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Cybersecurity as an investment: How cybersecurity generates business value

18 June 2020 | Enrique Pena

In your organisation, is cybersecurity considered a core component of the fundamental business? Or is it still seen as a business risk to be minimised versus a business attribute to be leveraged?

New, digitally-driven business models are changing the nature of competition, and in it, cybersecurity can and is a business lever. In the digital economy today, if you are selling a product or service, you are now selling trust and reputation. To gain your client's trust, your cybersecurity and privacy practices need to be in order. Up to the minute, cyber-risk reduction in the forefront helps your customers and product users sleep well at night, knowing that they are safe from harm. It dramatically affects how your organisation and its brand are seen in the market. With heightened cybersecurity, not only are you protecting your customers, but you are also putting your company under good light effectively making your brand a more desirable option in the market. Hence, cybersecurity builds trust, which leads to loyalty and growth. Lack thereof will only bury your company and its offering among your competitors.

Cyber security drives innovation

Keeping pace with cybersecurity and data privacy also drives innovation and growth. Businesses and even government entities providing services must be in the constant state of bettering themselves to thrive in the market. To succeed in the market, you need your audience to trust your products and brand. Those lacking the proper cybersecurity practices will experience slower adoption of their digital capabilities, resulting in a smaller realisation of their potential digital benefits. Cybersecurity is especially critical when new technologies are redefining value chains, and organisations need to remain vigilant to stay relevant. Partners or vendors will control much of the technology necessary to remain relevant.

In these complex ecosystems of digital products and services, intelligent and strategic implementation, collaboration, and investment in cybersecurity and adhering to policies and standards solidify the advancement of influential technologies and digital experiences of our time. As Malcolm Marshall, head of cybersecurity at KPMG, once nicely put it, "the most innovative companies have recognised that cybersecurity is a customer experience and revenue opportunity, not just a risk that needs to be managed."

Business value through brand association

Organisations can create newfound opportunities by using cyber as a true business driver. When cybersecurity is strategically looked at and aligned with the business, customer desires can be realised and monetised. Effective cybersecurity measures are also a great story to tell, which should make marketing teams happy. In brand management, marketers can educate customers and audiences to understand the weight of cybersecurity and data privacy in the organisation's products and services and how they affect them directly. This builds an image of a benevolent, trustworthy company or government entity.

Your audience will also appreciate an understanding of how security has been applied to safeguard every business process in your organisation against potential cybersecurity risks. Today, more and more businesses are taking proactive digital security measures and are communicating about it in public, many times as corporate social responsibility initiatives -- Apple and its CEO are among those loudest. It is about time businesses learn that they are more liable for their customers' and audiences' security and privacy than they thought. Taking good care of your customer has never been a bad thing.

Proper cybersecurity adds to brand equity as an asset. When cyber is more deeply integrated into any company initiative, product, or service development, it can be influential in increasing brand loyalty. Trust is the essential aspect of any commercial interaction and the hardest to measure. If potential buyers do not trust the maker, they will not know what it is they are getting. And because trust cannot be proven, it must be signalled through branding and marketing. Especially consumers see value in organisations providing more transparency and communication to assure cybersecurity protections are ongoing and present. Organisations that invest and align cybersecurity as a business priority can create advantageous positioning as trusted providers and leaders of products and services. Reputation and trust are precious attributes buyers seek, appreciate, and act on. And all this is equally relevant in B2B too.

Cyber security yields tangible business value

Government entities and businesses realise how the cost of managing cyber risk is becoming more of an investment than an expense. The following couple examples give some insight into the impact of how considering cybersecurity as an investment spans beyond just an organisation's brand and becomes a tangible business value.

  • Say, in a potential merger and acquisition use case, you can be sure the buyer is more likely than not calculating the cybersecurity profile of the target company before making a decision. Cybersecurity risk is intrinsic to a company's valuation, and it is essential due diligence. Unhealthy cyber puts deals and their prices at risk.
  • In terms of digital products and services, you can bet buyers no longer assume they are fully secure. Hence, especially in B2B markets, security is a necessity and a contractual requirement; cyber stature is now a revenue enabler.
  • Entering new markets or nations requires proof of cybersecurity rigour and compliance before allowing a product or solution in. In some nations, you need to prove your products are free of cyber vulnerabilities by undergoing penetration testing or certifications.

The list is endless, and it is why organisations are encouraged to make the best use of their cybersecurity investments, promote them to help gain competitive advantage and to make a positive business impact ultimately.

So, at what point does cybersecurity become a core component of business? We at Digital14 believe managing cyber risk is equal to managing any other business risk. Cybersecurity is putting customer trust at the centre of the competitive landscape. To capture their share of value, organisations must build cybersecurity into their digital solutions as a foundational element, rather than trying to bolt it on as an afterthought. Let your customers and investors know that you value security. Security builds trust.

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