Press Release

Data protection is top risk for TMT firms

Willis Towers Watson’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Risk Index ranks top risks

May 24, 2016

LONDON, May 24, 2016 — Regulatory fines and penalties arising from data protection breaches is the biggest issue on the minds of executives in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector, according to new research and a ranking released by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW), the leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

According to Willis Towers Watson’s TMT Risk Index 2016, which is available to download in full here, the top three risks are: data protection fines and penalties; intellectual property and patent infringement; and competition and anti-trust law scrutiny. In addition, data protection fines and penalties, and intellectual property and patent infringement were ranked as the top two risks facing the industry in the coming 12 months.

Sara Benolken, Head of TMT global industry at Willis Towers Watson, said: “While a fine from a data breach is perceived to be a top priority across the global TMT industry, the top three risks indicate that regulatory change and legal risk are foremost on senior management’s risk radar.”

According to Willis Towers Watson, this focus on data protection and potential liabilities is aligned with a global trend for stricter privacy laws and tighter enforcement. The recent approval of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU Parliament (in April 2016) – which significantly strengthens the penalties for data breaches and makes it easier for individuals to bring claims – highlights that companies must keep pace with new regulatory requirements.

Benolken said: “While it is understandable that regulatory change and legal risk are front of mind, none of the identified risks ranking lower down the scale should be ignored, given their potential to either harm or grow a business.”

While the threat posed by cyber-attacks did not make it into the top three risks for the TMT industry overall – it did rank number one for the Technology sector. Willis Towers Watson urges companies not to overlook the fact that cyber vulnerabilities can exacerbate other risks such as those leading to data protection fines and penalties. According to the Index, digitalization and technological advances is the megatrend most likely to grow its impact on the TMT industry over the next ten years.

The global research found startling differences between how TMT organizations in different regions of the world view risk, with the number one perceived risk varying significantly across the globe. North American TMT leaders are most preoccupied with the threat of consumer product legislation and lawsuits. In Southern Europe, the threat from new and emerging competitors was highlighted as the principle concern in the minds of respondents. In the Indian subcontinent the top risk was seen to be outdated legacy IT systems and infrastructure. For Asia Pacific industry leaders identified the top risk as uncompetitive compensation and reward schemes.

Benolken said: “In an industry marked by exciting innovation and disruptive business strategies, it’s important to understand both a present-day view of the risks facing the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector and gain foresight into the future. For us and our clients, risk is a path to growth. It is through the proper identification and management of these risks that companies are able to take on more risk and ultimately realise new commercial opportunities. We trust the findings will enable TMT organizations to successfully acknowledge and address current challenges as well as prepare for the future.”

Notes to editors

Willis Towers Watson’s TMT Risk Index 2016 was compiled with responses from 350 C-suite level executives across all three sectors, their respective subsectors, and 11 geographies. A full copy of the research including infographics that can be re-published on request is available here.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 territories. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.