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A New Frontier for Competitive Advantage

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Do you always wonder why your information technology person drones on and on about cybersecurity while you're just hoping they don't notice your eyes starting to glaze over?

As the president of an IT firm, we have witnessed this firsthand. But don't worry, we also have developed a breakdown of what leaders need to know when it comes to cybersecurity and how you can use it as a real competitive advantage:

Productivity: Many small-business owners, in my experience, envision cybersecurity as "nice to have" in comparison to a must. But cybersecurity should be thought of as a form of business continuity. This gives you the upper-hand when it comes to production. Prepare for hackers with fail-safes, like image-based backups, to set your company up for disaster recovery and misbehaving employees.

Public relations: Not having a real cybersecurity framework can also turn into a PR business killer. Let’s look at this through the eyes of a small-business-level company: Think about how others would perceive your lack of care for their data. To use your cybersecurity as a competitive advantage when it comes to public relations, show your clients how seriously you take the security of their data. And if your competitors' clients start leaving because of a breach on their end, you will be ready for them.

Gaining and retaining employees: Cybersecurity can help you lock down your most important information not only from evil-doers but also from competitors. For example, if a salesperson leaves your organization and joins a competitor's, they might try to take your company's intellectual property along with them. To avoid this, you can implement IT policies, software and configurations. Even if you try to enforce a non-disclosure agreement, having these types of components in place can help supply proof if (or when) malicious activity has occurred.

Make your cybersecurity program a disruptor.

How is your competition handling cybersecurity? Could you use your cybersecurity program to displace them? Focus on digital and your customer. Can you use your program to improve the client experience? Reduce costs or compliance risks? Scale your product? Protect your brand? Don’t be afraid to pursue new opportunities and move on them before your competition can.

This tactic isn’t limited to startups and smaller, more agile companies. Even established organizations can identify gaps within the market and create innovative strategies to address them. A strong cybersecurity program allows more room for experimentation, product testing, and faster responses to changing markets because it is continuously managed and adjusted. It also lets organizations of all sizes adopt new technologies and processes at the right times, which can result in new financial wins.

A weak program, on the other hand, doesn’t properly protect an organization and it also impedes the adoption of cutting-edge solutions. if your organization commits to cybersecurity from the start, you will be in a better position to drive the change necessary for analyzing and improving the value you deliver to your customers. Building cybersecurity into the beginning stages of development makes it an essential element rather than something you must haphazardly tack on when something goes wrong.

Remember: a cybersecurity program isn’t just about securing your assets. It is an asset.

Think beyond threats.

Most C-suite executives and board members understand how cybersecurity protects the organization from threats. They know they don’t want the brand in the headlines for the wrong reason (such as a breach). They probably understand how a weak program puts them at risk of financial, legal, and reputational consequences. They might spend a lot of time thinking about cybersecurity from these perspectives, but is there a more efficient use of this brainpower?

Cybersecurity fuels business growth. And it is the responsibility of everyone in your organization.

The C-suite and board members likely rely on a CISO or a CIO to handle the technical aspects of the program and look to these experts for advice. While this makes sense, it’s important to remember that accountability for cybersecurity is spread throughout the organization. When you are confident that technical components are being managed, it’s time to think about cybersecurity in the context of revenue and operations.

When you release new products or services, you’re held accountable for their security. You can calculate the cost of a cybersecurity incident. You will know what you spent on incident response teams, legal investigations or lawsuits, fines, or external communication plans. But that’s just the beginning. How much revenue will you lose when customers don’t want to do business with you because they no longer trust you with their data? Can you put a dollar amount on this loss of trust and reputation?

You understand the concept of supply and demand. Thanks to the increasing number of high profile data breaches, customers have a new demand: better security. Can you supply that to them? If so, they may well reward you by opening up their wallets. Something else to consider: what is the value of your intellectual property? Imagine that your confidential and strategic assets were compromised. Would you lose your position in the marketplace?

A cybersecurity program does not just help you “stop a hack.” It keeps your revenue stream intact.

Cybersecurity is a business problem.

As a business, you need to do everything possible to protect your information. This begins with the overall culture within your organization. First, ask yourself this: who is your company and what do you do for people? And then ask yourself this: what role do your data assets play in that?

Cybersecurity is complex and is not limited to risk management or mitigation. The nature of security is changing. Security professionals can’t just be thinking about threats – they must now consider the business mission. What does the organization, and the departments within it, want to achieve? Everything must stem from that central question.

Organizations need to stop approaching information security with the mindset of “what is the technical solution?” Instead, they should begin to think in terms of, “I need to solve this specific business problem. How should I do that?”

When you move beyond a purely technical approach, your cybersecurity program transforms from an operational plan into a revenue-generating competitive advantage.

Final Thoughts

A company’s competitive advantage comes from realizing the time gained for its employees in comparison to the capital investment in cybersecurity. This lines ups with one of my favorite old adages, “An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.” The companies I have seen be successful in this area know cybersecurity is not a "nice to have" but as a must.

Additionally, when budgeting IT infrastructure and cybersecurity, they should be seen as two separate line items. It is true they work together for your business, but IT infrastructure is for operating and cybersecurity is for protecting. They have completely different goals like gas and brake pedals.

Cymonix line of solutions can proactively address threats to your environment as your trusted long-term cybersecurity partner. A risk assessment can proactively identify and respond to a security incident such as this and can determine if threats are present.

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