The start of a new year is a fitting time for goal-setting, and IT managers looking to level up their organization’s governance framework have plenty of incentives in 2024 and beyond–increasing cybersecurity threats, growth in remote work models, and widespread cloud adoption.

As a primary aspect of their business strategies, effective governance requires IT managers to develop and implement strategies to ensure their data stays secure and protected, especially as more organizations incorporate remote working models and cloud-based IT infrastructure.

As technology continues to innovate at ever-faster speeds, governance also provides a structured, strategic approach to technology usage, risk management, and investment. In other words, effective governance enables businesses to stay ahead of the competition. Without comprehensive governance policies and strategies in place, organizations open themselves up to massive risk, as well as a host of other unfavorable outcomes.

Here, we look at how IT teams can embrace IT governance to navigate technology trends for 2024, from addressing ongoing cybersecurity challenges to the increase in cloud adoption, in order to position their organizations for success.

Overcoming Cybersecurity Challenges

Cybersecurity is ever-present and will no doubt continue to wreak havoc for IT managers in 2024 and beyond. Cybercriminals are becoming savvier and more brazen than ever: According to data from Verizon, the frequency of cybersecurity incidents has increased, and the median cost per ransomware more than doubled over the past two years to $26,000. In addition, cybersecurity threats can cost organizations big: 95% of incidents experienced a loss of between $1 and $2.25 million.

IT governance tackles these challenges with a multi-layered approach, starting with pinpointing cybersecurity risks. Governance strategies also enable IT managers to assess the potential impact of risks and offer steps for mitigation. In addition, the most effective governance strategies go a step further by establishing a comprehensive policy framework and standards that encompass data protection, incident response, and access controls.

Considering that the vast majority of cybersecurity incidents involve human interactions, another vital component of mitigating the risks is getting employees on board via training and education programs. Such programs keep staff educated and up-to-date on security threats, while helping them understand the important role they play in maintaining a secure data environment for their organizations.

Finally, IT managers must not underestimate the risks associated with third-party vendors and partners. According to a 2023 report by SecurityScorecard and the Cyentia Institute, a whopping 98% of organizations worldwide have integrations with at least one third-party vendor that has been breached during the last two years.

Such sobering statistics underscore the vital need for IT managers to implement governance policies that establish criteria for choosing cloud service providers, cybersecurity standards required to protect shared data and systems, and compliance regulations and standards for all third-party vendors.

In the Clouds: Cloud Adoption Is Critical

Business spending on cloud computing infrastructure is expected to hit record levels in 2024. This year, spending is projected to reach the $1 trillion mark for the first time, according to data from International Data Corporation, making IT governance more critical than ever when it comes to cloud adoption.

Robust governance frameworks ensure that the adoption of cloud services works hand-in-hand with the organization’s overall strategic objectives, taking into consideration critical aspects like scalability, cost-effectiveness, and agility. Effective frameworks also should develop criteria for selecting cloud service providers and ensuring compliance with security, privacy, and other standards.

Additionally, IT managers must pay close attention to how governance can impact change management concerns. Some of the most wide-reaching and potentially impactful of those issues include employee training on new workflows and managing the cultural shift of adopting cloud technologies.

Adapting to Remote and Hybrid Work Models

After exploding during the pandemic, remote work is clearly here to stay. Approximately one-third of workers who are allowed to work from home do, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center, and by 2025, 32.6 million Americans are projected to work remotely.

As remote and hybrid work models continue to evolve, IT managers must be proactive in making sure governance plays a significant role in overall business strategies. Governance involves developing the technological infrastructure required for remote work models: Tools like VPNs, secure system access, and collaboration software are just a few common resources.

Effective data governance also must entail defining security protocols for remote access and ensuring compliance with data protection laws — which is especially important for multinational corporations, as such regulations can vary drastically between different countries.

Developing policies and guidelines specific to remote work is another facet, covering technology use, data handling, and incident reporting protocols. Furthermore, governance ensures that robust communication and collaboration tools are in place for such work models, which serves to prioritize security and data privacy.

Enhancing Accelerated Migrations

The pandemic has also sparked the rapid evolution of cloud migration, as well as an emerging era of cloud-centric IT infrastructure. According to forecast figures from Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services grew more than 20% to $591.8 billion in 2023, up from $490.3 billion in 2022.

In a recent survey from Google, meanwhile, cloud leaders say they are increasing their use of cloud-based services and products (41.4%), planning to migrate from legacy enterprise software to cloud-based tools (33.4%), and migrating on-premises workloads to the cloud (32.8%).

As more organizations move to cloud-based systems, governance will play an increasingly important role in ensuring successful transitions. It aligns migration processes with an organization’s strategic objectives, assessing how the migration will enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and adhere to regulatory requirements. Governance also involves assessing potential risks associated with migration and creating strategies to minimize disruptions, which can be extremely time-consuming and costly to an organization’s bottom line.

Additionally, governance plays a role in determining the allocation of resources necessary for migration, such as expertise, budget, and tools. Finally, governance encompasses various testing stages to confirm the effectiveness of the migration procedure. Such tests might include assessing performance, ensuring compatibility, and conducting security evaluations, all of which are designed to facilitate a smooth transition while maintaining both functionality and security integrity.

Looking Ahead

IT governance goes beyond simply serving as a necessary mechanism for regulation; it also should be viewed as an important driver of strategy for organizations. As 2024 continues, implementing a robust IT governance framework will empower IT teams and managers to efficiently overcome new challenges, ensuring that their organizations stay competitive and position themselves for success in the ever-evolving world of technology.

By Stacey Farrar

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