Editor’s note: Today’s Guest Opinion contributor is Randall Bennett, founder and owner of Secure Enterprise Computing.Is your current computer system an asset to your company or potentially your largest liability?

Ironically, it may be both.

All it takes to figure-out which one your system is to your company is a few moments and it is as fundamental as understanding your company’s balance sheet.

Most executives in companies have not taken the time to understand the huge productivity issues and the potential liability associated with their own computer system. They quickly push it off as “something you need to talk to our computer director about.” Yet, when I speak publicly at gatherings or simply stand around at business gatherings and talk to executives, they are appalled to learn what is really happening electronically in their company. Once they understand, they are concerned, especially if they are an officer and can be legally liable!

Let me explain. Initially, computers for business use were seen as a tool to manipulate numbers, especially in the mainframe era. In fact, the Lotus Spreadsheet was one of the biggest reasons companies made investments in personal computers. The personal computer with a spreadsheet allowed senior management to ask and receive reports that were not available or easily done on first generation computers. The executive didn’t care about the operation of the computer; they just wanted information to help me make informed business decisions. If you asked senior management about the computer system, the “brush-off” response was, “You need to talk to the computer director and if it is important, they will bring it to me.”

Can you afford a ‘brush-off’ attitude?

Now, fast forward to 2003.

Technology has advanced light-years compared with other segments of the industry. The world is completely connected and the dynamics are completely different. Most employees now have computers on their desktops and at homes. Information can be sent around the world and to millions of people with a single click of a mouse. The costs to purchase, implement, and maintain these systems are still increasing as a percentage of a company’s revenue. The liability and legal exposure are increasing at an exponential rate. Yet, efficiency, costs, and productivity are not increasing exponentially. In some cases, decreases are occurring.

Why? Maybe because officers and senior management in companies still operate as if were 1973 when thinking about computer systems and have not taken the time to understand the issues and what appropriate measures should be taken. They still think that the old “brush-off” is an adequate response. You may have 2003 technology in your company, but do you still think with a 1973 mentality? You need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you know the risks and liabilities associated with computing and your company?
  • Do you really know the productivity impact upon your company?
  • Do you really know if there have been gains in costs and efficiency?
  • Do you really need all that new equipment?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for the success of your company?
  • Who is ultimately responsible to generate as much revenue and profit as possible?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for efficiency and productivity?
  • Who is ultimately responsible to protect the company from legal liabilities?
  • Who is responsible to make sure information leakage doesn’t happen?

I can assure you that by investing a few minutes of time to answer these questions will more than reward you with massive returns once you know what you need to do to maximize the return on your system. In most cases, just simply knowing how your E-mail, Internet, and Internet Messaging systems are being used and correcting the productivity and legal issues, will more than reward you for your efforts. You will quickly find ways to gain productivity, reduce liability, reduce expenses on your computer system, and reduce your risk of legal exposure.

It doesn’t take a miracle worker, but in most cases, the real bottom-line results improve in months from productivity gains, efficiency gains and reduction in hardware expenditures. The reduction in liability and reducing legal exposure are just added benefits.

So, you may think you have an efficient operation, but there is still more to be gained. All it takes is a little effort and good old-fashioned business sense to assure the large amounts of money you invest in your systems are a true asset.

Secure Enterprise Computing provides a comprehensive set of services designed to assess and strengthen the security of an organization. Many areas in an enterprise have components that affect the security of a system. Consequently, all are key to creating an environment where an overall security policy and plan can be created and maintained. Secure Enterprise Computing provides services to a variety of regulated industries including Healthcare, Banking and Pharmaceutical Research.

Secure Enterprise Computing: www.secure-enterprise.com