Why marketing and UX teams must join IT on cyber security

Nicki Doble

  • CIO, Cover-More Group
Nicki is the chief information officer of Cover-More Group. She is a c-suite business technology executive and an interim executive who specialises in insurance IT transformations and turnarounds.


For far too long, cyber security has been considered the sole domain and concern of the IT department, with other departments including marketing, UX and design, firmly entrenched in the belief it is not their concern.

The reality could not be further from the truth. In fact, this view is dangerous as it could lead to irreparable brand damage and a lack of trust in consumer behaviour.

It is vital Australian marketing and UX departments work with IT on cyber security – not just for brand protection, but consumer confidence.  

As proven time and time again, when every department of a company enjoys open communication about the topics which matter to the business, conscious collaboration towards a clear purpose and outcome can and should be the result. However, when each department is operating as its own separate silo, the opposite can be realised in stunning and devastating ways to a business.

It takes a whole-of-team approach to understand the importance of cyber security in order to protect individual staff and departments, the intellectual property of the company and ensuring client data is kept secure.

Cyber security and ways to achieve and solidify it should be at the forefront of mind at all times in all businesses, through each step of product and service development and delivery, integrating security into all IT systems.

And this is why it is so important the marketing, UX and developer teams are not only on board when it comes to cyber security, but can build it in during each step of the process from the initial concept to delivery.

As we consistently see with consumer behaviour, it’s a matter of prove it rather than say it. After all, the quality of your product and service will count for nothing if your customers don’t feel their data is secure in your hands or on your website and will seek out competitors who they feel safer with.

Why everyone should be involved

The biggest cyber security risks facing companies these days is not external threats, but rather unintentional human error by the staff who work for them.

The Insider Data Breach Survey (2019) conducted by Opinion Matters, revealed ‘all types of insider threats are increasing, with the average number of incidents involving employee or contractor negligence rising by 28 per cent per organisation’.

“The data shows there is a disconnect between IT leaders and employees on how each group views sensitive data,” the report continued. “This perception gap, combined with the rapid growth in unstructured data and increases in ways for employees to share that data, have the potential to negatively impact an organization’s security program.”

As a CIO, I have found a strong level of interest from design and marketing teams in Agile Scrum meetings to understand what development departments are working on. But when cyber security comes up on the agenda, these same teams are not as interested, reasoning it is not their problem.

But this is exactly where IT security starts and should be fostered, especially when we consider that a shortage of cyber security staff will mean it is in the best interests of an organisation that cyber security be built into systems at every stage of development.

It is among our creative thinkers that new ways of building in cyber security may well be found - if they are open-minded and educated about the issue and how to be cognisant of it during development.

In the same way that customer experiences will differ depending on the individuals, staff experiences will also differ, providing additional input for product development which may not have previously been considered in the design or user experience.

McKinsey & Company’s 2016 report, Is cybersecurity compatible with digital convenience?, reveals that 30 per cent of the population prioritises ease and convenience over security, 10 per cent place a higher value on security than ease of use and the remaining 60 per cent ‘are willing to make reasonable tradeoffs in both convenience and security’.

While many customers do not prioritise security, they will respond quickly to cyber security breaches where their data has been compromised by taking their business elsewhere.

The damage to a brand and reputation is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome with these customers and those they share their experiences with.

Cyber security as a marketing tool

While many users of company platforms and websites may not be thinking consciously about cyber security during their experience, it is something more of us are becoming aware of. How often have you gone to pay for an online purchase and hesitated as you consider whether handing over your credit card details on that platform is safe and will not lead to fraudulent charges on your card?

I know I will quickly leave an online shopping cart the moment I start to feel the process is too clunky or just doesn’t give me a sense of confidence that the experience is protected. And, trust me, I’m not alone in this thinking.

Building in strong cyber security - coupled with ease of user experience - can and should become an important marketing tool for businesses.

Again, consider that online purchase. If you can verify for yourself that a site is secure and as such your credit card details will be, you will be much more inclined to consider further purchases from that site.

While customers may not always be consciously thinking about cyber security, being able to assure them that a site or platform is indeed safe, can be a valuable step in attracting and retaining customers. It is the very least consumers expect today.

If marketing and UX departments do not have cyber security on their radar, from a development, marketing and user experience perspective, to offer consumers that assurance, you are already trailing behind your competitors.

Tags: business leadership, cybersecurity risks, marketing leadership

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