The globalization of commerce has had many impacts in today’s business environment. These changes have affected many aspects of business operations including procurement, logistics, accounting, and human resources. These changes have also affected the information technology area as well. Some of the key IT concerns that need to be effectively managed at some point in time by every organization in today’s business world are as follows:
- Global Information Infrastructure – The centralized approach to managing IT infrastructure is being replaced by a more global and diversified one. Many organizations now have IT operations in more than one location and outsourcing various components of the IT environment have become common place. With the advent of “cloud computing” and the use of the Internet to provide computing resources the hardware infrastructure, applications and data can be located anywhere in the world. The key factor from an organizational standpoint is to understand where the IT assets are deployed and manage them as a cohesive unit rather than a piecemeal one.
- Information Security – Information security has always been a concern of the IT function ever since the first computers were introduced. Data has always needed to be protected from unauthorized use or disclosure, especially during transmission. While the concept of information security is not new, the globalization of the IT arena has compounded the magnitude of the concept. For example, in earlier times when data was restricted to a single computer within a company’s data center, the access to that data only had to be controlled at that point. In today’s environment, a mobile app on an iPhone may be used to access a company’s system in which the data is located on a hosted database in another part of the world. In this case there are multiple security touch points, including data transmission, that need to be managed and controlled. As technology evolves, the information security aspects will continue to become more complex.
- Intellectual Property Rights – This is often an overlooked area relating to IT but can be very important. As applications and data are deployed and developed overseas, the questions of ownership rights become very important. Different countries have different laws and regulations concerning intellectual property so it is important to obtain solid legal advice prior to deploying applications and data overseas. This can help minimize any disruptions related to intellectual property challenges.
- eBusiness/ePayments – The use of e-commerce has become widely accepted as a method of “expanding the enterprise” the last 10 years. This increase in e-commerce has also driven up the use of electronic payments such as credit cards and services such as PayPal. The use of this technology can vary between various countries so it is important to understand the regulations and general practices between countries. For example, in some countries like the United States, credit cards are the predominant electronic payments tool but in other countries debit cards are preferred. In addition, there are various internal control standards such as Payment Card Industry (PCI) that must be followed by any organization that accepts electronic payments such as credit cards.
- Wireless Technologies & Applications – Smart phones and devices such as the iPad have given us the ability to access information from almost anywhere in the world. This includes access to company resources such as e-mail, websites, and of course applications (apps). While these tools help improve productivity, they extend the organization’s network access and give access to this information to anyone who has access to the mobile device. As a result, it is critical that the proper level of security, such as encryption and password controls, be utilized to secure access to these devices.
Organizations that effectively manage these and other technology related risks will be in a better position to remain competitive in today’s high tech world.