There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has given the C-suite a renewed appreciation for the role of the CISO. In recent months, executives have needed to focus on safety, security and resilience as they strive for business continuity—especially when tackling the risks of remote working.   

With the massive shift to digital, companies are moving full speed with adoption of new technologies and innovation in some cases much sooner than they anticipated.   The role of the CISO has never been more important as business leaders must quickly understand the new attack surface and risks — and many in the C-suite could be underestimating the impact. 

Accenture research among 500 CXOs and CISOs finds that even though most C-suite executives are assessing the security risks of the new technologies that will keep their businesses alive, they are failing to appreciate the full extent of the challengesThe 2020 Technology Vision Innovating at speed and scale with implicit security reveals that C-suite executives, at large, underestimate the risk at the beginning of technology adoption of technologies such as AI, 5G, XR and Quantum computing.  As adoption starts, the risk acumen goes up and in the leading companies, both IT and Security mobilize resources together, to help secure and defend the new technology initiatives. 

Five ways to win 

The report takes a closer look at those leaders who are successfully bridging that gap.  We identified an elite subgroup of enterprises that represent 28% of companies we surveyedThese are the Alpha Innovators.  They have the appetite for continuous innovation and the security acumen to do it in a risk-managed wayOne of the main defining characteristics is that they collaborate with the CISO (81%) to fully address the security challenges of emerging technology adoption. In fact, our research shows that early tech adoption and major investments alone do not ensure the business outcomes.  CISO engagement and cyber risk management expertise at the start, is a differentiator to achieve business outcomes. 

Here’s five ways our Alpha Innovators differentiate themselves to achieve to be successful and secure when adopting emerging technologies: 

  1. Multi-pronged strategy–Invest in adopting technologies such as AI, 5G, Quantum and XR rapidly and take a comprehensive operational approach. 
  2. Risk mindset—Fully assess the security risks early in the adoption cycle and develop a plan to de-risk from the start.
  3. Borderless collaboration—Engage across the enterprise for agility while being responsive to the business and evolving security capability to keep pace with adoption.
  4. Culture of innovation—Create an internal and external ethos through strategy, workforce skill-building, ecosystem partnerships and acquisitions for security capability.
  5. Defense in depth—Apply a range of protective and detective security through an institutionalized approach to governance, controls and data protections. 
Building innovation DNA 

Let’s look more closely into two of these power plays, first Risk Mindset. Our data shows that both business and security executives from the elite subgroup of enterprises are significantly more aware of the magnitude and implication of the security risks of implementing AI, 5G, Quantum and XR. These companies have essentially institutionalized a shared understanding and ownership of that risk. What’s more, they assess the risk better in the adoption cycle. This reduces the risk earlierwhich helps protect the innovation investment and reduce overall lifecycle development costs.

Second, Defense in depth. It is also different for our Alpha Innovators. They are applying, and often developing, new controls to create defense in depth around AI, 5G, Quantum and XR implementations. As many of these emerging technologies are cloud-enabled and used as-a-service, strong cloud security measures are the launch point for adoption. But these should be quickly followed by bespoke requirements to protect the emerging technology throughout the development and production lifecycle. Inadequate protection could leave the innovation and the investment exposed to corporate or national espionage or theft 

The Technology Vision report concludes with some practical recommended steps for business and security leaders to get started and empower your company to do innovation securely at speed and scale.Learn from the power plays of the Alpha Innovators how to help ensure the successful adoption of new technology through implicit security. Find out how you can lead the way by downloading the report and read more in our in-depth viewpoints on how to secure AI, 5G, Quantum and XR for future growth.  


Accenture Security

Accenture Security is a leading provider of end-to-end cybersecurity services, including advanced cyber defense, applied cybersecurity solutions and managed security operations. We bring security innovation, coupled with global scale and a worldwide delivery capability through our network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Helped by our team of highly skilled professionals, we enable clients to innovate safely, build cyber resilience and grow with confidence. Follow us @AccentureSecure on Twitter or visit us at 

This document is produced by consultants at Accenture as general guidance. It is not intended to provide specific advice on your circumstances. If you require advice or further details on any matters referred to, please contact your Accenture representative. 

Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, and its logo are trademarks of Accenture. 

Lisa O'Connor

Managing Director – Accenture Security, Cybersecurity R&D, Accenture Labs

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