Companies should highlight their data security and management capabilities in financial statements to shareholders in the same way they report figures such as revenue and net profit, according to more than two-thirds of senior Irish IT leaders.

Research conducted by Amárach and BT Ireland found that 67 per cent of IT leaders in Ireland believe company statements about their business outlook should, in the future, specifically address their data management and security capabilities. Some 62 per cent believe that a company's data management capabilities in the future will be just as important to investors as profits and assets.

The views of Irish IT leaders supports the growing global view that data is becoming increasingly important at investor and board level. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, global data volume is set to increase 40 fold by 2020. With cloud computing and the emerging 'Internet of Things' technologies set to generate more data across multiple devices, coupled with potentially confusing legislation, BT Ireland's research highlights investors' increasing expectation of better data management along the lines of business and revenue management. In particular, investors will look at the following criteria:

  • Transparency - how data is captured, managed and reported on
  • Control - how data is accessed and used
  • Trust - how data is protected against loss
  • Value - how data is analysed and valued.

Data Loss Tops the List of Reputational Disaster Risks
The survey also revealed that IT leaders believe that, in a series of adverse scenarios, a data breach was the single worst event that could happen to a company. Respondents rated a data breach four times more damaging than the sudden and unexpected departure of a CEO and twice as bad as either a profit warning to shareholders or a product recall or a major service outage.

"As technology transforms businesses globally it is clear that data management, specifically how data is used and secured, is going to be crucial for companies, their investors and shareholders alike", Shay Walsh, managing director of BT Ireland, said. "Our research reveals that Ireland's savvy IT leaders recognise and understand the need for their employers to invest in the right infrastructure now that will enable them to better manage and extract value from data, and ultimately, protect themselves from serious data management risk in the future."

He continued "As a global cloud services integrator who delivers public and private cloud services across 20 jurisdictions, including Ireland, covering five continents, BT is well placed to help organisations better manage and protect their data. Recent deals with the European Commission to deliver cloud services to 52 major European institutions including the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Defence Agency, illustrate how we are using BT Compute's public and private cloud services to meet the needs of all types of organisations, allowing them to protect valuable organisational data and meet the most stringent of demands now and in the future."

The findings come in the wake of the European Court of Justice overturning the Safe Harbour agreement which had to that point provided a framework for data sharing between the EU and US and the more recent 'in principle' agreement to replace Safe Harbour with a new framework called the Privacy Shield. Over this same period there has been a series of data hacks and breaches that have separately forced multinational companies to recall millions of products, delay an IPO and alert customers to breaches of sensitive personal financial data. With ever tightening legislation around new technologies like cloud computing, the risk of exposure due to data loss or leaks carry increasingly heavy penalties in addition to significantly impacting investor confidence.

The BT / Amárach survey was comprised of over 115 senior IT decision makers in top indigenous and multinational companies based in Ireland, with an average employee size of over 300 staff. A cross section of firms were surveyed in terms of sectors, sizes and a mix of B2B and B2C operations. The survey explored the changing role of IT in business and expectations about the future of the IT role itself as well as the contribution of IT to future business success.

Among other findings of the report are:

  • 62 per cent of all CIO / IT leaders surveyed are finding it difficult to keep pace with technological change and are underestimating the level of change to their role
  • 68 per cent now have to manage internal demands of other departments in their business due to emerging technologies 
  • 48 per cent reported that change to their role is being driven by personnel taking on IT activities (e.g. digital marketing).

© BT Ireland 2014

Data now as crucial as Revenue or Net Profit for Investors say Irish IT leaders
February 22, 2016

Key Highlights:
  • Irish CIOs / IT leaders rate a data breach as four times worse than the CEO departure, profit warning or product recall
  • Data protection reporting will be as critical for investors as net revenue in companies' financial statements in the next five years
  • 67 per cent of CIOs / IT leaders believe that company statements to investors should specifically address data management capabilities in the future
  • 62 per cent believe that future investors will use data management capabilities to assess a company's financial health, just as they do with profits and assets currently.

Research by BT and Amárach reveals the growing importance of data at board level.
Part 1 of the research - view the full press release or,
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