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The evolving role of security teams in UX innovation

Last updated on November 17th, 2022 at 04:24 pm

By Gregg Ostrowski, Executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

Today, in order to generate value for businesses and their customers, applications must be increasingly robust to ensure a satisfying user experience and minimize bad interfaces that generate mistrust or question the way their data is handled. In this age of immediacy, users are eliminating deficient applications from their daily lives. From a recent study, lead by AppDynamics, The App Attention Index, revealed that 72 per cent of respondents believe it’s the responsibility of the brand to ensure that the digital service or application works perfectly.

It’s no secret that today’s software is increasingly dependent on distributed and cloud-based services, therefore the security perimeter has expanded significantly and has opened the field to the need to provide more reliable and secure environments for users without making their requirements end up compromising the user experience.

Security becomes more relevant on the software lifecycle 

Technologists understand that there are opportunities to improve application security by making it a critical part of the development cycle. Traditional UX and security teams can no longer afford to work autonomously but rather must band together to take a holistic view of the entire IT stack in order to address heightened application performance demand. Other significant findings from the journey to observability report include that 85 per cent of IT professionals recognize that the shift to full-stack observability will be transformational for their business, providing insights into the full IT estate and incorporating performance as well as security. On the other hand, 85 per cent of Canadian technologists say maintaining the performance of business applications is more important than ever.

Security teams can no longer operate independently and have an opportunity to contribute new innovative approaches during the application development lifecycle, where they can introduce the latest advancements which can enhance the user experience while ensuring security. From a user’s perspective, security of their personal data is expected, however it cannot be too intrusive as they expect a pleasant experience. For example, if they receive frequent reminders to enter or update passwords, they’ll get irritated and frustrated. So, technologists have the difficult task of finding a balance, which is considerably harder to achieve if security is not taken into account from the beginning of the development process. 

For companies to stay competitive and relevant, businesses can’t afford to stagnate while their competitors evolve. Too often, security teams aren’t currently seen as innovators, and instead viewed as barriers to speed. The real opportunity is in leveraging security teams to bring forward new innovations that improve the total application experience for end users. 

Fulfill end user expectations

The digital transformation has brought high expectations from software application users. 61 per cent of people state their expectation of digital services has changed forever and therefore won’t tolerate poor performance at all. Nowadays, users require high performance, always-on services, and platforms they can trust to keep their personal data secure. 

If data is not handled securely and a breach occurs, customers will feel betrayed, and as a result  – brand loyalty suffers. Once a customer’s trust is lost, it is very difficult to get it back. This means no mistakes can be made in the application development cycle and security needs to be tightly integrated directly into an application from the outset. A synchronized approach between UX and security teams ensure the user experience is the best possible. If security isn’t top of mind in the development process, it’s more likely that end users will be the ones to discover glitches, rather than developers.

DevSecOps: incorporating security from the outset

By executing application security correctly, software teams are able to respond to threats more effectively, which increases trust and creates a good customer experience. In DevOps, which is the predominant framework for software development, developers and operations teams are combined to provide an agile approach to software iteration and deployment. While this methodology places a great deal of focus on optimizing the speed of delivery, security testing tends to be tacked on after the development process, which makes it harder to debug software and takes longer to fix, hence the commonly held belief by development teams that security slows down the development lifecycle.

DevSecOps is a modern approach which takes all the benefits of DevOps but rolls in security right from the outset of a development project. When security teams and development teams work together, security issues are even quicker to fix and will often be identified before they impact the end user or the business. When security is baked into software’s architecture, it’s less likely to need costly and time-consuming security fixes or software revamps. A recent ESG Research report found that 78 per cent of organizations with a mature approach to DevSecOps were able to deploy code faster.

Increased full-stack observability

DevSecOps development is vastly correlated with improved collaboration across teams. But to use the DevSecOps methodology effectively, all members of the team need to be operating on the same page, with the same observability view where each application is built from beginning to end. Using a full-stack observability platform, an organization gets an in-depth view into the behavior, performance and health not just of their application and its supporting infrastructure.

As an alternative for DevOps and security teams working in silos with domain-centric and disparate tools that provide disconnected data, full-stack observability provides a single view of the entire IT estate, which aligns teams around a shared common context, speeding up response times and reducing application downtime. 

When development, security and operations teams work together, they can deliver system reliability and exceed customer expectations. More secure applications provide a better user experience, promoting customer loyalty and trust to empower and benefit the business.

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Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski is executive CTO at AppDynamics.