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Privacy’s return on investment growing for SME market

Privacy is mission-critical, with 91% of businesses in Asia-Pacific considering privacy a business imperative, a new study has found.

Cisco’s 2022 Data Privacy Benchmark Study – an annual global review of privacy corporate practices, on the impact of privacy on organisations and their views towards data privacy – showed that privacy investment continues to rise and organisations see a high return on investments from privacy spending.

Privacy has become a true business imperative and a critical component of customer trust for organisations around the world, with 91% of the respondents in Asia-Pacific saying they would not buy from an organisation that does not properly protect its data, and 93% indicating that external privacy certifications are important in their buying process.

“Privacy continues to grow in importance for organisations in Asia-Pacific, with 96% of organisations in the region saying they are reporting one or more privacy-related metrics to their board, and privacy investment rising with an average budget increase of 18%,” said Dave West, president, Asia-Pacific, Japan, and Greater China, Cisco.

“These trends are more pronounced in the region when compared to the rest of the world, with markets like Japan (100%), Thailand (55%), and South Korea (45%) leading the pack in terms of increase in privacy budget.”


Privacy’s return on investment remains high for the third straight year, with increased benefits for small to medium size organisations. More than 60% of respondents felt they were getting significant business value from privacy, especially when it comes to reducing sales delays, mitigating losses from data breaches, enabling innovation, achieving efficiency, building trust with customers, and making their company more attractive.

Respondents estimate their ROI to be 1.8 times spending on average and although this is slightly lower than the previous 12 months, it could be due to ongoing needs in responding to the pandemic, adapting to new legislation, uncertainty over international data transfers, and increasing requests for data localisation.

Privacy legislation continues to be very well received around the world even though complying with these laws often involves significant effort and cost. In Asia-Pacific, 86% of all corporate respondents said privacy laws have had a positive impact, and only 3% indicated the laws have had a negative impact.

As governments and organisations continue to demand further data protection, they are putting in place data localisation requirements. In Asia-Pacific, 93% of survey respondents said this has become an important issue for their organisations. But it comes at a price – across the region, 91% said that localisation requirements are adding significant cost to their operation.

“When it comes to storing data, organisations must ensure that they comply with the data localisation legislations in the jurisdictions where data is being collected,” said Mr West.

Finally, when it comes to using data, 93% of survey respondents in Asia-Pacific recognise that their organisation has a responsibility to only use data in a responsible manner. Nearly as many (87%) believe they already have processes in place to ensure automated decision-making is done in accordance with customer expectations.

Cisco’s 2021 Consumer Privacy Survey showed many individuals want more transparency and 56% of consumers surveyed globally are concerned about the use of data in AI and automated decision-making. Additionally, 46% of consumers surveyed felt they cannot adequately protect their data, chiefly because they do not understand what organisations are collecting and doing with their data.

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