I’m a guy who likes sports and movies, and my wife tells me that I’m constantly quoting sports analogies and movie tag lines. Guilty as charged. So, why do I do that??? Because I can quickly state a movie quote or sports reference to explain a situation to someone, without having to spend an hour doing so. If I tell someone “you just fumbled”, knowing this person likes or understands American football, he or she will immediately know they made a mistake. Notice how I stated ‘American football’ lest I confuse it with the round ball version and defeat the very purpose of my analogy.
The problem is, if I use my linguistic mojo on people who don’t follow sports or movies (yes, those people do exist), I not only don’t get my point across, I confuse them. Many times, I get that tilt-of-the-head puppy look and then a nod, never asking me to clarify what I meant. It’s surprising how many people never ask the question – I don’t understand, what do you mean?
This can be very frustrating and even a cause for escalating arguments and disagreement later.
To clarify, here’s an example of a recent conversation when discussing a company project…
Me: “We’re at the one-yard line! It’s time to punch it across the goal line!” Colleague: “Got it! You can count on me!”
A week later…
Me: “So that project was completed, right?” Colleague: “No, I’m still working on it. I need to add some more detail." Me: “What! I thought I told you and we agreed this needed to be done asap!? Like yesterday.” Colleague: “Oh, I’m sorry. You didn’t tell me it was urgent.” Me: “I did tell you it was urgent. Remember ‘the one-yard line’, ‘the goal line’?” Colleague: “Yeah I kind of recall something like that.” Me: “Then why didn’t you get it done??” Colleague: “Why are you yelling at me? I have no idea what you meant.” Me: “Why didn’t you ask?
And the downward spiral continues. The frustration level for everyone is extreme. Worse yet, the project was not completed, and the company suffers.
I see this same scenario over and over again as it relates to technology and business – especially with cybersecurity.
Articles are published every day stating how businesses aren’t taking cybersecurity seriously enough only to be completely ignored.
I constantly come across articles that give real statistics showing how businesses think they are secure, yet they have recently been breached or compromised! How is that possible? Why do businesses, led by extremely smart people, continue to ignore the very real threat that cybersecurity breaches and hackers can easily compromise their business’ livelihood? Why do they continue to have incidents, and not learn from them?
Some studies show, many business owners rely on their insurance policy to save them instead of protecting their assets proactively. I believe some of that is true, but I believe the real issue is a complete disconnect in communication.
I read an article recently that was trying to get businesses to understand the importance of cybersecurity and the importance of communication between IT and business. Here is how the article begins…
Digital transformation is happening rapidly in every industry. As companies move toward software-defined infrastructures (SDI) connected to powerful cloud ecosystems, they can tap into the near-real-time intelligence from the data gathered from every edge of their business, helping to drive faster business decisions and changing the way they serve their customers.
Rapid transformation, however, without a solid plan, can produce cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As infrastructures go virtual, security models need to shift. To avoid serious risks and security management issues, companies need to identify challenges, strategize, collaborate, pilot, test, and evangelize. *
Did you have to read it twice? Did you understand even part of it? What exactly is ‘every edge of their business’?
“Trust me, Greg, when you start having little Fockers running around, you'll feel the need for this type of security.” Meet the Parents, 2000
Yes, I did it, I used a movie line from the great film “Meet the Parents” to make my point. If you haven’t seen the movie, you have no clue what I’m talking about. Business leaders have not seen the cybersecurity movie!! They don’t understand a word coming out of your mouth (another movie reference).
Don’t allow technology to get lost in translation
In all seriousness, business leaders have not taken the time and do not have the time to learn all the parlance of cybersecurity. Yet, we keep pummeling them to death with cyber techno-speak.
The reality is, both business and technology leaders have a responsibility to their companies, their employees, and themselves to learn enough about each other to make the conversation relevant. I can keep showing business owners all statistics. But, most of them still don’t properly plan for or budget for cybersecurity, and most will only do so after they’re hit with ransomware or have a breach. But what is ransomware? What is a breach? What do they look like? What is the actual cost to the business now and in the future?
This is not a one-sided issue. IT professionals also need to learn how to translate technology jargon into terms that business owners can understand.
The same case can be made for IT experts making an effort to understand the language of business and understand the impact they are having. When business owners and leadership speak in terms of EBITDA, CAPEX, OPEX, Life Time Value, Gross Margins, Net Margins, Cash Management, etc., they are speaking a language immediately understood within the group, but many times foreign to the IT group.
At some point, business owners, leadership, and even board members must work with IT experts to start taking cybersecurity more seriously. Both parties must be willing to have an open dialog where each is not afraid to ask questions, educate and translate into terms each party can understand, to make better business decisions.
If you want to have a discussion regarding your business and how the cybersecurity landscape impacts your company now and in the future in a language you can understand, contact us! We will be happy to advise and educate you in this increasingly complex space.
May the force be with you!
* AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Vol 7