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Demonstrating Value: How to communicate the success of your cyber security roadmap

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May 21, 2024

Demonstrating Value: How to communicate the success of your cyber security roadmap

Many organizations struggle with a disconnect between the board, C-Suite and CISOs. Management wants to limit spending where possible and CISOs want to make their cybersecurity roadmap as comprehensive as possible. Coupled with this, the technical complexity of cybersecurity means that the true value is missed by those without cybersecurity expertise, especially when there isn’t an effective mechanism bridging the gap between cybersecurity operations and planning, the C-Suite, and the boardroom.

As threats evolve, moving forward with this disconnect is no longer an option. The NACDs quarterly survey has found that cybersecurity is a top priority for 46% of board members. This means they want to know how threats are being mitigated and how their businesses are being protected - you just need to find a way to communicate this with them in a way that ties cybersecurity strategy to financial outcomes. 

In this article, we explore tactics you can deploy to communicate the value of your cybersecurity roadmap, so you can drive better results for your cybersecurity program and the business. 

Present threats in a way that illuminate potential financial impact

When it comes to business, money talks. Especially during communications with senior management and the board of directors. When you’re communicating the cybersecurity threats your business is facing, it’s easy to get stuck trying to communicate the technical details of cybersecurity operations - because this is the world you live in. However, approaching conversations with management in this way can cause them to quickly switch off and overlook the intrinsic value of your proposed actions.

A more effective approach to these discussions is to frame cyber threats as a business issue, not a cybersecurity technical issue. By doing this you can remove technical complexity and introduce business clarity. You can start by highlighting  how various cyber attacks are likely to introduce financial impact to the business. In addition to the potential financial impacts to the business, you can also focus on how operational impacts, compliance, and insurance costs should be considered when communicating the consequences of not investing in your cybersecurity roadmap. 

When you’re looking to convey a holistic view of cybersecurity in a wider business context, X-Analytics allows you to do exactly that, by giving you access to a consolidated view of risk that directly aligns with broader business goals.

Align on priorities that support business outcomes

We’ve already highlighted the importance of communicating the business value of cybersecurity investments effectively, however there is a second key component to achieving a business unified position on cyber security. 

When you are reviewing your risk analysis to build a prioritized cybersecurity strategy and roadmap, it is important that you align your priorities with wider business objectives. By doing this before executing your plan, you’re ensuring you’re aligned with the goals of the wider business, including the C-suite and board. This supports buy-in on initiatives and positions cybersecurity as a branch of business strategy that enables growth, rather than being viewed simply as an expense. 

It’s been reported that only 47% of CISOs communicate regularly with the board, which may be a key factor in why there is such a disconnect reported between the two parties. By showing how your roadmap leads to business risk reduction, you’re setting yourself up for success when securing investment and reporting back on the risk reducing value of your cybersecurity strategy. You can ensure that when you come back to report on progress, you’re hitting on the areas they most care about, reducing business and financial exposure to potential cyber attacks.

Implement effective cyber risk reporting (that actually means something to them)

Despite 66% of CISOs intending to increase their cybersecurity budget, Gartner’s 2023 forecast suggests that there will be a slower increase in cybersecurity spending compared to previous years.  Gartner’s former Chief of Research for Risk and Security believes that “After years of such heavy investment in security, boards are now pushing back and asking what their dollars have achieved”, and we agree that this is a key factor in the slower spending, as well as the growing pressure on CISOs to demonstrate a measurable impact. 

Once you’ve secured investment and started implementing your strategy, your executive leadership team and board need to be able to see the tangible value of their investment on an ongoing basis. This is where effective cyber risk reporting comes in. This is your opportunity to benchmark and communicate success over time.

Therefore, you need to have the mechanism in place to demonstrate the progress you’ve made and what this means for the business, in a transparent, digestible business friendly way.

The X-Analytics Cyber Risk Reporting service is a transformative solution recommended by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). X-Analytics, combined with the NACD’s board services team provides you with a solution to effortlessly convert the highly technical nature of cyber-risk into clear business metrics, empowering effective communication and governance across the C-Suite and into the board room.

Demonstrate True Cybersecurity ROI:  

An emerging expectation for C-Suite and board members is being able to see the ROI of their cybersecurity program. Historically, cybersecurity has been seen as a cost of doing business. The opportunity now exists for cybersecurity to be seen as a business enabler. Just like marketing, sales, product, and operations need to be able to demonstrate the value they’re delivering to the business, an effective cybersecurity program is now more than ever expected to do the same. 

The intrinsically technical and complicated nature of cybersecurity, combined with the fact that a best-case scenario is zero loss, as opposed to net gain, means that demonstrating the ROI of their investment can be a challenge for CISOs. 

To do this effectively, you need to transcend cybersecurity technical metrics and communicate the financial ROI of your initiatives. This means going beyond presenting confusing cybersecurity operational performance metrics and translating this into financial terms e.g. what is the actual risk reducing value of your security budget?

X-Analytics not only allows you to track your ROI as you make incremental improvements, but it's ‘what-if scenarios’ allow you to see this impact before an investment is made and forecast how changes in your business can impact priorities. You can use this technology to build the business case for investment and track progress towards this number as you go - meaning management and the board know where the money is going, what they can expect to get in return, and how you’re tracking against this target. 

Cybersecurity is a business problem, not a technical problem

When it comes down to what the board, C-Suite and senior management care about and value, it’s business success. They are not looking for nitty-gritty technical details, they need a holistic view of how cybersecurity strategy is aligning strategy and budget with reducing business and financial exposure to cyber risk.  This is your opportunity to convert cybersecurity uncertainty into business success. To arm yourself with the visibility and context you need to deliver this, you need a solution like X-Analytics.

X-Analytics has transformed the way CISOs communicate cyber risk success across the C-Suite and into the Boardroom. To learn more, you can read Zebra Technologies CISO, Mike Zachman's thoughts, successfully working with X-Analytics on our blog.

See X-Analytics in Action
With X-Analytics you’ll be set up fast and the intuitive interface ensures you get immediate business clarity on the effectiveness of your cyber risk strategy.

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