Cybersecurity to help businesses deliver digital growth strategies: Cisco

Cisco has highlighted in a new research report that cybersecurity is increasingly being viewed by business executives as a competitive growth strategy initiative.

Cybersecurity to businesses is no longer just about reducing risk, but is now being considered at a board level as part of the business strategy, according to new research by Cisco.

The Cybersecurity as a Growth Advantage report shows that 64 percent of executives recognise that cybersecurity is fundamental to their digital growth strategy, with nearly one third believing the primary purpose of cybersecurity is to be a growth enabler, while another 44 percent of executives believe cybersecurity is a competitive advantage.

China, India, and Canada were countries where growth enablement sentiment was strongest, with the report suggesting the views from these countries reflect the sharp rise in digital adoption.

From a sector by sector point of view, the research showed growth enablement sentiment is strongest in mining and energy, and retail.

According to John N Stewart, Cisco Chief Security and Trust Officer senior vice president, finance teams have solidified the beliefs executives have about cybersecurity, saying they also agree there are business benefits to be gained.

"The finance teams are saying it's bringing in growth. I feel more confident that it's not just the executive team, but also the guys that are controlling the money that are seeing the true growth in the business," he said.

The research also revealed that inadequate cybersecurity can hinder a business' growth. Nearly 40 percent of respondents admitted they have halted their mission-critical initiatives due to cybersecurity issues. Meanwhile, 60 percent of survey respondents indicated their organisations are reluctant to innovate in areas such as digital products and services because of the potential cybersecurity risks.

Stewart highlighted that when it comes to SSL attacks, the largest problem businesses currently face is the lag time it takes to fix a problem.

He pointed out that firms are losing out potentially $5.8 trillion in opportunity when cybersecurity concerns delay digital growth strategies.

On the topic of how companies plan to ensure cybersecurity forms part of their digital strategies, Stewart said more than 80 percent will be increasing their overall spend on cybersecurity to improve governance, measurability, and provability.

When asked how the cybersecurity skill shortage could potentially impact on plans for businesses, Stewart said that while there is no overnight solution, efforts by governments and organisations to address the issue will close the talent pool gap.

He highlighted the Australian government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda as an example. Announced in December, the innovation agenda will see AU$48 million pledged to inspire pre-schoolers through post-graduates to participate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.