Technology and electronics companies are putting their innovation, customer experience and competitive advantage at risk every day, according to a new study from Forrester Consulting.

Engineers, customer support representatives and software publishing teams are carelessly exchanging data with external entities and risking the company’s innovation and the opportunity to be first to market, the research found.

Forrester conducted the study — Secure Sharing of Intellectual Property — on behalf of Thru, a Dallas-based enterprise file sharing and collaboration vendor.

Security Risks from Legacy Technologies

Forrester surveyed CIOs, IT heads, heads of engineering and support desks in technology and electronics companies in the US, UK and Germany.

It found more than 75 percent of companies are struggling to secure their intellectual property and creative advantage. In addition, there is a serious security risk posed by outdated systems like FTP, negligent usage of email and an unsuspected infiltration of freemium solutions like dropbox.com.

channels for file exchange

“The bulk of software build, patch and troubleshooting within technology and electronics companies is facilitated via email attachments and ungoverned file sharing tools,” Forrester reports.

“In addition to putting intellectual property and competitive advantage at risk, there’s little control, rights management and few audit and tracking controls within these solutions." Data breaches or losing innovative product ideas should not come as a surprise to these companies.

More than half of technology companies reported using two or more file sharing tools, exposing a heterogeneous tools problem in these companies for conducting business.

Policies Affect CX, Innovation & Competitive Advantage

“Today, tech firms are using a scattered approach to content sharing, and they incur the risk of poor customer experience and inconsistent governance,” Forrester reports.

About 84 percent find it challenging to deliver software to customers and partners with their current applications, according to the report. More than four out of five technology companies find it challenging to deliver software to partners and customers.

An unsuccessful, debilitating delivery or support session will most likely result in a poor customer experience, risking customer loyalty or worse, losing business to competition in an era where an alternate product is available with a simple Google search and swipe of a credit card.

Exposing important customer data to hackers or competition is another risk that can’t be ignored.

Weigh Security with Ease of Use

concerns about EFSS adoption

Security is extremely crucial for technology companies. However, decision-makers must also take into account ease of use and controls because employees will not adopt a solution that is difficult to use.

Forrester recommends firms shift away from "multiple ad hoc adoptions of consumer-oriented freemium solutions and outdated technologies like FTP” and instead look at enterprise-grade solutions that offer high security and integration into current applications and processes.

While securing IP may seem like a compliance or legal team responsibility, CIOs and CTOs are on point to bring some discipline in the way IP is being shared.

Forrester recommends engineering heads and support department heads support CIOs and IT departments and implement a solution that must have enterprise-grade security, ease of use and capacity to integrate into essential email, CRM and ECM solutions and work processes.

(You can read the full report here.)