In my last three blog posts on the Ziff Davis MFT survey, we dove into security and compliance, highlighted other notable strengths such as speed, reliability, scalability and up-time, and looked at some perceived deployment challenges.
Today, let’s look at the business benefits of a MFT and how they impact an organization’s bottom line.
The survey did a nice job uncovering some supporting business processes which respondents claim were positively impacted by their MFT solution. These include: communications with remote office and remote workers, collaborating with external business partners, vendors and suppliers, distribution and fulfillment, compliance management and customer service.
Here’s a nice summary: “Note how these improvements address the bottom line for an organization directly by improving efficiency, security, and customer outreach all at the same time.” That’s quite an impressive trifecta!
I’ll conclude this 4-part blog series with a couple of closing thoughts:
- I wholeheartedly agree with MFT solutions wearing the “unsung security and compliance solution” label…. And that growing perception will spread as more and more organizations look at refining, automating, optimizing and securing their file transfer policies, processes and workflows.
- It all comes down to visibility, management and enforcement. Organizations need visibility into data interactions, including files, events, people, policies and processes. They also need to be able to manage and automate internal and external data transfers and interactions. And of course, organizations must be able to easily create and enforce administrator defined policies and rules, including (but certainly not limited to) security.
Let’s take a closer look at the perceived challenges of Managed File Transfer (MFT) that are identified on the Ziff Davis MFT survey.
A few related topics top the list: “Finding the right MFT solution”, the “Cost”, including ongoing maintenance and future upgrades, as well as “Employee training”, including satisfaction and acceptance.
A lot has to do with the partner you choose to do business with, as well as the complexity of the MFT solution and its ease of use. Take time to carefully research vendors and clearly understand the anticipated deployment timeline, required involvement and training of your IT staff, and if any professional services are needed.
You want a proven, reliable vendor that has a track record of successful long-term customer relationships and who is committed to bringing new technology to market as business needs continue to grow and evolve. Let’s just say that not all MFT vendors are created equal…So choose carefully.
“Cost” is always a sensitive subject. But with so many MFT solutions varying in complexity, sophistication, scalability, deployment options, and price, I strongly advise you to list key business requirements and make sure not to over (or under) purchase functionality.
For example, here at Ipswitch we offer a range of MFT solutions that span from basic secure file transfer products and services all the way to robust solutions proven to meet requirements for extreme volumes of data exchange with governance, data transformation and file life-cycle tracking. Our solutions have proven to be fast to deploy and easy to use, resulting in rapid time-to-value that greatly exceeds other vendor solutions.
Lastly, consider the ROI and “risk avoidance” aspects of MFT from a security perspective alone (which is only part of the story). In a recent blog post, I pointed out that the average cost of each compromised file is $204. So go ahead and estimate how many pieces of sensitive files and data your company has…. Now multiply that by $204. I’m sure you’ll agree that the ROI on the time and resources spent to protect company data are well worth the investment!
The Ziff Davis survey on Managed File Transfer did a nice job amplifying the aspects of currently deployed file transfer methods people think need the most improvement.
Checking in at #1 and #2 on the “improvements needed to my existing file transfer methods” list are SPEED and SECURITY. This only fuels the age-old debate of productivity versus security… But that’s a topic for another day! Needless to say, it’s not surprising that about half of survey respondents say that they need faster file transfers and roughly the same amount say they require stronger security.
Other items on the “improvements” wish list include: reliability, capacity, scalability, central management, workflow integration, IT infrastructure integration and compliance.
It’s validating to see in the graphic that areas where MFT solutions excel today closely map to those aspects of existing file transfer methods that people say require the most improvement — Reliability, speed, security, up-time and capacity round out the top five. Efficiency is a common theme with all these items, driven largely by time-sensitive business-critical processes and even SLAs depending on fast and highly available file transfer processes and workflows.
The last point I want to make about the “needs improvement” survey results is that no solution (MFT or other) will magically make a company compliant. There is no holy grail to achieving regulatory, regional, industry or corporate compliance. Rather, compliance is the end result of a strategically implemented, documented and monitored initiative that encompasses the entire arsenal of company-sanctioned policies, tools, and of course processes and employee actions.
Coming soon: I’ve got a few more musings about the survey that focus on deployment challenges as well as the business benefits of MFT.
Ziff Davis recently published a study on Managed File Transfer that heralds MFT solutions as “the unsung security and compliance solution”. Eric Lundquist sets the stage nicely:
“Everyone is talking about the need to collaborate more effectively and put employees closer to customers in a real time business environment.
But until you can assure the security, privacy, and compliance requirements of data transfer, the collaborative enterprise is just a good idea. MFT is one of those enabling technologies designed to make it a reality.”
The study found that security concerns about current file transfer methods include the usual suspects, such as: encryption; viruses, user authentication, backup, hacking, enforcing security policies, managing external users, auditing, reporting and defining security policies.
Not surprisingly, data from the study shows that many of those very security concerns that people had with their organizations current file transfer methods are actually strengths of today’s MFT solutions.
Keep in mind that many organizations still rely on homegrown scripts and point-to-point solutions, oftentimes using unencrypted FTP protocol for transport… And with very little visibility, management or policy enforcement. In addition to being time consuming and expensive to manage and maintain (and commonly built by developers that left the company years ago), many existing file transfer methods are insecure and introduce risk and inefficiency into an organization.
Plus, many companies haven’t even begun to crack the person-to-person nut of file transfer beyond relying on corporate email, unsanctioned personal email or file sharing websites, and even sneakernet!
In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the areas where the study identified MFT solutions as being superior to many commonly used methods for file transfer.