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US execs fail to prioritize cyberthreats, training: Survey

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A new survey has found that CEOs and other top executives see cybersecurity as a major concern, yet 72 percent of those who voiced that concern do not prioritize investments in both technology and in their response to incidents.

The Deloitte Business Confidence Report also found that 61 percent of the C-level executives are very confident in the ability of those who directly report to them to meet business goals in the next 12 months. But 52 percent say those subordinates do not have the skills to advance to the C-suite.

Next generation C-suite executives had even less confidence in their own skills and those of their employees. Forty-nine percent said they did not have the resources to advance in their careers, and 59 percent said their direct subordinates lack the skills to become leaders of the organization.

Deloitte surveyed 300 C-suite level executives and another 300 executives that it identified as future C-suite executives. The second group ranged from age 33 to 48 and were employed as senior vice president or executive vice president or the equivalent at U.S. companies with 1,000 or more employees.

"The goal was to look at where they had a good sense of confidence about the future and where they had different views," said Deloitte Consulting's Jonathan Copulsky. "We think there's a confidence action gap."

Copulsky said the executives had a high degree of confidence about the future, but there was a gap in the investments they were making and actions they were taking.

Cyberthreats were seen as the second-highest obstacle to growth after an actual slowdown in the economy and markets. "I think there's a certain degree of hubris that senior executives have that it couldn't happen to me," Copulsky said. "There's a vulnerability created in organizations because of that hubris. It's no longer a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when.' I think in certain industries, retail being one of them, that tipping point has been reached."

The executives were confident in their ability to outperform competitors over the next 12 months, but 43 percent of the top executives and 44 percent of the next generation had doubts about their ability to address the specific obstacles to growth.

Thirty-two percent of top executives and 37 percent of the next generation said the lack of skilled workers is an obstacle for company growth in the next one to three years.

"The surprise was very few companies identified activities that they were actively taking to address that issue," Copulsky said. Thirty-five percent of C-suite executives who cited a shortage of skilled workers did not prioritize investments in employees in areas of advanced recruiting and training programs.

While three-quarters of executives believe their organizations innovate at a faster pace than the competition, they were basically split on whether organizations should have established processes to foster innovation. Forty-seven percent of the C-suite executives said innovation is spontaneous and random, and it comes about by allowing people to operate in unstructured and unconventional ways.