Could upping your security ability give you a competitive advantage?
By Dr. Csaba Kiss Kalló, head of portfolio for connectivity, mobility and security.
We hear everywhere that digital transformation is good for business, but still our recent survey on the Irish small to medium enterprises (SME) community shows that we are slow to act on this fact. And this is particularly true when it comes to security.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) the reason behind this is that SMEs invest significantly less into things like R&D, human resources, organisational changes and process innovation. And this in turn impacts on their capability to adopt technological innovations within their operations.
This includes the lack of adoption of new digital security and privacy practices – and the reason appears to be the lack of resources for managing risk.
In fact, the recently released Vodafone Cyber Ready Barometer reports that only 17% of businesses with 10 to 99 employees qualify as cyber ready, and only 3% have an advanced level of cyber readiness.
Availability of resources is a critical matter in every business and normally resources are used for the most important opportunities that the business can identify. This means that many businesses do not see cyber security as an opportunity.
If they consider it at all, they see it as an overhead cost, a cost that they can save.
There are many examples and stories in the media about the risks that cyber security represents in the digital space, as well as the damage that it has caused to businesses in the past. Most of these examples talk about major incidents involving large, multinational companies.
While these stories are scary, some SME owners and leaders think such incidents won’t happen to them because they don’t have the volume of valuable data that large companies have. They feel it is not worth the effort for anyone to go after their data.
Because of the number of attacks targeting larger companies, such companies have invested significant resources into cyber security and that is making them harder and more expensive to target by hackers.
The effect of this is that SMEs are becoming a more accessible target. And their data is as valuable, even if they have smaller quantities of it.
However, the point I want to make is not about the risk aspect of cyber security, but about the opportunity it creates!
Connectivity has become the blood stream of business – and of our economy and society overall – in our technology-dependent age. This means that businesses need high quality connectivity to operate uninterruptedly.
Cyber security has now become a new component of the definition of “high quality connectivity”, on the side of ultra-fast speed, high availability and excellent customer service. We can’t really call a connectivity service to be of high quality if it opens up a business, its employees and its customers to financial, reputational and other risks, can we?
Innovation is another area where cyber security is an enabler. Most of the innovation that is happing these days is technology related and data is springing out of more and more new business applications into the “bloodstream” of businesses.
Such applications are delivering business benefits and ultimately new revenue or cost savings. We can embrace such new applications only if we can guarantee that the generated data is kept secure and the privacy of its users is guaranteed.
Which means that cyber security is an enabler for innovation delivered through digital transformation.
Credibility is then the third element that can deliver growth through cyber security. People want to deal with businesses that will do everything they can to keep their data (and assets) safe.
A strong security posture builds credibility and loyalty in the customer base of a business. This then becomes a differentiator within a competitive SME market place.
In conclusion, if business leaders shift their focus from risk and cost to high quality, innovation and credibility, it doesn’t take too big of an effort to realise how cyber security can give a competitive edge to Irish SMEs in today’s technology-dependent economy.
Download the Cyber Ready Barometer report and find out more or Join us at the Cloud Security Summit on January 16 at the Dublin Convention centre