Security among lowest priorities for ANZ digital transformation-minded executives

Respondents more concerned about business issues such as competition and regulation

Security's profile may be increasing overall, but transformation-minded executives across Australia and New Zealand have shown scant attention to the area in a survey that put security nearly at the bottom of their list of priorities during digital-transformation efforts.

The Tech Research Asia (TRA)-Hitachi study, Taking Digital Transformation to the Next Level, gauged attitudes and progress around digital transformation, which was well advanced with two-thirds of respondents indicating they already had such a program underway.

Results were mixed, however, with 40 percent of the 200 surveyed IT and business executives indicating their transformation efforts had produced results that were either mixed, too difficult to measure, or delivered no competitive advantage.

Respondents cited ongoing issues with the competitive environment, internal culture, regulation, and skills as the biggest challenges preventing them from achieving their transformation goals. Yet internal attitudes were also a challenge for some businesses, with nearly 1 in 5 respondents (17 percent) classifying their CEO as a 'digital cynic'.

Security was well down the leader board when surveyed executives were asked about their organisation's top priorities, with less than 4 percent naming security enhancements as one of their top 3 focus areas over the next year.

Security issues were also named as being of the least concern to executives when asked about the biggest challenges they envisioned. Only 2 percent of respondents put security issues in their top 3, putting the area well behind business issues such as new competitors (18 percent), internal culture (17 percent), existing competitors (14 percent), and the regulatory environment (13 percent).

“Digital transformation is in danger of being the next poster child for failed technology initiatives if leaders don't review their current approach,” the analysis warns, noting that privacy and security concerns are crucial to data governance – which it names as one of five key building blocks companies need to have in place to progress digital-transformation agendas.

“Few companies today have the necessary building blocks in place to support digital transformation and thrive in tomorrow's digital world.... Organisations need to invest in digital readiness and improving agility and culture to provide the requisite platforms to support truly transformational projects.”

Digital transformation remains a buzzword within the IT and business world, which has embraced the idea with varying degrees of commitment. Transformation experts have variously pointed to the need to improve areas such as business culture, change management, human factors, and assertiveness in promoting change, with CIOs often called upon to lead the charge within the organisation.

The analysis offers a digital readiness checklist, designed to evaluate maturity in handling 11 different stakeholders as a guide to help organisations to evaluate their own progress towards digital transformation.

Yet if the results of recent other studies are any guide, that maturity remains seriously wanting despite the escalating hype around the term 'digital transformation'. Recent research from Intel Security, for example, found that ANZ businesses were lagging other countries in the maturity of their business data protection policies and were more reactive than proactive.

And while CISOs are being increasingly empowered to drive information-security issues throughout the organisation and to clamp down on security in technical areas such as DevOps, the results of the TRA study suggest that they have their work cut out for them in raising the profile of security to become a more significant concern amongst business executives.

This is particularly relevant given looming breach-notification laws, which will introduce a broad range of repercussions should security be found wanting.

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Tags buzzwordANZsecuritydigital transformationexecutivesCISOloss preventionLow priorityTech Research Asia (TRA)CSO Australiabusiness security

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