Cybersecurity: Cost Center or Growth Opportunity?
Managing Director, Global Security Sales Organization, Asia Pacific & Japan
Technology, Thought Leadership, Security
In an era of unparalleled digital disruption, where competition is intense, and 4 out of 10 leaders in each industry will be displaced within the next 5 years, it’s time for organizations to rethink the role of cybersecurity – from its traditional “defensive” role to that of a “growth enabler”. Compare it to the excellent brakes on a race car – the reason that race cars have brakes is to enable them to go faster – because having control when you need it allows you to go faster the rest of the time. Cybersecurity in this digital age is a lot like that, and organizations that make cybersecurity a vital foundation of their digital growth strategies are uniquely positioned to take advantage of new innovations and growth opportunities. Without this foundation, organizations will have no confidence to implement digital processes and technologies that fuel innovation and growth, and will hesitate to start digital projects – stifling their innovation potential and opening the door to digital disruptors.
We explored this concept in Cybersecurity as a Growth Advantage, a thought leadership global study examining the impact of cybersecurity on digitization. We surveyed more than 1,000 senior finance and line-of-business executives across 10 countries and here are some of the key insights: -
Inadequate Cybersecurity Stifles Innovation and Competitiveness
Lack of a strong cybersecurity strategy can impact a company’s innovation and growth because it hinders development of digital offerings and business models. In our study, a stunning 71% of executives said that concerns over cybersecurity are impeding innovation in their organizations, and 39% stated that they had halted mission-critical initiatives due to cybersecurity issues (see Illustration 1). Further, we found no strong correlation between geographical location and the impact of cybersecurity concern on innovation. Among industries, the perceived threat to innovation was lowest in hospitality/travel/entertainment and manufacturing/consumer packaged goods, and highest in technology products, business services, retail and banking. Also, business services had stopped the most mission critical initiatives due to cybersecurity concerns, followed by technology products and education. While cybersecurity concerns can hinder the pursuit of some digital business models and innovations, many organizations believe they must move forward or be left behind Illustration 1: Lack of cybersecurity cripples innovation and slow business
by digital disruptors and other agile competitors. In fact, 73% of survey
respondents admitted that they often embrace new technologies and business processes, despite the cybersecurity risk.
Cybersecurity Excellence Spurs Growth and Competitive Advantage
Given the tight connections among cybersecurity, digitization and innovation, cybersecurity excellence is increasingly being viewed as a driver of business value. In our study, nearly one-third of executives (31%) already make this linkage: They view “enabling growth” as the primary purpose of cybersecurity, and similarly, 44% of executives consider cybersecurity a “competitive advantage”, while 56% view it as “a cost of doing business”. These figures tell us there is a changing perception – moving from viewing cybersecurity investment strictly as “defensive” to also seeing it as “enabling” greater innovation. And among the surveyed countries, the “growth enablement” sentiment was stronger in China, India and Canada (see Illustration 2), while respondents from India, China and Brazil were most bullish about cybersecurity as a “competitive advantage”. Among industries, mining and utilities, retail and transportation/logistics had the highest percentage of respondents viewing cybersecurity as a “growth enabler”. In fact, we found that executives in nearly all industries see both the need to accelerate innovation and the critical linkage of llustration 2: Globally, almost one-third of executives link cybersecurity to digital products and services.
cybersecurity to growth
Cybersecurity Investment: CFOs Consider Growth Impact
As organizations come to recognize that cybersecurity excellence can boost agility, operational improvements and digital fluency, it begins to impact how finance executives invest in cybersecurity. Our study shows that today the “ability to enable business growth” accounts for one-third of the decision criteria weighed when considering cybersecurity investment, while 68% is focused on defensive criteria such as threat protection and regulatory compliance. Further, organizations are placing a new priority on cybersecurity investments. Nearly 90% of companies said they are increasing cybersecurity spending in the next year, and financial executives we interviewed said that it is becoming easier to get cybersecurity projects funded because the benefits are understood better.
What the above facts and figures say is clear – there’s never been a better time to pursue cybersecurity as a growth enabler. In fact, Cisco has identified 400+ cybersecurity-enabled digital use cases that will drive US$7.6 trillion in value over the next decade, and more than three-quarters of this value, i.e. US$5.8 trillion, will arise from cybersecurity’s essential role in fueling innovation and growth. In other words, if organizations continue to view cybersecurity solely in a defensive role, they are going to lose out on that US$5.8 trillion opportunity when cybersecurity concerns delay digital initiatives.
And it’s not only a matter of if organizations should embrace cybersecurity as a growth enabler, but when and how. Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will answer this by diving into how an organization can become a “secure digitizer”, one which uses cybersecurity to grow its businesses.
LinkedIn: Cisco Security page