Why the Office of the Future Will Demand Stronger Security for Enterprise Solutions and Personal Mobile Devices

In today's age of innovation – with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and cloud storage invading the workplace – enterprises are rightfully concerned with how these technologies will impact the way we perform our jobs. This new workplace, dubbed the “Office of the Future,” is forcing business leaders to grapple with how to seamlessly integrate technology into the workplace and the effects this may have on how we work. With technology encouraging greater geographic flexibility and connectivity for workers and other people who may be outside an organization, security will be paramount to ensuring an enterprise doesn't lose its footing amidst an ever-changing future of work.

Notorious, large-scale attacks impacting major corporations have made most companies aware of the importance of cybersecurity; however, many often underestimate the importance of device protection when assessing necessary security investments. With more opportunities for employees to connect from anywhere, and the use of shared office equipment or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies becoming the norm, enterprises' vulnerability to attacks from outside forces or careless employees can also increase.

Last year, Canon U.S.A., Inc. sponsored a study IDC conducted of 500 CIOs and IT decision-makers, which found that 80% of respondents believe solutions security, including PCs and printers, would be a top security concern for the office of the future.* Enterprise solutions shared by multiple businesses in a coworking space can function as access points for managing and distributing intellectual property, consumer data, financial documents, and other private files. As a reminder, these risks extend beyond computers and tablets; the same IDC study sponsored by Canon U.S.A. found that 37% of business decision-makers surveyed see significant security risk in employees printing, scanning, faxing, or copying documents.* In the wrong hands, whether accidentally or intentionally, people can use enterprise solutions for unethical and even criminal activities to the detriment of a company's reputation and bottom line.

To help manage these potential risks, businesses can consider solutions that have security capabilities including document encryption, password protection and user authentication. Canon's evolving imageRUNNER ADVANCE platform, for example, recently upgraded to include some previously optional security capabilities as standard in its latest models, including the creation of encrypted PDFs with a password to unlock when users scan documents at the compatible MFP. Companies can also invest in solutions with advanced security capabilities, such as tracking systems and usage audits, to monitor behavior. These tools can help restrict access to specific roles or individuals, and some solutions even come equipped with software that can send email alerts when specific keywords that have been identified are printed, scanned, faxed, or copied.

In addition to enterprise solutions, businesses cannot ignore the impact of personal devices entering the office of the future. Work culture is shifting to accommodate more telecommuting and remote work, and the market for coworking spaces continues to grow with more people opting to share communal resources. As a result, it is important for enterprise security protocols to account for these new entrants into the network by standardizing and fortifying security, via software and firewalls (among other things), across all areas, including physical equipment and mobile devices to allow for document sharing and remote access with security measures in place. Furthermore, businesses can update their policies to be more prescriptive around personal device use, using similar controls to govern both office and personal machines, as the boundaries between the two blur.

While no one is completely sure what the office of the future will look like, one of the few certainties is that security will be at the heart of it and likely to evolve alongside the new technologies entering the workplace. Enterprises should remember that stronger security is needed to not only protect their employees, but also themselves.

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*IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Canon, Digital Transformation & Emerging Technologies: The Canon Office of the Future Survey, Conducted by IDC, December 2017.

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