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Cyber risks, talent the top issues for business in 2024: KPMG

By Miranda Brownlee
12 January 2024 | 11 minute read
KPMG building reb otw76m

Business leaders are the most concerned about cyber risks and issues around recruitment and staff retention for the year ahead, a KPMG report reveals.

A recent KPMG report has revealed that protecting against and dealing with cyber risks is the top challenge for businesses in 2024 with 43 per cent of business leaders listing this as a top challenge.

This was followed closely by talent acquisition, retention and upskilling which 42 per cent considered to be a top challenge for the year ahead.

Regulation was ranked as the third biggest challenge at 41 per cent.

The report noted that in the previous survey for 2023, cyber risks were listed as only the fourth biggest priority but recent high-profile cyber attacks had seen it rise in the business agenda.

“Given most business leaders do not come from a technology/cyber background there may also be a ‘fear of the unknown’ compared with challenges which are more in their comfort zone,” the report said.

KPMG said the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital channels and brought issues relating to data and its associated infrastructure into sharp focus.

“Breakthrough technologies are expected to shape that future – artificial intelligence, blockchain, biometrics, hyperconnected systems and virtual reality. All can pose new security, privacy and ethical challenges and raise fundamental questions about our trust in digital systems.”

All of these trends are driving a shift towards greater cyber security and privacy regulation across the globe, the report said.

“This raises concern amongst organisations over the growing burden of regulation and the wide range of different reporting requirements,” it said.

“As a result, businesses are putting more and more emphasis on embedding privacy and security into how they operate, both in response to the changing threats and the need to comply with cross-border regulatory requirements.”

Talent was regarded as the number one issue a year ago for businesses but fell to second place for 2024.

“The unprecedented numbers of migrants who have entered the Australian economy over the past 12 months will have had some bearing on this,” the report said.

In the October 2022–23 Budget Papers, net overseas migration (NOM) was forecast to be 235,000 for both financial year 2023 and 2024, but in the nine months to March 2023, NOM was already at nearly 380,000 and was 518,000 in June 2023.

However, despite the large numbers of extra workers and foreign students, skills remain at a premium in professional workforces and the labour market is still tight.

KPMG said that Australia also still faces an intractable problem with a skills deficit.

“There are not enough of the skills we need now and will need more of in the next two to three years to meet demand,” it said.

“The nation needs an estimated 6.5 million digital workers by 2026, which is why companies are still concerned about training or recruiting enough staff in the skills required in a digitised future.”

KPMG said there is also the issue of talent wastage where the skills of too many of the migrant workers do not end up being leveraged in the sectors where they could make the biggest impact.

While the third top priority for this year is dealing with new regulations, business leaders are more concerned with the adoption of new technologies in the longer term, the report said.

This includes adopting new technologies such as AI, machine learning and quantum computing over the next three to five years.

“This indicates that while business leaders are focused on ‘nuts and bolts’ issues in the here and now, they are seeing growth in a year’s time and will be switching focus to new technologies to expand this business,” the report said.

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