A recent survey by Cisco shows that enterprises are not only more concerned than ever about safeguarding the privacy of data residing in their network and IT environments; they are increasingly able to quantify a financial return on their investments in privacy protections.

According to the 2022 version of Cisco’s annual ‘Data Privacy Benchmark Study’ released in January, enterprises are increasingly focusing on privacy skills as a component of their overall security approach. Based on a survey of 5,300 security professionals from 27 geographies, the study finds that privacy has become essential to organizational culture and impacted numerous business practices, including buying processes and supply chains. An overwhelming 92% of organizations said that respecting privacy is integral to their culture.

Regarding supply chains in general, privacy is clearly becoming a bigger buying criterion for most companies.  Ninety percent (90%) of survey respondents said they would not buy from an organization that does not properly protect its data, and 91% indicated that external privacy certifications are important in their buying process.

The study also finds that management boards are finding ways to measure progress on privacy initiatives. Ninety-four percent (94%) of survey respondents reported having at least one privacy-related metric reported to the board; some reported as many as 10 privacy-related metrics. Among the most popular privacy metrics: privacy program audit findings (34%), personal data breach tracking (33%), and privacy impact assessment reviews (32%).

Average privacy budget up by 13% – Cisco

As privacy becomes more integrated into organizational priorities, companies are increasing their investments. According to the Cisco study, the average privacy budget was up 13% from the prior year’s survey, with the largest increase coming from smaller enterprises (50-249 employees).

The Cisco study indicates that most organizations are continuing to see a strong return on their privacy investments. Thirty-two percent (32%) of survey respondents reported seeing a benefit of at least 2x their privacy-related spending, while only 19% said they are not breaking even on their privacy investments. Moreover, proactivity appears to pay dividends: survey respondents who thought their privacy program was ahead of their peers averaged a nearly 2x return compared to just 1.53x for companies that were behind the curve.

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By GlobalData

One potential grey cloud in the Cisco survey findings: enterprises may need to do more to assure their customers that they are on top of the privacy issue. Cisco pointed to results from a separate consumer privacy survey conducted in 2021 that shows that nearly half of consumers do not believe that they are able to secure their personal data, and the primary reason is that they don’t understand what data organizations are collecting or what they are doing with it.