For those of us leading businesses today, digital transformation is a constant. The technology that powers our world is changing faster than ever and businesses must keep pace if they want to survive. Yes, it is that stark – and it is why 93% of the large-scale businesses we asked are currently engaged in digital transformation projects of their own.
The figure is taken from a recent survey we sent out to almost 300 company leaders to take the temperature of digital transformation activity on a wider scale. It is reassuring that so many have recognised the need for it in our shifting times, driven by the acceptance that customer loyalty depends on being seen as a modern business, delivering products and services in such a way that matches customer expectations and changing trends.
Of the small number of companies who admitted to not being engaged in digital transformation, the main reason for an absence of activity was a lack of vision (47%), followed by a general resistance to change (40%) and the challenges around legal/risk management/compliance (40%). This is insightful; it shows that, even in our era of rapid digital evolution, a strong, inspirational leader remains crucial to guide a business onto the path of transformation and reassure that change is a positive, necessary activity today.
For the many who are committed to the transformation path, the survey offered an opportunity to delve into their mindset and showed that cyber security is their single biggest concern. Just over half of respondents (53%) cited it as a top threat and 95% expressed concern, with almost half (41%) admitting to being either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried.
While anxieties are never comfortable, we welcome this concern about cyber security. It is something we have always taken very seriously at Nominet in our position as a piece of critical national infrastructure and the registry for the .UK Domain, but it does not end with organisations like us. It is crucial that all businesses are considering security in every aspect of their operations and it should always be front of mind when embarking on change to avoid creating new vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
Unfortunately, despite the encouragingly high levels of concern around cyber security, this recent report suggested that worries are not always translating into effective action. Of those undergoing digital transformation projects, 82% believe they are considering security early enough in their projects to be integral, yet 86% suffered a breach in the past 12 months. It suggests a possible over-confidence of business leaders who are not as fully prepared as they think they are, or intend to be.
Anyone who attempted it will recognise the difficulty of retroactively fitting security into a system; it must be built into the very architecture or risk leaving vulnerabilities that criminals will find. And the stakes are high, including the damage to customer trust and loyalty that comes from a breach or incident. Additionally, companies now face huge GDPR fines for their errors, as recently befell Marriot and British Airways with combined fines totalling over £300m.
In today’s climate of data privacy and amid a growing customer awareness of the security of their personal information online, businesses cannot risk such high profile and expensive breaches if they wish to remain operating – or any breach whatsoever. Change and upheaval offers prime opportunity for security to be overlooked within a business, and as change becomes a norm in digital times, we must position security as central to all we do to keep our businesses secure. We hope this new research will keep cyber security and digital transformation within the media discourse, helping leaders and their IT teams recognise what needs to be done to transform safely, securely and successfully.