CIO study sheds light on cyber security and skills deficiencies

Guy Holland, Head of Digital Consulting
Guy Holland, Partner, National Lead, Digital Consulting, Technology Strategy & Performance
Gordon Archibald, Partner, Technology Risk
Gordon Archibald, Partner, National Lead, Cyber Security Services

Data has become the lifeblood of modern business but it is also the new currency in security, and the prime focus of criminals and threat actors. In 2017, one in two businesses was threatened by a ransomware attack, one of the fastest growing types of cyber-crime.

Yet according to the largest IT leadership survey in the world, only 22 percent of CIOs say they are well-prepared for a cyber-attack.

Increasing regulatory focus on data and privacy including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and changes to the Australia Privacy Act requiring mandatory breach notification have further raised the focus to a business risk top of mind with boards. Although the full impact of this new legislation on Australian organisations is yet to be fully understood.

In highly regulated industries already under pressure to make significant investments in reforming their operations, the additional burden of GDPR and its local derivatives will make it harder still to focus time and energy on innovation.

CIOs have identified that more needs to be done. In fact, compared to last year, almost 23 percent more CIOs are prioritising improvements in cyber security. These smart CIOs are making cyber preparedness a business priority and have identified the need to build cyber resilience and cyber trust into digital program and systems.

One of the defining issues facing organisations looking to manage data privacy and security is a critical technology skills shortage in Australia, particularly when dealing with digital transformation.

Individuals with genuine experience and understanding of what it takes to connect the middle and back office to the digital promise created in the front office, are in high demand, and difficult to find.

There is no one simple answer to Australia’s tech skills shortage. But one crucial area we can address is focusing on meeting the gender balance challenge. Female IT leadership continues on a slow upward trend, this year reaching just 12 percent (up from 10 percent last year) and women represent just one in five on technology teams.

The good news is Australian CIOs see the benefits of having more diverse teams, more aware than their global peers. Forty percent of our CIOs say diversity in the technology team is important to achieving business and technology objectives, compared to 30 percent globally.

Australia and the rest of the world has to get better at promoting technology related degrees to women. Technology professionals, and particularly CIOs have a role in doing this.

Technology is exciting, has great diversity in the skills required and is lucrative for those employed in the industry. It should be attracting far more female talent than it is. With 65 percent of CIOs globally saying skills shortages are preventing them from keeping up with the pace of change – it’s time to re-focus our efforts on making the case for more people, and a greater number of females, to study technology. Our future depends on it.

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