No digital transformation is complete without a solid cybersecurity strategy

Innovate with trust… or bust

Transformations are never easy, but a digital one presents even greater more challenges. Gilchrist Mushwana, Director: Advisory Services at BDO and Jacques Jansen van Rensburg, Associate Director: Advisory Services, unpack these challenges in a bid to simplify the complexities that surround this topic for many businesses.

According to the recent 2021 Technology Digital Transformation Survey of 100 C-suite technology executives, 92% of technology companies have a digital transformation strategy underway. It is also estimated that by 2023, digitally transformed organisations are forecast to contribute to more than half of the global GDP.

Defined as the adoption and integration of digital technologies across all facets of the business, digital transformation is necessary to improve operation processes in a rapidly evolving world. It represents a shift to more agile and intelligent ways of doing business, especially in the wake of Covid-19.

Digital transformation is powered by increasingly intelligent technologies which include advanced analytics, evolved artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart embedded devices. It's about technology, data, process, and organisational change.

But, accelerating the pace of digital transformation means nothing if solid plans are not in place. A cornerstone of any digital transformation strategy is cybersecurity. The need for the effective cybersecurity is growing in parallel with the increasing digitalisation of work processes, especially in the finance and auditing landscapes to ensure that they perform under increased demand and ongoing pressure. The abovementioned report also found that cyberattacks or privacy breaches are the number 1 digital threat, with 33% of respondents stating that cybersecurity and compliance is the biggest challenge they faced in the last 12 months, and 37% reporting that cybersecurity and data privacy risks was their top IT resilience challenge.

While it’s not possible to predict every threat, building a culture of resilience requires being agile and responsive to emerging risks. By investing in security and privacy, tech leaders will ensure that they retain the hard-earned and easily lost trust of customers, as well as the assurance that their own operations are secure.

Here are 4 measures that can be taken to ensure that cybersecurity is a prime part of any digital transformation strategy.

1. Take a proactive security stance

Taking a proactive stance is the best way to seamlessly integrate security into any digital transformation strategy. Vulnerabilities must be properly assessed and tested to avoid challenges later.

2. Get buy in from all stakeholders

Get all employees to adopt a digital transformation mindset. Security is a team effort that requires collaboration across an entire organisation from the C-Suite down. The people who use new tools and technology are the most important component to securing digital transformation efforts.

3. Remove silos

Secure digital assets from the inside out. From the onset silo walls must be broken down and replaced with open communication channels between every department. This will bridge gaps, promote collaboration and facilitate cross-functional cooperation.

4. Educate and communicate

Prioritise communication around the entire transformation and security journey. Clear communication about the benefits of digital transformation and why enhanced security measures are necessary helps teams understand the importance of these changes.

Doug Hart, National Co-Leader of BDO’s Technology Practice, shares this advice, “Privacy and trust are critically linked. Building a world class technology company with a best-in-class customer experience means building privacy and protection into the product or solution. With many tech companies now leading the conversation on the push for more guardrails and guidance around privacy, it’s also more critical to reputation than ever that they hold themselves to these same high standards.”

Digital transformation is a challenging but manageable task – essentially it is less about technology and more about people. Addressing all the elements in a cross-functional way and prioritising cybersecurity will facilitate secure digital transformation and ensure your company’s sustainability for years to come.

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