Today's businesses, irrespective in which industry they operate in and regardless of size, sector or past success, are competing in a dynamic market environment that is being swept through a current of transformative change. The pace of change is taking the form of a revolutionary wave that continues to accelerate at break-neck speed, as the fourth industrial revolution ushers in an era of machine learning, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and a world in which virtually everything is connected through the internet of things. Amid these rapid technological advances, the associated security risks are also increasing exponentially.

Customer behaviors and expectations, and a multitude of technologies are forcing senior executives to re-think their organisations' traditional business and operating models. The introduction of disruptive technologies and the evolution of customers' expectations mean that the extent of connectivity and the volume of sensitive data accessible about your business and your customers are growing at an exponential rate – leading to great opportunities and risks for your organisation. When you hear the term 'cyber security', there's a very good chance that, like many executives, you immediately think of one thing: an IT infrastructure challenge. However, senior executives are reaching the inescapable conclusion that treating cyber security as an IT risk only is short-sighted and businesses run the risk of missing opportunities and inflection points that could help fuel business growth.

Of course, a strong IT security infrastructure is a critical part of any cyber security program. However, it is not the only part. In a 2017 world, this traditional 'defense-first' mindset is too limited and can actually hinder long-term growth prospects. Indeed, there is another important element at play and that is the potential impact of cyber under-preparedness to future business growth. This is particularly true in a business environment in which so many companies are undertaking ambitious customer-focused transformation programs amid widespread technological disruption and competitive threats.

Data is the lifeblood of modern business. A high-quality cyber preparedness will not only focus on keeping the data safe and secure but it will also make sure that you have the right and complete data upon which to base your business decisions.

Cyber security must be front and center in every strategic business decision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.