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Cyber, cyber everywhere

Is your cyber strategy everywhere too?

Organizations are embedding connected digital technologies in their information technologies, operational technologies, and end products, making cyber a top organizational priority. Innovating fast is now contingent on a well-orchestrated cyber program.

IN the 21st century, the connective power of technology is giving rise to a wave of innovative products and services that are transforming the way people live and work. Consider Disney World Parks. Known for pushing the limits of its audience’s imagination, Disney World combined sensor technology, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) to create connected, radio-frequency identification (RFID)-based wristbands that help create more immersive and enjoyable experiences for guests. These wristbands have helped Disney World both improve operations and better serve visitors, enabling organizers to—for instance—deploy special events to remove ride bottlenecks in real-time (such as putting on Disney-character shows that hold guests’ attention as they wait in long queues).


The technology has made it easier to create personalized guest experiences such as customized hotel accommodations and first-name-basis interactions with characters. And, not least, the wristbands, built with security as a top-of-mind design element, have helped Disney World cultivate safer digital and physical environments for its guests. For example, the wristbands are paired with multifactor identification mechanisms such as fingerprints and personal identification numbers to restrict park access and in-park purchases. And in a venue that caters to thousands of guests daily, the RFID-based wristbands can help security personnel quickly identify and reunite a lost child with his or her family.

To build innovative, connected experiences, businesses need a strong cyber program.1 Every time a device is connected to a sensor that in turn connects to a network, a new cyber vulnerability emerges at each connection point. On a larger scale, connected technologies increasingly underpin the functioning of the nation’s power grids, factories, entertainment venues, and communication and transportation infrastructures. Indeed, cyber vulnerabilities are seemingly everywhere these days, and they’re only going to become more prevalent in the future.

Yet, just because cyber is everywhere, it doesn’t mean that corporate strategies are necessarily following suit for addressing cross-enterprise risks. In Deloitte’s 2019 Future of cyber survey, which polled more than 500 C-level executives on cyber issues, more than 90 percent of respondents suggested that less than 10 percent of their cyber budgets were allocated to digital transformation efforts such as cloud migration, AI-driven products, and software-as-a-service (SaaS)—all areas where cyber vulnerabilities are becoming more prevalent.2

The risk isn’t just that cyber incidents will destroy value in the classical sense. The opportunity cost of what cyber vulnerabilities can prevent organizations from doing can be far greater. The spectre of cybercrime and its fallout can cast a shadow over an organization’s efforts to turn technology to better use, strangling innovation and slowing digital transformation efforts to a crawl. Though digital and connected technologies are immensely fertile ground for innovation for organizations in all industries, their potential will go untapped if that ground is perceived to be too risky to be worth exploring.

Many executives are wrestling with this reality even now. In a recent global study on AI initiatives among businesses, 49 percent of respondents, a plurality, cited “cybersecurity vulnerabilities” as their top concern.3 An earlier study polling US executives also revealed that 30 percent of respondents had slowed down an AI initiative to address cyber concerns, and another 20 percent had decided to not even start such initiatives due to their cyber implications.4

This is why cyber today is not purely a risk management issue but is instead a core business enabler. For organizations to fully reap the benefits of new, digitally-enabled technologies, they need to view cyber as a digital transformation priority. In an era when technological innovation underpins a business’s marketplace performance, organizations that put cyber at the forefront should be better positioned to drive innovation and, consequently, bottom-line growth. Conversely, in the absence of a well-orchestrated cyber program, new products and services will be exposed to greater financial, brand, and regulatory risks, likely slowing their development and marketplace penetration.

The good news is that for those looking to redesign their businesses with cyber as a fundamental element, a host of new opportunities is emerging. While this is new ground for almost everyone, organizations can take action today to understand their cyber vulnerabilities, assess the risks, and put protections in place that make technology a safe space for innovation to grow the business.


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