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IT Security Enters the Boardroom

Bill Bradley, SVP, Cyber Engineering and Technology Services, CenturyLink
Bill Bradley, SVP, Cyber Engineering and Technology Services, CenturyLink

Bill Bradley, SVP, Cyber Engineering and Technology Services, CenturyLink

Not too long ago, IT issues such as cybersecurity and data protection were reserved for the back office—and rarely considered by organizations in driving revenue and aligning market strategy. These efforts even ran independent of mainstream activities like increased bandwidth or advanced innovation.

  Originally, cybersecurity was thought to be at odds with innovation and growth. Cautious or risk-averse enterprises were considered most safe, while those at the cutting edge injected risk into business models  

But the digital transformation shakes up the norm, as companies adopt next-generation solutions to become more agile, scalable, and customer-centric. And while advanced technologies and processes like automated manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and Internet-enabled 3D printing certainly advance business goals, they also accelerate risk. The reliance on electronic data and unmanned processes is spawning a new era of hacking, aimed at disrupting sensitive customer and business data. With security now key to business longevity and success, there’s an extra seat placed at the board room table—and it’s being filled by the IT security professional.

A recent survey by Gartner Group examines the impact of technology on business strategy, as automation and data analytics become strategic cornerstones to enhance business agility, cut costs, and spark innovation. That survey reports more than 50 percent of CEOs expect this transformation to directly impact organizational strategies. A majority of CEOs and business leaders additionally rank technology-driven change as the key for business growth. And that places IT security front and center.

It’s a far cry from where the industry started. Originally, cybersecurity was thought to be at odds with innovation and growth. Cautious or risk-averse enterprises were considered most safe, while those at the cutting edge injected risk into business models. But if the digital transformation has proved anything, it’s that the two are no longer mutually exclusive.

In fact, a PwC survey found nearly 60 percent of IT leaders plan to increase security spending as a result of going digital. And it’s not just because data breaches cost millions of dollars, but a strong security strategy also forms a “safety net” for innovation. CIOs are moving from tech champions to business strategists.

A concerted effort is underway to translate complex technology processes into business objectives— using language spoken in the board room. Executives must be assured core assets are protected during this time of change, and also understand how security sparks growth. Read the rest of my blog on ThinkGig for a list of IT strategies to consider.

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