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Think Like a Business Leader

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe the importance of cybersecurity in contributing to business success.
  • Explain how to position the cybersecurity team as business enablers.

The Business Impact of Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are a constant concern. The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report found that cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks for the next decade. Leaders can take an active role to prepare their business to handle these threats by understanding their cyber responsibilities and the impact on the business. This is true of the roles and responsibilities of the chief information security officer, but also of other key stakeholders in the C-Suite, including the chief information officer, chief trust officer, and chief data officer. 

So, how does a leader get there? It requires a mindset shift from the historical perspective of technology as a support function. Rather than viewing technology as secondarily important to business activities, effective security practitioners understand that cybersecurity has a direct influence on business reputation, stock value, revenue, brand equity, customer relations, and product time to market. They communicate risks in these terms, which the business organization can understand. 

As a leader, you can also help change the cyber narrative from one driven by fear, to one in which each person in the organization understands that being on the cutting edge of security practices enables competitive advantage and provides new opportunities for building trust in technology. Just like a seasoned tour guide leading travelers on a voyage in a new land, savvy leaders help their organization discover the new possibilities technology brings to advance business goals. 

A tour guide is leading a group of travelers.

Cybersecurity as a Business Enabler

Organizations that have a strong cybersecurity program continuously deliver solid results despite the risks of operating in an increasingly technology-enabled world. Leaders who view cybersecurity as a business enabler foster transparency, to ensure everyone on the executive team understands their role in protecting the organization, and the business advantages to doing so. They turn cybersecurity from a compliance exercise into an operational best practice. 

When leaders view cybersecurity as a business enabler, they:

  • Think critically about how to use security and technology to improve the bottom line.
  • Proactively solve problems in new ways.
  • Evaluate technical opportunities and risks in terms of business opportunities and risks.
  • Develop a deep understanding of the cyber threats unique to the business/industry.

When leaders shift their thinking about cybersecurity towards business enablement, they align the objectives of the cybersecurity and business strategy and therefore strengthen both the organization’s technology program and the business’ success in meeting customer needs. 

Working in tandem towards shared goals in this way, leaders can integrate the cybersecurity function into the overall team. In this way, everyone is more secure, and more likely to reach shared end goals.  

Sum It Up

Organizations continually confront new challenges and opportunities in securing their systems and data. By thinking like business leaders, cybersecurity leaders adopt an active role in ensuring that the entire organization works towards an end state that enables the business. In the next unit, you learn more about how leaders can leverage internal and external partnerships to help realize business and technology goals. 

Resources