Commercial opportunities in security problems

News by Mark Say

Problems with information security can be turned into commercial opportunities says business consultancy giant KPMG.

Malcolm Marshall, KPMG's global lead on information protection and business resilience, told the Economist CIO Forum in London yesterday that, “there are opportunities in a high risk world, not just to protect revenues but to create value”.

He said that information security issues are taking on a higher profile in the boardroom of many companies, and according to a study last year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the boards of 70 percent of companies in the FTSE 250 believed cyber-threats will get worse. This is giving CISOs/CIOs more influence in the boardroom, and can help them make the case for investments in cyber-security.

But they can also use the opportunity to extend their influence by identifying how improvements in the area can increase profitability. This includes identifying how better security can provide savings in operations, especially if it involves securely moving more applications to cloud systems.

In addition, raising the profile of data security with customers can be used as a selling point as it convinces them the company takes it seriously. This can be taken a step further if it involves providing more transparency over how their personal data is used, and could provide more scope for data sharing with other parties to develop new differentiated services.

The opportunities are likely to come from security and commercial teams working closely together to identify where cyber-threats are most likely to affect revenues and concentrate on finding solutions.

“I believe that if you have very strong security teams, combining technology and business, and you're intellectually strong you have the opportunity to save money and create revenue,” Marshall said.

In a panel discussion the argument was taken up by Gary Cheetham, chief information security and data protection officer for NFU Mutual, which offers financial services to farmers. He cited the way credit card providers conform to the PCI Data Security Standard to secure customer information and highlight this in their marketing literature.

Marshall acknowledged to, however, that there are major challenges involved, and that the timescale will depend on the conditions in specific industries. He suggested it will take at least five years for many companies to identify and begin to exploit the revenue opportunities, but said that some manufacturers of medical devices are already making progress, seeing the commercial potential in convincing customers that they can keep patient data secure.

There will also be massive opportunities in using data via the internet of things if companies can convince people it will be kept secure, he said. “If you can solve the big problems around security you can unleash vast amounts of valuable data,” he concluded.

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