What are CEOs in 2020 worried about? PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO survey seeks to find the answers. Released at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the report ranks the following issues as biggest threats to their companies’ growth:
Here’s what jumps out at me:
Cyber Threats Are a Growing Worry
Cyber threats rank Number 4 on the worry list, a higher ranking than in 2019. As the report says:
With no effective global framework in place that can govern practices or control attacks on digital technology, a majority of CEOs surveyed foresee increasing legislation around online content, data privacy and dominant tech platforms. As a result, it is likely that the internet will become more fractured. The backlash against the internet’s dominant model of one global, all-encompassing and all-knowing platform is an expected development — and may lead to a path forward that is at once more distributed and underpinned by certain common standards. If the global economy is to realize the full promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a greater level of coordination on these issues will be necessary.
In North America, half of CEOs are “extremely concerned” about cyber threats, the largest of any region.
Cyber Threats and Privacy
The PwC report makes an important distinction to consider with cyber security. Cyber security is a:
- Threat to businesses themselves (e.g., the disruption caused by attacks on a company’s own digital infrastructure)
- Potential growth inhibitor because of privacy issues related to how businesses manage customer data.
As the report points out,
...the debate rages on as to whether governments should adapt their existing frameworks to emerging standards, or draw new boundaries on data privacy, content moderation, and the size and reach of dominant platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple). If those boundaries are drawn too tightly, they inhibit cross-border data flows, the effectiveness of cybersecurity and, simply put, innovation. The friction between these imperatives sows distrust and division, resulting in the increased fragmentation of societies.
Here’s what I suggest to CEOs: make cybersecurity and protecting consumer privacy your personal priorities.
As our CEO Don Scales discuss in a recent Forbes column, not enough CEOs are acting on concerns about protecting their digital infrastructures against threats cyber threats. They’re relying on their IT departments to handle security -- as they should -- but CEOs need to take a more personal interest in security, too. For example, they need to educate themselves on the basics (how many CEOs know what phishing is and why it’s a threat?)
As for protecting consumer privacy: as we’ve been discussing on our own blog, businesses can and should manage increased government regulation related to consumer data privacy. Our recent blog posts on the California Consumer Privacy Act in the United States and General Data Protection Regulation in Europe underscore these points. Addressing these issues starts with the CEO.
At Investis Digital, we closely follow privacy legislation. We subject ourselves to third-party audits for data privacy and security that go far beyond what you will see from other communications firms. We actively deploy solutions to help our clients maximize engagement with their audience, while respecting a newfound demand for privacy. For more insight, me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we have a practice that helps businesses safeguard their own digital infrastructures against cyber threats. It’s based on our own bullet-proof security measures. Check out our guide, A Rising Tide: An Overview of Securing Public Websites in the Cloud, for more insight into the steps we take to fight cyber threats.