The language of business

September 15, 2015 JP Blaho

Do you speak business? message written with white chalk on blackboard

Up until a certain age, one of the worst things that can be said to you is that you sound like your Mom or your Dad. Hearing that when you were younger most likely resulted in a rolling of the eyes, but as you get older this statement makes you realize that you are now at an age where your priorities and needs are completely different. As such, we begin to view every aspect differently. It is the sad, but true reality we all face, but at the same time, there is comfort in knowing that sounding like your parents is also a sign of maturity and respect.

I mention this scenario because it reminds me of my job, and how over the years, I have come to communicate differently. The reason is because my role in the business world has changed. Like a parent, my career has provided me with seasoned experience, but increased responsibility. The choices I make have a broader impact to the business, and can affect others…even in different parts of the organization.

For many engineers, software developers, and logistics personnel, for example, it is difficult to communicate how your work impacts the business. What you are doing is so unique, and those managing operations and finances simply don’t understand. It is not due to a lack of respect…quite the contrary. They just don’t know the language you use when performing your everyday work. This becomes significant when there is a technology need.

Because of the decision makers involved, the problem must be stated and the solution identified must have a broad appeal. In essence, the business case has to be translated in the language of the decision makers. Spec sheets, performance measurements, and configuration diagrams might be key in making the right technology decision, but it is not impactful to the CFO. To accelerate the business need to an approval stage requires that this translation be completed in a way that expresses why this need impacts the decision maker.

Communicating a need for a DDoS Solution

When security operations identify a need for a new solution – say a DDoS protection offering –they must communicate this up the management chain. Since an offering like DDoS protection is a significant investment, the approval usually comes from someone further up the management chain of command. This level of management approval requires proper communication and a strong business case. You must be able to communicate clearly to business managers and decision makers in a way that will help them understand how a DDoS attack impacts the business as well as their individual productivity.

In last week’s blog, I discussed that there are four steps to take when building a business case for a DDoS solution. Today I would like to focus on the first step: Communicating the need for a DDoS solution. And in order to do this properly; we must be able to translate this communication into the language of business.

The first step in building the business case for a DDoS offering is to know your current state of DDoS preparedness. If you can communicate your current maturity model for DDoS protection while identifying a gap for where you are versus where you need to be, you create an opportunity for business engagement. Check our online DDoS Combat Assessment quiz to see how well your organization is prepared to address today’s DDoS threats. This exercise will provide you with your first part of the business case.

This is a solid first step, but it is not the only step needed. You must take it one step further. If the decision makers cannot directly feel the impact of the problem, you must educate them on the business implications and associated risks. On top of stating the case, you must also communicate long-term effects and potential damages that a typical attack creates. Make them understand the ever-changing odds DDoS attacks have on availability, and how these attacks have evolved to become more nefarious and complicated. DDoS attacks have grown in capacity and complexity, and are most commonly used in broader campaigns like advanced threat attacks.

The next step is to build the business case around the current state of reality. In next week’s blog, we will discuss illustrating the business implications of DDoS attacks to help justify the business case for a solution.

I would argue that speaking the language of business is a skill. For some, it is more difficult than learning Latin. For others, it seems as though they were born speaking it. Proper use of this language can provide a strong ability to advance your causes at work, and drive consensus. Without proper use, you could end up not getting the appropriate needs addressed, or worst, you suffer a breach or attack, and you are forced to resolve the problem hastily. Such a situation oftentimes results in making business decisions that end up not fitting your unique business needs.

So be careful in the words that you use. And remember, sounding like your parents is not always a bad thing. It is a part of growing up…especially in the business world.


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