Digital trust drives business growth

Wolfgang Schurr Partner and Leader Cybersecurity and Privacy, PwC Switzerland 12 Jul 2019

Companies that manage digital risks and embed cybersecurity into their business strategy clearly outperform their peers. The global PwC 2019 Digital Trust Insights Survey reveals that market leaders are cybersecurity front-runners at the same time, and that they do in effect deliver more value and better business outcomes.
Trailblazers anticipate cyber threats and deliver more value

Cyber risks and other risks in connection with the digital transformation are among the most pressing issues on any corporation’s agenda. In order to manage digital risk and build trust in a digital world, companies must rethink their status quo. Perhaps easier said than done? PwC’s 2019 Digital Trust Insights Survey of more than 3,000 executives and IT professionals from 89 countries shows clear results. The top 25% of all respondents – so-called «trailblazers» – are market leaders and cybersecurity front-runners at the same time.


What is the winning formula of trailblazers? Typically, they are large companies, and almost 40% of the companies in our survey worth at least $1 billion are trailblazers. A third of the financial services firms featuring in the study and 30% of tech, media and telecom businesses are also included. Other sectors such as industrial products, consumer markets, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, energy, mining, and utilities show about a quarter of their survey base in the trailblazer group. Geographically, just 21% of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) respondents are trailblazers, compared to 30% in the Americas, and 30% in Asia Pacific.

More than 8 out of 10 trailblazers state to have anticipated a new cyber risk to digital initiatives before it affected their partners or customers, therefore minimising the operational impacts of cyber threats, compared to 6 out of 10 of the non-trailblazers, i.e. the other respondents. 86% of trailblazers maintain that their cybersecurity teams are considered to be adding significant value to their organisations, compared to 50% of others. What is more, trailblazers are also more optimistic about their growth prospects. A total of 57% of trailblazers expect revenue to grow by 5% or more on average in the next three years, others figure at just 31%.

Among the respondents who state that growing revenue is the top value sought from digital transformation efforts, nearly 9 out of 10 trailblazers indicate that their payoff meets or exceeds their expectations (compared to 66% of the other respondents). 

What makes trailblazers unique?

One of the secrets of cyber trailblazers is that they reframe security and drive business growth. By focusing on building digital trust, trailblazers are driving more proactive, pre-emptive  and responsive actions to embed cybersecurity strategies into their business. Their peers, on the other hand, primarily seek to reactively minimise the operational impacts of cyber threats.

What is it that sets trailblazers apart from their corporate peers? They align their business and cybersecurity strategies, take a risk-based approach, and coordinate their teams that manage risk. Trailblazers therefore are: 

  • Connected on strategy: Trailblazers have cyber teams that are honed business strategists. In the context of product development, for example, this could mean that cyber professionals actively help to design security into products. 65% of trailblazers strongly agree that their cybersecurity team is embedded in their business, completely at home with the organisation’s business strategy, and has a cybersecurity strategy that supports business imperatives (as opposed to 15% of others).
  • Connected on a risk-based approach: Trailblazers’ cybersecurity teams manage the risks associated with digital transformation. 89% of trailblazers say their cybersecurity teams are consistently involved in managing the risks inherent to the organisation’s business transformation or digital initiatives (as opposed to 41% of others).
  • Coordinated in execution: Cyber teams in trailblazer companies are coordinated with other functions. 77% of trailblazers strongly agree that their cybersecurity team has sufficient interaction with senior leaders to develop an understanding of the company’s risk appetite around core business practices (as opposed to 22% of others). 
Roadmap to digital trust

Confidence in people, processes and technology are critical when it comes to building a secure digital world. Companies must thoroughly integrate cybersecurity concerns into their business strategy instead of merely seeking to mitigate risk.

Leading companies and trailblazers have a competitive edge over their peers in 

  • aligning their business and cybersecurity strategies
  • taking a risk-based approach, and 
  • coordinating their teams that manage risk.

To close the cybersecurity gap and to embed cybersecurity into their business strategy, companies can follow a five-step plan that is based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework:

  • Identify: pinpoint assets and processes that need protection; understand and quantify the impact of your exposure to cyber risks and regularly compare it to your risk appetite
  • Protect: define appropriate safeguards to avoid cyber threats
  • Detect: employ tools and technically competent employees to detect anomalies and incidents
  • Respond: plan, conduct and improve your response mechanisms
  • Recover: implement a remediation and communication strategy; conduct lessons learnt

Our PwC experts work with you on your cybersecurity strategy and help you to implement it step by step.

If you want to learn more about the Digital Trust Insight Survey click here.


Contact us

Wolfgang Schurr

Partner and Leader Cybersecurity and Privacy, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 29 14