line.
During this process, we’ll look at network traffic or system performance, or application performance. We see potential issues before you or your team member sees them, and we can take action to protect you from a file server going down because a disk or power supply failed. Maybe your internet goes down because your router is old. Proactive monitoring is a defensive strategy you don’t want to miss.
Components of IT Offense Strategies
Most companies have their IT defense in order. IT offense isn’t as widespread. We estimate that 10 to 20 percent of businesses actually have the offense part of IT planned out. This creates an opportunity for you. Here’s what you need for a good offense:
You need to know where you’re going and how to get there. Make sure you understand how you’ll make your investments next year, two years from now, and three years from now to align technology investments with your business plans and strategy.
If you want to grow your firm, what do you need to do from a tech standpoint?
Here’s an example. Maybe you won an architecture contest and you’re getting more projects. Perhaps you signed a big client and you anticipate more work in the next couple of years. How will your systems align? You’ll need more people and better tools. Stop and think about these things. Make sure you are making the right move going forward.
There’s a cost component to this strategy, and that’s why budgeting is important. Once you know what you need to do to accomplish your business goals and make your investments, you’ll have to budget for those expenses. Gather quotes for things you’re looking to implement and put some money aside to make sure you stay the course with that implementation.
Technology Stack Development:
The next offensive component is looking at the tools you have now. See how they match your roadmap and plan.
Then, evaluate whether you’re using those tools.
Talk to your team and find out what’s being used and why. Many times we find redundant tools that can be easily consolidated. Make sure all the tools you have left can talk to each other. Part of this cohesive unit of technology solutions for your firm will allow easy integration and the seamless passing of information from one place to another.
Once you have a plan, stack your tools correctly.
This final part of an offensive strategy is where you continue building your offense.
You need strategic technology conversations inside your firm. Important to have a strategic tech convo inside your firm. If you have an IT manager or a director, involve them in business conversations so they know where the business is going. If you work with an outside provider, involve those professionals in the same conversations. Regular meetings once a month or once a quarter will allow you to review your business strategy and update your roadmap.
You’ll want to evaluate new tools. Look at the new technology coming out and put a process together to evaluate them. Find dedicated people who can look at these tools and test them to see if they benefit your business. Then, implement those you believe will be good investments. You want to make sure these tools are being used, otherwise, you’re spending money and not getting the full benefit.
Technology is Your Competitive Advantage
We say technology is your competitive advantage. But, you need an offensive plan as well as a defensive plan in order to access that edge. If you do this, you’ll have something that 80 to 90 percent of your competitors don’t have.
Most IT providers are generic, working in multiple industries. They don’t have the knowledge and the need to manage your offense.
We can educate you on this, and if your current provider can’t help you, we’d love to talk to you and help with advice.