KSG Executive Brief
TikTok, Enterprise Architecture, and the Future of a Splitting Tech Ecosystem
“Should we ban TikTok from our corporate devices?” (A recent question from a multinational firm with hundreds of thousands of employees spanning dozens of jurisdictions).
KSG Advisory Approach
Strategic Context: Welcome to the (geo)politics of enterprise architecture and the future of the tech ecosystem, where security risks, corporate culture, client relations, and government diktak intertwine. TikTok bans are a case study in how multinationals may navigate G7-China technological “decoupling” and economic “de-risking”.
Assessing Risks Beyond TikTok: KSG recently worked with a client making a decision about how to set their global policy around TikTok on work devices. But TikTok is only the current China-cyber cause célèbre and an imperfect example of actual security concerns posed by PRC-made digital applications.
For example, one popular e-commerce app was found to exploit vulnerabilities in the Android operating system, grab credentials, escalate privileges, and then collect much more data than was allowed under its terms of service.
Elsewhere the US and China are battling for the future of tech standards at international standard setting organizations. If the two countries cannot reach actual consensus on these issues, each may choose to go its own way, and the global technology and telecommunications ecosystem will increasingly splinter.
What C-Suites Need to Know: These issues are good examples of what might motivate a more widespread effort to reduce western exposure to PRC tech and digital supply chains.
Washington is likely to scrutinize companies using cloud infrastructure supplied by Chinese companies in the next few years, drawing what had been the preserve of mundane enterprise architecture design into the geopolitical spotlight.
C-suites of companies operating abroad, particularly in southeast Asia, would be wise to get a head start on evaluating exposure to PRC infrastructure in operations outside China… before policymakers force their hand.
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