April 2019

This Market Data Mismatch Spells Opportunity for Savvy Canadian Businesses

3 minute read

If you're looking to get a leg up on your competition, the recent findings of the Canadian portion of the American Express/Economic Intelligence Unit 2018 Business Reality Check could signal opportunity.

The global report includes data from 10 different countries, and it reveals some interesting facts about businesses' perceptions when it comes to challenges. In particular, the report indicates a discrepancy between what the market identifies as top challenges and what Canadian businesses view as top challenges.

When priorities contradict market data

According to the report, over one-third (36 percent) of Canadian business leaders view keeping up with changing customer demands as their biggest challenge, which aligns with market data.

However, the second and third biggest challenges diverge.

Business leaders identify "using data effectively" and "operational complexity" as their second and third biggest challenges. Yet the national, international, and specialized source market data suggests that "using data effectively" is actually the third business challenge, with "cybersecurity" being the second biggest issue for Canadian businesses. Operational complexity trails far behind in sixth place.

This mismatch in the ranking of perceived challenges could mean business leaders are out of touch with what they should focus their attention on after keeping up with customer demands—and how to properly allocate their budgets.

Gaps equal opportunity

With a never-ending stream of new software services to generate data, it's understandable that business leaders feel challenged to use it effectively. Yet prioritizing this over cybersecurity leaves these businesses vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated and costly data breaches.

Data breaches can have financially devastating consequences on a business. According to the Ponemon Institute 2018 Cost of a Data Breach study, in Canada it costs an average of $4.74 million when a data breach occurs.

Organizations that choose to tackle the cybersecurity challenge head on and prioritize it will have an advantage over their competitors.

It will allow them to direct budgets and talent to protecting their business and customer data from cybercriminals. It also gives them a chance to develop a reputation as an innovative business concerned for their customer's digital security—a move that sets them apart from the competition.

Using data effectively improves operational efficiency

Prioritizing cybersecurity in your business could have a positive domino effect.

If customers trust your business to keep their information safe, they could be more willing to share additional details. Using this data can then streamline the development of customized communications and digital marketing efforts. That can lead your organization to identifying unmet needs and profitable new niches, product lines, or services.

Even better, it could boost operational efficiency because you won't need the added time and expense associated with customer focus groups or surveys to uncover unmet needs. Instead, simply study the data your customers willingly share when they trust your business.

Let cybersecurity double as a marketing tool

With cybersecurity now a well-known initiative for businesses across the globe, deeming cybersecurity a priority in your own company could be a powerful marketing tool.

Let customers know your business is committed to improving cybersecurity by providing "cues." This could be as simple as including a visual identifier like a cybersecurity icon on your website, or on the checkout counter in your store. Additionally, you could email news of security updates to customers, or add an authentication step to your online purchase process.

Authentication refers to the verification of a credit card with the card issuer, like American Express vPayment®, for instance. A digital payment solution that assigns a specific use virtual account number for a transaction. The account number and transaction details can then be authenticated against controls pre-determined by the customer.

Openly sharing your focus on cybersecurity with customers does more than simply keep them apprised of your commitment to keeping their sensitive information safe. When carefully woven into your current marketing materials, it also helps build and solidify your reputation as a trustworthy and secure business.

Consider blockchain for cybersecurity

If you're ready to step up your cybersecurity game, it may be time to consider adopting blockchain technology to protect your company's data as well as that of your customers. Blockchain is a standalone digital ledger system that tracks and records all digital transactions or events by participants. Each digital incident or "block" gets assigned a unique identifier that's linked to the previous event or transaction—hence the "chain" in blockchain.

Global business leaders increasingly turn to blockchain technology for cybersecurity issues, with 28 percent of executives in the Business Reality Check Survey saying they have adopted it to secure operations in response to cyber threats. Yet market data shows that although cybersecurity is already a growing concern, it's one that isn't being adequately addressed by Canadian businesses.

According to the survey, just 9 percent of Canadian businesses use blockchain to combat cybercrime, despite Canada's emergence as a technological hub for blockchain development. At the same time, blockchain is becoming a more well-known term among businesses and the general public. Indeed, prioritizing cybersecurity, adopting blockchain technology to answer cybersecurity threats, and then providing cues about these activities to your markets could make good business sense.

Become the business that prioritizes cybersecurity

Today's Canadian businesses face many challenges, and it may be difficult to prioritize which ones to address first, since they're all important. Yet market data indicates that cybersecurity is a bigger challenge than business leaders perceive.

Take advantage of this by taking action where your competitors aren't. Look for opportunities to increase your cybersecurity activities. Then provide the cues to show customers that yours is a responsible organization focused on protecting customer data. Prioritize cybersecurity and weave it into your marketing efforts. This will both attract new customers and build trust for a more profitable relationship with existing customers.