Media and telecom executives rank data protection fines and penalties as the top risk to their industries

ARLINGTON, Va., May 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Global media and telecommunication executives both ranked regulatory fines and penalties arising from data protection breaches as the primary risk facing their respective industries. Not to be outdone, technology executives said cyber-attacks/hijacks is the top threat to their industry according to new research and a ranking released by leading global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW).

The research examined five megatrends — global macro-forces that impact business and the marketplaces they operate in — and risk factors that are components of the respective megatrends.

“Risk is a path to growth,” said Sara Benolken, head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications Global Industry, Willis Towers Watson. “Through the proper identification and management of risks, companies across the technology, media and telecom industries can take on more risk and ultimately realize new commercial opportunities. We trust the key findings from our research will enable risk managers in these three notable industries to successfully acknowledge and address current challenges as well as prepare for the future.”

Media executives said outdated legacy IT systems and infrastructure, and intellectual property and patent breaches are their second- and third-greatest industry risks. Their telecom peers indicated intellectual property and patent breaches, and threats from new and emerging competitors as their next leading industry risks. For the tech sector, management ranked data protection fines and penalties, intellectual property and patent breaches, and competition/antitrust law scrutiny associated with M&A activity as the ensuing threats to their industry.

Overall, when accounting for the results of all three industries combined, the regulation and legal risk megatrend tops the list of concerns; in fact, of all risks included in the research, the top three cited by all respondents — data protection (including fines and penalties), intellectual property and patent infringement, and competition and antitrust law — fall under this megatrend. In addition, external threats such as cyber-attacks (ranked fourth) and piracy (10th) stand out as major concerns, while no risk posed by the global talent and skills race megatrend ranked in the top 10.

“While understandable that regulatory change and legal risk are front of mind, none of the identified risks ranking lower down the scale should be ignored, given their potential to either harm or grow a business. In fact, certain risks such as cyber-vulnerabilities can exacerbate other risks, including data protection fines and penalties,” said Benolken. “Looking ahead, according to the research, the digitalization and technological advances megatrend is the most likely to grow its impact over the next 10 years.”

The overall global research found startling differences between how companies in different regions of the world view risk, with the number one perceived risk varying significantly across the globe. North American companies are most preoccupied with consumer product legislation and lawsuits. In Southern Europe, the threat from new and emerging competitors ranked as the principle concern from respondents. In the Indian subcontinent, outdated legacy IT systems and infrastructure was the top risk. For Asia Pacific, industry leaders identified the uncompetitive compensation and reward plans as the leading risk to their business.

Notes to editors

Willis Towers Watson’s 2016 technology, media and telecommunication risk index was compiled based on responses from 350 C-suite-level executives across all three industries, their respective subsectors and 11 geographies. The executives ranked 50 risks facing their industries, which were divided evenly into five megatrends, while considering three time frames: the present, one-year out and 10 years into the future.

A full copy of the research including infographics that can be republished is available here.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at

Media contact Josh Wozman: +1 703 258 7670

Source:Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company