The results of a recent survey of C-suite executives in companies ranging in size from $100 million to more than $1 billion in annual revenues resulted in some surprising changes. One shocking stat that came out of the survey was that in slightly more than 50 percent of respondents, the business leaders or a combination of the business side and IT departments led the adoption of new and emerging technologies within the organization! That is a first. There is fair amount of good news that can be gleaned from this survey, bit with the good news comes some not so good news. The bottom line is that emerging technology is getting a lot more attention these days and seen as strategically important. With that increased importance comes addition cyber surface areas that must be protected from cyberattacks and theft.

Like it or not, CSOs and CISOs are increasingly finding themselves involved in strategy discussions within their organization. After all a surprising 30 percent more executives view technology investments for their strategic value, up from under 40 percent in the past two years. In addition, a recent survey discovered that one-third of executives polled stated that technology spending among middle market companies was up from level for the previous year. In fact, more than 27 percent of those executives stated the increase was up over 5 percent from their previous year. It is no wonder that nearly 50 percent of the executives surveyed believe that technology has enhances business planning and execution.

With all of this increased attention, investment and activity comes additional security risks. It appears the top three areas that every CSO and CISO should have a heightened level of concern are:

1. Cloud Computing

2. Big Data

3. Data Analysis (tools and services)

Surprisingly virtual or augmented reality is increasingly being integrated into business processes and capabilities. As one might expect, the Internet of Things (IoT) is also right up there with top technologies involved in strategic discussions.

If you have not been brought into this growing trend of perusing the strategic value that technology brings, you would be well advised to find out why! After all you are the one responsible for protecting all of this technology! Many executives opening admit that IT security is and will continue to be a top priority. In fact, over 60 percent opening admit that implementing new security processes is the most important focus of their cybersecurity spending. In addition, 28 percent of executives admitted that security is the biggest IT challenge their organizations faces. That is probably why managing cybersecurity and information risks was identified as a top priority by nearly 36 percent of executives asked. Most telling was the fact the information security/cyber intelligence was identified as having the top technology impact on their organization in the past year and will have the biggest technology impact on the organization next year as well. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the survey results comes from the identification of cybersecurity as the top technology-related trend having the greatest impact on customers. Given that finding, it is a sure bet that every CSO and CISO will find themselves under increased scrutiny. Businesses are very protective of customer relationships as they should be. With the formal recognition of the role cybersecurity plays in meeting customer expectations as well as protecting the relationship with customers you can be sure that management throughout the organization will becoming much more engaged with you and concerned about how your cybersecurity strategy may impact their customers.

After analyzing all that information, the bottom line is that middle-market businesses have become acutely aware of the increasing role technology plays in their strategy and operations. With that as the foundation, cybersecurity has been driven to a level of strategic importance – far beyond the level of attention it has received in the recent past. That translates to increased attention and pressure on you the CSO or CISO.