Half of Dutch companies are afraid of cyber attack

KPN research: lack of personnel slows down digital transformation

Three quarters of Dutch companies are not switching to the use of new technology quickly enough. A lack of skilled IT personnel and security-related challenges are standing in the way of digital transformation. In particular, labor shortages seem to be holding back further growth in the use of digital tools. The majority of Dutch companies say they are not, or insufficiently, prepared for a cyber-attack and are sometimes kept up at night worrying about it.

This emerges from the Digital Transformation Monitor, an annual survey carried out by KPN among managers that are responsible for digital transformation at their company. In the run-up to the event The Digital Dutch on April 21, KPN is identifying the main drivers, barriers and challenges associated with digital transformation. Security is included this year for the first time.

Security is a headache
In the field of security, the safety of customer and business data is a cause for concern. Half of those questioned are kept up at night by the idea that unauthorized people could gain access to that data. Knowledge – in the broadest sense of the word – is the principal bottleneck in this. In particular, keeping the security up to date is a major challenge. Almost all companies have concerns relating to IT security. Only 7 percent say they have no concerns in that area.

It also emerges from the survey that smaller companies feel that they have little to offer a cybercriminal. 59 percent of companies with 5 to 50 employees consider that they are not an interesting target for hackers. For the upper end of the SMEs the percentage is 53. “A misconception,” in the view of Marieke Snoep, Chief Business Market and member of the Board of Management of KPN. “Cybercriminals certainly don’t skip SMEs.”

Don’t neglect security
However, in recent years it has dawned on SMEs that security should definitely not be neglected. Virtually all companies have taken measures to protect their computers, networks and data. Only 3 percent have taken absolutely no action.

The measures taken vary enormously from one company to another but they still need to be improved. The most common measure (41 percent) is that employees have to change their password regularly. 38 percent say they always keep their software up to date. The third important measure is training employees to recognize fake e-mails and phishing (only 37 percent).

Effect of pandemic
The respondents consider COVID-19 an important driver for digital transformation. Last year, 32 percent said that circumstances had forced them to start their digital transformation and the effect of the pandemic is still clearly visible this year too. 28 percent mentioned it as an important driver.

Snoep says that digitalization has speeded up since the beginning of the pandemic. She praises the resilience of the business world in the Netherlands. “People are now collaborating more. They have more digital contact and a huge number of changes are taking place. Companies that had their digital affairs in order have come through the COVID-19 crisis better than those that did not. Thanks to their digital capabilities they were able to be flexible, creative and resilient.”

High on the agenda
Digital transformation is high on the agenda, certainly among larger companies. Priority is being given to the use of new technology to set up the production process differently, to offer more service or even to revamp the entire business model. Many companies realize that their continuity benefits from giving a “digital first” experience to their customers, business partners and employees.

Unfortunately, such good intentions are not always put into practice quickly enough. Finding sufficient people with the required knowledge and skill is a challenge for a growing number of companies. Many companies say they find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the pace of developments. They want to but they are unable to. Only 4 in 10 companies say they have no trouble with this.

The Digital Dutch
The Digital Transformation Monitor was carried out by Blauw Research on behalf of KPN. Last February, roughly 650 people working at companies with more than five employees gave their opinions. All the participants were wholly or partially responsible for taking decisions or giving advice on digital transformation. The questions about IT security were answered only by those who had insight into “technology and process”.

On April 21, The Digital Dutch event will take place for the seventh time. Just like last year, it will be completely online. During the event, Marieke Snoep and Jim Stolze take entrepreneurs in the Netherlands behind the scenes of “the network of the Netherlands” and reflect, together with customers, partners and experts, on the opportunities that digitalization offers the country.