As we have mentioned before, the Year of the Data Breach has had one positive effect—companies, and especially CEOs, are taking cybersecurity more seriously. And these stakeholders and CEOs want one thing—numbers.
As Andrew Plato said in his UMSA WebTracks webinar on communicating risk to executive leadership, “Language not only affects comprehension, but also acceptance.” If you want your company to invest in cybersecurity, you need to communicate with them in their language.
When calculating security ROI—often referred to as return on security investment (ROSI)—you need to focus on two areas of value: qualitative and quantitative.
One way you show value is through qualitative ROI. Qualitative value is subjective and unable to be measured in dollar amounts.
When assessing qualitative ROI, start by looking at the processes that generate value for your business, such as store sales, customer loyalty and the thing that makes your company different than the competition (customers service, recipes, etc.); now, how is your department contributing to the success of these processes? Are you protecting client data, which in turn makes them loyal? Are you protecting the secrets that allow your company to differentiate itself from the competition? This is qualitative value you need to share with stakeholders.
Here are few other questions to help you identify your qualitative value:
- If you stopped certain processes, who would notice?
- Who would be affected?
- Could it affect stock prices or create legal issues?
- What information would hackers want from your company? What are you doing to protect that data?
Quantitative value is what most people think of when they think of ROI – numbers and dollar amounts.
On the most basic level, quantitative value is expressed by subtracting the cost of the investment from the gains of the investment. One example could be an app you helped set up for your company. Subtract how much it cost to create the app and monthly maintenance fees from the total sales the app has generated and you have ROI.
Here are few other questions you can ask to identify quantitative value:
- Have you cut back on vendors? How much are you saving?
- Have you received more value from a vendor without increasing costs? How much would the increased value have cost?
- Have you reduced redundancy in your department? How much time has been saved?
- Have you repurposed technology? How much has that saved?
- Did you repair versus replace a piece of hardware? How much money did you save?
Here is the reality of business—no ROI, no investment. No company is going to invest blindly, so show your CEO and stakeholders what cybersecurity is doing for the company and explain why it matters.