Leaders must realise ‘a cyberattack could sink your business’

2 Jul 2021

Mark Fitzgerald. Image: Typetec

Typetec’s Mark Fitzgerald discusses importance of protecting a business’s most critical asset: data.

As chief operating officer of managed IT service provider Typetec, Mark Fitzgerald is responsible for service delivery and overseeing company operations.

He joined the Dublin-based business in 2011 as company accountant before taking on position of director of operations and finance in 2014 and being promoted to his current role last year.

Earlier this year, Typetec teamed up with Microsoft Ireland to create a new start-up competition with a €25,000 technology fund up for grabs for the winning start-up.

‘Business decisions live and die by the data they use’

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

As head of operations at Typetec, I oversee all Typetec engineering operations and wider supporting functions such as HR and finance.

In this role, I am part of the senior management team that lay out the vision and strategy to support our business needs and direction. Reviewing company-wide data to assist our successful strategy execution is a key part of my role, from customer satisfaction ratings, capacity planning and technical development, to budgetary forecasting.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We are continuously driving tech innovation by expanding our suite of products and services and introducing them to our customer base. Our clients rely heavily on us as their IT partner to advance their end-user experience and our portfolio is paramount. Our managed services offering is built on four key pillars: information protection, people protection, productivity and performance.

We recently developed real-time dashboards to provide our customer not only with a live security posture providing threat analytics across their entire environment but also essential end-user IT support, productivity and licensing data with a single pane of glass view.

We have received a lot of interest within the financial services sector regarding our Prism secure offering – a bespoke cybersecurity solution geared towards supporting asset management firms adhere to best practices set by the Central Bank of Ireland.

How big is your team?

Typetec has 35 people working in the business with more than 20 staff members spread across the technical engineering and consulting division. Our core focus is on quality managed IT support with specialisation in Microsoft cloud services and security.

We know what we excel at, and our network of trusted partners means we can make timely introductions when a client requires additional support. The IT landscape is vast, and it is important to ensure you are dealing with gold accredited partners at every intersection.

We are part of a much wider partner-to-partner ecosystem and have longstanding established relationships with Tekenable, OpenSky, Stryve and Sysco.

How can businesses find a balance between digital transformation and regulatory compliance?

I believe a balance can be struck by ensuring you select best-in-class products. This does not mean you need to purchase the most expensive product, but ultimately you get what you pay for, so it is important to carry out the necessary due diligence when sourcing products and services.

Companies like Microsoft invest millions each year to help clients innovate at pace while upholding full regulatory compliance. They build certain features and functionality into its products to ensure that sensitive information is protected. This comes as standard.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

The pandemic pivoted the world to remote working, and it looks like it will remain a key part of lot of companies’ cultures post-pandemic. The abrupt migration of staff away from the physical office including senior management has instilled a sense of trepidation and vulnerability in leadership around how their operations and teams are performing – not to be confused with mistrust.

As a result of this pandemic-induced shift, I believe there is a pronounced increase in the demand for data collation and analytics solutions at enterprise level.

Our customers are looking for more and more insights into their business from real-time security analytics to productivity and engagement analytics of everyday staff toolsets. Business decisions live and die by the data they use and there has certainly been a notable uptick in the appetite to aggregate more of this actionable data.

In terms of security, what do leaders need to think about when it comes to forming robust data management strategies?

First and foremost, not only should IT security be a priority item on every company’s corporate agenda, it needs to be baked into everyone’s collective responsibility. Gone are the days when it was treated as an afterthought under the IT budget and hidden behind a figure on your profit and loss.

Data is the single most critical asset for any business and it requires appropriate attention.

Unfortunately, we have seen first-hand the detrimental business impact a cyberattack can unleash, and the level of attacks is increasing at an alarming rate. You see new statistics every day that capture the scale of the potential dangers. Why take that risk?

Leaders should be under no illusions – falling victim to a cyberattack genuinely represents an existential threat for enterprises.

It can be financially, operationally, reputationally and mentally damaging. It could sink your business – so if you are part of steering the ship then it is absolutely your responsibility to navigate this minefield effectively.

Every leadership team needs to firmly understand the company strategy they have in place and what vulnerabilities may be on the table in relation to security.

They also need to understand the nature of the company data: where it is, how it is kept and managed, and how it can be retrieved in case of data loss or disaster. Carrying out ongoing risk assessment and developing a strategy that delivers year-on-year progress is a base requirement.

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