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By Oz Alashe, CEO, CybSafe


Cyber security issues have been the talk of the town during the pandemic. This year in particular has witnessed a surge of ransomware attacks and data breaches. The news is frequently covering the unfortunate attacks, with a range of organisations and institutions falling victim to the attackers. Schools, hospitals, large corporations, the list goes on.

This is an increasingly worrying concern for all. The threat is not slowing down – rather, it is growing, both in scale and sophistication. CybSafe’s recent analysis of ICO data found that ransomware attacks on UK organisations doubled in the first half of 2021. For every ransom attack that is put to sleep, another soon awakens and sometimes, with just as much venom as the last.

To combat this growing threat, businesses have recognised the need to invest more time and resources into cyber security initiatives and training programmes. The finance and insurance sectors recognise the importance of this the most, with 72% of financial institutions saying cyber security is a very high priority for them. However, new research from CybSafe and the National Cybersecurity Alliance has found that 61% of cybercrime victims chose not to report their attacks, compared to 39% who did. If the majority of people are not reporting cybercrime – despite the training offered –there is a need to reassess the approach taken to raising security awareness.

Existing programmes must deliver results. If this is not addressed, then employees quickly become disaffected with these initiatives and no real change is realised, leading to business leaders becoming impatient as their time and effort are seeing little impact. To meet growing cyber threats and ensure security awareness is as effective as possible, our approach towards current initiatives should be fine-tuned. But we must make sure all initiatives go beyond just awareness. An approach towards cyber security that brings genuine behavioural change should be created. It’s paramount to creating long-lasting change.


Oz Alashe

Security awareness: what is it?

To improve security awareness within an organisation, we need to truly understand what it is and what it entails. Security awareness is a way for organisations to have a better understanding of human cyber risk, making employees aware of how their behaviours impact the cyber security of a business as a whole. When it is done right, it builds a culture of good security hygiene and helps to improve customer trust.


Where are businesses going wrong?

Many financial institutions recognise the importance of security awareness, but not all of them are witnessing tangible results from their efforts. This is predominantly due to the phrase ‘awareness’ being taken too literally. A durable security culture is constructed from legitimate behavioural change. This goes far beyond the border of just being aware of threats. Behavioural change provides employees with the tools they need to protect both themselves and their organisations.

Businesses will often use exercises and initiatives that set out to reduce cyber risk, though these are quickly forgotten after completion. The best forms of education do not solely involve telling employees what they need to do. The best forms of education require buy-in from both parties to make an impact. Security awareness initiatives have to extend beyond the standard tick-box training exercises – they must inspire change that is impactful and measurable.


What is an effective approach to improving security awareness?

There are methods that businesses can adopt to improve security awareness training among their employees.

Planning and personalisation are key. Businesses must be clear on who the programme will be aimed at, the exact plans for delivery, and what areas need to be covered given the specific needs of the organisation. For example, the financial service sector has been particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks for some time.  This research should not be done on the spur of the moment, only to not be revisited. Cyber threats are evolving continuously, so the methods businesses choose to ward it off should evolve just as frequently too.

This same mindset is needed regarding security awareness in general. Training is quickly forgotten if it is only delivered as a one-off event. Taking this into account, an effective way to combat forgotten training is through the use of behaviour.  Behavioural nudges and the setting of regular goals tailored to each individual is key. Organisations can then ensure employees are in the loop with the latest threats and that they are frequently learning behaviour that in time, will help them to mitigate threats regularly.

Data is the master key to unlocking insights on behaviour to create training such as tailored goals and behavioural nudges. If an organisation cannot measure the progress of its security awareness initiative, then it won’t be able to identify clear-cut change. Metrics help set what measures will have the most impact at the start of a campaign. Metrics also guarantee campaigns deliver on their promise.


Throw away the blame game

To ensure these measures are a success, businesses have to discard the blame game that often accompanies cyber security initiatives at its heel. People should not be seen as the weakest link. They are, the first line of defence against cyber crime, often standing eye to eye with cyber criminals.

As a result, businesses must do what they can to ensure employees are well equipped to fend off and avert these online attacks. They should also encourage a supportive culture and environment. A supportive culture, tailored goals and clear metrics are the blueprint to building a top-notch security awareness that is set to guarantee genuine behavioural change.



Using OKRs to transfrom business in a new working environment




Managing the challenges of rapid business growth while also adapting to a hybrid world of working forced by the global pandemic will be among the topics raised at this year’s international OKR Forum 2022.

National business coach Peter Kerr will highlight how the business management framework tool of OKRs can help overcome the challenges faced by hypergrowth companies, while also helping create a strong team culture to establish resilience to adapt to new ways of working.

Peter Kerr, MD of the rapidly expanding UK-based specialist coaching consultancy AuxinOKR, will be a key contributor to the OKR Forum event, being held virtually on February 3. He will be talking to Lavanya Gopinath, director of operations at Chargebee, about the challenges of rolling out OKRs across a global tech business with a geographically dispersed workforce.

The OKR Forum is the fourth event of its kind featuring a mixture of keynote speakers, expert workshops, and case studies of OKR implementation. Delegates can learn from international brands such as LinkedIn, Colgate-Palmolive, and Renault on how to engage teams for better outcomes with the agile goal and performance management framework, known as OKRs.

AuxinOKR, which has clients around the UK and overseas – including SAP, ASOS, Which?, Bitstamp, Chargebee and South African bank absa – has a proven record of helping ambitious companies and organisations establish an OKR strategy that enables them to achieve their goals.

Chargebee is a leading international subscription billing platform on a fast-track trajectory powering some of the fastest-growing SaaS and subscription-based businesses in the world. The company, valued at $1.4b in April 2021 has more than 3,000 customers across the US, Europe and rest of the world. Digital transformation has accelerated the opportunities for Chargebee, and the company saw OKRs as a tool to drive cultural change across the business.

Peter Kerr says: “Chargebee is a fabulous company with a great product. Digital transformation across more companies has created huge opportunities for Chargebee but they recognised they needed to change themselves to become a stronger, more agile, and resilient business.

“Chargebee saw OKRs as a way to create a focus and clarity across the entire business, spread across several countries. OKRs have helped establish a new culture, one where everyone is clear about the company vision and key goals and their roles in helping achieve growth and success.

“And, of course, this was made even more challenging by being implemented during a pandemic. OKRs helped Chargebee accelerate the push for collaboration, transparency and understanding during this difficult period.”

This year’s OKR Forum online event will feature world-class OKR experts such as Ben Lamorte, Felipe Castro, Francesca Nardocci, Melanie Wessels and many more, along with leading international companies.

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The evolution of the CFO: 91% still carry out repetitive and manual tasks despite the new demands of their role




‘The future CFO’ research conducted by Xledger, the cloud finance software provider, finds that there is a lack of support in helping CFOs to evolve with the new demands of their role. Some of the top frustrations that CFOs cited in their current roles include having to carry out repetitive and manual tasks (33%) the reliance on hard copies of documents or legacy spreadsheets (27%) and bottlenecks in the flow of information (26%).

Other key frustrations were being unable to spend time on strategic tasks (23%), being able to work efficiently when away from the office (23%), the number of silos making it difficult to work collaboratively with colleagues (20%) and a struggle to demonstrate compliance to regulators (19%).

Repetitive and manual tasks seem to be indicative of the finance role, with an enormous 91% stating that they need to carry out at least one of the above repetitive tasks as part of their job and this could be impacting their ability to carry out other aspects of their role. The research found that the more senior you are, the more likely you are to be carrying out repetitive tasks, with senior figures averaging 25 hours per week, compared to 15 hours for other finance decision makers.

Mark Pullen, CEO at Xledger comments, “The fact that the UK’s top strategic decision makers are spending up to 25 hours a week on low value-added tasks is astounding. The results of this research may highlight not only the stresses of the CFO themselves, but of their whole team. The frustrations and seniority differences are vital in informing the current dynamics, behaviours and commitments of the CFO role. If they are to evolve effectively, it’s evident that more support is needed to harness their strategic value. Business growth rarely comes as a by-product of doing more with the same level of resource – unless you factor in technology.”

When digging further into the study, there are some notable trends in terms of seniority and sector. For example, 38% of larger companies (5000+ employees) vs 28% of smaller companies (less than 50 employees) are frustrated by repetitive, manual tasks. This is likely a result of larger organisation’s needing more rigid processes in place than smaller, potentially more agile organisations.

Notably, the inability to work efficiently when away from the office was felt more by senior finance directors and CFOs (33%) than other finance decision makers (16%). This could be put down to a need to collaborate effectively with colleagues in more senior roles. 30% of senior financial directors and CFOs also stated that they’re frustrated about the number of silos and inability to work collaboratively compared to just 14% of other finance decision makers.

Xledger is a leading  true-cloud finance technology for mid-market organisations. With a suite of automation features including OCR, automated purchase invoice and expense handing, reoccurring and professional services billing and in-system payment processes our value, is giving back time to CFO’s and their finance departments, allowing them to spend more time of higher value-added activities.

The Future of the CFO study was conducted among 529 CFOs and financial decision makers in the UK during August and September 2021 by Sapio research.


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