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Cisco: Privacy Budgets Doubled in 2020, Now C-Suite Issue

Protecting personal data is no longer a have-to-have but instead a C-suite imperative, Cisco Systems said in a new study, heralding what it’s calling a New Age of Privacy.

Driven by pressing security concerns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid shift to remote work and health-related sharing of personal information, organizations worldwide doubled their data privacy budgets to an average of $2.4 million in 2020. Each of these “mass-scale” changes would be consequential taken individually but together they amount to a tectonic change in the privacy landscape. That’s actually good news: Cisco 2021 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, an edition entitled Forged by the Pandemic: The Age of Privacy, based on a survey of 4,400 security and privacy professionals across 25 countries, found that organizations that get privacy right improve trust with their customers, elevate operational efficiency, and produce financial outcomes.

Three top line takeaways from the study:

  • 60% of organizations weren’t prepared for privacy and security requirements involved in the shift to remote work.
  • 87% of consumers expressed concerns about the privacy protections of the tools they needed to use to work, interact and connect remotely.
  • 93% of organizations now report privacy metrics to their C-suites and boards.

Here are some of the study’s additional key findings:

  • 93% of organizations turned to their privacy teams to help navigate and guide their pandemic response.
  • ROI was slightly down compared to 2019, but remains attractive with 35% reporting benefits at least twice their data privacy investments.
  • 79% of organizations indicated privacy laws are having a positive impact.
  • External privacy certifications are an important buying factor for 90% of organizations when choosing a product or vendor.
  • Organizations with more mature privacy practices are getting higher business benefits than average and are much better equipped to handle new privacy regulations.
  • 34% of respondents said privacy is one of their core competencies and responsibilities.
  • 57% supported employers using data to help make workplaces safe, while less than half supported location tracking, contact tracing, disclosing information about COVID-19 infected individuals, and using individual information for research.

“Privacy has come of age, recognized as a fundamental human right and rising to a mission-critical priority for executive management,” said Harvey Jang, Cisco vice president and chief privacy officer. “And with the accelerated move to work from anywhere, privacy has taken on greater importance in driving digitization, corporate resiliency, agility, and innovation,” he said.

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