Can Data Security Accelerate Innovation?

New research from AWS and IBM highlights data security as a foundation for business transformation.

“Generative AI” is one of the biggest tech buzzwords in every region and industry around the globe. While Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have captured the world’s attention through applications such as ChatGPT, the truth is, there’s a prerequisite to successful AI innovation. The success or failure of an AI program hinges on the trustworthiness of your data.

In this research report, Clarke Rogers, Director of AWS Enterprise Strategy and Chris McCurdy, Worldwide VP and GM of IBM Security delve into the importance of data security for business innovation. Download the report to dive deeper into topics around data strategy, governance, and trust.

Topics we'll cover:

  • Top priorities and concerns for high-performing Chief Data Officers
  • How to bridge silos, reduce operational friction, and align on a data strategy
  • Determining who’s responsible for security and building a culture of security assurance
  • Taking a fresh approach to talent by rethinking the makeup of a security team
  • How to plan your data strategy for business resilience  

Most senior IT leaders expect generative AI to help their organizations take better advantage of data to serve customers and operate more efficiently.

But 71% expect it to introduce new security risks to their data.

Why is data trust essential for AI innovation?

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Learn more about the relationship between data trust and AI innovation in this special episode of our Conversations With Leaders podcast, featuring the co-authors of this report. Chris McCurdy and Clarke Rodgers are also joined by Dimple Ahluwalia of IBM Security for a wider perspective on the future of generative AI and data security that you won’t want to miss.

 Listen now > Data Trust: The Most Essential Ingredient for AI Innovation

While security was not the most looked at topic in the past and was seen more as a ‘must do’ for regulatory purposes, now it's becoming a little better understood and is being seen more as a business enabler, which I have to say is vastly different from even five, six years ago."

—Dimple Ahluwalia, VP & Global Managing Partner, IBM Security

Chris McCurdy
Worldwide VP and GM, IBM Security Services

For more than 15 years, Chris has held multiple leadership positions directing sales and strategy for IBM Security Services, consistently driving rapid growth of the security business. Before joining the company, he was a managing consultant at several consulting firms, including Andersen, International Network Services, and Lucent Technologies. He was also CIO at a large US retail automotive group. Chris holds a BBA in Information Systems from Baylor University and is a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Clarke Rodgers
Director, AWS Enterprise Strategy

With over 20 years of experience building and managing cybersecurity programs, and now, as Director, AWS Enterprise Strategy, Clarke is passionate about helping enterprise executives unlock faster, more reliable innovation through robust security, risk, and compliance programs. Joining AWS in 2016, Clarke has advised over 700 customers across multiple industries, (from financial services and healthcare, to media and entertainment, and government) on all things digital transformation and security, risk, compliance, and privacy topics. As a US Marine veteran, Clarke brings a unique perspective on how strong security programs can enable better business outcomes.

Take the next step

See more research for Chief Data Officers

How are leading CDOs determining their data strategies? Hear from CDOs across industries and across the globe in our 2023 Chief Data Officer Agenda report.

Learn more about security assurance

Hear from Samara Moore Senior Manager for AWS Security Assurance about how to build a security compliance team that can think like an auditor.

Uncover new data security insights

Browse more thought leadership and resources for data and security leaders on Executive Insights.


Request a meeting

Need help organizing your data strategy to enable AI and ML innovation? Schedule time with a data security expert in one of our Executive Briefing Centers.


Frequently asked questions about data security

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Q. Why is data security important to a business?

In today's data-driven world, organizations of all sizes depend on the seamless flow of information to drive decision-making, enhance customer experiences, and remain competitive. However, a reliance on data comes with plenty of risks. Data breaches can not only compromise sensitive information but also erode customer confidence and damage reputations. Data security is a pillar of a business’s success.

Data protection in companies stands as an integral shield for overall business data security, protecting an abundance of valuable information—from sensitive customer data to proprietary trade secrets. The importance of data security to businesses cannot be overstated, considering the many risks associated with cyber threats, data breaches, and unintentional data exposure. A breach or exposure not only poses legal and ethical concerns, but also jeopardizes a company's reputation and can potentially lead to substantial financial losses. Safeguarding business data is vital to upholding trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders. That’s why modern security practices, such as Zero Trust for identity and access management, are essential to adopt.

Furthermore, data security compliance is essential to meet strict (and continuously evolving) industry-specific regulations. Failing to adhere to these standards can also result in severe consequences, such as substantial fines and legal actions, disrupting not only business operations but the organization’s credibility with the public.

All told, the importance of data security for businesses transcends basic protection; it's a strategic necessity. It serves as a crucial mechanism for preserving valuable assets, ensuring compliance, and fostering an environment that encourages and accelerates innovation, fortifying companies against the never-ending threat of cyber attacks.

Q. What do companies stand to gain from introducing or modernizing an enterprise security strategy?

First and foremost, basic security hygiene safeguards a company's most valuable asset: its data. Businesses generate and accumulate vast amounts of data, ranging from sensitive customer information to proprietary trade secrets. Protecting this data is not just a legal and ethical responsibility; it is crucial for maintaining trust and credibility with customers, partners, and stakeholders. Any breach has the potential to be catastrophic, leading to financial losses and possibly irreparable damage to a brand's reputation.

Data security protections also enable compliance with stringent regulatory requirements, which vary by industry and location. Fines and legal repercussions resulting from non-compliance can be financially crippling and disrupt operations.

Aside from risk mitigation, data security also paves the way for innovation by fostering an environment of trust and confidence. When data is secure, businesses can confidently explore new technologies—such as generative AI and ML—to gain insights, improve operations, and develop innovative products and services.

In the end, data security is not just a defensive measure—it is a strategic imperative. It safeguards valuable assets, maintains compliance, and unlocks the door to innovation, making it an indispensable element of any business that aims to thrive and remain successful in the face of constant threats.