Not too long ago, IT issues such as cybersecurity and data protection were reserved for the back office – and rarely considered by organizations in driving revenue and aligning market strategy. These efforts even ran independent of mainstream activities like increased bandwidth or advanced innovation.

But the digital transformation shakes up the norm, as companies adopt next-generation solutions to become more agile, scalable, and customer-centric. And while advanced technologies and processes like automated manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and Internet-enabled 3D printing certainly advance business goals, they also accelerate risk. The reliance on electronic data and unmanned processes is spawning a new era of hacking, aimed at disrupting sensitive customer and business data. With security now key to business longevity and success, there’s an extra seat placed at the board room table – and it’s being filled by the IT security professional.

A recent survey by Gartner Group examines the impact of technology on business strategy, as automation and data analytics become strategic cornerstones to enhance business agility, cut costs, and spark innovation. That survey reports more than 50 percent of CEOs expect this transformation to directly impact organizational strategies. A majority of CEOs and business leaders additionally rank technology-driven change as the key for business growth. And that places IT security front and center.

It’s a far cry from where the industry started. Originally, cybersecurity was thought to be at odds with innovation and growth. Cautious or risk-averse enterprises were considered most safe, while those at the cutting edge injected risk into business models. But if the digital transformation has proved anything, it’s that the two are no longer mutually exclusive.

In fact, a PwC survey found nearly 60 percent of IT leaders plan to increase security spending as a result of going digital. And it’s not just because data breaches cost millions of dollars, but a strong security strategy also forms a “safety net” for innovation. CIOs are moving from tech champions to business strategists.

A concerted effort is underway to translate complex technology processes into business objectives – using language spoken in the board room. Executives must be assured core assets are protected during this time of change, and also understand how security sparks growth. It’s certainly no easy task, but there are strategies IT experts should consider:

  • Training is the most important piece of a business-focused security strategy. Management should fully understand the current risk landscape, and which threats are most likely to derail corporate or revenue objectives.
  • IT leaders are now required to speak in financial and business security terms. Follow it up with specific plans and strategies clearly highlighting initiatives that minimize risk and drive growth.
  • A repeatable, measurable security plan creates business relevance. Board members need to understand the elements and scope of security initiatives – and how investments better achieve business goals. Every piece of the security plan is supported by performance metrics and budget requirements.
  • As security has its role in business planning, executives can grasp how subpar plans stifle financial growth and market objectives. Translated into a business process, these metrics are then used to determine IT investments with the highest priorities.

Cybersecurity is a leading indicator of business success, and the entire organization is responsible for keeping critical business assets safe. It is incumbent upon all business leaders – not just the CSO and CIO – to lead the conversation. As a cornerstone of business sustainability, it’s critical for cybersecurity programs to be backed by company-wide training and support. And management has to align with security teams, determining the right strategies for boosting agility while maintaining security.

Now is the time for CIOs and CTOs to brush up on their board room language – and a valued partner can make this easier. Working alongside your team, companies like CenturyLink bring years of expert cybersecurity and managed security services experience – and can design proactive cybersecurity strategies with your unique business objectives in mind.

Cybersecurity planning doesn’t have to be risky. Contact a CenturyLink security expert today.

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