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Risk in Context

Should Cybersecurity Be a Catch-All for Disruptive Tech Risks?

Posted by Tom Quigley May 08, 2017

The mention of disruptive technology risks often spurs a laser focus on cybersecurity. But should disruptive technologies or applications — such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the sharing economy — all be bucketed as cyber concerns?

Many risk professionals think so, according this year’s Excellence in Risk Management survey. A focus only on cyber, however, may underscore a gap in risk executives’ understanding of how these technologies affect their organizations. And it could obscure other concerns regarding disruptive technology.

Cyber Concerns Highlight Disconnect

Cybersecurity ranked as the dominant concern related to disruptive technology among the Excellence survey respondents across several industries. For example, 65% of health care organization respondents — more than any other industry — cited cybersecurity as a top concern. This may be related to a combination of the stringent rules surrounding personal health information, the sensitive nature of that information, and the target that hackers have placed on the industry’s back.  

The perception that disruptive technology is largely a cybersecurity concern suggests a gap in understanding around some technologies. Although data breach and privacy issues should not be downplayed, risk professionals need to better understand disruptive technology to get a better picture of the risks for their organizations.

Shifting Liability

Disruptive technology can change business models and risk profiles, and shift liability. And some companies are starting to realize that the failure of the technology could present a bigger problem beyond data breach.

For example, automobile manufacturers traditionally built cars, rolled them out the door, and shipped the responsibility for driving to consumers. But as carmakers engage deeper with autonomous driving technology — such as parking, lane, and brake assists — some liability has shifted. Auto manufacturers and suppliers could now be held liable for on-the-road performance and safety, which changes their risk profiles.

Organizations should make it a priority to re-evaluate their data and analytics usage. Understanding how disruptive technologies can change risk profiles can provide a clearer view of the type of data risk professionals must monitor.

Retailers, for example, have traditionally relied heavily on industry loss data. But as retailers turn to new technology for payments, inventory tracking, worker safety, and transportation, they will realize new insights by analyzing data about technology companies, financial institutions, and others.

Developing a consistent approach to applying data and analytics will make it easier to alert stakeholders to the pace at which technology could be disrupting organizations.

For more, read Excellence in Risk Management XIV: Ready Or Not, Disruption Is Here.

Tom Quigley

Technology Industry, U.S. Practice Leader