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Innovation vs. risk: IT leaders share security concerns regarding tech innovation, but can they afford to let risk hold them back?

Emerging technology like generative AI is ushering in an era of innovation for businesses who must evolve their networks to ensure secure trailblazing

According to research by HPE Aruba Networking (NYSE: HPE), 64% of IT leaders believe that cybersecurity concerns are negatively impacting their organization’s willingness to invest in innovative tech. This is perhaps unsurprising as 91% either consider emerging tech a danger or admit to having already experienced a breach because of it. But this comes at a time when IT leaders must be empowered to embrace innovation such as generative AI to accelerate business-critical transformation – something 89% say their organization requires high levels of over the next 12 months to succeed.

With headlines full of the promise of the latest technologies, the research, which features responses from 2,100 IT leaders across 21 countries, examined how organizations are currently approaching the interplay between innovation and risk. The report also sheds light on the role IT leaders and the network have to play in facilitating safer innovation.

The rise of innovation

A vast majority (95%) of IT leaders state that digitization is fundamentally important to unlocking new revenue streams in the next 12 months. In fact, both IT and the broader business are pushing to bring in new technologies that can boost innovation in terms of how the business functions and what it offers. As they look to increase innovation, organizations are turning to emerging technology, and are currently using or planning to bring in 5G (91%), AI and machine learning (ML) solutions (89%), or IoT and smart sensors (88%).

Despite this push, only 45% of IT leaders describe their organization as innovative – and worryingly, even less describe it as secure (44%).

Managing the growing risk

There is also a growing gulf between tech demands and the IT team’s capability to manage it all – 66% of IT leaders have concerns about their organization’s ability to keep up with the latest tech and digital demands, and 55% say their IT teams are already stretched to capacity.

Combining this rise in technology use with the lack of resource and broader trends around remote working, hybrid cloud, and distributed centers of data, organizations are facing greater exposure than ever.

“Business needs have evolved, and teams are increasingly deploying new technologies to meet these needs. However, security measures that can support the rise of emerging tech must evolve alongside them,” said Scott Calzia, vice president marketing, HPE Aruba Networking. “For IT teams, this means realizing that AI networking –– can support their teams in being more efficient, alleviate laborious admin tasks, and further their security strategy by delivering built-in protection.”

The role of the network

According to the research, there is growing recognition of the network’s role in business transformation – and, in particular, of the link between the network and both security and innovation. In fact, 64% of IT leaders believe the network can support cybersecurity effectiveness and 61% believe it can support greater innovation. And IT leaders are investing accordingly – organizations are starting to press ahead with network-based security solutions including, Security Service Edge (SSE) or similar edge-to-cloud security (89%), policy-based network access control (88%), and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) security (87%).

But evidence suggests that they still need help tying these investments together to realize their benefits – only 47% of IT leaders believe their current network can deliver or support flexible enterprise security and even less see its role in supporting emerging technologies (37%).

Calzia concludes: “While pressure to innovate isn’t going to ease, IT leaders need to find a secure, streamlined way to overcome the risk conundrum. This requires a unified SASE (SSE + SD-WAN) approach to bring together all disparate network technologies and truly deliver a network capable of supporting safe innovation. Given the prevalence of hybrid working, a strong network security foundation that includes using Zero Trust principles is a good starting point to then guide investments in SASE, SSE, and NAC.”

Additional resources

To learn more, visit the HPE Aruba Networking website. For real-time news updates, follow HPE Aruba Networking on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and products, visit the Airheads Community at

About Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) is the global edge-to-cloud company that helps organizations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data, everywhere. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way people live and work, HPE delivers unique, open, and intelligent technology solutions as a service. With offerings spanning Cloud Services, Compute, High Performance Computing & AI, Intelligent Edge, Software, and Storage, HPE provides a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, helping customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance. For more information, visit:

NOTE TO EDITORS: In February 2023, HPE Aruba Networking commissioned Sapio Research to conduct a survey of over 2,100 IT decision makers (ITDMs) across 21 markets [Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia / UAE, Singapore, Sweden, Australia, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Taiwan, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, UK / Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, USA]. These ITDMs work at companies of 500+ employees, with operations in three or more markets, and spanning industries from healthcare to education, manufacturing, and hospitality.


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