Home Cyber Nearly 50% of power and utility company CEOs concerned cyber attacks are “imminent”

Nearly 50% of power and utility company CEOs concerned cyber attacks are “imminent”

by Brian Sims

Amid an environment wherein cyber security is under intense scrutiny, power and utilities company executives are feeling the pressure. According to KPMG’s 2018 Global CEO Study, 48% percent of CEOs interviewed showed concern that becoming the victim of a cyber attack is a matter of ‘When’ and not ‘If’, while not all CEOs are well-prepared to manage such an event.

In the survey, 58% of CEOs feel prepared in their ability to identify new cyber threats. In the event of a cyber attack, 68% feel prepared in their ability to manage external stakeholders, while 63% are confident they can contain the impact on strategic operations.

“Technology-driven opportunities in the power and utilities sector have also opened the door for significant risks and cyber threats which feature highly on CEO and Board agendas,” said Regina Mayor, global sector head for energy and natural resources at KPMG. “The levels of cyber defence and preparedness vary across the sector, but it’s critical that organisations take the necessary steps to protect their systems or they risk becoming a target for potentially crippling attacks.”

As CEOs navigate around these cyber issues, they are starting to see the importance of new workforce capabilities in supporting their organisations’ future growth, with 59% identifying cyber security specialists as the most important new role, followed by data scientists (57%) and digital transformation managers (54%).

In such a customer-centric industry as power and the utilities, CEOs understand the importance of protecting customer data, but emphasise the need to better meet customer expectations. Nearly two-thirds of all CEOs in the survey said that protecting customer data is critical to enabling growth in their future customer base. One-third of CEOs feel their organisations’ performance in meeting customer expectations for a personalised experience is sub-par, and 78% believe they are just meeting – or are just below – customer expectations.

Further, as the purchasing power and customer demands from the millennial generation grow stronger, CEOs see the biggest challenges in meeting the generation’s needs as responding to millennials’ expectations of an on-demand service, appointing senior leaders who can better relate to millennials and engaging millennials in new ways via digital channels.

Transformational period

The survey results indicate that, even amid a transformational period for the industry, power and utilities company CEOs are confident growth is on the horizon and prepared to lead their organisations through a transformation to remain competitive. In fact, 89% of companies are confident in growth prospects for their company. 94% expect increased headcount over the next three years.

Top strategies for achieving organisational growth objectives over the three-year period include strategic alliances with third parties and organic growth. Additionally, CEOs intend to undertake a number of actions to help pursue these objectives that include an increased focus on the development of innovative technologies, increased investment in disruption detection and innovation processes, making products and services available via an online platform provider and setting up accelerator or incubator programmes for start-up firms.

“CEOs are excited about leveraging existing infrastructure and deploying new technologies that will benefit consumers,” stated Ted Surette, global power and utilities sector leader at KPMG. “We’re starting to see more collaboration outside of individual organisations to enable new ventures, and especially so in digital arenas like blockchain, Internet of Things and platform solutions

While technological disruption and innovation is imperative in today’s environment, emerging technology is a top threat to organisational growth, followed by climate change and cyber security risk. In fact, while 92% of those CEOs questioned see technology as an opportunity as opposed to a threat, one-third feel their organisation is struggling to keep pace with the rate of tech innovation in the sector.

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