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Tech Jargon to Business Impact: Leading the Charge in Cyber-Risk Conversations

A playbook for articulating value.
H. Michael Burgett
Contributing Writer

As digital security and cyber-risk management ascend to top-tier priorities across organizations, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) are expanding significantly. Their shared challenge lies not just in securing appropriate investments but also in articulating the value of these investments in a language that resonates with the broader C-suite.

Gartner reports that a mere 30% of CFOs and CIOs share a business-centric relationship, underscoring a vital gap in collaborative risk management efforts. Despite a global uptrend in cyber expenditure, the crux of the issue lies in strategically channeling these resources to mitigate risks effectively.

In a recently released playbook, AuditBoard, a market leader in audit management and GRC software explores the challenges and solutions of managing IT and cyber-risk from the C-suite. Alignment between IT and InfoSec leadership and the rest of the C-suite on cyber-risk management is foundational for a resilient and innovative business. Now C-level executives are finding that cross-functional collaboration and a unified data and reporting layer can help this partnership flourish.

Breaking the Language Barrier

The first step towards bridging this gap is mastering the language of risk. Communication between CISOs/CIOs and the C-suite often falters due to differing priorities and terminologies. The playbook emphasizes the importance of translating technical risk issues into business impacts, a skill critical for fostering understanding and collaboration.

By aligning IT security initiatives with broader business objectives, such as growth and customer retention, IT executives can secure the necessary investments for mitigating cyber-risks.

Crafting a Business Case for IT Risk Management

Effective IT risk management requires a nuanced approach to building business cases for various C-suite executives. For instance, emphasizing cost reduction through compliance automation may appeal to a CFO, while assurances of operational continuity in disaster scenarios might resonate more with a COO.

This section of the playbook advocates for a tailored narrative that speaks directly to the interests and concerns of each C-suite member, thereby facilitating consensus and support for IT risk strategies.

Establishing a Common Risk Language

Achieving a shared understanding of IT and cyber-risks is essential for cohesive decision-making. The playbook suggests establishing a common operating picture of risk and moving from periodic assessments to continuous, real-time monitoring.

The approach not only aligns IT and business strategies but also enables proactive management of emerging threats, thereby enhancing organizational resilience.

Aligning IT Risk Management with Digital Transformation

Digital transformation initiatives offer a prime opportunity to integrate IT management principles from the outset. By addressing security and privacy concerns in the design phase of new technologies and processes, organizations can significantly mitigate potential risks.

This alignment ensures that IT risk management contributes positively to the organization’s innovation and growth objectives, rather than acting as a hindrance.

The Wrap

A CIO’s Playbook for Talking Risk With the Broader C-Suite” underscores the critical role of communication, strategic alignment, and proactive risk management in bridging the gap between InfoSec and executive leadership. By adopting a common language of that aligns with business objectives, CIOs and CISOs can foster a culture of collaboration and mutual understanding within the C-suite.

This not only enhances the effectiveness of IT risk management efforts but also supports an organization’s broader goals of growth and resilience in the face of evolving digital threats.

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