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Boards ramp up investment in data privacy and security

Boards ramp up investment in data privacy and security

Boards ramp up investment in data security and privacy in the rush to become GDPR compliant and to avoid highly damaging data breaches which have reached an all-time high, reports the 2018 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey.


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  • Cyber crime threats reach all-time high.
  • Only a fifth of world’s IT leaders are well prepared for a cyber attack.
  • Over a third of organisations were GDPR non-compliant.

The largest IT leadership survey in the world, analysing responses from organisations with a combined annual cyber security spend of up to US$46bn , found almost a quarter (23 percent) more respondents than in 2017 are prioritisng improvements in cyber security as cyber crime threats reach an all-time high, while managing operational risk and compliance has also become a significantly increased priority (up 12 percent). These two areas represent the fastest growing IT priorities of company boards. 

IT leaders today face the challenging task of delivering rich, customer-centric data in an environment laden with risk. Data trust and privacy threats continue to hold the attention of CIOs, but while measures to improve data security are underway within companies and through legislation such as GDPR, over a third (38 percent) of those surveyed in April expected they would not be GDPR compliant at the deadline. Additionally, 77 percent of IT leaders are ‘most concerned’ about the threat of organised cyber crime, up from 71 percent last year. Only one fifth (22 percent) state they are well-prepared for a cyber attack.

The survey found that trust is the new battleground for IT, as organisations delicately balance the revenue-driving potential of utilising customer data with the need for privacy and security. Those businesses managing this balance most effectively (customer-centric organisations) are 38 percent more likely to report greater profitability than their competitors. However, the drive towards protecting data has caused a huge demand for ‘security and resilience’ skills, which experienced the biggest jump in skills shortages, increasing 25 percent year-on-year.

“CIOs have a significant balancing act in 2018” said Bridget Gray, Asia Pac MD, Harvey Nash Group. “On one hand the board is asking them to drive innovation, promote agility and following recent high profile data breaches, ensure the responsible use of customer data. On the other hand, the board is increasing scrutiny and demanding improved reporting on cybersecurity, data integrity and resilience, as regulators and consumers become much more demanding on personal data. The organisations that can get this balance right, between innovation and governance, are in the strongest position to compete in an increasingly complex technology environment.”

“Australian CIOs are facing increasing pressure.” said Guy Holland, National Lead Partner, Digital Consulting, KPMG Australia. “This study has highlighted rising levels of board scrutiny for issues such as cyber security and privacy, as well an accelerating pace of digital change across organisations. At the same time, CIOs are meeting the challenge of orientating digital strategy around the customer.

With skills shortages around areas such as big data and analytics also on the mind for Australia’s tech leaders, those who are successful will be those who can attract, retain and develop talent.”

A move towards digital platforms and solutions is proving a huge challenge for CIOs. While organisations recognise an effective digital strategy is critical to successful data security, many report they still struggle - with 78 percent stating that their digital strategy is only moderately effective, or worse. More than a third of companies (35 percent) can’t hire and develop the people they need with digital skills. And almost one in ten (9 percent) think that there is no clear digital vision or strategy at all.

To help with digital success, chief digital officers (CDOs) are proving their worth. Organisations with a CDO, either in a dedicated or acting role, are over twice as likely to have a clear and pervasive digital strategy than those without one (44 percent versus 21 percent). The report also shows that the most influential and successful organisations are fanatical about delivering value both to and from their customers – ‘Customer centric’ organisations are 38 percent more likely to report greater profitability than their competitors.

Female IT leadership inches forward

  • Female IT leadership continues on an exceptionally slow upward trend, this year reaching 12 percent – up from 10 percent last year.
  • Women represent just one in five (21 percent) of technology teams.
  • The industry appears to be significantly divided on the extent to which diversity matters to business success. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of IT executives say inclusion and diversity has no bearing on achieving business and technology objectives. Forty seven (47) percent report it has some influence, and 30 percent say inclusion and diversity impacts business and technology objectives to a great exten

Big Data and Analytics remain the no.1 needed skill

  • Two thirds (65 percent) say skills shortages are preventing them from keeping up with the pace of change.
  • For the fourth year in a row, big data and analytics is the number one skill in short supply (46 percent).

About the Survey

In its 20th year, the 2018 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey is the largest IT leadership survey in the world in terms of number of respondents. The survey of 3,958 CIOs and technology leaders was conducted between 20December 2017 and 3 April 2018, across 84 countries.

About Harvey Nash

Harvey Nash has helped over half the world's leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 2,500 employees in 36 locations, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and IT outsourcing.

About KPMG

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 154 countries and territories and have 200,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

For further information

Ashford Pritchard
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