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Your Senior Leaders’ Lacking Digital Skills Come With a Cost

In any organisation, it’s crucial for your senior leaders to continuously expand their skill sets and search for innovative methods that will help bolster company success. And in today’s corporate climate of evolving technology solutions across industry lines, it’s no secret that developing cyber-awareness and increased digital capabilities have become a priority for many organisational leaders.

However, the latest research from technology experts found that a significant amount of UK business leaders are falling short in the domain of digital knowledge. In fact, nearly 50 per cent of all senior leaders across the UK reported that they lack essential cyber-skills, while 40 per cent said that their organisation is falling behind when it comes to implementing new technology in the workplace.

What’s more, a recent study revealed that organisations with digitally savvy senior leadership teams can reap tangible benefits from their skills. The study, which was comprised of nearly 1,000 UK business leaders, found that 88 per cent of leaders who had received cyber-training in the last year reported that their organisations experienced growth as a result. Further, 89 per cent of leaders who received training now see technology as a key factor in making their companies more profitable.

Put simply, your senior leaders’ lacking digital skills could not only increase your cyber-risks, but also lead to fewer opportunities for generating business growth and financial success.

Consider the following guidance to help your senior leaders step up their cyber-capabilities:

  • Require training—Be sure that all senior leaders—regardless of their role or expertise—regularly participate in your staff cyber-training programme. This is an especially vital practice to follow when your organisation implements any new workplace technology or conducts software updates.
  • Include IT experts—If you haven’t already, it’s crucial that you include at least one cyber-expert (eg an IT leader) on your leadership team. This digital expert will be able to better educate and prepare your senior leaders for the latest cyber-threats and upcoming technological advancements.
  • Practise your plan—As cyber-attacks continue to become more prevalent (and costly), it’s not enough for your organisation to simply have a business continuity plan in place. Rather, you need to develop a cyber-continuity and incident response plan to prepare your organisation for specific cyber-risks. Make sure each member of your senior leadership team is involved in the creation of this plan, and test it regularly for effectiveness.

Eliminate End-of-Life Software in Your Workplace, or Suffer the Consequences

Microsoft, a top software provider for both individuals and businesses, recently discontinued support to several of their major products as part of an effort to invest in newer technologies and services. This change—which took place 14th January 2020—impacted the following products:

  • Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2
  • Exchange Server 2010
  • Windows 7 and Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems

In addition, the software company announced that they will discontinue support to these products after 13th October 2020:

  • Office 2010 Client
  • SharePoint Server 2010
  • Windows Embedded Standard 7
  • Project Server 2010

Following this date, all technical assistance and software updates for the listed products will no longer be available. This may seem like a surprising announcement, but just like any other product, software has a life cycle. After a certain period of time, many software providers make the decision to transition their outdated, underselling products into the final stage of the software life cycle—the end-of-life (EOL) phase.

While you might think that using EOL software will have little or no impact on your organisation, the reality isn’t so simple. Indeed, continuing to use EOL software—even if it’s just a single device in your workplace—could carry serious, costly consequences. This includes (but is not limited to) increased cyber-security vulnerabilities, incompatible software issues with stakeholders, extra technology repair costs and regulatory repercussions under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Most importantly, using EOL software can cause major concerns in the realm of cyber-insurance. On any cyber-insurance policy, your organisation is expected to do its part in preventing a cyber-incident—which includes updating your ageing software. With this in mind, your organisation could suffer from an invalid claim and serious financial concerns in the event of a cyber-disaster if you continue to use EOL software. To reduce your organisation’s EOL software exposures:

  • Stay updated on your software provider’s product announcements via email or the provider’s website, as they will likely communicate any decisions regarding upcoming EOL software well in advance.
  • Implement a plan to routinely replace dated software. This could take place after an established period of time or when the software begins to display signs of ageing (eg frequent bugs or slower performance).
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