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According to a new study, Digital Transformation Needs a More Perfect Union, released Wednesday by secure access service edge provider Netskope, networking and security teams do not work well together, if at all. Relationships between the two groups are described by 38% of survey respondents as either “combative” (12%), “frosty” (11%), “irrelevant” (8%) or “dysfunctional” (7%). Only 24% said relationships were “functional,” 26% described them as “friendly” and just 11% said they were “tight-knit.”

“The evident divide between networking and security teams has been an issue for some time, but has been even more amplified with the rapid acceleration to remote work,” Mike Anderson, chief information and digital officer at Netskope, said in a statement. “These findings show the immediate need for IT and security teams to work collaboratively and transparently, without politics or bureaucracy.”

Even though 49% of security teams and 44% of networking teams report to the same manager, 37% of respondents said the two teams “don’t really work together much.” Nearly half of respondents said they have never met a member of the other team.

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Fifty-one percent of all respondents and 50% of CIOs, said the lack of collaboration is keeping their organizations from realizing the full benefits of digital transformation. This finding comes even as network and security teams report sharing two out of their three top priorities: supporting increased productivity and improving efficiencies.

Digital transformation projects are being pursued by both teams, with 62% of projects involving both networking and security transformation efforts. The growth in remote working has been a challenge for both teams, with 44% of security and 42% of networking professionals citing cybersecurity as their biggest challenge.

“Network-security team collaboration isn’t just a ‘kumbaya’ moment, and the reality is that its absence is costing teams real money and real time, and, from an executive viewpoint, limiting the organization’s ability to successfully deliver on the digital transformation projects that will fuel business growth and keep them competitive,” the report said.

To improve the relationships between security and network teams the report suggested:

  • Adopting DevOps thinking and attitudes: DevOps-inspired thinking and tactics such as the creation of cross-functional project teams, the use of kanban boards and agile processes can be adopted by network and security teams.
  • Developing a SNOC: Combining security and network operations centers blends common functions while improving organization-wide security through the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Focusing on just a few KPIs: The KPIs CIOs recommended were mean-time-to-respond, mean-time-to-failure, mean-time-between-failure and customer satisfaction.

About the study

The research was conducted in February and April 2021 by Censuswide on behalf of Netskope. Censuswide polled 2,675 IT professionals across North America, Europe and Latin America. Participants all work in IT for organizations with more than 5,000 users.