Innovation is vital to remaining competitive in the digital economy, yet cybersecurity risk is often viewed as an inhibitor to these efforts. With the growing number of security breaches and the magnitude of their consequences, it is easy to see why organizations are apprehensive to implement new technologies into their operations and offerings. The reality is that the threat of a potential attack is a constant.
And the threat is only getting bigger. There were more than 5,000 publicly disclosed data breaches in 2017 with 7.8 billion records exposed, according to Risk Based Security. That makes last year the worst ever in terms of frequency and severity of cyber-attacks. More than 20,000 vulnerabilities were discovered last year, making 2017 also a record year for vulnerabilities.
Though the threat is real, instead of viewing cybersecurity in terms of risk, organizations should approach cybersecurity as a business enabler. By building cybersecurity into the foundation of their business strategy, organizations will be able to support business agility, facilitate organizational operations and develop consumer loyalty.
3 ways security enables business growth
1. Security supports business agility
Digital transformation has created an environment of intense competition. Agile organizations can get the upper hand by using cutting-edge technologies to create new products and services, provide better customer experiences and more. A recent study by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation predicts that four out of ten leaders in each industry will be displaced by digital disruption within the next five years.
This means there’s no time to lose. However, digital transformation requires a strong cybersecurity posture. Businesses that curtail innovation over security concerns will be unable to innovate fast enough to stay competitive. One survey of C-level executives revealed that 69% of those surveyed said digitization is 'very important' to their company’s current growth strategy. 64% also recognized that cybersecurity is a 'significant' driver of the success of digital products, services, and business models. Yet, 71% of the surveyed executives said that worries about cybersecurity are hindering innovation in their organizations.
By creating a strong cybersecurity stance, businesses will be able to confidently drive digital transformation and capture new growth opportunities. The aforementioned survey found that respondents who strongly committed to growth through digital business models and offerings, with cybersecurity as a critical foundation, have higher confidence in securing key digital capabilities, making them more willing to pursue digital offerings, accelerating innovation and time to market.
2. Security facilitates business productivity
A successful cyber-attack can result in lack of access to systems for both employees and customers, ultimately disrupting business productivity. For example, downtime and system recovery from a ransomware attack can cost businesses and their customers weeks and sometimes months of productivity. The cost in lost productivity of last year’s WannaCry ransomware attack alone was estimated at $4 billion.
Among leaders of organizations using robotics or automation, 40% ranked disruption of operations or manufacturing as the biggest potential consequence of a cyber-attack, while 29% pointed to physical property damage. This is not merely theoretical concern; last year’s Petya cyber-attack disrupted business operations around the world.
Instituting strong security measures enables organizations to operate without being compromised or slowed down. Companies that invest in cyber resilience will be better able to sustain operations and performance – a definite competitive advantage over those caught unprepared by an attack.
3. Security develops customer loyalty
As in any industry, long-term product adoption and business growth strongly depend on consumer trust. If the buying public doesn’t believe that IoT devices are safe, for instance, that entire market segment is unlikely to thrive. Consumers value businesses with a trusted track record and commitment to protecting customer information. Through developing a reputation for safeguarding sensitive information and providing transparency to customers, businesses can improve brand loyalty while also gaining new customers.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 21st Global CEO Survey found that 87% of global CEOs say they are investing in cybersecurity to build trust with customers. 81% say they are creating transparency in the usage and storage of data. Unfortunately, less than half of CEOs say they are taking these actions 'to a large extent.' These laggards are missing an opportunity to differentiate themselves as trustworthy providers of goods and services and as excellent stewards of customer data.
Get positioned for success
Business opportunities have never been greater – and neither have the risks. A robust cybersecurity posture is no longer merely part of the cost of doing business; it determines whether a company will remain in business. A sound cybersecurity strategy engenders both innovation and customer trust, both essential for growth. It also keeps the operational wheels of business rolling. The old way of thinking of cybersecurity purely in terms of risk is outdated; cybersecurity is a business enabler and needs to be a key part of the strategy.