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July 29, 2021

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Tech and collaboration finally giving Chief Security Officers a ‘seat at the table’

IREX AI’s Daniel Eborall, who has a background working for national security centres, large operations and has an MBA with an emphasis in Security Management, offers a perspective on why security professionals are finally getting recognised as a key component of the organisational structure. 

Let’s begin with a question: When you imagine a boardroom, who’s there?

President/chairmen, CEO, COO, CFO, secretary — these are the various roles associated with boardroom meetings. Well, of course, they are. It’s what’s taught in business schools across the world and in the organisational chart in 99% of the textbooks. If you take the time to Google search ‘corporate structure’, you’ll also see that this is the case.

So, what’s changed, and why are CSOs and CTOs now sitting at the table?

“Oh, how times are changing. The plethora of new security challenges has created an ever-growing relationship between the technical team (CTO) and security teams (CSO).”

The CSO’s history has been one of struggle

Since the dawn of time, allocating a budget for security has meant no return on investment for the organisation. Granted, it’s protected the people, properties and physical assets and is required from a liability point of view for the organisation, but it’s been tough going for CSOs for many years.

The frustrations of CSOs have been getting generally overlooked. When invited to a seat at the table, more often than not, it was about using the time wisely and duly asking for an additional budget to deal with the increase of security threats. You can see why it’s not been an ideal fit in a boardroom: the CSO asking for additional resources with little to no ROI. The CFO has to balance the books and invest in departments that can generate an ROI. Definitely not ideal.

Furthermore, CSOs have been likened to a CBO (Chief Brand Officer), having to perform clean-up acts for the organisation when a security breach or incident has occurred. Companies will rely on the experience of the CSO to react to situations and protect the brand. Of course, not all but many organisations have taken this route, intentionally or otherwise. Investing and working on proactive security strategies and operations with CSOs often requires additional budgetary allocations. Organisations have rolled the dice and, unfortunately, some have lost, and big time. Nevertheless, there’s a new dawn for security on the horizon through newfound collaboration with the Chief Technical Officer (or CTO).


Collaborative security starts with the CTO and CSO

Oh, how times are changing. The plethora of new security challenges has created an ever-growing relationship between the technical team (CTO) and security teams (CSO). Cyber security is an obvious threat to all organisations, and with ransomware being a daily headline in media outlets, this challenge is being tackled by this emerging partnership.

In addition to cyber security threats, you have the physical security threats that now very much involve the technical team – in particular, artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance video analytics. The ability to trigger alerts to the security team, providing real-time information that can be shared on a collaborative security platform is how security systems have evolved. Within my own company, the combination of the technical team and security department isn’t only securing the organisation’s virtual and physical assets, but these teams are also getting recognition for being a pillar of the organisational chart.

What does this mean for CSOs (or aspiring CSOs)?

Evolve or learn to love the glass ceiling. Security personnel needs to become students of technology and break the stigma surrounding graduates of security. Some security practices are becoming redundant, and this can be replaced with technical expertise for security professionals.

Take a closer look at the organisational structures of militaries and how those have evolved over the years. Security matters are now dominated by technology, CTOs and IT professionals are being fast-tracked within the rankings because of the challenges we now face. This is slowly filtering through into state governmental level and the private sector, demonstrating the importance for security and IT to have not only a solid relationship but also an understanding of each other’s role.

Welcome to the table smart security and ROI

Security is now evolving with AI, which is allowing organisations to not only react quickly to situations but liaise collaboratively among sectors, departments and emergency services. Organisations can now receive critical and accurate information in real-time. This has provided CSOs many cost-saving factors while making their organisations more secure. The ability to provide real-time information on the following has taken organisations to new levels of data gathering: people analytics, threat detection and vehicle analytics.

So, don’t underestimate how useful smart security practices are being valued by businesses. After all, in a lot of cases, it’s providing a new seat at the table.

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