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

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.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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