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Digital Transformation, Cybersecurity, IT Staffing Top C-Suite Concerns

A new report finds executives are focusing on growth, but to grow they must overcome a number of challenges.

Digital transformation efforts, cybersecurity worries, and IT staffing challenges are among the top concerns of executive leadership, which is looking to focus on strategies for growth against the background of gathering economic headwinds.

These were among the findings of a PwC survey of 722 U.S.-based executives, 40% of whom ranked cybersecurity as the top risk facing their companies, and another 38% calling it a moderate risk.

Meanwhile, 58% of corporate leaders said they would benefit most from enhanced reporting around cybersecurity and technology, and nearly half of survey respondents plan to increase their investments in IT security and privacy.

"As the risk and compliance landscape is ever-evolving, so are the tools that organizations need to mitigate vulnerability," said Joe Atkinson, PwC's chief products and technology officer. "We see our clients increasingly reaching for always-on tools that can not only assess current risk, but also provide them with insights at their fingertips to anticipate future threats."

Chief risk officers (CROs) and chief information security officers (CISOs) typically lead any risk assessment tool implementation efforts, but they should also be supported by their entire C-suite and corporate boards to focus on the smooth implementation of assessment tools and ensure growth isn't stifled by risk that could have been foreseen, Atkinson said.

"Cyberthreats are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and will take the full strength of the C-suite to implement policies and tools that successfully safeguard the business," he added.

The Challenge of Finding the Right Talent

The survey also indicated that finding the right talent continues to be a challenge for business leaders, with talent acquisition placing second as a risk behind cyber, with 38% of respondents citing it as a serious risk.

To retain and attract talent, organizations are exploring emerging flexible workforce conditions, including the expansion of remote work options for certain roles — seven in 10 respondents said they have either implemented remote work options or have plans in place.

Just under 30% of respondents also listed finding the correct balance between in-office, remote, and hybrid work as one of the top three risks for the next year.

In a highly competitive job market, companies must be very strategic and intentional when it comes to the development of their people, including upskilling opportunities, Atkinson said.

"In fact, we are seeing upskilling emerging as a company must-have, similar to a 401(k) or any other critical employee benefit," he said. "Employees are relying on their employers to provide them with the skills and tools needed to prepare them for jobs of the future. In that same vein, companies need their people to have the skills to take their business where it needs to go."

From Atkinson's perspective, fostering an upskilling culture can be used as an important tool for building a stronger business and strengthening ties with high-value employees.

"We expect to see more and more companies kickstart or expand their upskilling programs to stay competitive in this challenging talent market," he said.

Why Digital Transformation Programs Are Worth the Challenge

"Digital transformation isn't getting any easier, nor is the role of the CTO," Atkinson added. "CTOs are often charged not only with implementing the technologies and tools that support a transformation, but in connecting the dots across their organization and bringing an integrated vision to life for their organization."

He pointed out that digital transformation programs have the potential to unlock connectivity and collaboration across enterprises, creating unique opportunities for executives who have the determination to execute the vision across both technology and talent.

"As a result, the CTO role will continue to evolve from a leader of technology integration toward a champion of growth and business model innovation," Atkinson said.

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