One of the defining characteristics of a modern workplace is data. Lots and lots of data. Data that undergoes creation, mutation and finally consumption. This is thanks to the rapid digitisation of data and the manner in which existing mediums of text, images, sound, videos and more are rapidly being converted to bits from atoms.
Like any good shift, this solves a lot of problems, brings in unprecedented efficiency while at the same time introducing new problems which need solving, in fact there has been an explosion in problems and solutions as complexity increases.
Throughout history we've always had fundamental shifts in the way we work, but what's different about the modern age is the proliferation of choice. The myriad range of choices is not limited to just workplaces, but has affected almost all walks of life.
We've gone from the simple days of maintaining records on paper, to the first computers and then to personal computers. With personal computers things were still relatively simple and choices few. But with the advent of the internet came an explosion in the breadth and depth of how we can accomplish our work. Gone are the days of limited applications and choices, with things moving to the web and cloud, the choices are only increasing.
This has in turn made managing the modern workplace a complex affair, and from the current trends it's only going to get more complex. With so many different applications, our data is no longer in a single location, or for that matter the local hard disk. It is not spread out on the cloud and over multiple applications. If not managed well, it's easy to loose track of data, or worse loose track of sensitive data.
It does not look like we're going to ride this wave out anytime soon. The best we can do is recognise this shift, both as companies that are part of this wave and users who need to maintain sanity and take proactive steps starting with securing data.
Securing data involves having knowledge of how far and wide our data has spread by first recognising where it is getting generated and then stored via direct storage, applications, analytics and more. Once we've recognised this, the next step is to assess whether our data is really secure and if it's backed up reasonably well. This works well for most cases, however sensitive data requires special attention. Its good to reduce complexity and restrict applications and choice when it comes to sensitive data.
Once we've secured our data, we need to secure the applications our data passes through. This can be achieved by having secure password policies, centralised authentication and accurate repositories of access provisioning and de-provisioning. This is to ensure that only people who need access have access, for the duration that it is required. Most companies however don't realise how many ex-employees might still have access to company information.
Although all of this and more can currently be addressed, it suffers from the same problem. Lots of choices, configurations and limitations. The ideal solution is yet to come, however when it does arrive, it will embrace this new reality and offer true support and not end up being one more option.