Secure UX Strategy for CEOs and CFOs
September 21, 2017

Gabriel Lowy
TechTonics

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CEOs are usually externally focused. They meet with customers and speak at conferences to drive business growth. Conversely, CFOs are more internally focused. They look for process improvements to generate cost efficiencies and manage risks.

CEOs and CFOs like to talk about digital transformation. It follows then that secure user experience (UX) – for both customers and employees – would resonate with each of them.

Both C-levels are well aware of concepts such as big data and cloud. They have some idea about how these and related technologies might help their company achieve business objectives. In fact, it hasn't been uncommon in recent years for CEOs to ask their CIOs, "What's our big data strategy?" or "What's our cloud strategy?"

But when has a CEO asked their CIO, "What's our UX strategy?"? Probably never. Because they expect that applications, the network, and the underlying infrastructure will work – even if some of these systems are not under the CIO's purview.

The increased complexity of new computing architectures coupled with new application development methodologies – especially in the face of time-to-market and security threat pressures – should make secure UX the first strategic decision for CEOs and CFOs on the path to digital transformation.

Truth or Consequences

The principle purpose of a unified network, application, and infrastructure performance management (NAIPM) platform is to detect and diagnose anomalies so that IT teams can assure uptime and service-level commitments. Data collected by a NAIPM platform can also be used to detect breaches and position the company for faster incident response. In this capacity, the behavioral intelligence provided by a secure UX platform not only helps improve operational performance, but it also serves as an early warning system.

In language that CEOs and CFOs can understand, it's about using IT operations metrics to facilitate ROI (return on investment) and risk management objectives for the business. They will certainly appreciate the undeniable correlation between secure UX and financial outcomes and market valuation (public or private).

If user experience sucks – and the user is a customer – the company's revenues are negatively impacted.

Quite simply, if user experience sucks – and the user is a customer – the company's revenues are negatively impacted. Customer satisfaction plummets and loyalty follows. Brand reputation is tarnished. These cut right to the heart of the CEO's growth strategy.

If the user is an employee, engagement suffers, killing productivity and the ROI on computing resources. Adherence with GRC (governance, risk, compliance) requirements becomes challenged. Recruitment and retention may also suffer, driving up costs. These all undermine the CFO's initiatives.

If the user is a supply chain partner, the cost of materials or distribution could rise. Relationships could suffer. No one wants exposure to a partner with poor UX or security vulnerabilities that could infect their own systems.

Finally, if the user is a machine – an increasing likelihood in the IoT (Internet of Things) era – the absence of secure UX could have catastrophic results. Any number of accidents or breaches can occur with consumer products or services ranging from home monitoring devices to autonomous cars, or with industrial equipment to transmission pipelines. The potential damage to the company can far exceed lost revenue, fines for compliance violations, or lawsuits. They can put a company out of business.

Getting the Buy-In

Armed with the intelligence gained from such a unified platform, the CIO can appeal to the priorities of both the CEO and CFO. The company cannot capitalize on the benefits of big data analytics or cloud services if the IT team does not have visibility into the UX of these apps – regardless of where they reside. An inability to rapidly detect anomalies and respond to incidents can expose the company to undue risks, particularly in hybrid computing environments.

These all impede successful digital transformation. It is why a secure UX strategy should come first.

Many vendors in these consolidating spaces don't capitalize on this opportunity. Marketing and sales teams churn out lots of jargon and misinformation about capabilities and competitors (a.k.a. content) that only serve to confuse customers. This confusion raises more questions and objections that elongate sales cycles and hurt close rates.

Instead, vendors should appeal to the strategic priorities of CEOs and CFOs. They must educate, demonstrate and validate to CIOs through tangible use cases, PoCs (proof of concepts) and ROI/TCO (total cost of ownership) analyses.

I've suggested in the past that next to database, no software is more strategic to organizations than a secure UX platform. Never has it been more critical for CEOs and CFOs to understand this – and buy into it.

Gabriel Lowy is the founder of TechTonics Advisors, a research-first investor relations consultancy that helps technology companies maximize value for all stakeholders by bridging vision, strategy, product portfolio and markets with analysts and investors
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