Conference Board: C-Suites Fear Escalating Cyber Attacks
June 21, 2022
Insights from C-Suite Outlook Mid-Year include:
Cybersecurity concerns skyrocket
Inflation: CEOs say it's the war's most damaging economic consequence
Recession fears: most CEOs expect a recession
Strengthening supply chains: the number-one action CEOs are taking due to this war
CEOs favor secondary sanctions, but many worry about the blowback
Renewable energy: the war is motivating CEOs to accelerate renewable energy investments
CEOs reshuffle which stakeholders to prioritize: the board and regulators increase in importance
US-China tensions: CEOs say it will likely have a big impact on their business
CEOs see people and technology as key to long-term growth
Commentary on the survey results
Dana Peterson, Chief Economist, The Conference Board
"Historically high energy prices, renewed supply chain disruptions, heightened geopolitics risks, and eroding consumer confidence are all putting downward pressure on global growth. That's on top of lockdowns in China and the cascading ripple effects of the war in Ukraine. These disruptions, along with restrictive monetary and fiscal policy decisions, are fueling recession expectations—with nearly 8 in 10 CEOs expecting their primary region of operations to be in recession within 12 to 18 months, if not already underway."
Rajeev Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Cowbell Cyber
“Relevant cyber insurance coverage mapped to each organization's unique cyber exposures can bring peace of mind to CEOs who experience a high level of anxiety about cybersecurity while pushing ahead with digital initiatives that keep their business competitive. In addition, Cowbell bundles cyber risk management resources with its insurance coverage, delivering a full set of services to proactively build resilience against cyber threats.”
"It remains a very dynamic supply chain environment, with new challenges such as potential recession added to what was already a daunting list of and disruptions," said Dan Gilmore, chief marketing officer at supply chain software firm Softeon. He added that "In such an environment, companies need to adopt supply chain execution solutions that can serve as a platform for rapid change and agility regardless of how these and other forces play out."
“As a Germany-based global software company, we have had to further harden our IT security infrastructure against malicious system attacks, no matter where the attacks may originate”, said Marco Ehrhardt, CEO, Ehrhardt + Partner Group. “Our global team of more than 800 team members has become our defensive frontline as we have greatly increased our overall team education and are emphasizing what to look out for, such as phishing email’s, the #1 malicious system entry point for attacks at most organizations.”
Bob Bova, AccuSpeechMobile President and CEO added, "The top actions the CEO’s are taking are fixing supply chains. This is a very broad statement but there are funds and resources being allocated for this strategy. Companies will continue to evaluate raw material providers, warehouse additions and locations, new process evaluation, AI, and Warehouse Management and ERP software upgrades. They will continue to test user based upgrades like Android based handheld devices, cobots and voice automation to accelerate continuous improvement initiatives inside their facilities."
Lori Esposito Murray, President, Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board
"CEOs say rising US-China tensions are likely to have a major impact on business operations in the coming 12 months, ranking it among the top five impacts. This challenge is contributing to intense fears of a fundamental re-alignment of the global geopolitical landscape—the potential division of the world into competing Cold War–style economic blocs, pitting the US and its allies against China and its allies (including Russia). Such a division is likely to have significant negative impact on global trade and economic growth, and business leaders are awakening to the need to prepare: Already, 60 percent of US CEOs expect an economic decoupling over the next 5-10 years."
Paul Washington, Executive Director, ESG Center, The Conference Board
"While an escalation of the war in Ukraine is certainly a concern for CEOs and other C-suite executives, their greatest worry is the threat of Russian retaliation through cyberattacks. Before the war, few saw cybersecurity as a major issue facing their companies. Companies need to make cybersecurity a sustained, and not just episodic, priority. Cyberattacks not only imperil a company's data, operations, and reputation, but can have far-reaching societal and environmental impacts."
Sara Murray, Managing Director, International, The Conference Board
"Reducing the use of the US dollar has been an objective of both Russia and China for over a decade, to help shield their currencies from US sanctions and assert global economic leadership. But now, as Russia pursues an aggressive policy to circumvent mounting economic sanctions, they are actively working toward an alternative world order not dependent on the primacy of the US and the dollar. Despite this, CEOs show very little concern about a lessening importance of the US dollar—just 16 percent are highly concerned."
Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President, Human Capital, The Conference Board
"As CEOs and other C-suite executives focus on ensuring the long-term growth of their business amid this volatile global environment, addressing labor force challenges will be essential. To do this, firms are doubling down on the hybrid work model, automation, and improving their recruiting processes and communication around business strategy."
Ivan Pollard, Executive Director, Marketing & Communications Center, The Conference Board
"As the war compounds already serious inflationary pressures, the biggest communications challenge brands now face is addressing rising prices in a forthright and persuasive manner. Trust in corporations has been built up through the long months of COVID-19, but that trust can be eroded if there is any sense of profiteering. Communicating the story to your customers is one to be handled carefully with honesty and transparency."