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Drive Customer Growth And Business Differentiation

Sep 28, 20113 mins
CareersIT Leadership

Security & Risk (S&R) chiefs and Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) leaders have a lot in common, and in great companies, we work in concert to run an efficient, reliable technology infrastructure that keeps critical business assets safe. Much has changed in the world of technology since I pulled my first all-nighter in a data center (falling asleep next to the EMC Symmetrix array was not one of my better ideas – those corners were sharp!), but that partnership is still the same – it takes security engineers and network/server engineers working together to solve really thorny problems.

We have our frictions, of course – I&O pros prioritize operational stability and continuity of service, while S&R pros must occasionally interrupt that continuity to contain security breaches. But when a serious incident (whether security breach or system failure) threatens to sideline our business systems, it falls to us to find and fix the problems – together. We may be organizationally separate now, with I&O reporting into the CIO and the CISO reporting into a COO or Head of Operational Risk, but we share a set of fundamental challenges.  We must excel in our own domains (not exactly a cakewalk) but also anticipate and deliver on what our businesses need (much harder).

 And what our businesses seek today is growth – in Forrester’s most recent survey of business decision-makers, the top two priorities were growing overall company revenue and acquiring and retaining customers. S&R pros have already worked hard to escape their “Department of No” reputations, and I&O pros have labored tirelessly to get out of the data center and into the business. 

But that’s not enough. 

As CISOs and I&O leaders, we must help our firms: 1) win and serve customers; 2) expand into new geographies; 3) form new relationships with distributors, suppliers, and financiers (the extended enterprise); and 4) deliver top-notch customer service. We must be an integral part of our companies’ efforts to differentiate and grow. For S&R, that means becoming the “Department of Yes, And Here’s How.” And for I&O, that means thinking about, and indeed, even obsessing about, the end customer

Laura Koetzle is a vice president and practice leader at Forrester Research, where she serves Security & Risk and Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. She will be chairing Forrester’s Security Forum and Infrastructure & Operations Forum on November 9-10 in Miami, FL.

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Forrester Research is a technology and market research company that provides pragmatic advice to global leaders in business and technology.