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How security can accelerate digital transformation

Digital transformation and security must be planned and deployed in tandem, says Ignus de Villiers, divisional manager of Cybersecurity at Nexio.

Johannesburg, 07 Nov 2019
Read time 3min 50sec

In today’s digital world, companies are constantly searching for ways to stay ahead of competitors. Many are investing in digital transformation initiatives to gain new ways of creating exceptional customer experiences, introduce new products and services, and improve productivity and efficiencies. However, while digital transformation presents a range of opportunities for organisations, it also brings with it challenges. Primary among these are the evolving security needs that come with an expanding digital presence.

Recent research by Cisco found that 71% of executives believe cyber security concerns impede innovation at their organisation. Similarly, a survey by Fortinet found that 85% of chief information security officers view security issues related to digital transformation as having a “somewhat” to “extremely large” effect on their companies.

This doesn’t have to be the case, says Ignus de Villiers, Divisional Manager of Cybersecurity at Nexio. “It’s no longer sustainable for organisations to forgo digital transformation or security integration as a means to enable the other. Digital transformation and security must be planned and deployed in tandem – and if they are, security can become one of the greatest enablers of digital transformation,” he says.

“Data breaches and cyber attacks are here to stay, and companies must make provision for this, regardless of where they are in their transformation journey. Even those companies that are only now starting to plan for digital transformation are at risk of being attacked. The growing attack surface brought by digital transformation is an extremely valid concern, but implementing the appropriate security measures can accelerate the adoption of new technologies that can then establish additional security safeguards, not to mention that companies that establish a reputation for taking cyber security seriously can get additional business value through increased customer confidence.”

Eighty-seven percent of CEOs surveyed for PWC’s 21CEO Survey agree. They all said they were investing in cyber security in order to build trust with customers. This is a positive change, De Villiers says, considering the prevailing view of security among executives has long been that it’s a cost centre, and not much else.

“Those companies that view security only as a necessary evil that is costing them more than it should are missing a golden opportunity to turn this ‘cost centre’ into a competitive differentiator. Not only is this attitude ineffectual when it comes to dealing with growing cyber threats like ransomware, it ignores the potential offered by security for improving efficiency and productivity.”

He adds that businesses that curtail innovation over security concerns will be unable to innovate fast enough to stay competitive in today’s fast-moving marketplace. By creating a strong cyber security posture, companies can not only drive digital transformation and capture new growth opportunities, they can confidently pursue innovation without worrying about adding a new weak point into their ecosystem.

“The view of security as a cost centre also ignores the productivity benefits offered by effective protection. Many companies are hindered by restrictive checks and balances from the security team, leading to a shadow IT culture. By building security into the digital transformation roadmap, the business can relax its restrictive posture and support flexibility and innovation, confident that if there is a breach, it will be detected and mitigated before it has an impact,” De Villiers says.

“A successful cyber attack can result in lack of access to systems for both employees and customers, and downtime and system recovery can cause weeks, if not months, of lost productivity. For companies that invest in cyber resilience, disruption is not a concern.”

He points out that for those companies re-examining established business models and processes to drive innovation and better business outcomes, a proactive and continuously integrated approach to security can better inform strategy and implementation. “Digital transformation will continue to make an impact on organisations for many years to come. As their ecosystems become more complex, businesses that create an integrated, scalable security fabric will be more likely to pursue new technology and innovations, giving them an advantage over their competitors.”

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Exposure Mia Andric (+27) 82 564 0087 mia@exposureunlimited.net
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