CEOs of publicly listed companies more concerned about cybersecurity

18 April 2017

The majority of CEOs at private companies continue to look to organic growth as a means to drive corporate growth and profitability in the coming 12 months. Concern among private CEOs around technology and cybersecurity remains below that of publicly listed companies, creating a potential gap in wider cybersecurity defences.

The global business environment is in a period of transition as geopolitical uncertainty on a global scale, technological change and environmental concerns affect businesses across a range of sectors. In a new report from PwC, the professional services firm explores the differences between the outlook of CEOs running private companies and those in public companies The report is based on the firm’s larger ‘20th CEO Survey’ Study, and is titled ‘Undaunted, but underprepared?’.

Activities planned for the next 12 months to drive corporate growth or profitability

The firm’s survey found that in the coming 12 months, private companies are slightly less likely than public companies to leverage organic growth to drive corporate growth or profitability, at around 78% to 82%. Private companies also said that they are ever so slightly less likely to use new strategic alliances or joint venturing.

Private companies were however, around 4% less likely to use outsourcing in the comping 12 months to drive growth, and around 6% less likely to engage in M&A at 38% of respondents. Cost reduction was also less often on the agenda at private companies, although 58% still said that they would engage in the practice. Few respondents, around 12%, said that they would sell a business or exit a market.

Concern about the speed of technological change

While geopolitical trends, from the new US administration and changing conditions in China to the effects of Brexit and scandals across emerging economies affect companies globally, technology is too becoming an increasingly prominent issue, creating incremental and disruptive risks to companies.

In terms of the differences between how private and publicly held companies view the risks, different profiles emerge. The survey found that 74% of public companies are concerned about the speed of technological change, while around 65% say that cyber threats are a concern. For private companies, 68% of respondents say that they are concerned about the pace of technological change while 59% say that they have concerns around cyber security. In terms of how concerned companies are in the different spheres, the research notes that 22% of private companies are extremely concerned while 26% of public companies are extremely concerned.

According to Stephanie Hyde, the Global Entrepreneurial & Private Business Leader at the UK arm of the consulting firm, “The fact that private company CEOs are less concerned about technology and cyber compared to their public counterparts is worrying, not least because private companies often have fewer resources available to them to invest in new technology and cyber security. This may make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks, so in theory they should be more concerned about these threats, not less. In our view, this is probably the single most worrying finding in our report, especially in light of growing evidence that hackers are now targeting smaller and private businesses, thinking they will not be so well protected.”

Strategic priorities

The study also lighted on differences between public and private companies in terms of their strategic priorities going into 2017. Public companies are slightly more focused on innovation, at 24% versus 22% for private companies. Public companies are also slightly more concerned about digital technological capabilities, at 16% versus 13%. Human capital considerations slightly favour private company interests, at 16% versus 13%. In terms of private companies, differences are further noted based on type – with considerably lower emphasis on technology at family-owned (8%) and owner-managed firms (9%).

Availability of key skills

CEOs at publicly listed companies, and those across private companies, too slightly different concerns when it comes to the availability of key skills. 33% of privately owned company respondents say that they are extremely concerned about the availability of skills, compared to 29% of those at publicly listed companies. Interestingly, private company CEOs are also the least concerned about the availability of skills, at 20%, compared to 26% for publicly listed companies.

Private company skill importance

In terms of the skills that CEOs at private company note as hard to acquire, problem solving comes in at number one at 79% of respondents, followed by leadership at 72% of respondents. Adaptability, creativity and innovation too score highly in terms of difficulty to acquire, at 63% and 60% respectively. The report notes that ‘digital’ skills are not of concern to the vast majority of respondents, cited by 30% as a problem to attract.


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How First Consulting generates more insight using fewer reports

08 March 2019

Organisations are continuously investing in more advanced data collection and manipulation methods to enable smarter and more informed business decisions. In order to maximise their business value, companies understand the growing need for performance related insights from their data. First Consulting, a consultancy firm specialised in business change, has helped many clients in the utilities sector to deliver effective change through improved use of their data.

Most utilities firms are structured in such a way that every business unit has a team of analysts who are responsible for providing relevant data insights to their business colleagues. The business analysis teams form the link between business decision making and IT by translating business requests into meaningful actions and delivering information via reports.

Typically, the business user will receive a unique report for each information request, with each new report requiring individual, tailored support from the analyst team. This limits the productivity of the analyst teams and minimises their ability to address new data requests. The growing demand for information puts additional pressure on these teams, as a significant amount of time is required simply to gather and update the required data. This has caused reporting portfolios to expand dramatically. However, due to the analysts’ already stretched capacity, reports do not always deliver the most vital information and documentation is often incomplete.

Redesigning information delivery

At First Consulting, business consultants work in close collaboration with their clients to improve the mechanism for the delivery of information and analysis in response to business requests. The improved structure focuses on providing information per role type, rather than per request. As such, one dashboard is designed for each organisational role type, with all the relevant information presented in a single overview. This allows all individuals of a given role type to open a single dashboard and view what they need, as opposed to collating a large range of disparate links and unique reports which, previously, were all required to enable business decision making.

Moving from unique reports for each request, to reusing KPIs in a select group of dashboards

By implementing this new way of working, clients are able to reduce the reporting portfolio from over 100 reports to fewer than 20 dashboards (see figure above). In addition, the capacity for data maintenance can be reduced significantly by using modular KPIs, allowing for the re-use of data across multiple dashboards.

Changing while everyday work continues

In order to deliver effective change, it is essential that day-to-day processes remain unaffected whilst transitioning to a new reporting landscape. First Consulting achieves this by embedding business consultants within the client’s analysis team to gain feedback and determine exactly what visuals are necessary within the dashboards. This focuses effort on the outcome (such as what should be presented in the final dashboard) and allows a broad range of requirements to be considered in the business context and combined, where appropriate.

Key users and stakeholders are involved from the outset to help define what makes a high-quality dashboard. Adopting this approach helps the team to produce an optimal output that contains the key business information for the appropriate roles in an easy-to-use format.

Once it is clear what should be included in the final dashboard and how this should be presented, the team works according to the priorities set out by the product owner. This ensures that analysts work on the requirements which deliver the most value and which form the most coherent dashboards.

Main results

The advantages of implementing straightforward, no-nonsense solutions using fewer reports are particularly noticeable for the business and for the analyst teams:

  • Making adjustments is easier and maintaining and updating data costs less time
  • Management information is displayed in one location and is displayed according to defined standards, facilitating decision making
  • There is greater capacity within the business for complex analysis and project support

First Consulting combines process, technology, and implementation consulting to deliver impactful and value-adding solutions. The firm has more than 200 consultants based in the UK and the Netherlands.